Tag Archives: Aveline Kushi

Soup Part One: Miso

Tuesday, 12 January 2010 at the Macrobiotic Cooking Club

There are certainly more solid parts per million in my breakfast French press than in a bowl of miso broth. But, coffee isn’t broth, no matter how thick, and so miso remains the simplest, most energizing soup I know.

The traditional base for miso soup is dashi, which is made from bonito (flaked dried fish) and seaweed. Its flavor is delicate and delicious. Aveline Kushi writes that, ideally, soup does contain both sea vegetables and either miso or tamari, “which simulate the salty composition of the ocean from which primitive life evolved.” (Aveline Kushi’s Complete Guide to Macrobiotic Cooking for Health, Harmony, and Peace).

Don’t let dashi-making deter you, though. Use good unpasteurized miso (typically sold in 4- to 16 oz. tubs or jars from refrigerated cases in health food stores) to turn even plain water into a satisfying soup.

Ryan taught me the best way. My cookbooks have recipes for batches of four or more helpings, but if you’re cooking for one or two it’s better to soup miso by the bowl. Made with rough and aged South River miso, this broth is the most satisfying light meal there is. Serve it with thick bread or brown rice.

Simplest Miso Broth
per bowl

1-3 teaspoons miso
boiling water, left to cool for a few moments
scallions, rinsed and sliced thin (green and white parts)

1. Put the miso in your soup bowl and mix in a little warm water to soften it. Gradually add more water until the miso is the texture of mustard. (This should take less than 1/4 cup water).
2. Add hot water, a few moments off the boil; use as much water as you want soup. Stir the diluted miso and the water together and top with sliced scallions.
Note: The amount of miso depends on your taste, the type of miso you are using, and the amount of water. Only experimentation will determine the amount you’ll like best.

Seasoning With Miso

Besides making a meal on its own, miso is good for seasoning any soupy dish or broth you have. We mixed miso into the seitan cooking water last week at cooking club. The seitan was cooked in broth seasoned with tamari and dulse, tasting like the sea, and just a couple of teaspoons of chickpea miso made it into soup.

Soften miso as for soup, and add it to cooked beans for a savory treat. Miso may also be diluted and poured over greens or other vegetables as they cook, although it is best not to boil miso if you can help it. When miso boils, the flavor doesn’t change but the living ferment is destroyed.

Consider the saltiness of miso when seasoning with it. Some dishes may require both sea salt and miso for the proper flavor, while others will taste just right with only miso. Try some of your miso plain or on a slice of toast to find out just how salty it is.

The reason for diluting miso with a little of the water before adding it to soupy dishes is, if you do not dilute the miso it stays lumpy. The Sous Chef at Pure Food & Wine used to add wads of hatcho (soybean) miso to family meal soups, for heartiness. He did not temper the miso, though, so the soup was mostly bland but with biggish lumps of concentrated salty flavor in a few of our bowls.

Besides Chickpea Miso in Seitan Broth, at the Twelfth Meeting of The Macrobiotic Cooking Club, we had:

Carrots Baked Fish Style
Rolled Sushi with Seitan, Cucumber and Sprouts
(Green Tea)

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Arugula with Curly Endive, Celery Root and Walnuts

Tuesday, 5 January 2010 at Macrobiotic Cooking Club

Boxed greens are irritatingly convenient, but it is muddy bunched arugula and feathered heads of curly endive that are irresistible. For a small winter salad, the task of cleaning them is not so tedious after all. I learned from reading Deborah Madison’s The Greens Cookbook and The Savory Way. Madison admits of pre-washed greens’ contribution to a speedy salad, but encourages her readers more towards garden toil and countryside gathering. Far from being a nuisance, “Handling the tender, delicate leaves,” she says, “…is one of the keenest pleasures in the kitchen I know.” (The Savory Way)

To make eight small salads:

1 smallish celery root
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 bunch arugula
1 head curly endive
3-4 Tablespoons raw walnuts (halves/pieces)

3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)
3 Tablespoons tamari soy sauce
1/2-1 teaspoon toasted walnut oil
1/2 cup cold water

(Heat the oven at 350 degrees F to toast the walnuts.)

