Acorn Squash, Roasted Corn on the Cob, Skillet Steaks, & Duquesne Beer

Recently, we had a ridiculously excellent fall dinner.  I could eat this meal several nights a week, and not grow tired of it.

Delicious Fall Dinner
Acorn Squash, Corn on the Cob, Skillet Steaks, & Duquense Beer!

First up was the acorn squash, which is really easy to prepare once you get the damn thing cut open.  I have recently stopped trying to go through the whole thing at once.  I use a serrated knife and poke from the beside stem into the center, then slice out form the stem all the way back around until I hit the stem again, then crack it open.

After scooping out the seeds (which I always wonder about cooking like pumpkin seeds) and stringy gross stuff, I placed the two halves orange side up in a glass baking dish in about ½” to ¾” of water.  Don’t worry, they actually generally do sit up that way without a problem.  I sliced the tops/insides a little in preparation for the next part…

Acorn Squash, after roasting.
SQUASH!

I melted some butter (or some Country Crock spread actually) in the microwave, probably about 3 tablespoons worth, and added a little bit of brown sugar, stirred, then ladled it on the top & into the cup formed in the middle.  Add it to taste.  I don’t really ever measure this.  If you’re looking for a measurement form me, add what you think is too much brown sugar, then add a pinch more.  I also added a tiny bit of black pepper & paprika to mine this time… but I add that to almost everything.

After that, I placed it in the already pre-heating oven at 400° for about an hour and 5 minutes.  I was going for somewhere between an hour and an hour & 15 minutes, and it worked out closer to the hour this time.  Check on it around the hour mark.  This one was roasted perfectly… the meat of the squash was just melting on to the spoon, & peeling right off of the skin inside.  It was really a great flavorful vegetable.  I don’t know if this is baking or roasting, but whatever it is, it works.  It would have also been good scooped out & served like groovy orange mashed potatoes.

Corn, unressed, re-dressed, & bound for doom!
Corn, undressed, re-dressed, & bound for doom!

Up next was the corn, figuring temperature was more important for the squash, I typically roast corn at 425° or 450° for 20 minutes to a half hour… but figured why not let it ride along with the squash here?

My wife & I carefully pulled back all the husks… just pulled them back not off, then removed the silk.

We buttered (again, we used Country Crock’s butter approximation), salted, & peppered the corn.

Next we wrapped it back up, and tied the tops back together using a loose strand of the husk.  This doesn’t always work out, so sometimes I use foil & make little caps to keep ’em all bound together.

I did a whole post on corn & why you should keep it in the husk, and never ever boil it unless you’re making soup.  You can read that here if you’re interested.  As you can see, “other stuff in the oven” is not even a good excuse to boil corn.  It can go along for the ride.  Proof?  It turned out beautifully:

Oven Roasted Corn on the Cob
Why would you boil corn, when you could have this awesomeness every time?

I wish my cell phone’s camera got better shots.  I need to think farther than Facebook or Twitter when taking food photos, and get the real camera so I can post more to this blog.  The corn husks did smoke a little… but I didn’t see any flames, and it let me know when it was done.  Ha ha ha.  I’ve grown to not rely on timers so much, but to go with temperature and a gut feeling.

Oddly enough for a carnivore like myself, the steak was not the star of this meal.  We just got some thin  skillet steaks and put them on the Foreman grill oiled, salted, & peppered for about 5 minutes, maybe a little less.  They turned out fine.  The Foreman Grill seems to be my go-to tool for cooking meat until I get new knobs for by real grill outside.  I’m in a Yahoo! Group that’s a really good resource for innovative GFG cooking.

I topped it all off with the newly resurrected Duquesne Beer.  [Insert zombie and or Jesus joke here.]  I have a collection of antique bottles and have a Duke beer bottle in with my local stuff… so when I heard that they were making it again, I knew I had to try some.  I was born after the company was dissolved the first time, so I can’t compare it to the original… but it is a nice mellow pilsner that goes well with this kind of dinner.  It rounded out the meal perfectly.

It was aggravating to get my hands on some though… they’ve had a weird release schedule, and no 6 pack shops around me were carrying the stuff.  When one local pizza joint was listed as having the stuff, I went there to buy some and they had no idea what I was talking about.  I ended up buying a case, but luckily I don’t feel “stuck” with something that I don’t like.

