Posted by / 10 January 2009 /

Frugal Luxuries #2


Last week I described one of my luxuries as being an herb garden. Planning, drawing, dreaming about the garden and its fruitfulness in the summer brings me deep joy. Thinking of putting lavender in the guest room in the pillows and making a lavender spray for our bedroom linens fills me with anticipation!

This week I want you to focus on the bounty of January. This month you can enjoy oranges, tangerines, tangelos and clementines which are at the peak of their season. Collards, fennel, winter squash and brussel sprouts are also at their cheapest. These might not be something that your family will eat, but part of feeling luxurious is doing something special just for you!

Here is a squash recipe that I really enjoy, but I don't have to eat it alone, as Bob likes it too!

1 large butternut squash (3 1/4 pounds), peeled and seeded (2 1/2 pounds)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Cut off and discard the stem of the squash, then cut the squash into two pieces by cutting through it horizontally at the bottom of the neck. This will make it easier to peel.

Peel the cylindrical neck lengthwise, removing enough skin so that the orange flesh underneath is revealed. (Under the outer skin there is a layer of green, which should be removed.) Peel the round part of the squash by cutting around it in a spiral fashion with a sharp knife; it is easier to peel a round object in this manner.

Cut the rounded part in half lengthwise, and, using a spoon, scoop out the seeds. Then cut the squash into 1/8-to-1/4-inch slices, either with a knife or in a food processor fitted with the slicing blade.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the squash slices in a large saucepan, cover them with water, and bring to a boil. Boil over high heat for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, then drain in a colander. The pieces will break a little in cooking. Arrange pieces in a gratin dish, and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Pour on the cream, and stir gently with a fork to distribute the additions properly. Cover with the cheese, and bake for about 30 minutes.

At serving time, brown the top of the gratin by heating it under a hot broiler for 4 to 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

This is a rich dish and works well with roasted chicken. I hope you enjoy it!

What dish could you make just for you for a little luxury this week? I hope you plan on a special treat just for you! You can share it if you want to!

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