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

Recipe - Winter Squash Streusel Pie

The Winter Squash Streusel Pie was voted Judge's Favorite in our cook-off. It is a new take on the more traditional pumpkin pie recipe. Baked with love and excellence by its creator Courtney Walsh of Brooklyn, NY. And you can now try it for yourself at The V-Spot!

1 1/2 c. white-whole wheat flour (King Arthur brand)
(can substitute 3/4 c. unbleached white flour)
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/3 tsp. salt
1/2 c. Earth Balance spread or Spectrum all-vegetable shortening
3-4 Tbsp. cold water

Pie filling
2 c. butternut squash puree
1 c. unsweetened soymilk
1/2 c. unrefined sugar
4 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. molasses
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 tsp. salt

Streusel topping
3/4 c. white-whole wheat flour
(can substitute 1/3 c. unbleached white flour)
1/3 c. unrefined sugar
1/3 c. demerara sugar or dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. Earth Balance spread
3/4 c. walnuts, toasted and chopped
1/4 c. crystallized ginger, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350°

2. To cook squash: Slice butternut squash in half and scoop out seeds. Bake squash on lightly greased baking sheet at 350° for an hour or until soft. Scoop out squash pulp into strainer and let rest over large bowl for 30 minutes to allow excess juices to drain. Puree in food processor or blender until smooth.

3. To make crust: Mix flour and salt together in a bowl of food processor. Add shortening and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle in water, one tablespoon at a time, until the dough holds together. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until about 1/8” thick and 2” larger than an inverted pie pan. Transfer dough to pan, trim and crimp edges.

4. To make pie filling: Place 2 c. of squash puree in a mixing bowl. Add soymilk and stir until smooth. Add sugar and cornstarch and stir until smooth, taking care that the lumps of cornstarch disappear. Stir in molasses, vanilla, spices and salt and stir until smooth.

5. Refrigerate until ready to fill crust.

6. Make streusel topping: Combine first 5 ingredients in a blender or food processor. Add Earth Balance spread and pulse gently until combined. Pour into bowl and stir in walnuts and crystallized ginger.

7. Pour the filling into the pie shell and spread evenly. Sprinkle streusel topping evenly over the top of the pie. Bake for 60-70 minutes, covering the edges with foil if they begin to brown too quickly, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

8. Cool completely and allow to set fully before serving.

-Recipe submitted by Courtney Walsh, Brooklyn, NY
-Pie photo courtesy Daniel Krieger, Contestant photo courtesy Lucie Teichmann

The Great Squash winners announced


Grand Prize (Judge's Winner)

Vegan Winter Squash Streusel Pie
Courtney Walsh, Brooklyn, NY
$200 Cash and V-Spot Menu Listing

Audience Winner
Cider Glazed Squash with Greens
Andie Corso, Brooklyn, NY
$100 Cash (sponsored by iFood TV)

Honorable Mention
Three Sisters Stew
George Hunter, Valley Cottage, NY
$50 Gift Certificate to Pumpkins Organic Market

Honorable Mention
Thai Butternut Squash Soup
Swati Parikh, Brooklyn, NY
$50 Gift Certificate to smooch organic cafe

Honorable Mention
Squash Stuffed Mushrooms
Jess Osserman and Kate Strassman, Brooklyn, NY
$50 Gift Certificate to Second Helpings Natural Foods Cafe

Honorable Mention
Baked Stuffed Acorn Squash
Briana Myers, Brooklyn, NY
$25 Gift Certificate to Tarzian West Housewares

Honorable Mention
Indian Winter Squash Halwa
Piya Trehan, Brooklyn, NY
$25 Gift Certificate to Two Little Red Hens Bakery

Honorable Mention
Karen Washington, Bronx, NY
Signed copy of Grub! Ideas for the Urban Organic Kitchen by Anna Lappe

Honorable Mention
Thai Squash Curry
John Hamilton, Brooklyn, NY
Signed copy of Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Honorable Mention
Raw Butternut Spaghetti
Dan McDonald, Brooklyn, NY
Copy of Gandhi: Cuisine of India by Vikas Khanna

Thanks to our prize donors. With your generosity, we managed to give out over $500 worth in prizes!

-Photo courtesy Lucie Teichmann

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Super Squash Sunday is a Success!