1. Peel the gnarly outer layer off the celery root. Use a vegetable peeler to make thin shavings of the inner root. Toss the shavings in salt and set them aside in a small bowl to ‘quick pickle’ while you prepare the rest of the salad.

2. Wash and dry the arugula, removing any tough stems and wilted or yellow leaves. Trim the base off the curly endive and wash and dry the frilly leaves. Set these aside while you prepare the walnuts and the dressing.

3. When the oven is heated, toast the walnuts just until crisp and very lightly brown. Check them every 5 minutes, as they are easy to burn. Once they are toasted, set them aside to cool while you prepare the dressing.

4. This light dressing is based on Aveline Kushi’s Tamari-Lemon Dressing. Combine the lemon juice, tamari, walnut oil and water. It is easy to shake them all in a jar together, then store any extra dressing in the same jar.

5. Add cold water to the bowl with the celery root and swish it around to wash off the extra salt. Taste it and rinse again if it is still too salty. Drain off the water.

To Serve:

1. Divide the curly endive between eight small plates.

2. Toss the arugula with dressing to taste. Divide it between the plates, mounding it atop the endive. Use half again as much arugula as endive.

3. Place several strips of quick-pickled celery root atop the arugula on each plate; to equal about 2/3 the volume of endive.

4. Roughly chop the toasted walnuts and sprinkle them onto the salads.

About Celery Root and Curly Endive

The French enjoy both of these vegetables. Flying to Paris from New York aboard an AirFrance airplane, I tasted celery root for the first time. Shredded and dressed, as it was, in vegan remoulade, it tasted like a delicate and string-less version of the ribby, stalk celery. It is actually not the same vegetable at all, but, according to Larousse Gastronomique, an entire other “…variety of celery grown for its fleshy whitish root, which can weigh…(1 3/4-2 1/4 lb).” In France, it is called celeriac, or celeri-rave.

Celery root is adaptable to cooking styles ranging from the near-raw remoulade and quick pickle, above, to steaming, braising or stuffing. Curly endive, however, with its “very thin and serrated” leaves, is “…eaten mainly in salad.” (Larousse Gastronomique). The Chef at a French restaurant I worked in pointed it out in the salad mix we used, saying he wished he could buy it alone. Similarly, many American restaurant guests pick it out of the salad mix and leave it on the corner of their plates. To each their own, as they say. Those who wish to buy curly endive alone should look at Whole Foods, where I chose mine from a row of the small, individual heads. It may also be called frisee or chicory.

Four of us cooked and ate at Meeting Eleven of the Macrobiotic Cooking Club. In addition to salad, we had the following:

Red Lentil Dahl
Arame and Onions
Brown Basmati with Spinach
(Red Wine and Green Tea)

Next week we’re making sushi.

Post-Hemming-And-Hawing: Burdock

I expired my hems and haws for burdock.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Tenth meeting of Cooking Club. The original three members; Laura, Ryan and Hilary (myself). Here’s burdock on the menu:

Quick-Pickled Cucumbers
Kinpira Burdock
Wheatberries with Lemon and Scallions
Homemade Seitan
Roasted Beets with Onions
Miso-Tahini Sauce

It was a feast! We drank Vinho Verde (the Portuguese “Green Wine”) and, after dinner, green tea.

Fright Root

You never know how to cook a vegetable until you’ve done it, so here’s some inspiration to try burdock.

“This long, thin brown root vegetable has a firm texture and gives very strong energy. Although eaten year-round, burdock is especially warming in winter. In Japan, we grew burdock in our garden at home. It was cultivated in raised hill beds…in order to make harvesting easier. In many regions, burdock also grows wild and is more strengthening than the domesticated variety. …[I]n New England we’ve foraged for wild burdock many times…” –Aveline Kushi

“…In cooking, the fleshy roots are prepared like salsify or asparagus.” –Larousse Gastronomique

That “domesticated variety” is easy to find in Asian markets. Course and hairy, like a coconut pulled to the length of your arm; it’s intimidating, but inexpensive. The clerk broke mine in half to fit it on the scale, then I closed it in the vegetable drawer for three weeks while I got the nerve to cook it.

