Autumn Pastry, deconstructed; Emma, la Gorda!

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El Gordo!  The Fat One!  That’s the name of the big lottery Spain has every Christmas.

Emma, la gorda!  Emma, the fat one!  That’s what the neighbor kids called our sensitive big, white, girl dog on her last visit to her former human and village.

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She had been known as ‘Emma, la bonita’, Emma the pretty one.  How times have changed.

That had been in her younger, svelte years, before she came to live with me and was spayed.  I know spaying a dog tends to contribute to weight gain, but Emma’s always so hungry; it’s hard to deny her.

I’m trying.  I have put her on a diet.  Elle suit un régime.  But it’s not easy.  And, Sedi, the brown, German b*tch, doesn’t help.

I feed the two the same amount (Emma’s on a diet, remember).  The food goes in their respective dishes and I call them to eat.  (They have to wait, sitting in the doorway, while I do this.)

Emma runs to her dish and inhales her food; licks the bowl, inside and out, searches all around her area to make certain she hasn’t missed a crumb; then sits and stares at me with sad, sad eyes, saying “Please, just one more little piece…PLEASE!!!!”

Sedi strolls to her dish and sits down.  She looks at Emma, looks at me, takes one, tiny morsel of food in her mouth, chews and chews.  She looks at me again, walks over and looks at Emma’s clean dish, walks back, sits down and takes another bite.

Emma stares, forlornly, at Sedi’s still-full dish.

Sedi stares at the ceiling, lost in thought (Didn’t know she had enough thought to get lost in).  She takes another bite, walks over to Emma and chews.  She stares at the ceiling some more.  This goes on until she has eaten half of her dinner, then she’s done.  She goes in the other room and sits, watching Emma, daring her to go near her half-full dinner dish.

Emma walks by slowly, checking it out, sniffing, licking the air.  She knows if she gets too close a snarling brown dog will be in her face in an instant.

Sedi lets the food sit for another couple of hours, just to tease.  Finally, just before bedtime, she’ll run in and finish, giving Emma one last triumphant look on the way past.  Emma comes over to me and lays her head on my knee.  She looks up at me pathetically and heaves a long, long sigh.   I feel so mean.

Diets are not easy – on any of us!

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But making lovely first courses can be!  Easy, that is.

For this Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by our beloved founder and blogger extraordinaire, Kalyn of Kalyn’s Kitchen, I’m doing butternut Squash.

Winter squash, so incredibly good for us, are in prime season right now.  Did you know that they were so revered by Native Americans that they were buried with the dead?  They are chock-a-block with vitamins A, C and the B’s, plus potassium, manganese, copper, folate and even omega 3 fatty acids.

As I still have at least dozen sitting on my garden table I’m looking for new things to do with them.Squashpastry1
I became fascinated by the perfectly round shape of some of my Butternuts (I’m easily diverted when I’m meant to be weeding) and came up with this.  I used the ‘neck’ end of a 2lb (1kilo) squash for these.  It gave me
nice, thin half circles that followed the shape of the pastry
perfectly.  The toasted walnuts add crunch and make an elegant finish.

Autumn Pastry, a first course for two

butternut squash, 24 half circle slices
1/4 cup walnuts, halves or large pieces
5 – 6 medium mushrooms, about 3oz (90gr)
1 medium leek
1/4 cup ricottaSquashpastry2_2

1/2 tsp rosemary
2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp butter
1 sheet puff pastry – if there is a second sheet, freeze it

Pastry: Thaw the puff pastry, if needed.  Lay pastry out flat and cut 2 large circles, 5 – 6″ in diameter (13 – 15 cm).  Use a soup bowl as a guide.  Lay the circles on a baking sheet.

