01 November 2010

Cooking with Squash

Happy World Vegan Day!  By now it should also be rather clear that 1 November 2010 (today) marks the official start of Vegan MoFo IV.  This is year two of my MoFo participation, which I'm hoping I can do justice by sticking to the post-a-day guidelines.  At the last minute--last night, to be exact--I officially signed up to participate in this year's NaNoWriMo, the write-a-novel-in-a-month event that inspired MoFo.  If the normal demands of life beyond the blogosphere and committing to post about vegan food daily for the entire month of November weren't enough, attempting to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days will be that much more difficult, especially for someone like me, who has never written anything that lengthy and certainly not within such a short time span.  But MoFo and WriMo are challenges I have willingly accepted, so I will try my best with both.


I wanted to adopt a theme to keep my MoFo posts a little more cohesive, but have so far decided to stick with whatever strikes my food fancy.  Most likely, you'll see a mash-up of edibles borne of cookbook recipes, recipes posted by fellow bloggers, and my own spontaneity.  For now, I'll kick off Day 1 of Vegan MoFo here on Bread Without Butter by sharing a rundown of yet more delightful homages to an instantly recognizable symbol of autumnal feasting and decor: squash.  A little over a week ago, I purchased a lovely blue hubbard squash from a local pumpkin patch.  I peeled the entire thing, but because it was so large, I roasted only half of it to turn into squash puree and cubed the other half to save for other applications.  What did I do with that puree, you ask?  Have a look:
Squash scones with cinnamon maple icing
I never seem to pass pumpkin season without at least baking a batch of squash-infused scones.  Inspired by a certain corporate coffee empire's seasonally-appropriate baked indulgence--as a vegan and avoider of this particular chain, this is something I no longer enjoy, at least in its original form--I set about finding a recipe that adequately mimics those store-bought scones I once loved.  I took my batch a step further, making the adjustments necessary to make it vegan-friendly; I replaced the dairy butter with a nondairy substitute, the egg with a blend of flax and water, omitted the half-and-half, and omitted the half-and-half.  I also added vanilla extract, used a combination of whole wheat pastry and all-purpose flours, supplemented a reduction in the amount of butter substitute with soy yogurt, reduced the sugar, and adjusted the spice amounts to fit my taste (more cinnamon and ginger, less nutmeg).  Of course, homemade hubbard squash puree replaced the canned pumpkin. They scones turned out beautifully, boasting a lovely orange hue.  Once they were cooled, I topped them with a simple icing of powdered sugar, cinnamon, grade B maple syrup, and water.  The results were fluffy, not too sweet, and utterly delicious--perhaps tasting even better than the non-vegan counterparts that inspired them.
Squash brownies
These were some of the easiest brownies to make, largely because I had all the ingredients on hand and didn't make any substitutions, save for replacing the pumpkin puree with more of that pureed hubbard squash.  I was excited about using the gluten-free baking mix, because I've never intentionally converted any traditionally wheat-based baked good into gluten-free form; this lack of experimentation was mostly from the combined convenience of always having wheat flour available in my kitchen and the inconvenience of never having things like xantham gum around.  I cooked the brownies a few minutes shy of the suggested time in order to ensure that they would remain moist.  They were fudgy, with texture similar to wheat-based brownies, and certainly rich.  The peanut butter contributed to that richness and infused the treat with nutty flavor, which I always enjoy.  I realized a little later that I forgot to add the cinnamon called for in the recipe, but the accidental omission did not detract from the brownies' addictive qualities.
Harvest lavash pizza
I will devour pretty much anything that involves bread, and that includes cheese-less pizza.  Lavash is one flat bread I had never attempted to bake, but fortunately, Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice contains a recipe for it that was both fairly quick and easy to follow.  After replacing the honey with agave nectar and some of the bread flour with whole wheat flour, I allowed the dough to ferment as stated, then rolled the entire thing as one piece to bake as a single sheet.  I ended up using about half of the pre-cooked bread, cut again into halves, for pizza.  For the spread, I threw together a concoction of squash puree, roasted garlic, nutritional yeast, miso, water, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and chopped spinach, cooking it down until thick.  The pizza itself consisted of several layers: 1) a smear of leftover roasted garlic, 2) the squash-spinach spread, 3) roasted zucchini and caramelized onion, 4) sliced Pumpkin Fauxsage from 500 Vegan Recipes, 5) and more zucchini and onion.  I toasted it up in the oven until the toppings were hot and the crust was golden brown and crisp.  It was a mightily filling pizza that was slightly nutty, vaguely cheesy, and incredibly flavorful.  The lavash held up nicely beneath the mountain of toppings.  I imagine it could work wonderfully as a base for a sandwich wrap, although it's tasty on its own, too.
Soft squash knots
You may have noticed my tendency to indulge my carbohydrate obsession.  These rolls definitely fall within that  particular portion of my dietary lifestyle.  Using my recipe for sweet potato bread, the knotting technique used for making kaiser rolls, and substituting the sweet potato puree with hubbard squash puree I baked up a lovely batch of mildly sweet, soft, delectable rolls.  Attempting to achieve a crustier exterior, I opted to bake the rolls at a higher temperature than my original recipe specifies (425 rather than 375 degrees Fahrenheit), with a steam tray placed on the bottom rack.  The results were wonderfully crisp on the outside, light inside, and orange-hued.  The flavor and sweetness were very much like the original sweet potato rolls, as the flavors and textures of cooked hubbard squash and starchy sweet potato are actually quite similar.  I may even consider baking these again for Thanksgiving.
I still have a bit of the squash puree leftover and haven't determined its fate just yet.  Perhaps it will become the basis for a hearty soup, for a savory change of pace.  If any of you would like to offer some suggestions, please do; I certainly appreciate them and of course, greatly enjoy hearing from you.  Have a lovely evening, everyone!

