Butternut Squash & Hominy Stew

by Caroline

This is absolutely not a recipe I would make just for my family, since my kids are at the stage when stews and other cooked food mixtures don’t appeal to them at all (although they will happily eat their own weird combinations of food, if they make them themselves). But, this recipe arrived with our CSA box days before a weekend away with a couple other families, and as I do when my parents come to visit, I figured I could use the four other adults as guinea pigs. I loved the idea of adding the ground almonds and sesame seeds (the result is not gritty at all); I loved that it used most of the week’s CSA vegetables in one colorful dish; I loved the surprising addition of hominy. I served it with the biscuits from the pear cobbler recipe I posted recently (leaving the sugar out of the biscuits) and it was a huge hit. It’s a delicious, hearty, chili-like stew that I’m looking forward to making again the next time I’m cooking for grownups.

Butternut Squash & Hominy Stew

2 onions, chopped
olive or vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dry oregano
4 tablespoons mild ground chili
1 small butternut squash, peeled and diced
8 ounces mushrooms, quartered
1 cauliflower, cut into florets
1 can hominy, drained and rinsed
2 pounds tomatoes, chopped or crushed
a handful of almonds
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 cup frozen peas (or a 10 ounce bag)
4 tablespoons chopped cilantro

heat some oil in a large pot and saute the onions for 6-7 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, oregano, the chili powder and continue cooking another minute or so. Add the squash, mushrooms, and 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat, cover and simmer slowly until the squash is tender, about 20 minutes.

Grind the almonds and sesame seeds in a food processor until finely chopped. Add them to the stew with the cauliflower, tomatoes, and hominy and cook until the cauliflower is tender and the tomatoes have broken down. Add the peas and cilantro and cook through. Taste and adjust seasonings (salt, pepper, chili). Serve with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt and more cilantro.

Cauliflower Compote

by Caroline

So, remember last week, I wrote about single words that can draw you into a recipe? Well, compote is definitely not one of those words for me. It just sounds like a food dump; I guess it sounds a bit too much like compost.

But the combination of ingredients in this recipe from our CSA caught my eye here. It’s not a novel mixture for us — we roast cauliflower with olives all the time — but it’s a familiar mixture cooked in a new (and faster) way.

I showed the recipe to Ben, expecting he might like it, and I was surprised at his reaction. “Compote! I LOVE compote! Do we have any fruit? Can we make a fruit compote?” And then he spun off, looking at the pears and apples, reminiscing about the spring’s strawberry-rhubarb compote, before coming back to me and my giant head of cauliflower. “Oh, sure. That’d be good.”

With that endorsement, I got cooking, and this is a lovely new way to do cauliflower.

I’m giving you the ingredient amounts as they were listed in the recipe, but of course one of the benefits of compote is that you can adapt according to your taste (and your supplies):

1 large head of cauliflower, chopped into small florets (I obviously had purple, but any kind will do)
1 large shallot or a couple cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 c olive oil
12 kalamata olives, roughly chopped
3-4 wide strips of lemon peel, minced
1/4 c chopped parsley
1/3 – 1/2 c chopped tomatoes (I left these out at first — my kids don’t like tomatoes — but added them to my leftovers the next day, and they tasted great)
1/4 c toasted pine nuts

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil, then add the cauliflower and shallot or garlic. Saute briskly with some salt for 2-3 minutes, then lower the heat and cover the skillet. Sweat for about 5 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender.

Raise the heat and add the olives, lemon peel, parsley and tomato (if using). Saute just until everything is heated through and the dish smells fragrant. Finish with some pepper, sprinkle with the pine nuts and serve warm, as a side dish or over pasta.

Pasta Romanesco

by Caroline

Of all the new vegetables we’ve met via our CSA — the cardoons, the agretti — I think my favorite might be romanesco broccoli, the fractal vegetable. It’s firmer than standard broccoli but sweeter than cauliflower, and it tasted great the other night in an easy pasta with lemon zest, sliced almonds, and asiago cheese. Here’s the recipe:

12 ounces campanelle or penne pasta
7 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 heads roughly chopped Romanesco broccoli (about 1 1/4 lbs. total)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds
1/4 cup shredded asiago cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, heat 3 tbsp. oil over medium heat in a large frying pan. Add Romanesco and 1/2 tsp. salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender-crisp, about 5 minutes. Add 1 tbsp. more oil to pan along with garlic and chile flakes. Cook until garlic is fragrant and light golden and Romanesco is tender, about 5 minutes more.

Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup pasta water, and return to pot. Stir in Romanesco mixture, lemon zest, almonds, cheese, remaining 3 tbsp. oil and 1/4 tsp. salt, and enough pasta water to moisten (about 3/4 cup).

