Spaghetti Squash

In a Hurry?
  • Baste squash halves with oil
  • Add pepper and salt
  • Roast in an oven
  • Scrape out the flesh and add spaghetti sauce

There I was, feeling a bit peckish, thinking about that honey melon in the fridge. I grabbed it, took my kitchen knife and started cutting, wondering about that big stem and how hard it was to cut it in half. Well, it turns out that I have no clue when it comes to fruit or vegetables. I was cutting into spaghetti squash, not into some honey melon. Of course, I didn’t want to let it go to waste and had to look up how to deal with it and found a plethora of recipes. Most of them tell you to treat the squash as spaghetti and add something you would add to spaghetti as well. Impatient, as I usually am, I picked up ideas for ingredients on the handful of websites that I had visited in the process. I had a plan for the sauce: Onions, garlic, tomatoes and the green onions I had left from that orange chicken experiment.

Preparing the squash is simple. Most of the websites suggested roasting it in the oven. That’s what I did. Cut the spaghetti squash in half, scrape out the seeds and soft bits with a spoon. Baste the cut side and the scraped out core with some olive oil and add salt and pepper. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place both halves on it, cut side down. Roast it for about 40 minutes at 400 degrees.Spaghetti Squash on aluminum foil

For my sauce, I diced a small onion, chopped some garlic into pieces, opened a can of diced tomatoes and sliced my green onions. I did have fresh tomatoes, but I somehow hate to cook them. They usually go into a salad or get sliced for a burger or a sandwich. 30 minutes into the roasting of the squash, I started to sautee the onions in oil, added the garlic and a bit later, I added the diced tomatoes. I waited for this to cook through and added the green onions at the end, not giving them any chance to get soft or even burn.

I took out the baking sheet and turned the squash around. There was steam coming out from underneath the squash, but I could avoid it. The fork went into the squash without resistance and I started scraping the flesh out and transferred it onto the plates. I added my sauce and topped it with some grated cheese. Good stuff. The squash had a slightly sweet and nutty flavor and was a bit crunchy, call it al-dente. It’s quite nice as a summer dish, certainly not as heavy as the typical winter squash.Spaghetti Squash and a tomato sauce

Spaghetti Squash
Recipe type: Dinner
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
  • 1 Spaghetti Squash
  • 1 Onion
  • 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 bundle of green onions
  1. Cut the squash in half and remove seeds with a spoon
  2. Baste the cut and core with oil and add pepper and salt
  3. Place face down on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil
  4. Roast for 40 minutes at 400F
  5. Dice the onion and chop the garlic
  6. Sautee onion and garlic 2-3 minutes
  7. Add diced tomatoes and let it cook for 5 minutes
  8. Add sliced green onions and warm it up 2 minutes max
  9. Take the sauce off the heat
  10. Test the squash with a fork
  11. If there is no resistance, scrape out the flesh with a fork and transfer it onto plates
  12. Add the sauce
  13. Top it with grated cheese

Read More

Linguica and Banana Peppers

My wife was born and raised in Providence, Rhode Island. Which adds a lot of very fortunate elements into her cooking experience. The home cooking in Rhode Island is influenced by 3 European countries. Let’s just say they could have filmed the Sopranos in any restaurant on the Federal Hill.

In a Hurry?
  • Slice and dice stuff
  • Sautee onions, add sausage, then peppers
  • Add garlic and other spices
  • Cook for 20 min
  • Done

I learned how to cook corned beef and cabbage under her direction. But most interesting to me is the influence coming from neighboring New Bedford, MA, which has a large Portuguese community. Portuguese sausages in the form of Linguica and Chourico are good substitutes for somebody who grew up with Bratwurst, Polish and Vienna sausages. And it has to be Gaspar’s Sausage

Peppers, Linguica & Onion
That gives me obviously something to work with. That and the fact that my sister-in-law sent us Gaspar’s Sausage Gift Packs as a present “for emergencies”. One of those emergencies emerged this weekend, with lots of fresh banana pepper from the CSA in the fridge. I didn’t feel like cooking pork chops, the only fresh meet in the fridge at that point, but was staring at the Linguica in the freezer. Here comes dinner!

