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Season of the Squash

GOOD COOKING

October 14, 1993|ABBY MANDEL

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in small bowl. In 1-quart bowl whisk vanilla, puree, eggs, sugar, cream and milk together until smooth. Stir in dry ingredients until smooth. Pour mixture into 6 (3/4-cup) individual souffle dishes, dividing evenly. Sprinkle with chopped pecans. Place souffle dishes in shallow baking pan large enough to hold all.

Place pan on oven rack. Pour boiling water into pan to reach halfway up sides of dishes. Bake at 275 degrees until pudding has puffed slightly but center is soft and wood pick inserted into center comes out wet, about 45 minutes. Do not overbake.

Carefully remove dishes from water. Cool pudding on rack. Serve warm, not hot. Can be made day ahead and refrigerated. Reheat in 300-degree oven 12 minutes or in microwave oven at MEDIUM (50% power). Serve with very small dollop of vanilla ice cream on top. Makes 6 servings.

Each serving contains about: 286 calories; 163 mg sodium; 100 mg cholesterol; 14 grams fat; 37 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams protein; 0.31 gram fiber.

How to Squish a Squash

Squash needs to be cooked until very soft in order to transform it into a smooth puree. This can be done either by baking, microwaving or steaming. For all methods, it is important to pierce the surface of the squash in several places with a fork. Cooking times vary with the size of the squash; the following times are based on large squashes that weigh about 2 1/4 pounds. For smaller sizes, decrease cooking time accordingly.

* To bake squash, place on baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees, turning over once halfway through, until squash is very soft, about 1 hour, 20 minutes.

* To microwave squash, place on paper plate and cook on HIGH (100% power), turning over once, until very soft, about 20 minutes.

* To steam squash, cut in half. Put halves in large steamer basket, cut side down, over rapidly boiling water. Cover and cook until very soft, about 25 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

* To puree cooked squash, cool, then cut squash in half, remove seeds and stringy membrane. Spoon flesh into processor or, in batches, into blender. Puree until completely smooth, about 2 minutes, stopping once to scrape down sides of container.

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