Sunday, October 25, 2015

Arroz Misto Rojo Stuffed Blue Hubbard Squash

This is one of the greatest things I've created. I think it's an even better take than the last time I posted about mixed rice stuffed squash. Also, that's a place spoon pictured above--thing's enormous.

It's a great combination of flavors and textures: bright and savory red mixed rice with a squeeze of lime juice; sweet, earthy, and soft flesh of the blue hubbard squash; and finally, the softened but brittle skin of the roasted squash.

Turns out blue hubbard squash skin softens enough once roasted that you can eat it easily (unlike acorn squash, which just stays unpleasantly hard, though it becomes more brittle as does hubbard squash skin). I was pleasantly surprised by the nice interplay between the brittle, softened skin and the creamy, softened flesh.

Blue hubbard cooks up a lot like kabocha squash, in flavor and texture, though kabocha's skin cooks up softer. Both are somewhat drier than butternut, but I like the thicker, almost creamy mouthfeel of kabocha and hubbard better than butternut's less substantial feel.

Here's what I did:

Arroz Misto Rojo

1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 TBS canola or other neutral flavored oil

dash of:
chipotle chili powder
ancho chili powder
cayenne chili powder

1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes, low- or no salt added

4 cups steamed, mixed rice

salt to taste

for garnish:
sliced scallions
freshly squeezed lime juice

  1. Heat oil in skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion, garlic, and lightly salt, and stir occasionally until beginning to brown.
  2. Add spices and sautée until spices are fragrant.
  3. Add tomatoes and sautée until heated through.
  4. Add cooked rice and toss until thoroughly combined and heated through. Season with additional salt to taste. Add garnish as desired.
  5. Serve immediately, or use in another dish, such as stuffed roasted squash.

Simple Roasted Blue Hubbard Squash

½ blue hubbard squash, seeds removed
olive oil
coarse sea salt
ground black pepper

  1. Heat oven to 425F. Line a baking pan with parchment paper for easier cleanup.
  2. Brush cut side and interior of squash with oil and lightly season with salt and pepper. Place on lined baking pan cut side down or up (down may keep it more moist through roasting than up, but I didn’t notice much of a difference trying it both ways).
  3. Roast for 40 minutes or so, until a fork pierces the flesh without resistance and the surface has browned.
  4. Serve directly (it’s delicious as is, eating it by the spoonful) or stuff with a seasoned rice dish, for example.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Becoming a Seasoned Seasoner (of Woks and Cast Iron Pans)

Finally, I've got a solid handle of how to properly season and maintain one's wok and/or cast iron pan. But really, this time.

I wrote about my struggles with this previously, and while my conclusions in that last blog post aren't all wrong, they're not all right, either.

But hey, instead of me taking the time to write out my experience in my words, how about I just refer you to this guide from Kenji Lopez-Alt, which will tell you all you need to know--and be correct, too:

With regard to the mysterious flaking (or scaling, as Kenji calls it) that bedeviled my earlier efforts, here's the key, buried at the bottom of Kenji's post:
This happens when you heat the pan too often without adding extra oil to it. Rather than coming off in microscopic bits like normal seasoning will, the layer of polymers sloughs off in large flakes. To reach this state, I stored my pan in the oven for a month's worth of heating cycles without reoiling the surface in between heating. It's easy to avoid this problem by regularly oiling the pan after each use and not overheating it (don't leave it in the oven during the cleaning cycle, for instance), but once it happens, there's no turning back—you'll have to reseason it from the start. [My emphasis added.]
That's it: Don't heat your seasoned wok or pan to smoking without adding oil or fat to it!

Also, when you heat up your pan/wok, swabbed with a very thin layer of oil, turn off the heat as soon as it starts smoking.

Other things about my previous post I'd amend:
  • The stovetop method of seasoning your cookware definitely works just fine. Just don't heat your pan/wok without oil.
  • Canola oil is actually a good oil for seasoning your cookware. It turns out the gunkiness that I (and others I've seen posting on the web) experienced with canola oil was due to not heating it to its smoke point when seasoning.
For more on the chemistry behind seasoning, and which oil is best, check out this blog post. She actually recommends food grade flaxseed oil, but it's expensive. But buried in her post is an allusion to how canola oil is decent since it's got some extent of the properties you want in the oil used for seasoning a pan.