Leave your corn in the husk

Oven-Roasted Corn on the Cob
Oven-Roasted Corn on the Cob

The only way to cook corn on the cob to me any more is in the husk.  Be it on the grill, over a campfire, or in the oven… it’s the way to go.  Next would be microwaving… but for goodness sake… please stop boiling corn. All the flavor is sucked right out of it into the water.  Unless you’re making a creepy corn-based soup stock… quit it!

There are several methods online, but I’ve found this one to work well for our purposes…

  1. Soak the corn in water for a while (or even overnight) if you have the option… this prevents the husks from burning.  But, I must confessed that I’ve skipped this step several times with no disastrous consequences.  (Also, if you’re storing corn in the fridge, it may have the same effect.)
  2. Peel back the husks, don’t rip them off!  Leave ’em attached at the base.  Pull of the silk… we have a corn silk brush that works really well for this.
  3. Brush with some butter, I can’t believe it’s not butter, or even Mayo or Miracle whip.  The latter two sound crazy, but it’s unhealthy and decadently awesome.
  4. Season with your favorite spices… I prefer fresh ground black pepper, hot shot, and some salt.  The wife likes Season-All.  I hear lime juice goes well with the aforementioned Mayo slathering… I guess it’s a Mexican thing?
  5. Gently wrap the husk back up over the corn as closely as you found it.  If you’re adventurous, use one of the outer husks to tie it back together at the top.  If not, use a string or make a nice foil cap.

Now the cooking part…

  • The Grill: All grills are different, but this is probably my preferred method.  I generally put them on at whatever heat I need to cook my “main” dish… if they’re the star of the show, I’d say a medium-high heat is in order, turn them often.  You’ll get some nice grill-lines… it’s generally done once the outside layer of husks is charred & brown.
  • The Oven: The main advantage to using an oven is a nice even cooking.  We did these in the oven right on the cooking rack the other night at 425° for 30 minutes, just flipping once… and they were absolutely perfect.
  • The Campfire: If you haven’t cooked corn on the campfire, shame on you!  Get the fire going nice & hot with some nice white coals at the bottom.  (They’ll be glowing orange if it’s dark out.) If you’re using a cooking grate, I’d put the corn on top around the outsides, so it wasn’t being hit by direct flame.  The pre-soaking does come in handy here.  If you’re not using a cooking grate… I’d wrap the re-husked corn in foil and place it on the coals under your fire ring, or just on the inside.  Check it for done-ness when you’re nervous about it… ’cause you’re probably right… but be patient.

I’d love to hear how you cook corn, and what you top/pair it with!

Oven-Roasted corn in Bethany's little corn-dishes.
Oven-Roasted corn in Bethany's little corn-dishes.

Oven Roasted Peppers

Directions from a variety of sources, until I come up with my own preferred method.

From:  http://allrecipes.com/howto/roasting-peppers/detail.aspx

Roasting Peppers

By: Allrecipes Staff

Enjoy the succulent sweetness of a freshly roasted pepper prepared at home.

Roasting peppers at home is remarkably easy. The whole process takes less than 40 minutes, uses very few kitchen tools, and is nearly foolproof. Both sweet and hot peppers can be roasted in this manner.

1. We have opted to roast two sweet bell peppers, one red and one green. We recommend using two teaspoons of vegetable oil for each pepper. Avoid extra-virgin olive oil as its smoke point is low and will burn when broiled. Preheat your oven’s broiler.

2. Coat each pepper evenly with oil. A pastry brush is a useful tool to use when coating the peppers, but fingers will work in a pinch if a pastry brush is not on hand. Make sure to coat inside the folds of each pepper.

3. Arrange the peppers on a baking sheet and place the baking sheet on the highest rack in your oven.

4. Keep a watchful eye on the peppers to ensure that they do not become too scorched. When dark splotches begin to appear on the peppers, remove the baking sheet from the oven and carefully turn each pepper over.

5. The peppers will be very hot, so use tongs or some other kitchen utensil to do this. Once all of the peppers are turned, return the sheet to the oven.

6. When the tops of the peppers begin to darken again, remove them from the oven and place them into a bowl large enough to accommodate all of the peppers. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, making sure that it is sealed all the way around. It is important that the peppers are in an air-tight container for this step of the process in order for them to be steamed. The trapped hot peppers generate the steam necessary to loosen their skins.