Linguica and Banana Peppers
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3
ingredients found in the fridge
  • 1 Linguica
  • 1 pound banana peppers
  • 1 medium sized onion
  • 3 gloves of garlic
  • pepper
  • salt
  • olive oil
  1. Dice or slice the onion.
  2. Slice the banana peppers into strips of 1x1/4".
  3. Slice the Linguica.
  4. Saute the onions in oil.
  5. Add the sausage and let them heat through.
  6. Add the peppers.
  7. Add garlic whichever way you like, minced or sliced
  8. Pepper and salt to taste
  9. Cook until peppers are soft and most of the water has evaporated

Peppers & Linguica in the panThe entire composition had a sweet flavor, mostly coming from the banana peppers. They and the onions even more had soaked up some of the Linguica juices, which added an interesting flavor. I will certainly cook this again, even if I have to buy the peppers separately.

Read More
Cooking as a Second Language

Cooking as a Second Language

Aside from the usual lack of training, the general inexperience and the tendency to procrastinate, there’s something else that slows me down on my path to become the next Batalli, Emeril or in my case Wolfgang Puck: Language. I constantly get frying and roasting mixed up and really don’t have a name for the act of leaving a casserole dish in the oven for some time. I understand some of the cooking methods need to be defined even for the native speaker, which gives me an easy excuse to be confused about some of them.

Let’s have a look what we have to deal with: Cooking, boiling, broiling, grilling, frying, roasting, baking, sautéing, steaming. Now for the research on the subject:

Cooking is the generic term for it all, which is already the first stumbling block, because in German, it has the same meaning as boiling. Boiling is cooking something in water brought to a boil, which usually happens around 100C or 212F.

Let’s call broiling a technicality and skip to grilling which is done on a grill, which in German is a rost. Rost is called a false friend, something that sounds familiar in the other language but has a different meaning. But let’s go back to grilling, which is applying heat to the subject, usually meat, with the grill keeping the meat from falling into the fire.

Frying is difficult, since a frying pan translated means roasting pan, which makes you want to get your head banged by one. Frying involves cooking in various amounts of oil. Sautéing covers the pan in a thin film, you need a good deal more for frying, and when deep frying, your subject, usually twinkies, is submerged in it.

I think roasting is grilling in a pan or on a baking(!&?%) sheet in the oven. Your subject is often basted in tasty goodness. Casseroles, in the oven, without a lid are baked. Baking in general applies to cakes, pastries and pizzas. In short, a lot of it involves dough, except for baked potatoes.

Steaming involves boiling water. The resulting vapor cooks the food while we try to keep the water away from the food. Back home, steaming involves German engineered pots, which makes it far more complicated than necessary and mostly overcooked.

But I still don’t have a term for cooking something in a casserole dish with the lid on.

Read More
My New Friend the Crock Pot

My New Friend the Crock Pot

Aside from me not really being a cook, there are other reasons I had never heard of a crock pot until 3 years ago. The Germans, and I am one of them, don’t get that much use out of it. Their main meal is served at lunch time. Given 6-8 hours of cooking time, it means you’d have to start your preparations long before breakfast.

But I’ve adapted to living in the US and my eating habits have as well. Which has given me the wonderful opportunity to make a new friend: My crock pot. It’s a great tool for somebody cooking “guy” style. Most crock pot dishes start with some chopping and filling up the pot. Switch it on, add some spices and stir once an hour or so. Go, mow the lawn, start writing a novel or do some scrap booking. Or facebooking.

The main purpose of many cooking recipes is to get tough meat soft and tender. The crock pot is a master in that endeavor. When I saw and tasted what the miraculous device did to my first goulash, I was overjoyed. What was even more interesting was seeing how the Pulled Sauerkraut Pork was developing over time. After two hours of cooking, it looked like the meat that was typically served during a German Schlachtfest or for the Americans, a pig pickin’. Continuing, after four hours, it came pretty close to North Carolina pulled pork.

I’ve used the crock pot often for goulash, pea and bean soups. All three of them are classic meals prepared in large quantities at gatherings or in the military – cooked in a field kitchen called the “Goulash Cannon”. All of them required a similar process: get the meal started early, cook for a long time and don’t lose much taste when kept warm for a long time.

There are plenty of crock pot recipes out there, waiting to be discovered. I might get around to reading them some day.

Read More