Monday, October 20, 2008

I'm really digging this whole "Autumn" thing.. (Squash)

(Tavo cooked a pork chop while I puttered about with my squash)

The recipe I'd grabbed said, "Eggplant Tajine" but I couldn't pass up the big fat squash sitting in front of me. Actually, the only eggplant at the Krogers were organic, and I didn't feel like shelling out the dough after already paying more than a dollar for a green pepper(!!!) Regardless, this is not what comes to my mind when I hear Tajine. This does:

I loved Morocco, and have tried ridiculous amounts of times to recreate the dishes I ate there. The only thing that is similar in this dish are the spices, so henceforth, I refuse to call this dish a tajine.

Interestingly--it was after spending a month in Morocco when I was in my early 20's that I realized I knew how to make VERY LITTLE completely from scratch. I mean, I didn't know what spices to put into the beans, what comes in the packet called "fajita" or the bottle of "stir fry" sauce? How do I take a bag of flour and make it bread? The United States is extremely oriented on convenience foods, and it rendered me useless. No kraft dinner, canned spaghetti sauce, or those gravy packets existed. I came back, after quite a few dismal attempts at guessing which spices would taste like what (skin-gee-bah is ginger in Arabic, cumin is cumin, thank God, Allahu Akbar, you know what I mean)

This was a real turning point in my cooking, and quickly led me to stop buying convenience food and flavor packets. I got to know many spices not only by name, but by what foods they enhanced, and how they smelled. I remember, in Morocco, just smelling these huge piles of spices and trying to guess which ones would work. No vendor knew the american english names of spices--why would they?

I also made sure to research the food names, local dishes, and bring a few recipes that would fit those when I went to Mexico and Brazil.

I'm rambling--but just by posting this, I'm really appreciative of how far I've come in the last 10 years.

Squash Non-Tajine--unless you use some some ceramic and a preserved lemon ;)

2 T olive oil
1 large sweet onion
4 cloves garlic
1 chile (I used a serrano)
Butternut Squash, baked (350 for 45 min.)
2 t. coriander (ground)
2 t. cumin
1 t. red pepper flakes
28 oz. can whole tomatoes, squished

chopped cilantro and parsley to garnish

-Sautee onion until translucent, add garlic
-add peeled, baked squash (cubed), chile, coriander, cumin, red pepper, tomatoes
-cover and cook for 20+ minutes. You can do this in the oven, too, if you prefer
-serve over couscous (and if you're good, you can roll it into a ball and pop in your mouth)

I'm going to eat it with flatbread.

Make sure not to use your left hand to eat with!


buffalodick said...

I mix 95% of my own spice blends to duplicate the expensive off the shelf stuff... I'm left-handed, and I wipe with my right... :)

doggybloggy said...

ick on the whole hand thing....duplicate a tajine by covering with a big bowl so the steam rises, condenses and disperses the flavors back down...this looks and sounds delicious, it has taken me a lifetime to learn what I have learned and I think thats typically how long it takes.....and I am not done yet!

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

Yahoo for squash (and blog posts about squash)!

The Blonde Duck said...

That's really cool!

Why can't you use your left hand?

TavoLini said...

Buffalo--Good on mixing your spices! I have everything, but never mix until I cook (pure laziness on my part) I think it would be a faux pas to eat with your left in Morocco!

Doggy--Good idea on the bowl, I'll have to try that. Would you do it on the stove or in the oven?

CCV--agreed! I've got a whole pile of new winter squash recipes I'm ready to try :)

Blonde Duck--I won't go into details, but it has to do with the bathroom :P

Michelle Ann said...

My tummy is growling...that squash looks so good...would be great with sage, huh Doggy????

Darius T. Williams said...

Looks great - and dont you just love the versatility of the canned tomato? There are a million things you can use them for!


MamaGeek @ Works For Us said...

Mmmmmm, that right there is autumnal bliss. I so need you to be my personal chef!