Every time I get a cold, I want mashed potatoes. It never fails. I think there was one time that I was sick when I was younger and my mom made me her famous mashed potatoes and ever since then, it’s what I crave the second I start sneezing. The problem with this is that I don’t actually want to make mashed potatoes when I am sick and unfortunately a bowl of perfectly mashed russets never magically appears when I will it to. This past week I got hit with a monster of a cold/flu combination that made every inch of my body hurt and I surprisingly didn’t crave potatoes – I craved sleep. As soon as my stomach settled and my head stopped pounding, I rummaged through my kitchen to see what I could find. No potatoes in sight, but I did have a delicata squash. Suddenly, a delicata squash puree with miso butter was on the menu. It wasn’t the same as my mom’s mashed potatoes, but it was certainly less labor intensive and just as delicious.
For the puree:
2 or 3 delicata squash
2 tablespoons light-colored olive oil
Salt and white pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Halve squash lengthwise and place on a cookie sheet, cut sides up. Rub with oil, and season with salt and white pepper to taste. Roast until flesh yields easily to the touch, 30 to 60 minutes, depending on size of squash.
2. Remove from oven and scoop out and discard seeds from central cavity. Scoop out flesh and place in a food processor. Process until very smooth. Transfer to a nonstick saucepan, place over low heat, and stir constantly until any liquid has evaporated and squash is dry, 8 to 10 minutes.
3. Transfer to a food mill and press squash through into nonstick saucepan. Stir in butter and miso butter (recipe below). Season with salt and white pepper as needed. Return to low heat just until reheated. Use immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Reheat gently before serving.
Yield: 2 to 4 servings.
½ cup shiro (white) miso
5 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
Combine the miso with 5 tablespoons of the butter in a small bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until well mixed; the butter should be one color, not a streaky mess. Reserve until needed; you can refrigerate it, well wrapped, for up to a few weeks. Heat 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat. After half a minute, add the miso butter, turn the heat to low, and stir to warm it through. When the butter has loosened slightly — it should have a certain viscosity to it and should not be melted — remove the pan from the burner and put it in a warm spot.
Last week, we shared a few tips on saving tomato seeds. This week, we’d like to share with you a few tips for saving actual tomatoes!
There are many, many different ways to preserve tomatoes. You may choose to can whole tomatoes, or diced tomatoes. Or fire roasted tomatoes. Or tomato jam, tomato paste, tomato water, etc. But my absolute favorite way to preserve tomatoes is to make up a big batch of plain tomato sauce. I don’t really add seasonings to my tomato sauce: it’s just tomatoes and a little bit of salt and lemon juice. This gives me the flexibility to use my tomato sauce in a variety of different ways. I can use it in soups, stews, and chili. I can transform this plain tomato sauce into marinara sauce, or enchilada sauce. I can use it in casseroles and gratins. There seem to be endless uses for plain old tomato sauce. It’s fabulous.
As for my favorite tomato sauce recipe, I use this recipe from Use Real Butter. As I said before, it’s extremely simple. I only make one major modification to the recipe, but I think it’s an important one: I don’t peel my tomatoes.
The thing is, I hate peeling tomatoes. It’s the one step in the canning process that just feels so unnecessary. I have a tiny kitchen with no dishwasher and I cringe at the thought of dirtying extra dishes (the pot for boiling the tomatoes! the bowl for dunking them in an ice bath!).
So, one day I decided to change the way I make tomato sauce. I quartered all of my tomatoes and placed them in a pot with their skins on. (Before I threw the tomato pieces in the pot, I did a quick de-seeding with my thumb.) I turned the heat on (medium-low) and let the tomatoes cook down in their own juices. I stirred occasionally. And as the tomatoes cooked down, the skins began to separate from the flesh. The skins came off on their own! I simply mashed the tomatoes with the back of my spoon, stirred the pot, and then plucked off and removed the skins as they floated to the top. It takes a few minutes to stir and remove all of the skins, but I firmly believe this is quicker and easier than the boil & ice bath method. Once I’ve removed all (or most) of the skins, I puree the tomatoes with an immersion blender. If there are any spare skins in the pot, the immersion blender usually does the trick. I then let the sauce continue to cook down, until it reaches the desired consistency. (For full canning instructions for the sauce, refer to the recipe from Use Real Butter!)
It’s as simple as that.
I know that peeling tomatoes may seem like a silly thing, but this method revolutionized my tomato canning. It’s a one-pot wonder!