When Mama doesn’t blog, Mama doesn’t eat well. Without Friday deadlines and recipes to tackle, I’ve lost my way. The fridge looks forlorn. The pantry? Forgettaboutit. My solitary banana is brown and there are no overs to left. Eight weeks. Enough. Time to take the foot off the brake. Plus, I’ve missed you.
As you’re reading this post, I’m flying back to Colorado after a week in Washington D.C. I had the opportunity to spend 3 days at the newly-opened National Museum of African American History and Culture and stretched my trip to include other museums. My carefully scripted itinerary did not include being questioned by the Secret Service. That happened and was unnerving.
First, however, let’s add some sparkle to your holiday menus. The staff at The Gant worried I’d hit a bad patch and were quite relieved to see this Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake with Buttermilk Icing walk through their door. Although Gourmet Magazine ceased publication in 2009, this spectacular Fall creation from a 2005 issue is mine forever.
Why not let David Lebovitz’s Cook the Book Friday’s recipe, Butternut Squash Crumble, be a part of your Thanksgiving this year. What first sounds like a dessert tilts toward savory. Roasted squash is infused with chicken stock and seasoned with thyme and shallots. The topping is a mixture of bread crumbs, Parmesan and sage, glued together by butter and eggs. Ditch your classic green bean casserole for this tasty dish with a sweet punch.
Look for the recipes and my tips at the end of this post.
A CAPITOL VISIT
In 1913 on the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, black civil war veterans lobbied for a museum to honor the African American journey. That dream gathered dust for decades until Congressmen John Lewis and Mickey Leland resurrected the idea in the 1980s. Winning approval from Congress was a prolonged and bruising battle. In 2003 an ebullient George W. Bush signed a bill creating the 19th Smithsonian museum. It opened in late September 2016 and cost $540 million with half of that coming from private donors.
Designed by Tanzanian-born British architect, David Adjaye, the dazzling 400,000 square-foot bronze-colored building sits on a 5-acre site located directly across from the Washington Monument. (Adjaye also designed Denver’s Museum of Contemporary Art).
Because no Smithsonian museum had ever been conceived without having its own permanent collection, Director Lonnie Bunch and his team collected the artifacts themselves. Using the “Antiques Roadshow” format to generate publicity in 15 American cities the museum now possesses 37,000 objects. Every Smithsonian museum is spectacular and the NMAAHC, the last to be built on the Mall, stands proudly with the others.
I also spent several hours at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum which Michael and I first visited after it opened in 1993. Although not a member of the Smithsonian group, it is located nearby and recently was renovated. Walking through those doors is a sobering experience and, 23 years later, still not easy.
THE SECRET SERVICE
It was on my way to the Holocaust Museum that I crossed paths with the Secret Service. Charged with protecting the President, Vice President and Treasury, ubiquitous is the watchword. On bikes. In cars. With German Shepherds. Manning security booths. Guarding entrances. I spotted an agent on her bike with a dog chatting with another agent guarding an entrance. A perfect photo, I thought.
As you can see by my picture the minute I focused the camera, Man Agent turned and began walking towards me. I consciously decided NOT to say I was a blogger and just snapping a photo for an upcoming post. So when he asked me why I was taking pictures (I took only 1), that’s exactly what I blurted out! He lectured me on freedom, that it had costs! I replied that I was also on Team Freedom, would show him all my photos if he wished and I was not the enemy (which he already knew, of course). Still, it was unsettling, that gun and all. I remember thinking, “Well, if this goes south, I look good, am wearing a nice outfit and my pearls are real!”
And, Readers, don’t forget to VOTE.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH CRUMBLE by David Lebovitz, My Paris Kitchen
2 Tbs butter
2 Tbs olive oil
4 pounds. butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced into ¾-inch cubes
2 tsp minced fresh thyme leaves
Kosher salt and black pepper
½ cup peeled and thinly sliced shallots
1 cup chicken stock
2 Tbs finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
¾ cup fresh or dried bread crumbs
½ cup coarse-ground yellow cornmeal
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbs minced fresh sage leaves
1 tsp granulated sugar
½ tsp kosher salt
4 Tbs unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
1 large egg, room temperature
1. Preheat your oven to 375 F. Grease a shallow 3-quart baking dish. Set aside.
2. To make the squash filling, heat 1 Tbs butter and 1 Tbs olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the squash and half the thyme. Season with salt and pepper and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the squash pieces begin to brown on several sides.
3. Add half the shallots and cook another few minutes, until they’re softened. Add ½ cup stock and cook about 30 seconds, stirring, to reduce the stock a bit and heat everything through. Scrape the squash mixture into the prepared baking dish.
4. Wipe the pan clean and heat the remaining 1 tbs butter and olive oil in the pan over medium-high heat. Cook the rest of the squash and thyme the same way, seasoning it with salt and pepper and adding the remaining shallots and ½ cup stock, stirring.
5. Scrape the cooked squash mixture into the baking dish, stir in the parsley, then press the mixture into a relatively even layer. Cover the dish snugly with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes, until the squash is pretty soft, but not mushy when you poke it with a sharp paring knife.
6. While the squash bakes, make the topping. Combine the bread crumbs, cornmeal, Parmesan, sage, sugar, salt and black pepper in your food processor. Add the chilled butter and pulse until the mixture is crumbly and the butter is completely incorporated. Add the egg and pulse a few more times until the mixture just starts clumping together in bits.
7. Remove the squash from the oven, remove the aluminum foil, and cover evenly with the bread crumb topping. Decrease the oven temperature to 350 F and return the dish to the oven. Bake about 20 minutes, until the topping is golden brown, then serve.
PUMPKIN SPICE BUNDT CAKE with BUTTERMILK ICING
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine, 2005
Special equipment: a 10-inch nonstick bundt pan (3 quart)
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened,
2 additional Tbs butter for greasing bundt pan*
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour plus additional for dusting pan
2 additional Tbs flour for dusting pan*
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin PUREE from a 15-ounce can (not pie filling)
3/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons well-shaken buttermilk
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Butter bundt pan generously, then dust with flour, knocking out excess.
3. Whisk together flour (2 1/4 cups), baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, and salt in a bowl.
4. Whisk together pumpkin, 3/4 cup buttermilk, and vanilla in another bowl.
5. Beat butter (1 1/2 sticks) and granulated sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes, then add eggs and beat 1 minute. Reduce speed to low and add flour and pumpkin mixtures alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture and mixing until batter is just smooth.
6. Spoon batter into pan, smoothing top, then bake until a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack 15 minutes, then invert rack over cake and re-invert cake onto rack. Cool 10 minutes more.
1. While cake is cooling, whisk together buttermilk and confectioners sugar until smooth. Drizzle icing over warm cake, then cool cake completely. Icing will harden slightly.
Cake can be made 3 days ahead and kept in an airtight container at room temperature.
2. I use Pam with Flour spray instead of a butter/flour combination for a no-stick remedy. My cakes have always dropped from the pan beautifully.
3. Fill your bundt pan to 3/4 full. I used the 10-cup bundt pan suggested but if you use a smaller bundt pan, just make muffins with the extra mixture.