13 comments:

  1. I'm looking forward to your MoFo posts. That's amazing you're taking on NaNoWriMo! You're such a talented writer in the short form we see here; I'm sure your novel will be fantastic.

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  2. Wow, all that from one squash...good luck on your novel! I do hope you'll post it somewhere when you finish!

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  3. Mmmmm...everything looks delish, Tiffany--especially the scones. I'm making roasted squash soup tomorrow, so excited, nom nom nom!

    I'm impressed that you're taking on WriMo, as well. Good luck!

    xoxo,
    LJ

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  4. Glad those chocolate pumpkin brownies turned out for you! :D Happy MoFo'ing

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  5. Holy Frijoles! All look delectable and amazing!

    I fourth being impressed by your MoFo/WriMo commitments. Kudos!

    Happy World Vegan Day & MoFo'ing!

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  6. Those squash knots look fabulous! So do the scones! All of it really!

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  7. Tiffany, very best of luck with both VeganMoFo and NaNoWriMo. You have taken on a lot! As probably the slowest writer in the universe, I bow down. I could write probably a couple of pages of fiction in a month. However, as the author of a completed novel (yes, it took me 15 years, but I enjoyed all of it and thank god I lived long enough to finish), I can say, it is so worth it.

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  8. Oh yum - I love squash! The scones look especially yummy.

    Also, good luck with both VeganMoFo and NaNoWriMo - I'm doing both as well (and I'm starting to think NaNoWriMo will be a disaster for me)!

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  9. I'm a Carb Junky, and you are a bad influence!! However I really want to try the scones and squash knots, Both sound like great items to have on the table for thanksgiving.

    Thanks for the kind words on my blog, and best of luck on your monthly commitments as well. You have a new follower, let my peer pressure motivate you to work harder ;-)

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  10. Every dish looks amazing. Wonderfully creative and delicious. It is making me hungry looking at the pictures. The squash knots and scones look wonderful!

    Good luck with Vegan MoFo and NaNoWriMo.

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  11. Oh yum - I love squash! The scones look especially yummy.

    Also, good luck with both VeganMoFo and NaNoWriMo - I'm doing both as well (and I'm starting to think NaNoWriMo will be a disaster for me)!

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  12. Glad those chocolate pumpkin brownies turned out for you! :D Happy MoFo'ing

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  13. Wow, all that from one squash...good luck on your novel! I do hope you'll post it somewhere when you finish!

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Thanks for reading! Your comments are always welcome and appreciated. :)