Saturday, December 20, 2008
We had a brief respite from the "arctic onslaught" yesterday, and I was able to zip around and get some errands done, enjoying the sun (!) around Portland. But, much to my delight, I woke up this morning to white flurries riding the wind outside my bedroom window - and a few inches on the ground. I'm so in love with snow, that I really don't mind that Portland ceases to function under these conditions. It means more time to read, more time to finish holiday presents, and more time to cook!
This morning's Farmers' Market would have been all about winter squash - the sturdy champion of these wintry days and nights - and I'm pretty sad I didn't get a chance to thank all of my favorite farmers for a great year. I thought I'd commemorate the end of market season by roasting a sweet little acorn squash, and proving that these guys are a food of many hats by doing a savory and sweet rendition for each half.
For the savory side, I crafted an open-faced sandwich using fresh Tuscan Peasant Bread that I made this morning. If you couldn't tell, I'm having the time of my life baking every day. I'm usually running around Portland, hopping from one task to another, that the though of making bread seems like an indulgence I don't have the time for, seeing as I'm rarely in the house for a few consecutive hours. But this week, what with this lovely winter weather that has shut down the city, I've got all the time in the world - what's a two hour rising time when I'm snowed in for the whole day?
Plus, I was able to roast my squash in the oven while the bread was baking. Hooray for multitasking. I didn't do anything fancy with the acorn squash - just cut it in have, scooped out the pulp, and dotted each with a pat of butter and some kosher salt. I nestled the halves into a shallow pie pan filled with about a half inch of water. The bread was baking for an hour at 425 degrees, so I left the squash in for the same amount of time. It's kind of hard to screw up winter squash.
I used Beth Hensperger's Tuscan Peasant Loaf recipe from (where else?) the Bread Bible, though I like to add a touch more salt and replace the sugar with honey. This bread has a great crust and a dense crumb - perfect for sandwiches! I took two big slices of the bread, brushed on a bit of olive oil and rubbed the slices with garlic. I layered on roasted zucchini, slices of one half of the acorn squash, and some slices of really good local havarti from Willamette Valley Cheese Company - my absolute favorite cheese - and popped it under the broiler for a minute, until the cheese was golden and the bread was toasty.
I mixed up some halved kalamata olives, capers, and balsamic vinegar to drizzle over the top. Yum. The zucchini, squash, and cheese melted together to a really creamy consistency, perfectly set off by the crunchy bread. This was SO filling, I had to put a half back in the fridge for later. I'm sure it will be just as good in a few hours.
For the sweet side, I called upon my mom's old trick to get us to eat banana squash - her's and everyone else's moms' - by sprinkling the other half with brown sugar and cinnamon. Nothing to it - creamy, sweet, a little salty, and a perfect accompaniment to the open-face sandwiches. No one could complain that it was the same ingredient twice - and it's a treat that would get anyone through a winter of squash!