(Feb. 28, 2020) There is little that shapes the one’s culinary experiences as profoundly and persuasively as creativity.
Originality is a means of self-expression and the foundation for point of view. Without creativity, cooking would be reduced to a mundane means of daily intake.
As human beings, we are all capable of being creative. The degree is determined by many factors such as what is your definition of creativity? Can inspiration be measured, and by what standards is it judged? What is your guest’s reaction to a particular uniqueness?
What one must keep in mind is that ingenuity increases our conception of what is possible and lifts the limits of supposition. Remember, predictability is the basis for a mundane menu and should never be a consideration.
Butternut squash parfait exceeds the boundaries of probability and diminishes any chances of expectedness.
Understanding the concept of a particular dish gives a chef the freedom to personalize it. It is this resourcefulness that promotes the process for individuality.
Chance crossed my path and helped finalize my quest for the ultimate butternut squash parfait.
Acorn squash was my original choice for this tasty treat. However, curiosity took over and I decided to experiment with butternut squash. Once I cut into the flesh, I knew my instincts were going to pay off.
The color of the flesh was a bright orange as opposed to the lackluster yellowness of an acorn squash.
But more important was my discovery of the difference of textures. Acorn squash has a coarse consistency whereas butternut is creamy. This velvety quality is much more conducive for a parfait.
The addition of pumpkin pie filling adds a whole new level of taste and gives the dish more depth of flavor.
Once the butternut squash is finalized, it must be strained in a mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth.
While this may seem trivial, it is key for the success of the dish. Otherwise, the natural juices will take over the parfait and one will end up with a soupy mess.
Garnishes are much more than a decoration. They are the concluding component that completes a dish and must be carefully thought out. Whipped cream smooths out the intensity the parfait and adds to the beautification.
Chopped toasted walnuts and candied ginger complete the cycle of flavor and add a much-needed crunch to the parfait.
How one serves this dish depends on many particulars. This dish can be served in mini parfait glasses accompanied with mini spoons and can be served as a passed hors d’oeuvre.
If one plans to present a buffet, place butternut squash filling in a sizable bowl and garnish on a grander scale.
Butternut squash parfait served in a chilled martini glass is a stunning finale for an elegant meal.
Butternut squash parfait is fun and versatile. Best of all, butternut squash parfait will make a lasting impression on your guests, family and even children. Enjoy!
Butternut Squash Parfait
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
½ cup walnuts, pecans, or a combination of both
1 (5) pound butternut squash
1 (15 oz.) pumpkin pie filling
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon allspice
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 ½ tablespoons light brown sugar
few pinches salt
1 can Reddi wip
2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger
1. In a small pan, heat butter over medium-low heat. Add nuts and sauté until nuts develop a crispy exterior. When the nuts have cooled, chop finely and set aside.
2. Slice butternut squash lengthwise. Remove seeds and stringy flesh. Place squash in a large pot, flesh side up. Add 3 cups water and turn heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until squash is very, very tender. This process will take 45 to 60 minutes depending on the size of the squash. After 30 minutes, you will may have to add more water.
3. Move cooked squash to a cooling rack. When the squash has cooled, remove the tough skins.
4. Place cooked squash in a large bowl. Add canned pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, sugar and salt. Using a hand held mixer, blend until squash mixture is smooth.
5. Place a double layer of cheesecloth into a large sieve, then position the sieve into a large bowl. Add squash mixture to sieve and allow to strain for at least 1 hour at room temperature.
6. Presentation for martini glass - carefully spoon reduced squash mixture into chilled martini glasses. Top with Reddi wip and remember, you are not only a chef but an artist. Garnish with toasted nuts and crystalized ginger. Serve immediately.
* Crystalized ginger can be purchased at your local supermarket.
Serve 4 to 6
Secret Ingredient – Individuality. “It is important to foster individuality for only the individual can produce the new ideas.”
– Albert Einstein