Sunday, December 19, 2010

Monitoring blogs, and squash with tahini.

I am still trying to get my hands around the kind of monitoring and analytics that you can do with a blog, and I continue to be intrigued.  Part of this is being a data and information junkie.  Part may just be nosiness. After all, I spent much of my professional career as a archivist, which includes reading other peoples correspondence. (It's really nothing like The Lives of Others.  Really.)  It is more the thrill of human connection.

In the past few weeks, I saw that a reader from Austin, Texas spent a considerable amount of time on the site, most likely reading my post on Mexican/Syrian-Jewish style brisked in response to a query looking for "mexican brisket."  I hope that this reader tried this recipe and was not disappointed, since, although I am very proud of it, it is not a typical Mexican dish.  I have also noticed, for example, that someone, or some people from Glasgow, Scotland visit my blog with some regularity.   They must be disappointed that I haven't posted anything new for over three weeks. At least I hope that they are.

I have lots of reasons.  Life got busy.  Cooking got monotonous in an effort to fight the Thanksgiving to New Year bulge.  Most importantly, I have found myself cooking from recipes already on the blog or using cookbook recipes and not modifying them enough to make them worth posting.  (If I substitute short ribs for lamb shanks in a stew with quince, chestnuts and pomegranate juice, add some Indian spices, etc., should I really bother posting?)   One new dish that  I did make was a room temperature appetizer of pan-roasted winter squash with tahini.  I used to a be a confirmed squash hater, and the one day a number of years ago I made a spicy Bengali squash dish with chili, mustard seeds, and coconut from Bharti Kirchner's (tragically out-of-print) The Healthy Cuisine of India: Recipes from the Bengal Region, and I was a convert.  It was a revelation when the squash wasn't drowned in maple syrup or brown sugar. 

So, for my Glaswegian readers, and anyone else waiting on the other end of the ether for a recipe, here is;

Winter squash with tahini

  • 2 cups winter squash cut into 1/2 inch cubes (I like butternut, red kuri, or kabocha here)
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • sugar if needed
  • tahini sauce:  1/4 cup tahini, 1 clove garlic, coarse salt, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, up to about 1/4 cup water
  • handful chopped flat leaf parsley, to taste

  1. Heat olive oil, a spoon or so, in  medium nonstick skillet, on medium heat.  Add squash cubes and salt lightly. 
  2. Cook on medium-high heat, tossing or stirring occasionally, until the squash is tender and well caramelized.  If it doesn't have a nice, rich taste, sprinkle a little sugar on it, less than  a teaspoon, toward the end of cooking. Remove to a bowl when done.
  3. Meanwhile, make the tahini sauce:  Make the tahini sauce: smash the garlic with coarse salt to make a puree, and stir in the tahini.  Stir in the lemon juice.  The tahini will become very stiff.  Dribble in the water, a few drops at the time.  The sauce will stiffen some more, and then loosen to the texture of a thick cream. It is hard to tell exactly how much water you will use, but it is usually approximately equal to the amount of tahini, or a little more. The sauce should be on the thicker side, but still pourable.
  4. Pour the sauce over the squash.  Mix in parsley when cool.
  5. Serve with warm pita bread.

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