Thursday, March 29, 2007

Time Out loves us!

Squash is the new media darling. Time Out New York just did a full page article on how cooking contests have found a place amongst urbanites. Check out "Squashing the Competition."

Photo courtesy Ben Goldstein

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Recipe - Squash Stuffed Mushrooms

These Squash Stuffed Mushrooms delighted local squash fans and display the versatility of our favorite gourd. The recipe received Honorable Mention and makes a delicious hors d'oeurve. The stuffing is comprised of butternut squash, leeks, and chestnuts. While tasty it is, quick it is not. For a shortcut, try using canned chestnuts.

1 small butternut squash
20-30 cremini mushrooms
20 chestnuts with shells
1 leek (minced, white and light green portions only)
5 cloves garlic, minced
10 sage leaves, minced
olive oil
cayenne or smoked paprika (optional)

To prepare the chestnuts
1. Cut an "X" with a paring knife into the flat side of the chestnuts. Score and cut thru the glossy shell, but try not to puncture the nut.

2. In a small sauce pan with a little water, cover and heat the chestnuts on the stovetop until the "X"s open up a bit. Take off the heat.

3. When the chestnuts are cool enough to handle, take the paring knife and open and peel away the shells. Remove the glossy shell and the furry coating to reveal the nut. Mince the chestnuts.

To prepare the squash
4. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

5. Cut squash in half lenghtwise and scoop out the seeds. Cut each half into four long pieces (eight in total).

6. Place the squash in a baking pan and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 30 minutes. When they are cool enough to handle, cut away the skin.

7. Cut squash into 1/4 to 1/2 inch cubes. Measure about three cups squash for recipe. Discard remaining squash or use for another recipe.

To prepare mushrooms
8. Remove stems from mushrooms and turn upside down (making little bowls for stuffing).

9. Mince about 15 of the mushroom stems and set aside. Discard the rest.

10. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil on skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and minced leek and lightly sautee until the leeks soften, about 6 minutes.

11. Add the cubed butternut squash and stir. Add salt, pepper, and cayenne or smoked paprika to taste.

12. Transfer mixture to baking pan and place in oven for 20 minutes.

13. Remove from oven and add minced mushroom stalks and chestnuts. Stir. Bake for another 15 to 25 minutes or until squash is soft.

14. Remove from oven, and add the minced sage. Taste, and if needed add more salt and pepper.

15. Stuff the mushroom caps with a teaspoon of the mixture. Drizzle with olive oil.

16. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake mushrooms for 20 minutes or until soft.

-Recipe submitted by Jess Osserman and Kate Strassman
-Photos courtesy Daniel Krieger and Lucie Teichmann

Friday, February 23, 2007

Recipe - Three Sisters Stew

The Three Sisters Stew is a traditional Iroquois dish that highlights the native crops of squash, beans, and corn (hominy). The dish received Honorable Mention in our contest and was a personal favorite of this author for its sweet and savory taste.

1 large butternut squash
1 white onion (diced)
1 can of pumpkin
1-2 cans of hominy (with brine)
1-2 cans of red kidney beans (with brine)
1 lime (juiced)
3 tbs. canola or sunflower oil
2 cups vegetable broth
½ cup water
½ cup real maple syrup
1 cup chopped mushrooms (your choice)
4 tbs. fresh thyme
4 tbs. fresh dill (chopped)
4-5 cloves of fresh garlic (finely chopped)
Salt, pepper, hot sauce to taste

1. Saute diced onion and garlic in a hot pot with oil and herbs until onions are translucent.

2. Add 1 inch diced cubes of peeled butternut squash and cook until soft (about 25 minutes on medium-high heat).

3. Add vegetable broth with ½ cup water and bring to a simmer. Add hominy and beans (with brine juice) and mushrooms. Simmer for approx 10-15 minutes.

4. Next add the canned pumpkin and maple syrup, stirring until the broth is smooth and thick.

5. Pour fresh squeezed lime juice in stew and allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes.

6. Add salt, pepper, hot sauce to taste. Serve hot.

-Recipe submitted by George Hunter, Valley Cottage, NY
-Photo courtesy Lucie Teichmann

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Article in the Park Slope Courier

The Park Slope Courier did an article on the event, with interviews of the contestants. Check it out.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Meet the chefs on did interviews with all of our featured chefs and their dishes. They have posted about half of them so far. Visit to check them out.

