Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Cushaw Squash Pie

Looks like pumpkin pie, smells like pumpkin pie, but it's NOT your average, run of the mill pumpkin pie. What is it?

It's a Cushaw Squash Pie! The Cushaw (or Kershaw) Squash, sometimes called a Tennessee Sweet Potato, is an heirloom winter squash grown mostly in the southern United States. It's hardy, heat tolerant and resistant to squash borers, which makes it easier to grow without pesticides. If you're careful about where you grow it, the seeds can be saved from one year to the next, ensuring a steady supply of this versatile squash that can be used for both sweet and savory dishes.

Many southern cooks prefer the sweet yellow flesh of the Cushaw for making pumpkin pies. After tasting this pie that I made from a recipe found  on Chickens in the Road  I'm not surprised. The squash pie had  the same warm spices as pumpkin pie, but had a milder taste and silky texture. Actually, you can use Cushaw squash in any recipe that calls for pumpkin. Next up for me? Probably Cushaw Butter, which I've heard is a family tradition in parts of Tennessee. 

I really hope you're able to find one of these heirloom treasures at your local farmer's market. I'm saving the seeds from mine so I'll be sure to have more next year!

Prepare the Squash:
Preparing the squash is easy. Wash it, cut it in half, remove the seeds and stringy part, and bake it cut side down on a lightly greased baking sheet. (350 degrees for about an hour and fifteen minutes or until tender when pierced with a fork) After scooping out the baked flesh, mash it well or put through a Foley food mill. Proceed as you would with any other pumpkin recipe.  (The seeds can be roasted like you would roast pumpkin seeds.)

Spiced Cushaw Pie
recipe adapted from Chickens in the Road
You'll need:
Your favorite pastry for a nine inch pie 
2 cups prepared squash (or pumpkin)
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
12 oz. can evaporated milk
1 Tablespoon melted butter
In a small bowl, mix together beaten eggs, evaporated milk and vanilla. In a large bowl, combine squash, melted butter, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, salt, nutmeg and cloves. Add milk mixture to squash mixture and mix until well combined. Pour into pie pan (9 inch) lined with an uncooked pastry shell . (Use your favorite pie crust recipe.) Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit (lower half of oven) for an hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (Mine took a bit longer.) Chill and serve. Keep refrigerated.

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Monday, September 13, 2010

Fresh Apple Cake

 I've been a bad blogger. AWOL. These last two weeks have been a bit crazy and something had to go. So blogging got shoved to the back burner until I got all of my school stuff under control. And all the other "stuff" too. Well maybe not all of it, but enough of it to be able to sit down and maybe think  about what's been going on in my kitchen. And to dust off my poor neglected camera.

 Thanks to my brother, I've been blessed with several baskets of "just a little bit less than perfect" honey crisp apples. With this wonderful bounty, I've been making applesauce, apple butter and this lovely little apple cake. This is another recipe from my mom, that she got many years ago from someone at church. (There are some really good cooks at our little church. Homecomings with dinner on the grounds are always an occasion to eat way too much good food!)  This cake has just the right combination of spices and will fill your kitchen with scents of apple and cinnamon goodness. The apples (and raisins if you choose to add them) make the cake incredibly moist. You could add a caramel glaze if you like, but I found that it didn't really need another thing. And if by chance you have any of this lovely cake left over, it's even better the next day.

Fresh Apple Cake

3 cups apples, peeled cored and chopped (I chopped mine pretty small)
1/2 cup golden raisins (optional)
1 cup nuts, chopped
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup oil (I used canola)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract

  • Grease and flour tube or bundt pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and oil. 
  • Add sugars and vanilla and mix well.
  • Sift together flour, salt, spices and baking powder. Stir flour mixture into sugar mixture. 
  • Stir in apples, nuts and raisins. 
  • Put apple mixture into prepared pan and bake for 55 to 60 minutes. 
  • Cool for 5 minutes in pan and then invert onto wire rack to finish cooling.
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