butternut squash²

butternut squash, tuscan kale, yellow eye beans

These cold weather days call for comforting, effortless meals that make staying indoors more of a reward than a burden.  Fellow blogger M of Little Magazine recently asked me to prepare and photograph a duo of butternut squash recipes created by the super talented Sophie of The Super Taster.  Now that all of those lovely winter squash are abundant at your local grocers and farmers markets, how can you possibly resist them?

One large butternut squash was tossed with olive oil and spices, oven roasted till tender, and divided. The first half of the squash was pureed into a smooth, flavorful soup and garnished with sour cream and fresh sage (which, after it’s closeup, was fried in brown butter).

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Napa grown Rancho Gordo yellow eye beans and sauteed Tuscan kale were combined with the remaining half of the roasted squash and transformed into a hearty and incredibly satisfying dish, which would be an excellent candidate for a Thanksgiving side or equally perfect served as a main course accompanied with rice or farro as recommended by Sophie.

roasted butternut squash, sauteed kale, beans

Not only were both recipes outstanding and easy to prepare, they are extremely versatile (you can use whatever beans or greens you’ve got on hand) and vegan friendly. I will definitely make both dishes again and again. Check out the recipes at LittleMagazine.

persimmon galette

One of the things I love most about Autumn is the arrival of persimmons. I love their gorgeous color, subtle sweetness and overall precious appearance. Describing the flavor of a persimmon to one who has never tasted the fruit is a bit tricky. I often refer to the fuyu variety as having a naturally sweet pumpkin flavor with the texture of a crisp nectarine. While I do enjoy the Hachiya variety, which has an almost gelatinous texture when eaten properly,  I often don’t have the patience for their ripening process (which can take weeks!).

Living in California means that it’s likely that a friend or neighbor has their very own persimmon tree, and it is such a treat when said friend or neighbor delivers a bag full of home grown persimmons right to your door. I recently acquired a few pounds of fuyus and although I could eat a persimmon (or two or three) a day, I thought it would be more exciting to bake with these beauties.

prebaked persimmons

After a morning of searching cookbooks and other resources, I realized that there is a major shortage of persimmon recipes out there. Inspired by the stone fruit galettes of Summer, I layered sliced persimmons over frangipane cream on a buttery tart dough. The combination of the smooth almond filling, tender but slightly crunchy fruit, and the flaky crust was the perfect way to end a Sunday dinner with my tiny eighty-four year old Granny, who has the appetite of someone half her age and twice her size, and is also a persimmon fan.

persimmon galette

makes one 11 inch tart

Basic Tart Dough

1 cup all-purpose unbleached flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small cubes

1/4 cup ice-cold water

Combine flour, salt and butter with a pastry blender. While stirring with a fork, slowly add cold water until dough begins to form clumps. Add a bit more water if necessary but be mindful not to add too much as this will result in a tough crust.  Form dough into a ball and wrap in plastic. Flatten ball into a disc and refrigerate for at least one hour before rolling.

Frangipane Cream

Note: This recipe yields enough for two tarts. I had planned on listing the ingredients to reflect a half portion, but dividing 1 egg for the conversion made it somewhat complicated.

1 cup raw or blanched almonds

1/2 cup sugar

pinch of salt

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and divided into 6 pieces

Combine almonds, salt and sugar in a food processor until finely ground. Add the egg and process until combined. Add the butter and process until smooth.

3-6 fuyu persimmons, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick

1/2 teaspoon orange zest

3 tablespoons butter, melted

5 tablespoons sugar, divided

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 400°. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface until 1/8 inch thick. Place dough on a baking sheet and transfer to the refrigerator. Toss the persimmons with 1 tablespoon sugar and orange zest. Set aside. Remove dough from refrigerator and spread 1/2 of frangipane cream on dough, leaving a 1 1/2 inch border. Lay persimmon slices on top of frangipane, overlapping fruit tightly in circles. Fold the dough border over the persimmons and brush dough with butter and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar. Brush remaining butter on fruit and sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar combined with nutmeg. Bake on the bottom rack of the oven until crust is golden on the bottom, 45-55 minutes. Let cool on a rack. Best served immediately.