Golden Poppies our State Wildflower

Thursday, October 22, 2015


Here is a  basic recipe and method that will have you  and your family enjoying more healthy squashes, all year.
As a child growing up in North West England, the only squash I knew was the vegetable Marrow (an overgrown zucchini) that was peeled and stuffed with ground beef and onions and then steamed) ..the result was always the same, very over cooked vegetables and runny meat sauce.
It has taken me over 50 years to re-discover Squash, maybe as America seems to be the land of.
I would always avoid purchasing them in the markets as I had no idea how to make them tasty and yummy.
Here is one way that will change your mind, as it did mine.
These are tasty recipes and can be served as a side dish with cooked meat or fish (and shellfish), or can have the meats added in final stages of cooking.
They are also good enough to stand alone and be a welcome change on "Meatless Mondays" with some steamed brown rice and or salads.

The BASIC recipe serves 4 as a  main course or side dish

2 pounds squash flesh cut into bite sized cubes/chunks ( 4 pounds of fresh pumpkin will result in 2 pounds once it has been peeled and seeded..the seeds are edible, if allowed to dry out for 24 hours, then crack open like sunflower seeds.)

3tbsp grape seed or olive oil
1 large onion grated/chopped fine
1/2 tsp sea salt
2-3 tsp herbs of choice* (see following recipe ideas below) 
2-3 tsp spices of choice* either whole or crushed/ground ( see following recipe ideas below)
1tbsp sugar (optional) 
1/2 cup water, apple juice or stock


In a wide heavy bottomed skillet heat the oil on med high.
Add the squash and onion and saute, *( adding here the herbs and spices of choice) allowing both the onions and squash to become golden, reddish brown on the outsides, this takes about 20-30 mins..cook on med high heat.
Add the salt and sugar and continue to cook, allowing the vegetables to caramelize.
Add the water, bring to boil and then cover and, simmer gently on low heat for 15-25 mins or until the  squash is just tender.

Serve on warm place/bowls.

You may also mash the squash before serving.


add curry powder, garam masala, cardamon, cumin, fenugreek leaves (crushed) crushed chilies, whole mustard seeds, bay laurel, chopped fresh tomatoes

add basil, thyme, rosemary, oregano,  marjoram, fennel seeds,  grape tomatoes or chopped fresh.

add jerk spice, green chili, thyme, cilantro, all spice berries,cinnamon sticks

add 5 spice, cilantro, lemongrass, ginger, scallions

oregano, cumin, chipotle and adobe, cilantro, mint.

maple syrup, all spice or cinnamon, hot sauce, brown sugar

 The list is endless...and the results are terrific and not an overcooked sloppy mess.
Very high in flavors and very, very healthy..another SUPERFOOD Being used in it's best season too.

To peel a squash, 

Cut into 1/4 pieces with a HEAVY, SHARP KNIFE/CLEAVER
Remove the seeds and pith..the seeds can be dried for snacks.
Then cut between the peel and outer  layer of flesh like with a melon or pineapple, with a heavy sharp knife, laying the squash on one of the cut sides for support. 


Tuesday, October 20, 2015


Here is a wonderful recipe for a cool evening dinner, or a weekend lunch.
The American "Paella".
Originating in North and South Carolina, where the rice was grown, now it is popular world wide. 
Here is another idea from my kitchen to yours, also using cooked pinto beans or chickpeas, along with chicken. (I prefer to use skinless chicken thighs, but you may use whatever you prefer,although, if using skinless, boneless white meat chicken, do not cook for long, just add the  bite sized pieces to the last 20 mins of cooking).

For 4 -6  portions you will need:

2tbsp oil
2 pounds chicken (I like to use skinless thighs bone in)
10 ozs spicy sausage (chorizo if possible), skin removed and crumbled
3 cups minced onion
10 cloves garlic smashed and minced
1 1/2 cups minced celery
2 dried bay leaves
2 tsp dried thyme
3 sweet bell peppers (roasted and skinned, then cut into bite sized pieces..this own roasting, makes all the difference)
1-2tbsp minced chipotle pepper with adobe sauce( your choice of spicy or extra spicy) OR
1 fresh red chile pepper seeded and minced
2 cups long grain brown rice ( I like to use jasmine or basmatti for extra flavor)
if using white rice use 2 1/2 cups and cook for less time.
8 cups chicken stock or water
1-2 cups wine ( red or white)
2 cups cooked beans (pinto or chickpeas)*
sea salt & ground black pepper to taste 
8 ozs mushrooms in bite sized pieces
1/2 cup scallions minced 

1/2 cup minced parsley for garnish

In a Dutch oven (a  heavy bottomed large pan with a tight fitting lid)
heat the oil and saute the chicken pieces in batches, until golden (about 15 mins), and set aside.
Saute the sausage meat until brown, adding the onions and celery, and continue to cook, stirring well for 10 mins.
Add the garlic, bay and thyme and saute for 2 mins. then add the wine.
Cook for 2 mins then add the chicken pieces (if using boneless skinless white meat do not add yet).
Cover with hot stock & season with salt & pepper and add the chipotle and adobe sauce.
Bring to boil and then add the rice and simmer for 30mins tightly lidded......check the liquid level ( the chicken HAS to be covered in HOT stock for the brown rice to cook).
Add the  slices of peppers and continue to simmer, checking the rice.
(at this point add the white meat chicken & cooked beans if using)
Once the rice is tender, remove the lid and continue to simmer until the stew is moist but not soggy (this texture has to be similar to paella)...allow the excess moisture to evaporate.
Check seasonings.
Add the mushrooms and scallions and stir through ( there is no need to cook the mushrooms nor scallions..this add texture to the dish).
Remove the bay leaves.
Garnish with minced parsley & serve on warm plates.
This is ONE of those dishes great served right from the pot.

It is not traditional but I also like to serve this dish with lemon wedges on the side.

* if omitting the cooked beans then add another 1 pound raw chicken to the recipe.

For extra "garliciness" add 4 minced garlic cloves to final 5 mins of cooking.

For extra richness add  1pound shelled and de-veined shrimp to last 5 mins of cooking.
If using shucked oysters, add these the same time you add the mushrooms.