-Photo courtesy Daniel Krieger

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Featured Story on The Gothamist

Jordana Rothman did a great piece on the event in The Gothamist. Here are excerpts from the story.

This weekend’s Great Squash Cook-Off drew twenty amateur cooks to Park Slope’s V-Spot restaurant to compete before a panel of local food authorities (among them KalaLea of organic cafĂ© and wine bar Smooch, Vikas Khanna of Tamarind and Isa Chandra Moskowitz, author of Vegan with a Vengeance).

The mostly local group began crowding the submission table, crowded itself with crock pots of every stripe, at 3:30 on Sunday to get a first look at entries like Winter Squash Risotto, Butternut Persimmon Pudding with maple syrup, cinnamon and ginger, and Winter Squash Soup. Despite Gothamist’s best efforts to stir up some squash based rivalry, the competition was largely friendly—as one guest put it, “not enough protein for aggression.” That it was Superbowl Sunday hadn’t, it seemed, weighed heavily on this crowd or on its organizer, Ameet Maturu who in a subversive move, played Monday Night Football’s ‘Heavy Action’ theme as he described the judges’ criteria.

Split into three rounds—soups and appetizers, entrees and desserts—judges based their decisions on taste, presentation, creative use of ingredients and ease of preparation. They squeezed into a booth happily feasting away on course after course of mushy, generally orange, goodness as we peered sadly on, clutching our meager shot glass-sized portions.

The evening wore on and more dishes, some plated extravagantly, others reflecting the simplicity of their preparation, were marched proudly from the kitchen and placed on the altar before an increasingly hungry crowd. We put our money on the Bruschetta de Zucca, a clever mix of squash, shallots, ginger and chili flakes presented with brown sugared pecans and aged balsamic vinegar. Others waged their bets on a Raw Butternut Squash Spaghetti with sun dried tomato sauce—interesting if ultimately kind of, um, raw. But the event was an upset, ending with a victory for Courtney Walsh’s (a self-described ‘librarian-mom’) Winter Squash Streusel Pie, flavored with nutmeg and allspice and topped with crystallized ginger (above lower left). “I catalog cookbooks at the library,” said Walsh who walked away with $200 and a V-Spot menu listing, “I love to cook and just decided to go for it.” Other prizes (there were ten, a democracy to be sure) went to a Cider Glazed Squash with Greens, Squash Stuffed Mushrooms and an Indian Winter Squash Halwa.

“There was a lot of heart for this event,” said Maturu. “People signed up because they love to cook and they want to be part of the community.”

Sunday marked the first of his biyearly cooking events, an offshoot of his work as a ‘holistic health counselor,’ or Intuitive Cook. Based on the belief that “healing begins at the stove,” Maturu urges his clients to approach cooking as a centering activity. For updates on events, visit

Monday, February 5, 2007

Recipe - Cider Glazed Squash with Greens

The Cider Glazed Squash with Greens was voted Audience Favorite in the competition. It is amazingly simple to prepare and scores huge on taste. The apple cider is really the secret. Do yourself a favor and prepare this wonderful dish!

4 lbs butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into bite sized chunks
2 medium yellow onions cut into 1 inch pieces
6-8 large handfuls of washed and torn kale
10 sprigs thyme, crushed and removed from the stem
6 sage leaves torn
7 cloves garlic coarsely chopped
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar dressing (I use Cindy's Kitchen)
1/3 cup olive oil
½ tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp sweet paprika
Salt and Pepper to taste
6 cups of apple cider, reduced over medium heat to ¾ cup of cider glaze

1. Set the oven to 450. Put two 9x13 jelly roll pans into the oven to pre-heat.

2. In a large bowl, toss together all ingredients except for the cider glaze. Be generous with the salt and pepper.

3. Turn the squash mixture onto the hot pans and bake for 25-35 minutes until the squash is tender and lightly browned.

4. Scrape the squash into the serving dish and drizzle with cider glaze.

-Recipe submitted by Andie Corso, Brooklyn, NY

-Photos courtesy Lucie Teichmann