The frigid cold didn't deter ardent squash fans. The Great Squash Cook-off took place as scheduled to a packed audience at The V-Spot Cafe. Twenty contestants were accompanied by friends, onlookers, seasonal foodies, and members of the press.

The event went amazingly well. Not a hungry person was left in the room. Each participant presented their dish, and each shared the story behind its creation. I was fortunate to have a crew of photographers and filmmakers on hand to document the event. I plan to post photos, recipes, and videos of all the contestants so the evening can be shared with all of you.

Thanks to all those who helped making this event possible. Including my judges, KalaLea, Abhaya Kaufman (for Anna Lappe), Vikas Khanna, and Isa Chandra Moskowitz; Paula Lukatz of Just Food; My family and friends (Benny, Joe, Monica, Swati, Mom and Dad); Danny Carabano and The V-Spot staff (Alex, Lauren, Mike, Pedro, Rik, and Sharat); and of course my lovely and amazing contestants! You are all wonderful and inspire me!

-Photo courtesy Daniel Krieger

The case for squash

Some of you may be asking "why squash?" So here's what I have to say...

Winter squash (e.g. acorn, butternut, kabocha) is a vegetable I recommend to my clients around this time of year. Especially for those on a vegetarian/vegan diet. As the temperature gets colder, squash does a great job at insulating and providing warmth for the body. It also is very rich in Vitamin A and other nutrients that are essential in staving off colds and flus.

But also I think there is a lot of culinary potential with the ingredient. It can be made into soups, roasted, pureed, sauteed, and can even make a great desssert! Delicious!

Saturday, February 3, 2007

We're famous!

The Great Squash Cook-off is a media darling! Here are some of the notable mentions thus far...

WNBC, Today in New York
Time Out New York's Best Bets
Saturday, February 1, 2007

Time Out New York, Around Town section
February 1-7, 2007 issue
"Recommend listing"

Park Slope Courier, February 1, 2007
"Squash Super Bowl Set for Cook-off"

Friday, February 2, 2007

Featured Dishes

I can't help salivating when I read the entries. They all sound good. Any early favorites?


Cream of Butternut Squash
with ginger, fall herbs and non-dairy cream

Thai Butternut Squash Soup
with red curry, spinach and tofu

Three Sisters Stew
featuring heirloom Iroquois corn, beans, and butternut squash

Winter Squash Soup
with acorn and butternut squashes, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves


Baked Stuffed Acorn Squash
with brown rice, mushrooms, walnuts and dried fruits

Brushchetta de Zucca
with shallots, ginger, and chili flakes

Cider Glazed Squash with Greens
featuring roasted butternut squash, garlic, sage and greens with reduced apple cider

New England Autumn Medley
featuring pan-roasted butternut squash, brussel sprouts, purple potatoes, and apples

Pomegranate Squash
with olive oil, garlic, and pomegranate syrup

Raw Butternut Spaghetti
with sun dried tomato sauce

Spicy Roasted Squash
with cilantro, lime, chili peppers, and nuts

southern style, featuring butternut squash, yams, collards, kale and turnips

Squash Stuffed Mushrooms
with butternut squash, leeks, roasted chestnuts and herbs

Stuffed Spaghetti Squash
with couscous, portabello mushroom, tomato and basil

Thai Squash Curry (Gheng Fuk Tong)
in red curry with pineapple, tofu, and basil over brown rice

Winter Squash Risotto
featuring butternut squash and homemade vegan cheese


Butternut Persimmon Pudding
with maple syrup, cinnamon and ginger

Indian Winter Squash Halwa
featuring cashews, raisins with aromas of cardamon, cinnamon, and nutmeg

Squash and Cherry Bake

Vegan Winter Squash Streusel Pie
features organic winter squash over whole grain crust

The Great Squash Cook-off - Feb 4, 2007

If you've arrived at my wee blog, you've probably heard of that 'Squash Cookoff' event. Well, if you haven't let's just get it out of the way...

In an effort to promote home cooking and seasonal eating, my business, The Intuitive Cook, is producing The Great Squash Cook-off. The event will bring together twenty amateur chefs who face the challenge of creating a delicious vegan dish that features winter squash. Prizes will be awarded to top dishes.

The event is on Sunday, February 4, 2007, from 4:30 to 7:30 at The V-Spot in Park Slope. Admission is $15 to the public and includes samples of dishes. For more information, visit the event website

We have a blog!

I have officially embraced the blogosphere. No turning back now.