Good morning, all. Here’s hoping the weather gurus are wrong, and we won’t be getting socked by snow tonight and tomorrow. Here’s also hoping today’s Free Range chat won’t be socked by the technical problems that beset us last week, bringing the chat to a screeching halt not even halfway through the hour.
And here’s hoping you have a sweet Valentine’s Day. Here at Food, we decided to deliver our valentines a couple of days early — and for all to read. Want to know the objects of our affections? Check them out here.
Also in Food this week, we feature Round 2 of our Superfoods Chef’s Challenge. Participating chefs get to pick two ingredients from a list of superfoods, then must use them in four healthful dishes. This week’s contender is Susan Holt, co-owner of the CulinAerie cooking school in the District, and she’s got four great recipes.
Finally, wine columnist Dave McIntyre takes a look at two current winter weather extremes — our unusually cold one and California’s unusually warm one — in terms of how they might affect this year’s grapes.
Don’t forget about today’s chat, which starts at noon sharp. Tune in, and bring your culinary questions. Just to tide you over, here’s an unanswered question from last week’s chat:
I had a bunch of leftover acorn squash from summer that I cut in half and froze. I’ve made a filling with the idea of making baked stuffed squash, but I don’t know whether I can just stuff the frozen squash and bake from there, or whether I should thaw them first. Any suggestions?
Hmmm. From the way you worded your question, I’m getting the idea that you didn’t cook the squash before you froze it. If that’s the case, I’m afraid you’ll find that your squash’s texture has really suffered in the freezer. It’s likely to be watery, mushy or both, and the color might be a little off.
For that reason, I don’t think that stuffing and baking it will have a good result. You can go ahead and try it, of course — you already have the stuffing — but don’t get your hopes up. To answer your original question, though, it would make more sense to start off with the stuffing and squash at roughly the same temperature, so defrost the squash first.
If it were me, I’d find a way to use the frozen squash in a soup, or to thicken a stew, or in a pasta sauce, or in a quick bread.
In the future, cook your squash before freezing! Steam it, boil it, microwave it, pressure-cook it, roast it, whatever suits you — just cook, cool, peel, wrap and freeze. You’ll get the best result if you puree the flesh before freezing, but you can leave it in chunks or slices.
If you do happen to try your stuff-and-bake experiment, let me know how it turned out!