A few weeks ago, my beautiful friend Natalie (from A Tiny Traveler) invited me and a few other girls to a Peony Project Dinner!
When Natalie asked if anyone could contribute to the dinner, I offered to make a side dish. But as the day came closer, I still had no idea what I was going to make.
After an extensive Google search, I eventually stumbled upon a recipe on Martha Stewart’s website for Butternut Squash Pudding. (It just so happened that I had a butternut squash in my fridge. Naturally, I had to try it.)
I will preface the rest of this post by saying that it turned out really well. I’ve learned to judge the success of my cooking on the number of bowls that Caleb has, and I’m happy to say that he had two.
However, this dish was very time consuming & I used a lot of eggs.
I always seem to forget to read all the directions (like the time I made a custard & forgot to read the part about baking it), and had just enough time to make it before the dinner started.
Once I started, I couldn’t turn back, so my only choice was to press on & hope for the best.
(For the Squash):
- 1 large butternut squash
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt & Pepper
(For the Bechamel):
- 1 quart whole milk
- 1 stick of butter
- 1 cup Flour
- Salt & Pepper
(For the Pudding):
- 1 stick of butter, melted, plus more for dish
- Italian Style Breadcrumbs, for dish
- 4 large eggs
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
- Pinch of ground nutmeg
- Salt & Pepper
1. Cut the squash in half (I cut one of my halves in half), seed it, and coat it with olive oil & salt & pepper. Put the halves on a cookie sheet & bake them in the oven at 425 degrees for 45 minutes (or until tender).
2. While the squash is cooking, prepare the Bechamel sauce.
Heat the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally until bubbles start popping up around the edges.
At the same time, in a larger saucepan, melt the butter over low heat.
Once it melts, whisk in the flour until it is mixed completely with the butter. Continue to cook for about 3 minutes more, and then whisk in the milk. Whisk the roux/milk mixture constantly for about 10 minutes until it thickens. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
(I had some trouble with this because my pan was too hot, so the roux clumped up once I added the milk. I used a fork to break up the clumps as I whisked, and it eventually thickened)
Refrigerate until chilled.
3. Once your squash is done, scoop out the flesh & puree it in a food processor. (Our blender stopped working, so I used our Ninja)
4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and make the pudding.
Butter a 9X13 baking pan, and coat with breadcrumbs.
Beat the pureed squash, melted butter, eggs, yolks, parmesan cheese, and nutmeg until smooth. Fold in the Bechamel sauce, and season with salt and pepper.
5. Pour the squash mixture into your prepared baking dish and cover with aluminum foil.
Place in a larger dish and fill with enough water to come halfway up the sides of the smaller dish.
(I didn’t have a dish larger than 9×13, so I stacked the dish with the squash mixture on another 9X13 dish & put enough water in the bottom dish to touch the top baking dish)
6. Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes, remove the foil, and bake for another 30 minutes. (Or until the top is golden brown & the center is firm)
Let it stand before serving.
Looking back, I would have made the Bechamel sauce & the pudding mix the day before. Maybe next time? Maybe…
The Peony Project Dinner in itself was perfect. Natalie, Jess, and Betsy did such a wonderful job decorating & getting things ready for their guests. Even though Natalie & Jess’ apartment is on the smaller side, they made it so welcoming & cozy.
Dessert was also a plus. Isn’t it always though?
We had soup, chicken salad & croissants, and the butternut squash pudding.
In this season of my life, I thrive on fellowship & friendship. Actually, I don’t think I will ever not thrive on these two things…
However, since getting married and moving off campus, I feel like I have lost a bit of connection with other girls my age This dinner made me feel like I was truly a part of something real and good again.
For more pictures, go visit Betsy’s blog! 🙂