‘Tis the season for gourds and pumpkins and squash. Butternut hull squash are everywhere. These things:
The good news is they’re delicious. The bad news is you have to cut off the stem and the end, peel them, slice them into halves or quarters, remove the seeds in the bulgy part, and then slice them into smallish pieces. From then on, things get easier: just toss in a bowl with pressed garlic (lots!), cumin, turmeric, olive oil, and a little salt and pepper. Spread out in a large pan so that each piece has its own little space in which to bask in the heat. Set aside.
Next, take three (or more) chicken thighs you’ve salted and peppered and left in the fridge overnight. The leaving them in the fridge part is not absolutely essential but results in crispier skin when the chicken is baked. Figure out which veggie might go bad if you don’t use it soon. I had some perfect cauliflower that would have been marginally less perfect the next day. Rinsed it, cut it, tossed it in olive oil and lemon juice; added a few sliced red onions. But I can see the recipe with bell peppers instead. Or zucchini.
In a largish pan, place the cauliflower mix with the chicken on top. Put the pan of chicken on the top shelf of your oven, which you’ve meanwhile pre-heated to about 200º Celsius (about 390ºF). Place the pan of sliced butternut squash on the lower shelf. Both dishes need about an hour; you can baste the chicken in its own juice and flip the thighs over towards the end. Stir the squash, too. The squash may be done a bit sooner; you can switch the chicken to the lower shelf if it looks very done.
The dishes will look like this before you put them in:
I was too hungry to take a picture when they came out. Served all over Jasmine rice made, naturally, in the rice cooker. And my son said it was “so delicious, Mom!
I am reprinting a favorite recipe of mine here: Coming-Down-With-Covid-Chicken Soup
It’s probably just a cold–tested negative. But this soup is delicious, inexpensive to make (about eleven euros for at least ten servings) and filled with flavor.
I took one important hint from Martha Stewart: start by putting the chicken in cold water. I didn’t take her other piece of advice, which is to add a tablespoon of salt. Forget that. Start very simply: a large Dutch oven–I used my trusty Le Creuset. You will need:
One pack of chicken wings or drumsticks–or if you want to get fancy, what Germans call a “soup hen.”
One pack of “Suppengrün” (800 grams) which typically comes with a big hunk of celery root, three or four carrots, a leek or two, and fresh parsley.
Garlic, fresh, lots
Ginger – to taste, fresh
A red onion or two
Turmeric – fresh or powdered
A strip (about eight inches) of Kelp (available in most stores selling Asian food products)
Dry vegetable broth
Remove the chicken wings from package and place them in the Dutch oven. Fill almost to top with water, cover, and set on stove to boil.
Slice the red onions, the garlic, the leeks and the ginger and sautée them in olive oil. Set aside. Rinse the celery root, carrots, parsley. Slice but do not yet add.
Check the chicken broth. After 20-30 minutes, scum will appear–take a small sieve, skim it off. Rinse the sieve and skim again. Cover chicken and let simmer around fifteen minutes more. Skim again.
Add turmeric, leeks, ginger, red onions, garlic. Stir. Let simmer around fifteen minutes.
Add all except the parsley. Allow to simmer till the carrots are soft. Stir. Taste. Add vegetable broth–to taste. I used two tablespoons full.
Add parsley. Stir. Consume! The chicken will be falling off the bones. You will feel much better.
(1)Find a complete escape. Read a thriller or travel. I spent a week in the remotest area of France I could find, surrounded by roomfuls of art, books, cats and two very reclusive friends, who devote their lives to reading, painting, designing and sculpting. We took a single trip to a grocery store in heavy-duty masks, walked dogs in a setting reminiscent of Sherwood Forest, fed donkeys cauliflower greens, and ate five-course candlelit dinners consisting in a garlicky soup decorated with crème fraiche, a series of salads, a cheese course, and chocolate. Conversations ranged from mystics to revolution, in other words, topics normally outside my range.
(2) Write a poem a day. On anything. I suggest starting with an object. Five lines on one of the following: the way it looks, the way it sounds, the way it feels, the way it smells or the way it tastes.
(3)Cook a favorite (but very easy) meal. A delightful vegan recipe involves nothing more than olive oil, a few bell peppers, a few cloves of garlic, and a few sprigs of fresh rosemary. Slice in two or three large pieces each pepper and remove seeds; peel garlic. Arrange in baking dish lightly greased with olive oil, with the garlic cloves tucked under the peppers. Insert in oven at highest setting until the peppers are black—charred. Remove and set on tile to cool; cover with aluminum foil if you like. When cool, peel off the charred skin and arrange in serving dish; add olive oil and sprigs of rosemary. Serve with fresh baguette and a glass of Prosecco or red wine.