Vegetables: Clean and thinly slice leek.  Use about 4 inches (10cm) of leek.  Clean and slice mushrooms.  Peel squash using vegetable peeler or sharp knife.  Cut off the neck end.  Cut the neck end in half the long way (through stem).  Lay one half flat and cut 24 paper thin slices (half circles).  I used just less than 3″ (7.5cm) for all 24 slices.  Squashpastry3
Heat butter and oil in medium nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add walnuts and sauté 5 minutes, until toasted.  Remove walnuts to a plate, leaving oil and butter behind.  Add mushrooms and leeks to same pan and sauté 5 minutes.  Remove mushroom/leek to a plate.  Add butternut squash slices in a single layer and sauté 1 minute per side.  I did it in two batches.  When done remove and stack up on a plate.
To assemble: Divide ricotta and spread on each puff pastry circle to within 1/3″ (1cm) of the edge.  Divide rosemary and sprinkle over ricotta.  Divide mushroom/leek and spread over ricotta.  Divide squash slices and lay on mushroom/leek in the following pattern: 1 slice each: top, bottom, left, right with corners overlapping as needed but with small square opening in center.  Do a ‘mental’ 1/4 turn of the pastry and repeat layers; twice.  Bake in a pre-heated oven at 400F (200C) for 12 – 15 minutes, until sides of pastrySquashpastry4
have puffed around middle and are golden brown and squash is starting to brown.  Remove.  Divide walnuts and spoon into center of squash.  Serve.

It’s just a good thing that Emma doesn’t like vegetables.  I’ve caught Sedi snitching strawberries; and both of them snitching walnuts.  But we’d have a serious problem if Emma developed a taste for my butternuts!

Be sure to stop by  Kalyn’s Kitchen on Monday for the complete round-up of the 107th edition of Weekend Herb Blogging.

24 thoughts on “Autumn Pastry, deconstructed; Emma, la Gorda!”

  1. Those look good enough to be a main course, with a salad — though perhaps for Emma this would be a one-bite treat. Poor Emma, always hungry — I have days when I know just how she feels.

  2. Savory tarts rule!!! How I would love to taste this…squash and mushrooms…I like! 🙂
    I feel for poor Emma…diets are hard I know 🙁

  3. Wow, very creative and it sounds so delicious. I’m afraid I’m a little like Emma when it comes to food. I have managed to develop some self control, but I’ve certainly never been a bit like Sedi!

  4. Wow Katie, you are so creative! Not only does it sound great, I am into the “stack look”! You should have a food building class – Food Architecture 101 🙂
    You are lucky Emma does not like veggies. I had an English Bulldog, Reggie, who loved potatoes! I had planted a few rows out in my garden and when they were just ready to be dug up, Reggie would somehow know that, beat me to the garden and there he would be with a very dirty face, paws and my half eaten potatoes all around! I did not plant any potatoes the next year!

  5. Lydia, it’s actually smaller than it looks ;-), I understand Emma all too well, myself!
    Joey, I love savory tarts, too.. and yes, poor, poor Emma…
    Kalyn, I’ve not met too many like Sedi – and she loves vegetables. And it’s strange because she was abandoned…one would think she would be more worried about her food – but then, she’s such a bitch!
    Thank you, Peter, that is so kind!
    Deb, stacking is fun – and tasty! Shortly after Sedi decided to move in with us I came into the kitchen…she had managed to swipe a piece of ham off the kitchen counter and had gone into the pantry and helped herself to the potatoes. She was laying on her bed muching away – ham and potatoes… Smart dog!

  6. Aw, poor Emma. If feeding says love, then a diet makes a doggy question her worth. Please give her an extra hug from me.
    You have a fabulous flair with squash. All your pics look wonderful!

  7. Ulrike, I saw your kitchen, it’s lovely! I bet you’re excited to have it finished!
    Lynn, I give her lots of hugs – she is the most afectionate dog I have ever known!
    Thanks, (about the squash)

  8. You tell stories so well! I could imagine the whole scene. I feel like Emma these days. But I am almost reaching my goal, so I guess the self-control has been worth it.
    Your autumn pastry looks glorious! I will make this even if it’s spring here.

  9. Oh God, that looks good Katie! Wonderful wonderful treat! 🙂
    Poor puppy! It is tough being on a diet, even when all you eat are nuggets! 😉

  10. Nora, i think it would be easier if I had someone controling MY food…not any more fun, but easier…
    Christine, Kevin, Chris and Simona: Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!!
    Sher, Emma agrees with you… and I thank you!
    Jenn – she loves her nuggets…but she has even been eating the acorn squash skins…poor girl!

  11. I’m sorry Katie, but I could not be as disciplined as you! If that beautiful dog looked at me with that “I’m still hungry” look, it would be another dish of kibble for her!

  12. What an inspirational seasonal recipe! Apart from imagining how good it must taste, it also looks fantastic 🙂 Thanks for sharing your idea with us.

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