Now that I’ve cooked it, I know how.

To Prepare Burdock

1. Use a vegetable peeler or small paring knife to remove the dark brown skin. It’s cruddy and shreds as you go. The pale inner root will darken as quickly as it is exposed to air, but that’s OK. When you cook it, it turns mushroom-brown.

2. Cut the peeled burdock into julienne or matchstick pieces, or any other small and thinnish style. Slice surely. Burdock is questionably fibrous raw, but once cooked, the root reveals its smooth and toothsome nature. Immerse the slices in a bowl of fresh water. The water, also, will darken. I rinsed my burdock in several changes before cooking it.

Kinpira

This Japanese and Macrobiotic cooking style is especially good for burdock, or burdock-and-carrots, but also can be used to cook turnips, beets, parsnips or any other root vegetables you might have around.

1. Heat a wide, heavy pan over high heat and add a little oil. I used toasted sesame oil for the burdock kinpira. Add the sliced root vegetables and cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes to color.

2. Add water to half cover the vegetables, and a splash of soy sauce. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pot. Simmer for 30 minutes to an hour, or until the roots are soft and have absorbed all of the water.

Traditional kinpira also includes sake, mirin or dashi as part of the cooking liquid. This water version is plenty delightful, but if you have those ingredients you can try adding some.

Cucumber Haiku and 50-Pound Maitake

Tuesday, 15 November 2009

The ninth meeting of the Macrobiotic Cooking Club.
Barry, Laura, Emily, Thomas, Tessie, Ryan and Hilary showed up.

The Menu:

Oat-Wheat (sourdough) Bread
Red Rice
Leaf Salad with Mustard Dressing
Slippery Mushrooms
Quick Pickled Cucumbers

We drank French-pressed fresh ground coffee while cooking, and followed the meal with dessert improvisation; honey bread.

Forbidden Shmuits

Macrobiotic teachers (such as Aveline Kushi, from whose book we cook) frequently discourage students from using natural ingredients such as coffee, yams and honey; but students take their advice with salt.

Yesterday’s curious clicking around the Internet lead me to an open-minded and informed explanation by Steve Gagne on the Macrobiotic Guide website. Gagne answers questions about macrobiotic eating and explains foods often avoided. He presents macrobiotics as a traditional rather than restrictive diet, and invites us to imagine a macrobiotic way of eating developed by Mexicans.

Questions often come up in cooking club about nightshades, and which foods are or are not ‘allowed.’ Definitely, it is good to know about ingredient’s qualities and effects. However, I’d rather choose foods based on their positive qualities than avoid them based on the negative. When food shopping, I try to look first to whole ingredients and local produce. In winter, that’s tough. Certain occasions call for corn chips. Well, are they organic, at least? And, what am I going to combine them with? Remember the big picture.

Overall, it is more important to understand what you are eating, and why you are eating it, than to blindly limit yourself to someone else’s idea of healthy. Who am I to forbid good old potatoes? Learning to balance your diet according to macrobiotic principles of yin/yang (beyond me, at this point) or through intuition, practice, restraint and common sense will clearly help you more than saying ‘no’ to nightshades.

More Whole Grains in Bread

Bread is a lovely canvass of doughy homemade convenience snacking. It can almost effortlessly be made sweet, savory, hearty or light as cotton to suit the baker’s whim.

To incorporate more whole grains into your loaves, all you need to do is soak or cook them first. Add leftover grains; brown rice lightens whole wheat dough. Or, soak cracked grains over night at room temperature and mix them into dough next day (I reserve the grain-soak water to use in the bread dough, too).

For the Oat-Wheat Bread, I soaked steel-cut oats overnight. In the morning, I mixed a basic whole wheat, rye sourdough, adding the softened oats.

