Farmers market report: Winter squash is in season. We have recipes
What’s in season: Puzzled by the dozens of winter squash varieties at the markets this time of year? From the acorn, butternut and kabocha squash easily found at supermarkets to more unusual varieties such as rich kamo kamo or sweet and creamy chirimen occasionally spotted at farmers market stands, winter squash starts showing up in early fall, and the season generally extends through late winter. Winter squash varieties have hard outer skins and seeds, the tough shell helping to preserve the squash through the winter months.
What to cook: Winter squash can be prepared in a variety of ways, from roasting to boiling, steaming and even deep-frying. To roast a whole squash, halve the vegetable and remove the seeds and stringy interior. Place the squash, cut-side down and roast at 400 degrees until a knife easily pierces the sides. When cool, spoon out the tender flesh to use in soufflés or soups, a quick mash or pie filling. Cut a large squash into smaller wedges, then roast or grill and add to salads or toss with spices. Or try slicing squash into thin strips, dip into a buckwheat batter and deep-fry them.
What’s on the horizon: Varieties of kale and other winter lettuces, typically in season through the winter months, are increasingly available.
Recipe: Caramelized winter squash with wheat berries, dried cherry relish and roasted onions.(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)
PUMPKIN PIE WITH BACON AND BOURBON CRUST
About 1 hour, plus chilling and freezing times for the dough and shell | Makes 1 (9-inch) pie
Note: Refrigerate the dough at least 2 hours, preferably overnight, to give the dough sufficient time to relax; otherwise, it may toughen and shrink while baking. If using shortening instead of the bacon grease, increase the salt by 1/4 teaspoon (to 3/4 teaspoon). For a nice sheen, brush the crust with egg white before baking.
BACON AND BOURBON PIE CRUST
1 1/2 cups (6.4 ounces) flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
3 tablespoons cold bacon grease or shortening, cut into 3 pieces
5 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1/2 -inch cubes
2 tablespoons cold bourbon
2 tablespoons ice water, more as needed
1. To make the dough using a food processor, pulse together the flour, salt and sugar until thoroughly combined. Add the bacon grease and pulse until incorporated (the dough will look like moist sand). Add the butter and pulse just until the butter is reduced to small, pea-sized pieces. Sprinkle the bourbon and water over the mixture, and pulse once or twice until incorporated. Remove the crumbly mixture to a large bowl and gently press the mixture together with a large spoon, rubber spatula or the palm of your hand just until it comes together to form a dough. Mold the dough into a disc roughly 6 inches in diameter. Cover the disc tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
To make the dough by hand: Whisk together the flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Add the bacon grease and incorporate using a pastry cutter or fork (the dough will look like moist sand). Cut in the butter just until it is reduced to small, pea-sized pieces. Sprinkle the bourbon and water over the mixture, and stir together just until incorporated. Gently press the crumbly mixture together with a large spoon, rubber spatula or the palm of your hand just until it comes together to form a dough. Mold the dough into a disc roughly 6 inches in diameter. Cover the disc tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
2. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out into a round roughly 13 inches in diameter. Place in a 9-inch baking dish, crimping the edges as desired. Freeze the formed shell for 20 to 30 minutes before filling and baking.
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups (15 ounces) pureed cooked pumpkin
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons maple syrup, preferably grade “B”
1 1/3 cups half-and-half
1 prepared unbaked pie shell
1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves, nutmeg and salt.
2. Whisk in the pumpkin until the sugar and spices are evenly incorporated. Whisk in the maple syrup. Whisk in the eggs, 1 at a time, until incorporated. Slowly whisk in the half-and-half.
3. Pour the filling into a prepared pie shell and bake until the custard is set (the filling should barely jiggle when tapped), about 45 minutes to an hour. Remove to a rack and cool to room temperature.
Each of 8 servings:378 calories; 7 grams protein; 45 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 19 grams fat; 10 grams saturated fat; 118 mg cholesterol; 21 grams sugar; 346 mg sodium.
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