7. Once the peppers are cool enough to handle (probably about 15 to 20 minutes), pull the stems out of each pepper.

8. Hold one end of the pepper down on a flat surface and gently peel the skin off of each pepper. The skin should slide off fairly easily.

9. Lift each pepper up and hold it with one hand, while using your other hand to squeeze down the pepper’s length. The bulk of the seeds and pulp should drop out the bottom when this motion is completed.

10. With the backside of the knife, slit open the side of each pepper and spread them out (ribbed side up) on your work surface. With the dull side of your knife, scrape off any of the ribs or membrane that remains in the pepper.

11. Use these juicy, tender peppers to enliven sandwiches, spice up Mexican dishes, add to an antipasto platter, or toss with a crisp salad.

Use fresh roasted in these recipes:

From:  http://recipes.howstuffworks.com/oven-roasted-peppers-and-onions-recipe.htm

Oven-Roasted Peppers and Onions

by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd.

Oven-Roasted Peppers  and Onions Photo

Oven-Roasted Peppers and Onions
Yield: Makes 6 servings
Providing more than five times the daily RDA for vitamin C, this flavorful, eye-catching side dish adds variety to ordinary vegetable fare.

Ingredients:

Nonstick olive oil cooking spray
2
medium green bell peppers
2
medium red bell peppers
2
medium yellow bell peppers
4
small onions
1
teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/2
teaspoon dried basil
1/4
teaspoon ground cumin
Preparation:
1.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray 15X10-inch jelly-roll pan with cooking spray.
2.
Cut bell peppers into 1-1/2-inch pieces. Cut onions into quarters. Place vegetables on prepared pan. Spray vegetables with cooking spray. Bake 20 minutes; stir. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning, basil and cumin.
3.
Increase oven temperature to 425°F. Bake 20 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender and edges are lightly browned.
Nutritional Information:
Serving Size: 1/6 of total recipe
Sodium 4 mg
Protein 3 g
Fiber 4 g
Carbohydrate 20 g
Saturated Fat <1 g
Total Fat 1 g
Calories from Fat 6 %
Calories 84
Dietary Exchange:
Vegetable 3-1/2
This recipe appears in: Italian

From: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/roasted-peppers-garlic.html

Annie B. Bond

Roasted Peppers with Garlic Recipe

posted by Annie B. Bond Nov 18, 2000 12:03 am
filed under: Food & Recipes, Entrees

Adapted from The Onion Harvest Cookbook by Barbara Ciletti (Taunton Press, 1998).

This dish is impossible to resist: tender roasted peppers topped with creamy cheese simply burst with summery colors and flavors. Olives and basil combined with the peppers and healthy garlic give this dish a visual appeal that matches the great taste and nutrition.

The best of the Italian garden on a plate.

INGREDIENTS
1 head garlic, garnish
2 large red bell peppers
2 large yellow bell peppers
1 clove elephant garlic, peeled and minced
1/3 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Juice of 1/2 lemon
6 slices Bel Paese cheese, 1 inch in diameter
1/2 cup mixture of opal and green basil, thinly sliced, garnish
Kalamata or green Cerignola olives, garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

1. Break the garlic into cloves and roast covered in an ovenproof baking dish 20-30 minutes. Remove from the oven, then when the garlic is cool enough to handle, gentle squeeze the cloves out of their skins. Cut the cloves in half vertically and set aside.

2. Increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees. Place the peppers, with their stems intact, on a baking sheet or in a roasting pan, and roast 20-30 minutes, or until the skins darken and blister. Remove the peppers from the oven, and place them in a paper bag. Close the bag by folding over twice. Set the peppers aside to cool.

3. Place the elephant garlic, oil, salt, cloves, and lemon juice in a blender and mix 2-3 minutes, or until the mixture becomes a smooth sauce. Pour into a small bowl.

4. Take the peppers from the bag and remove the skins, stems, and seeds. If necessary, rinse the peppers to make peeling easier. Cut the peppers into vertical quarters and arrange on a serving dish. Top with the cheese rounds. Whisk the oil mixture 1 minute, then pour over the peppers and cheese. Garnish with basil, roasted garlic, and olives. Serve immediately.

Serves 4-6.

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