People who know me would tell you that it's hard to tell which I like more: gardening or cooking. I'd say it depends on which I'm doing at the moment. Anyway, French cooking and French gardening go hand in hand. For me, cooking is an on-going adventure. Join me here on my culinary explorations, where I share with you both my old favorites as well as new inspirations. It's my fondest wish that these recipes serve as a springboard for your own new creations.
10/14/2011 "Candied" pumpkin with a Vietnamese finish(Courge confite à la vietnamienne) Clay pot
For 4 servings:
Approximately 1 lb. winter squash or pumpkin. Thick fleshed varieties are best. Scant 1/2 c. sugar
1 can coconut milk Pinches of fleur de sel sea salt crystals
Preheat the oven to 325 F. Thinly peel the squash and cut into largish (2") chunks. Spread it out in a clay baking dish just large enough to hold it in a single layer. Sprinkle with the sugar and toss to coat. Let the dish stand about an hour to allow the sugar to draw the juices out of the squash, dissolving the sugar.
Cover with foil and bake about 1 hour or until tender. Remove the foil and bake 30 minutes more, then turn off the oven and leave the dish in the oven until cool. The squash should have resorbed most of the syrup. (The recipe up to this point is adapted from one by Paula Wolfert, but this version uses less than half the sugar and is still very sweet.)
To serve, empty the coconut milk into a bowl and whisk to emulsify completely until smooth. Put 3 or 4 chunks of squash carefully into each serving bowl and top with a few spoonfuls of coconut milk. Sprinkle with a tiny pinch of fleur de sel .
Note: While most of the time I cook French food or dishes from North Africa and the wider Mediterranean basin, once in a while I'm seized by a craving for Vietnamese food. This dessert makes a perfect finish for a Vietnamese dinner is in perfect keeping with many other Viet desserts served bathed in coconut milk. In fact, I promise you'll be astounded by how good this is--and it's so easy!