Sekihan or Red Rice

“Popular for festive occasions, particularly weddings and birthdays. This dish consists of barely cooked azuki beans steamed with glutinous rice, then sprinkled lightly with toasted black sesame seeds. It keeps very well…is usually served at room temperature…[and] is often packed into small, individual lunch boxes.” -Shizuo Tsuji Japanese Cooking; A Simple Art

“Traditionally in the Far East, red is the color of happiness, and [azuki] beans have always been considered lucky. We would prepare Red Rice for birthdays, graduations, and other joyful occasions…and it is especially delicious made with sweet rice… Medicinally, azuki beans are strengthening for the kidneys.” -Aveline Kushi Complete Guide to Macrobiotic Cooking; for Health, Harmony, and Peace

To make Red Rice, Kushi recommends a pressure cooker. Tsuji says to soak the rice in the red, bean-cook water for 24 hours, or overnight. Either option would surely produce some stunning Sekihan but I had only a regular pot and one day.

I cooked the beans (2 cups) for a few hours with some leftover kombu seaweed, and rinsed the rice (a combination of 1 cup sweet, or glutinous, rice and 2 cups short grain brown rice). When the beans were nearly done, I strained the red cooking liquid and measured it, adding plain water to make 5 1/2 cups or so. I then combined this liquid with the beans and rice in a large pot, brought the mixture to boiling with a few big pinches of salt, lowered the heat and simmered as for plain rice. One hour.
We ate it warm with toasted black sesame seeds and packed the rest for lunch on Wednesday.

The Best Dressing Ever For Leafs

Laura brought fresh baby lettuce and ingredients for our favorite mustard dressing.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Stone Ground Mustard
Lemon
Salt
Pepper

Use about 4 parts oil, 1 part each mustard and lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Sometimes we add fresh tarragon or another herb. Thomas sliced some scallions which we sprinkled on the mustard-tossed lettuces.

Slippery Grifola Frondosa

Grifola Frondosa is the technical name for maitake mushrooms. According to Wikipedia, they grow at the base of oak trees, and can exceed 50 pounds in Japan. According to Emily, they cooked up slippery because they didn’t absorb oil like other mushrooms do.

Once Emily came to visit me in New York and we cooked maitake, or Hen of the Woods, mushrooms with noodles, tahini, and red chard, which turned the whole dish pink.

Her Slippery Mushrooms turned out more beautiful; shining tan, sweet and savory with sliced baby onions in oil.

Quick Pickling Cucumbers

I have been waiting a week to tell you about quick-pickling cucumbers:

Salt sliced cucumbers
Let sit half an hour, or so
Rinse the extra salt

The cucumbers come out sweet and crispy; you’d never think it was as simple as it is.

Lean Lukewarm Burnt Cloves of Carrots

Tuesday 24 November 2009

Tuesday night cooking club with Laura, Emily and Miles, another Laura and Jess, Harley, Tom Biscotti, Andy, Ryan and Hilary

The theme was Breakfast for Dinner.

Red Flame Carrots
Laura cut them and we ate them raw. You know the texture of a young carrot. Orange inside and red outside, 6 or 8 inches long. We served the carrots from a handmade Black Walnut wood plate that is smooth and light in weight.

Breakfast Carrots
This idea is based on Ed Brown’s directions in Tassajara Cooking. Didn’t adding ketchup turn them into Dinner Carrots? Most important is eating cooked carrots in the morning.

10 carrots, or how many you want to cook
2 Tablespoons canola oil
pinch sea salt
1/3 cup raisins, chopped into bits

Clean the carrots and chop them into medium sized pieces with the skin on. Heat the oil in a large, heavy pot or frying pan and add the carrots, sprinkling them with salt. Cook the carrots over medium to high heat, stirring often enough to prevent burning, until they begin to caramelize.
When the carrots are as brown as you wish, add the raisins and a splash of water and continue cooking until the raisins are plump and the carrots soft.

Ginger Soy Tempeh or Breakfast Sausage
It is obviously not sausage. Everyone seems to love tempeh.

2, 8 oz. packages soy tempeh
3-4 Tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 1/2 to 2 Tablespoons grated or minced fresh ginger root
1 Tablespoon soy sauce, more to taste

Crumble the tempeh into course chunks. Heat the oil in a heavy pan and add the crumbled tempeh. Cook over medium high, stirring enough until the tempeh is browning.
Add the ginger and soy sauce along with a few tablespoons of water to the browned tempeh. The water will help gather up the browned tempeh that might be stuck to the bottom of the pot. Add enough water to make all of the tempeh moist. Season to taste with soy sauce. I haven’t tried forming it into patties.