Pumpkin Coconut Milk Curry

by Caroline

My parents are visiting this week (on the California leg of my Dad’s book tour) — and that means I am experimenting with recipes I wouldn’t make for just the four of us.

My parents (unlike my children) are eager and adventurous eaters, and while the food here ultimately matters less to them, I think, than the company (grandchildren!), they’re happy to eat just about whatever Tony or I feels like cooking. They like to cook, but I know it’s a nice break for them to be catered to; they have a great store of homegrown produce in their root cellar and freezer, but I know that what looked like an appealing bounty in August can start to feel a tiresome burden in October. Because everyone, not just the parents of young and picky eaters, gets into food ruts. Whatever breaks you out of a routine — houseguests, the change in seasons, a new recipe — is a blessing. Right now, we’ve got all three working for us, and I’m grateful.

I spotted this curry recipe a couple weeks ago, just before the first pumpkin arrived in our CSA, and have been saving it for my parents, though it’s a mild enough curry that your kids may like it, too (mine tasted it, and then ate rice with plain tofu). I’ve linked to the original and will paste in the recipe as I made it.

1 1/2 quarts peeled pumpkin or other orange-fleshed squash, chopped into 1 1/2″ chunks (from a 3-lb. squash)
About 1 tsp. kosher salt, divided
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 onion, halved and cut into half-moons
1 or 2 red or green serrano chiles, minced (adjust to taste)
1 cinnamon stick
20 fresh curry leaves (the original recipe suggests you can substitue bay leaves but I wouldn’t recommend it; just leave the curry leaves out if you can’t find them)
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 can (14.5 oz.) coconut milk
1/2 lb tofu, cut into chunks (not in the original recipe, but added for extra protein)
1 cup salted roasted cashews (I happened only to have peanuts, which were fine; toasted pumpkin seeds would be nice, too)
1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice (or, in my case, as much juice as you can squeeze from half a lime)


1. Sprinkle pumpkin chunks with 1/2 tsp. salt. Heat 1 tbsp. oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Brown half the pumpkin in oil, turning once, 6 to 8 minutes; reduce heat if pumpkin starts getting dark. Transfer to a bowl and repeat with 1 tbsp. oil and remaining pumpkin. Set all the pumpkin aside in a bowl.

2. Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 tbsp. oil in another large frying pan over medium heat. Cook onion, stirring occasionally, until deep golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer half to the pumpkin- frying pan and reserve other half in a bowl.

3. Add chiles, cinnamon, and curry leaves to onion in pan. Cook, stirring often, until curry leaves are very fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add turmeric, cumin, and remaining 1/2 tsp. salt and cook, stirring, until spices are fragrant, about 1 minute.

4. Return pumpkin to the pan with the onion and spices and add the coconut milk and tofu. Bring to a boil over high heat, then cover, reduce heat, and simmer until pumpkin is tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in lemon or lime juice, and add more salt to taste. Top curry with nuts and reserved onion and serve over rice.

Quick Yeast Bread

by Caroline

We love bread. And while it is very easy, living in San Francisco, to buy a different kind of delicious bread every day, we love to make it, too. I learned by watching my mom make bread every week, and my kids are learning the same way. In fact, if I can send my children out into the world with one lesson learned in my kitchen, I’d like them to feel that producing homemade bread is not a tricky thing.

I think we’re off to a good start. Ben invented his own bread recipe (which is really not half bad) when he was five, and now we’ve added another easy bread recipe to the repertoire. “Quick” and “yeast” rarely come together in bread recipes, but they do in this new one from Heidi Swanson (which she adapted from another source; I do love how recipes travel).

The next time you’ve got a hankering for fresh bread, give this a try; it’s barely an hour from the idea till you’ve got a piece of warm bread in your hands.

1 1/4 cups warm water (105-115F; if it feels neutral — not too hot nor cold — on your wrist, it’s the right temp)
2 teaspoons active dry yeast (one packet)
1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
1 tablespoons butter, to grease the pan

In a medium bowl, sprinkle the yeast onto the warm water and stir until the yeast dissolves. Stir in the honey and set aside for a few minutes, until the yeast blooms and swells a bit – 5 – 10 minutes.

In the meantime, mix the flours, oats, and salt in a large bowl. Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir very well.

Grease an 8-cup loaf pan with butter. Turn the dough into the pan, cover with a clean, slightly damp cloth, and set in a warm place for 30 minutes, to rise.

Preheat the oven to 350F, with a rack in the middle. When the oven’s hot, bake the bread for 35-40 minutes, until golden and pulling away from the sides of the pan.

Remove from oven, and turn the bread out of the pan quickly. Let it cool on a rack so it doesn’t steam in the pan. Serve warm, slathered with butter.

Makes 1 loaf.

Adapted from Gran’s Kitchen: Recipes from the Notebooks of Dulcie May Booker.