Sweetness, cream, and a bit of spice

Creamy butternut squashThis dish is, if anything, intriguing. It’s not plain creamy, or cheesy, or any of the other qualities that make mac and cheese oh-so-irresistible.   It’s not comforting, either, at least in my book. It makes you think, which is saying a lot for someone who thinks for a living.  But I really shouldn’t be surprised, given who this pretty little creation comes from.Butternut squash plated 

It’s brilliant.  Any idea who I’m referencing now?  I just got his cookbook in the mail, along with a very bendable mini-tripod and some hope that my photography might improve.  And immediately, I nestled into the couch and started to read.  No, he’s not a writer; his prose reminds me of a school boy’s, actually, though it’s improved immeasurably since this one came out.  But he’s hilarious, has turned his fame into a vehicle for championing quality food for everyone, and happens to be a pretty good chef.  
Squash prep
His flavor combinations are familiar, but somehow unlike anything I would have come up myself. They work somehow, in an unexpected way.  So I’m sharing this one with you, because it’s worth trying, just once. Even if you only have whole milk and cheddar in the house, and don’t feel like trekking to the store.
Squash prep 2 
I used a local pear wine in this dish, which worked pretty well, but any white wine will do.  Cream and parmesan, as the recipe originally called for, would have been better than the whole milk and parmesan I actually used, but the flavor was still quite good.  The consistency wasn’t quite what I wanted, but I made do.  If you happen to find yourself in my predicament, make a béchamel sauce with a bit of butter, milk, and cream, and add the nutmeg and cheese to the sauce.  If not, use the cream. Go on — you know you want to.

Creamy Butternut Squash
Adapted from Cook with Jamie: My Guide to Making You a Better Cook, by Jamie Oliver.   
Serves 4.
  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded, and sliced into 1″ pieces.
  • 1 heaped teaspoon coriander seeds, smashed.  I used a mortar and pestle, but the seeds are probably soft enough to crush under a spoon.
  • 1-2 dried red chillies, crumbled.
  • 1 t. dried thyme. The original recipe calls for fresh thyme, but dried is all I had on hand.
  • sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, to taste.
  • olive oil.
  • 1 c. whole milk, + 2 T. sour cream.  Use 1 c. + 2 T. light cream instead, or make a béchamel sauce for a creamier consistency.
  • 1 t. nutmeg. Freshly ground nutmeg is nice, but if you only have the pre-ground spice, go for it.
  • 1 c. Chardonnay or dry white wine.
  • 2 handfuls cheddar cheese.  Jamie Oliver uses parmesan, and I can see how that would work better here.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.  
Toss the butternut squash pieces with the coriander, thyme, chili, salt, pepper, and a tablespoon or so of olive oil. Place in a square baking dish (I used 8″x8″, but my squash was small), cut a piece of wax paper to fit over the top, and then pop in the oven for 30 minutes or so, until the squash is easily pierced with a fork.  In the meantime, measure the milk and sour cream (light cream or bechamel) into a bowl, grate the nutmeg into the milk, add the white wine and cheese, and stir until the nutmeg is evenly distributed. 
When the squash is ready, remove from the oven, discard the wax paper, and pour the milk mixture over the top of the squash.  Place back in the oven and bake for 10 or so minutes more, until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown.  


Filed under butternut squash, cheese, cream, milk, side

6 responses to “Sweetness, cream, and a bit of spice

  1. Oh, homemade, delicious, healthy meals… I’ve been eating cart food for the past week : ( It’s the kind of thing I’m sure I have dreamed about (all that gloriously oily thai food!!!) like a kid in a candy store, but now that it’s reality… bring back the healthy food!!

    I’ve heard great things about Jamie Oliver… will definitely have to check out his book…

  2. liz

    You’re not the only one addicted to cart food thai … I’m secretly thrilled whenever I run out of time to make lunch and have to pay a visit to Thai Taste on the corner… 😛 But a week? I know what you mean… Bring back the healthy food!

    Take a trip to the New Haven library if you want to try out his book. I have the Italian one checked out (soon to be returned), and the recipes in there are probably more interesting ones to start with, especially if you need something quick…

  3. liz

    ps — I hope the work’s going well?

  4. This looks just sorta like my moms mac and cheese, but much more elaborate! Always delicious!

  5. Thanks for asking! It’s going pretty well, just busy. I think I have realized that although I love research/writing/teaching, I don’t actually enjoy doing experiments. It makes me really tense and I get so nervous about doing something wrong, no matter what the experiment or how many times I’ve done it or how well I’ve prepped. Right now I am feeling so mad at myself for not having done something prior to this study… I really should have done it… but now it is too late!!

    Mmm, my absolute favorite for Thai food is Thai Pan Asian… they have such good veggie dishes!

  6. liz

    True enough — Thai Pan Asian needs a cart. 🙂

    I know what you mean about experiments … It seems there’s ALWAYS something more one could have / should have / would have done beforehand. So frustrating! But I’m glad it’s going well otherwise…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s