I have a new favorite ice cream flavor for fall. Rich and nutty winter squash gets the royal treatment with sweet maple and a kick of five spice. The weather has been hovering on the brink here: one day will be sunny and warm, the next will turn grey and cold. This ice cream bridges the gap. It’s got a warming blend of fall flavors delivered in the cold smoothness of an ice cream.
Five spice powder is a Chinese seasoning that is designed to balance five flavors: sweet, sour, bitter, pungent, and salty. Exact blends vary, but the usual ingredients include star anise, cloves, cinnamon, Sichuan pepper and fennel. It’s a blend that can work beautifully in either sweet or savory dishes. Here, it punches up the flavor and provides a warmth and complexity to the squash/maple combination. I bought my bottle of Five Spice Powder at Whole Foods (where it was only $2.50), but you might also look for it at Asian grocers or online. If you really can’t find it, try this ice cream anyway, with a teaspoon or two of pumpkin pie spice substituted in.
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I’ve got a beautiful Autumn soup recipe to share. It’s filled with meltingly tender butternut squash, silky swiss chard, hearty pinto beans, a little zip of chili powder and lime. Topped with cornmeal dumplings that steam right in the pot with the stew, it’s a perfect one pot meal. I think you’ll like it.
It’s been a crazy busy, pressured week/month/season at work for me. My eyelids are a bit droopy as I write this. The craziness lately has gotten me thinking a bit about why I cook. I could have Thai food delivered. Or buy frozen soy cheese ravioli dinners. Or get great take-out sandwiches from the vegetarian food truck in my neighborhood. And occasionally, I do just that. But most nights, even when things are busy, I find myself drawn back into my kitchen.
There is something therapeutic to me about cooking. I particularly like the first steps–entering the kitchen, chopping an onion. I take out my trusty cutting board and favorite super-sharp chef’s knife. Slice the onion in half, and then make the cross-hatch cuts that will give me a beautiful dice every time. Warm some oil on the stove and in minutes our whole apartment is enveloped in the most wonderful smell in the world: frying onions.
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