Friday, November 5, 2010

Blue Hubbard Squash Souffle 2 Ways

Blue Hubbard is my favorite squash.  I love how it looks and it's so easy to prepare.  You don't need to steam it or add water to a baking pan, just cut it in half, take out the fibrous seedy center and cook it in a preheated 425 F oven until it is soft, about 35 minutes for a small to medium size squash.
Cooking in the oven, the squash is lightly covered with a crinkled, slightly moistened piece of parchment paper.

Let it cool until you can scoop out the flesh into the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse in the food processor until it is creamy. 
You don't actually need very much if you are only making one of these recipes, but I encourage you to do a blue Hubbard tasting menu at least once this Fall with a savory menu course souffle and a gently spicy and sweet one for a dessert made all the more special with a scoop of cinnamon nut crunch ice cream on the side.

You can use any squash or pumpkin flesh for these recipes, even yams would work, just avoid spaghetti squash as it's too fibrous.

Savory Squash Souffle

Generously coat with at least 1 Tablespoon of unsalted butter a 1 quart souffle dish and then dust it with 2-3 Tablespoons of finely grated Parmesan cheese just as you would if it were flour (conversely, if you wish, you can do smaller 4 ounce individual souffle dishes instead of one large one, you can also substitute flour for the cheese).

Preheat the oven to 375 F

In a saucepan over medium heat melt 5 Tablespoons of Unsalted Butter.  When it is fully melted whisk in 3 Tablespoons of All Purpose Flour, once incorporated slowly whisk in 1 1/4 cup of Whole Milk.

Grate in about 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/8 Teaspoon cayenne, salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. 
Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently over medium-low heat.  It will be thick verging on paste-like.   I added a little more milk because I use a local flour which is more like whole wheat.
While the base is cooking separate 5 large eggs.

When the souffle base has cooked long enough, turn off the heat and whisk in the egg yolks one at a time.

Then add 3/4 cup of squash puree.  Whisk until it is well incorporated then add 2 Tablespoons of roughly chopped Sage

Taste the mixture and adjust the seasoning with salt and black pepper.  Stir in 3/4 cup extra sharp white cheddar cheese.
Beat the egg whites until foamy then add 1/8 teaspoon of cream of tartar, continue to beat until they form gentle peaks.  Fold in 1/3 of the whites into the white sauce and gently incorporate.  Add the remaining egg whites and fold, every so gently, until just mixed being careful not to deflate them!

Pour the mixture into the prepared dish (or dishes) and bake for 35-45 minutes (15 or so for 4 ounce ramekins) until golden and puffed but still just a little wobbly in the middle.

I served it with some lightly steamed in season local Brussels Sprouts and Broccoli which I tossed with a little bit of butter and salt and freshly grated black pepper which were a nice counterpoint to the sharp richness of the souffle.

Here is what mine looked like just out of the oven.  It deflates fast so make sure you serve it immediately.

Sweet Squash Souffle
Generously butter the souffle dish (or dishes) with 1 Tablespoon of unsalted butter then dust them with 3 Tablespoons of sugar. 

In a sauce pan bring 1/2 cup grade B maple syrup to and boil then reduce heat to medium/low and reduce by half at a gentle simmer.

Preheat the oven to 375 F

Remove the reduced maple syrup from the heat when reduced - it takes about 8-10 minutes.

Add 3/4 cup squash puree, 1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons of half and half, 1 teaspoon ginger,  
1/2  teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon clove, 1/4 teaspoon allspice, 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, pinch of cayenne and 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt to the maple syrup.  Using a whisk over low heat mix until all the ingredients are well incorporated (the syrup maybe a little thick and sticky).

Separate 7 large eggs

One at a time whisk the egg yolks into the squash mixture.  When all the eggs yolks have been mixed in add 3 Tablespoons of all purpose flour, whisk to incorporate.  Put back on the stove over medium heat and bring just to a simmer,  cook for about 2 minutes to thicken then turn off the heat and stir in  
2 Tablespoons of room temperature butter

OK this part is tricky and very much about timing.  Have the egg whites already in the bowl in a standing mixer.  Put a glass of very cold water close by.

Then in a sauce pan with a candy thermometer attached add 1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons of cane sugar with 4 Tablespoons of water over medium heat bring to a rolling boil.  It's best if you can use a candy thermometer for this.  You want it to come to the "soft ball" stage which is around 240-250 F.

While you are waiting for this to happen start beating the 7 egg whites you have ready in the bowl of a standing mixer, when they start to become foamy add a pinch of cream of tartar.   Whisk until they form soft peaks then slowly add 2 Tablespoons of sugar.  Once the sugar has been added turn off the mixer and wait for your simple syrup to be ready.

Once the simple syrup reaches 240 F start to test it by dropping a bit into the cold water.   Keep testing it until it forms a soft ball at the bottom of the glass of water.

Quickly  (the minute it is done) turn the mixer back on to medium high speed and very slowly pour the sugar syrup into the eggs whites.  Continue to whip for about 4-5 minutes; they should continue to bulk up and become thick and shiny.

This is called an Italian meringue.

In 4 parts add the meringue to the squash mixture, folding it in very gently.  Then scoop the batter into your prepared baking dish or dishes.  If using a quart size souffle dish, cook it for about 45-50 minutes; you want it to be ever so slightly wobbly in the middle and nicely brown and puffed up.  Serve immediately either with cinnamon nut crunch ice cream or whipped cream sweetened with a little bit of grade B maple syrup.

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