Buckwheat Waffles
Aveline Kushi’s Buckwheat Pancakes recipe adapted as waffles. Until amazake becomes more available commercially, or until we learn to make our own, we will have to use the EdenBlend amazake and soymilk drink from the aseptic packages. This double batch made one waffle each for ten of us.

2 cups buckwheat flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons light sesame oil
2 cups EdenBlend, more as needed
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
water, as needed

Combine all of the ingredients, adding more EdenBlend or water to thin to the desired consistency. Try not to stir any more than you have to. Cook it in the waffle iron or in an oiled frying pan. To keep the waffles from getting soggy while you cook the rest, stack them on a rack instead of on a plate.

Serve the waffles with button mushrooms chopped and sauteed, and sprouts or, even better; mushrooms, arugula and sour cream if you wish.

Kasha (Roasted Buckwheat Cereal) with Scallions
More buckwheat, Kushi-style.

2 cups whole buckwheat
6 cups water, more as needed
1/4 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
6 scallions, sliced

Dry roast the buckwheat in a heavy pan until it is dark brown but not burned. Add the water and salt and bring to boiling. Lower the heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes until the buckwheat is soft like porridge. Add more water if it gets too thick.
Serve small portions in bowls, garnished with sliced scallions.

Roasted Squash with What You Like
Jess and Laura work on the farm and brought some squash to cook!

1 medium Delicata squash
1 medium Butternut squash
canola oil
sea salt

raisins, or baby onions, or what you like

Heat the oven at 350 degrees or higher.
Peel the squash and cut them into chips. Clean the seeds. Oil the squash and spread them out on a baking sheet. Oil the seeds and put them off to one side of the baking sheet. Sprinkle all with salt.
Roast the squash and seeds in the preheated oven until the squash is soft and the seeds are crisp.
Add raisins, if you like, or sliced baby onions to the roasted squash and put it under the broiler at the end to brown a little bit.

…and Nightshades

Tuesday, 17 November 2009
Barry, Kim, Laura, Emily, Miles, Ryan and Hilary cooked it off.

What Little We Know About Nightshades
I am still trying to develop a stance on the use of nightshade vegetables. As far as I can tell, the nightshade vegetables (eggplants, potatoes, tomatoes and all kinds of peppers) are the least poisonous parts of a large family of toxic plants. You will almost certainly not get sick from eating a potato or two, but I do believe in the potential of nightshade vegetables to have a mild and cumulative effect on health. Plants in the nightshade (Solanaceae) family contain the alkaloid nicotine as well as the glycoalkaloid solanine. Solanine is reported to, among other things, contribute to arthritis and reduce calcium absorption or leech calcium from the body. Nicotine (the drug in cigarettes–tobacco is also in the nightshade family) is clearly not desirable to someone following a strict macrobiotic diet. However, there are just as many reasons why you should include the nightshades in your diet. Potatoes, for example, have been a staple food for thousands of years, and Colorado grown potatoes are abundantly available most of the year. Therefore, while you may not feel it necessary to avoid nightshade vegetables altogether, it is important to be aware of them when planning a macrobiotic meal or menu.

Pickled Peppers with Olives and Capers
Despite their classification as nightshade vegetables, we enjoyed the strong taste of these crunchy pickled peppers stuffed with soft, salty olives and capers. Perhaps they fueled the cockrings conversation!

1 cup pickled sweet banana peppers
1 cup pitted Kalamata olives
1 cup red Alfonso olives
2 Tablespoons capers

Make a slice, lengthwise, down one side only of each pickled pepper. Leave the stems on. Shake out any pickling juice that may be caught in the pepper, and stuff each pepper with the pitted Kalamata olives. One to three olives per pepper.
Add capers to some or all of the olive-stuffed peppers. Arrange the peppers with the Alfonso olives and any remaining Kalamata olives on a serving tray and get after them while the dinner simmers.

