Friday, 11 September 2009

Quinoa AGAIN, Mom?

Why are we having quinoa again? We had it last week! Well, yes, but Peter likes quinoa. And I have a pattypan squash that needs eating.

Not that Greta had to eat it- as she has a small cold that is giving her an excruciatingly runny nose, she got pasta with courgette sauce with tofu. About half of which she ate. But it had me thinking about children and food, and a story that my father used to tell about when he was a boy.

I went through a phase when I was still in primary school of having an egg for breakfast every morning. And it inspired my father to tell me that when he was a boy, back in the early 1940s, his father used to go out and get him an egg in the morning- even when there was an air-raid on. My grandfather used to go out, braving (as my father told it) the bombs, to fetch his only son an egg for his breakfast- and of course, my father would then refuse to eat it. My grandfather would tell him that there were plenty of starving children in Germany who would love an egg. And my father gave him the perennial response of ungrateful children everywhere: "Well, why can't we send it to them?"

Yes, this is a totally irrelevant story to the tale of my pattypan squash... but I was thinking about it whilst I was preparing it. Ungrateful, picky children. I guess my girl is just taking after her grandfather! Although, to be entirely truthful, I suspect that this tale is a conflation of several episodes, and I also doubt considerably that my father was allowed to get away with not eating his egg. It also surprises me very much that the man I know today was ever so rude to his parents, let alone so ungrateful!

But to get back to my muttons...

I've never bought pattypan before. I've read about it, but hadn't worked out either what it looked like, nor that it was available around here... nor that it was called patisson in French. Last weekend at the Migros, in the bin of pumpkins/squash, there it was, a big white thing, shaped not quite so much like a UFO as it is generally said to be, but still quite pretty. I picked a nice big one out... got home, did a bit more research, and found out that if they're bigger than the palm of your hand, they're supposed to be tasteless.


However, there were many recipes for stuffed pattypan knocking about on the Internet, a few of which I read, but none of which I retained among my tabs. I kept in mind, however, that sage and breadcrumbs and cheese featured heavily among them.

I'm out of bread. Hence, no breadcrumbs. I'm also out of fresh sage, although I do have (and have only just remembered) dried sage. As for cheese... well, Peter may be Swiss, but he isn't a big fan of cheese in cooking. Unless of course I sneak it in without telling him, then he's fine with it.

I knew I needed funky flavours for this squash. However, we're at the end of the week, and there's not much left in the fridge other than the usual vegetables. I should have unfrozen another slab of bacon, but I didn't.

However, after a perusal of the contents of the fridge, I pulled out a packet of jamon serrano (on special offer last week), and the chunk of parmesan that sits at the back at the top and gets hauled out when I make risotto.

I then cut the pattypan in half, the hard way- and that I ended up with a lid and a base rather than two equal halves wasn't particularly important. I took out the seeds and fibres, and whilst I was doing that I had the idea of the quinoa. Well, to be honest, first I thought of bulghur, but then I opened the cupboard.

I'm out of white ("regular") quinoa, as I mentioned previously. I had asked my mother to pick me up some whilst she was at the Migros in France, as I know they had it there. I told her not to get me red quinoa, as I had some... and she turned up with two packets of red quinoa (and one packet of red mixed with amaranth, which should prove interesting some other meal). So I now have four packets of red quinoa in the cupboard, and one half-used packet. Bulghur, I have one packet of. Quinoa it had to be!

A small cupful of red quinoa was therefore put on to cook, whilst I scooped out some of the flesh of the squash. I put that in a mixing bowl, adding roughly chopped jamon Serrano, and a lot of black pepper. I took the block of Parmesan, cut off all the... biological bits, and grated a lot into the bowl. I also grated some into the base and lid of my squash, and more black pepper over that.

Looking into my bowl, I thought it was a bit uninteresting, so I went into the fridge again. I came out with a pot of sundried tomatoes. I'm not a big fan of sundried tomatoes by themselves, finding their taste quite simply weird, but cooked and as a single component of a dish, well, they're OK. I chopped five of them and added them in. And I wish that it wouldn't have looked unbalanced to put in six, because the pot went back into the fridge with one tomato in it!

I also added a bit of the oil from the pot to the mixing bowl.

When my quinoa was just undercooked, I drained it (not too much), put it in the bowl, stirred everything around, stuffed the base of the pattypan, put the lid on, and put the whole thing in the oven at 200C for an hour.

It didn't quite work. It was OK, but it would have been better with bulghur and with bacon- and definitely better with a melted cheese in it, something like taleggio. I won't be bothering with it again, and instead will go back to baking little orange pumpkins brushed with truffle oil and with lardons.

The patisson, however, was an interesting taste. It wasn't bland, and was oddly like green melon. I think I need to come up with something else to do with it.

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