Monday, October 26, 2009

Pumpkins and potimarrons

Halloween isn't a French holiday.  Some towns have tried it, but it hasn't been successful.  Last year, in Arles, Jonas and I carved a jack-o-lantern and set him in the window.  I bought candy, bonbons, a kind I knew he and Leo liked just in case no one came knocking on the door.  One little goblin showed up... and his papa.  I gave them some candy, they complimented us on our carving and off they went.  Leo and Jonas enjoyed the rest of the candy.  Oh well.  (I had my own stash of Lindt chocolate bars in the cabinet...)  This year, my 17 year old has plans to dress up as Batman (his older brother was Batman many years ago, too, in a mommy-made costume).  I doubt we'll have many trick or treaters at the townhouse where we live.  Most of the middle school teachers will dress up.  The band will play Halloween songs and there will be door-decorating and costume contests.  I'll dress up for that and maybe the un-ex and I will go out for some grown-up fun.  Not a bad idea, is it?
The weather has turned chilly here again today.  I am ready to prepare a recipe that we made in Arles last fall and that I loved.  I think that I have even found the proper type of pumpkin to make it with at Harris Teeter.
I photographed these at the Onion and Apple Festival in Le Vigan, where my dear friends Richard and Nadine live.  (sigh)  As soon as my oven is repaired (still about another week), I plan to make this dish.  Hopefully, Batman will like it.

  (This is from last year's Thanksgiving feast prepared with the Goolsby clan in Arles after a wonderful day of wine-tasting in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, with a stop on the way back for chocolates...)

Tian de Potimarron (Baked Squash)

1/2 c. olive oil
3 slices of bacon, cut in 1/4 in. short strips
2 onions, minced
One 3 lb. squash peeled, sliced and cut into 3/4 in. cubes (look at the picture above from Le Vigan to see what the squash actually looks like so you will know what to buy- I do not know what to call it!)
2 bay leaves
2 garlic cloves, crushed and minced
A couple of grates of fresh nutmeg (or 1/8 tsp. of already ground- or to taste)
Salt and pepper, as needed
3 Tbsp honey

In a large, deep frying pan, pour in enough olive oil to cover the bottom, reserving the rest for later.  Turn up the flame to medium high and brown the bacon.  Add the onions and cook them for only about 3 minutes, not browning them, just sweating them.  Add the squash and the remaining oil, and sauté over a medium flame, allowing them to lightly brown, for 10-15 minutes.  They should start to become tender.
Remove the squash from the flame, fold in the bay leaves, the minced garlic and nutmeg.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Transfer to a baking dish and place in the oven at 375F.  Let bake for 30 minutes.  When just about done, drizzle the honey over the top, return to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes or until the honey caramelizes.

Bon appétit, l'Halloween!

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