Basic Millet
Birds like it raw, but millet is one grain that I typically toast in the pan before adding water to steam it. The cooked millet comes out very fluffy, quite dry and not as sweet as rice. Millet and winter squash are a classic combination. If you become interested in cooking with millet, you will want to experiment with many variations on Aveline Kushi’s Millet and Squash Loaf, in which diced winter squash is cooked with the Basic Millet and the mixture is then transferred to a covered baking dish and baked in the oven into a firm, slice-able but crumbly loaf which you can toast like bread. I suspect Souen’s ‘Cornbread’ is actually more technically something of a millet loaf with whole kernels of corn added to give the illusion that more corn’s involved.

2 cups millet
3 cups water
pinch, or two, of salt

Rinse the millet well using your favorite method for rinsing small irritating grains. I like to rinse mine in the cooking pot to minimize dirty dishes.
Place the rinsed and drained millet in the cooking pot over medium heat and stir continuously until it dries out and toasts to a golden color. Be careful it doesn’t burn around the edges of the pan where you aren’t stirring thoroughly enough. Turn down the heat if it does start to burn.
Add the water (any temperature) and salt to the toasted millet and bring to the boil over high heat. Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid, lower the heat as far as it will go without turning off and cook undisturbed for half an hour. Off the heat and allow the millet to sit, still covered, for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Red Lentil Dahl
Well worth the time we waited for the Yellow Split Pea Dahl that it replaced. Red lentils cook so quickly. Maybe they will be done in less than half an hour.

2 cups red lentils
olive or canola oil, as needed
1 onion, diced
1 stalk celery, chopped fine
1, 1 1/2″ piece fresh ginger root, grated
6 cups water, plus more as needed
1/4 cup, approximately, shoyu soy sauce
5 scallions, sliced, for garnish

Rinse the lentils and set them aside. Heat a little bit of oil in the dahl pot and saute the onion, adding the celery and ginger after a few minutes and cooking until all of the vegetables are tender. Add the lentils and water to the pot and bring to boiling, then reduce heat and simmer, covered until the lentils are cooked to a soft, smooth puree. Beating them with the wooden spoon helps to smooth the dahl near the end.
Once the lentils are soft, season to taste with the shoyu. Start with maybe 2-3 Tablespoons and increase as needed. Top each bowl of dahl with a few slices of scallion.

Carrots and Kombu
It sounds attractive. Once you soak the seaweed it gets slimy and slippery and is not so easy to make look good. Cutting the carrots into thinner pieces makes it easier to tie the seaweed around them but sacrifices the simplicity of plain round carrots. Two things might satisfy the high hopes I had for this dish: wrapping the carrots in wakame (a thinner seaweed than kombu), and, tying them with the dried gourd strips as Aveline Kushi recommended in the original recipe for Carrot Kombu Rolls.

photo by Barry

1, 2 oz. package dried Kombu seaweed
5 medium-large carrots
water, as needed

This whole recipe is easier said than done. Soak the kombu in water until it is pliable and easy to slice. Cut the carrots into manageable lengths. Wrap kombu around the carrots and secure it with more kombu, cut into thin strips for tying. There very well may be carrots left over after all of the kombu is used. Put the plain carrots, the wrapped carrots and the seaweed soaking water into a cooking pot with enough additional water to cover all of the carrots. Simmer, covered until the carrots and kombu are tender. Save the cooking water; you can make it into miso soup.

Pear Crisp
Another winning dessert from Aveline Kushi’s cookbook. Did she mistakenly title the breakfast foods chapter as desserts? The topping tastes like granola. We were not quite sure what kind of rolled grain was in Mother’s cupboard but it turned out good!

2 Tablespoons arrowroot flour
Pinch sea salt
1/4 cup spring water
6 ripe pears, washed, sliced and cored
1/2 cup walnuts
1 cup rolled grain flakes (what you have) or just rolled oats
2 Tablespoons brown rice syrup

It is important to only use 5 pears in the recipe so that everyone can have a taste of the sixth pear raw.
Grease a baking dish with canola oil and heat the oven up to 375 degrees.
Toast the walnuts and the grain flakes, separately, in a small skillet on the stove top. Stir them often or continuously so that they do not burn. Set them aside to cool a bit while you prepare the pears.
Combine the arrowroot, salt and water in a bowl and toss the 5 sliced or chopped pears in that. Spread the coated pears into an even layer in the prepared baking dish.
Chop the walnuts and combine them with the grains and the rice syrup to make a crumbly mixture. Distribute the crumb dough evenly over the pears in the baking dish. Cover the dish and bake 20 minutes. Bake 5-10 minutes more once you remove the cover in order to brown and crisp the top.

