You know that we're firmly entrenched in Autumn when almost every other recipe you see on the blogs contains some form of pumpkin, butternut or acorn squash. It's inevitable. A myriad of orange-hued dishes abound, both sweet and savory. Pies, breads, cakes, soups, and even the simplest compositions of roasted root vegetables dot the web like little marshmallows on a sweet potato casserole. I'm not complaining, mind you. I like it. In fact, I like it so much that I'm jumping on the winter squash bandwagon, myself.
Those of you who are winter squash aficionados might be shocked to learn that there are some people who don't actually like orange-fleshed food. I know, it's shocking! Both Mr. SGCC and Mini SGCC fall into that category. I'm sure that you all feel my pain at this revelation! While they each might indulge in a bite or two of a cleverly disguised pumpkin pie or a spoonful of my mother's world famous candied sweet potatoes (only on Thanksgiving), they draw the line there. I, on the other had, adore the color orange, especially on a plate! So, when I feel the need for a gourd fix, I'm pretty much on my own. I'll usually look for a small specimen at the market, wait until I'm on my own for an evening and knock myself out!
One of my favorites is acorn squash. I think that's because it was the one that I had most often growing up. My mom used to make it a lot. She prepared it very simply, baked in the oven with a little butter and some cinnamon, brown sugar and nutmeg sprinkled on top. I can still remember how good it was - that soft, yielding, slightly sweet and spicy flesh. Acorn squash is not quite as dense and sweet as it's other Cucurbitaceae cousins, and it's flesh is lighter and more golden, but it is every bit as healthy and delicious.
Acorn squash is a tasty source of complex carbohydrates and soluble fiber, which, is said to play an important role in reducing the incidence of colon cancer. It is also an excellent source of beta carotene, which is converted to Vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is essential for healthy skin, vision, bone development and maintenance as well as many other functions.
The other day Mr. and Mini SGCC were out, so I decided to make myself some acorn squash. I basically made it the same way my mother did, but I tried a new twist on it that I really, really liked. I cut it in two and spread a bit of softened butter on the inside of each half. Then I sprinkled on some cinnamon and dark brown sugar and drizzled on a little pure maple syrup (NOT Log Cabin). Here's where the twist comes in. Normally, I would bake the squash on a baking sheet in a little water bath. Instead, I poured some apple cider in the baking sheet. By the time the squash was cooked through, the cider had reduced and caramelized into a thick, gooey syrup that was both sweet and tart at the same time. I scooped the flesh of the squash into a bowl and scraped up all of that glorious apple ooze and added it too. The combination of apple, brown sugar, maple syrup and cinnamon turned that squash into something sublime! If you're a fan of acorn, or any winter squash, you must try it this way. It was really and truly divine - and incredibly easy to prepare!
Apple-Maple Acorn Squash Puree
1 medium acorn squash
1-2 tablespoons softened butter
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 cups apple cider
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Line a baking sheet with foil.
Cut acorn squash in half and scoop out seeds and stringy bits.
Place on baking sheet flesh side up. Spread butter on squash, then sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon. Drizzle maple syrup on top.
Bake for 1 hour, or until squash is soft and apple juice has caramelized. Scoop flesh from the skin and into a bowl. Scrape as much of the apple goop as you can up from the baking sheet and add to the bowl. Mix and mash it all together and serve.
I also have a fun bit of news to share with you. SGCC has recently been included on Alltop. Alltop is a news aggregation site that provides “all the top” stories for the most popular topics on the Web, including food. According to their web site, "You can think of an Alltop site as a “digital magazine rack” of the Internet. To be clear, Alltop sites are starting points—they are not destinations per se. The bottom line is that we are trying to enhance your online reading by both displaying stories from the sites that you’re already visiting and helping you discover sites that you didn’t know existed. In other words, our goal is the “cessation of Internet stagnation” by providing “aggregation without aggravation.”
I am flattered and proud to be included with so many wonderful and successful web sites and blogs. If you've never visited Alltop before, why not take a few minutes and check it out. You just may discover some great new finds!