We accompanied this meal with fresh Spiced Apple Cider that Emily and Miles brought, red and white wine and beer.

Buttercup Squash Pie

chopping up buttercup

This is what squash looks like through mate vision

If you are going to replace your Thanksgiving turkey with Stuffed Hubbard Squash, then what about the pie? Happily you do not have to choose between the two.
The concept of Balance is central to the macrobiotic diet and philosophy, but macrobiotic cooks and eaters are excessively obsessed with the bright orange, Round vegetable called a Buttercup (or Kabocha). Whatever. A squash addiction thinly veiled behind the macrobiotic principles of seasonality and local eating is simply more dignified than squash gluttony.

Garden Buttercup

Use a cleaver or large, sharp chef's knife to halve the squash

Don’t Fuck It Up!
Winter squash may be compared to ripe summer tomatoes. The cook with much more than a good sharp knife will almost certainly disguise or degrade the vegetables’ inherent perfection. Still, you can’t serve steamed squash for dessert, and so I performed once so far

The Squash Pie Experiment:

squash pie

Don't be fooled by the appearance; you will definitely wish there was more filling if you make these miniature pies.

Aveline Kushi’s Basic Crust or preferably Crackers
It is a respectable crust made with whole wheat flour (whole wheat pastry flour recommended but all I had was whole wheat flour). The crust is not sweet. I baked the scraps sprinkled with salt and they made fine crackers for lunch.

3 cups whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup + additional cold water

Combine the flour and salt, and mix in the oil until it is the texture of sand. Add the cold water, using as much as is necessary to form dough. Mix minimally once the water is added to keep the gluten from forming. If you use the pastry flour this is less of a worry. Either way, it is difficult or impossible to make a flaky crust with oil.
I chilled the dough for a half hour or so before rolling it out, and used an empty jar instead of a rolling pin. Sprinkle the cutting board or counter with flour, press out half of the dough at once and roll it about 1/8″ thin. Place it in your pie plate and finish the edges decoratively. Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork to keep it from puffing up. Bake ten minutes, empty, in a pre-heated 350 degree oven before filling it up. Crusts are most definitely not my strong point or my specialty. I don’t recommend making miniature pies in the muffin tin with this because there is way too much crust-to-filling. The filling is the good part here. You might enjoy making the entire batch (or a half batch) of this crust into crackers and eating the filling cold with a spoon.

Buttercup Squash Pie Filling
(Speechless)

1 buttercup squash, 2-3 pounds or part of a bigger squash
1 cup water
pinch salt
1/2 cup barley malt syrup
1 Tablespoon kuzu dissolved in a little cold water
1 cup raw walnuts, chopped

peeling

Because I know you wondered what this woman's hand looks like


Peel the squash, remove the seeds and cut it into chunks.
squashpot

It doesn't matter how course you chop the squash. The smaller the pieces, the faster they will cook.

The amount of squash does not have to be exact; you might just wind up with extra filling if you use too much. Make sure you have enough. Place the squash chunks in a pot with the water and pinch of salt. Bring to boiling then lower heat and simmer until tender enough to puree; maybe half an hour.
Use a spoon followed by a whisk to smash up the squash and whip it to a smooth puree. Add the barley malt and continue simmering for 5 minutes. Add the dissolved kuzu and simmer another few minutes until the mixture is thick and smooth. Let it cool slightly before filling the crust.

Top the pie with walnuts and bake until the crust is browned around the edges and the walnuts are toasted. Be careful they don’t burn.

squash pie 3As with pumpkin pie, this is better cold, so make it ahead. Alternatively, chill the filling and eat it like pudding. Damn.
You could probably use maple syrup if your teeth are particularly sweet that day, although the barley syrup does just right for the flavor of the squash.