How to Cook a Delacorn

Last week’s recipe used a product of my compost pile, one of seven pumpkins which sprang up uninvited but very welcome which I used in a spice and pumpkin cake. Many of you observed that the cake recipe was missing flour and leaven. This turned out to be a bad-news/good news situation. The good news was that so many of you decided to try to make it and the bad news is that recipe was faulty. My apologies for the missing ingredients, and please see below for the recipe in its entirety.

Pumpkins weren’t all that the compost pile produced. An interesting vegetable appeared that had the coloring and stripes of a Delicata squash along with the shape of an acorn. Squashes are fairly promiscuous vegetables, happily cross-pollinate with all sorts of squash neighbors, and sometimes the result is simply not useful at all. To find out about this one, which I dubbed Delacorn, I cut off a sliver and steamed it. Kind of bland, to be truthful, but perfectly edible and quite good with butter, salt, and pepper. I figured this squash was an obvious stuffer-roaster.

Now, while you won’t have a Delacorn of your own, you might very well acquire a Delicata, Sweet Dumpling, or an Acorn squash, or any winter squash with a generous hollow in it, full of seeds which you scoop out and replace with the stuffing of your choice. My choice this time around was ground venison and pork sausage seasoned with garlic, fennel, and a little red pepper. I cooked it with a generous handful of sliced onions and fresh breadcrumbs topped with a little grated cheddar. I packed this mixture into the halves of the squash which I pre-baked, lightly oiled, cut side down on a baking pan for a half hour at 350. I baked them stuffed for another half-hour.

Stuffing variations can include a different sausage like sweet or hot Italian, chourizo, or ground beef, turkey, or pork. You don’t have to use bread crumbs even, and onions could be optional. If you prefer the vegetarian route, use a grain like rice, farro, barley, seasoned with lots of sautéed celery, finely chopped carrots, herbs, onion and garlic, enriched perhaps with feta cheese. You won’t need much more than a cup of stuffing for each squash, Delicatas being fairly shallow, and acorns having relatively small hollows.

The Delacorn was pretty big, and so took longer for pre-baking than the average Delicata or even Acorn, so fifteen minutes baking may suffice with an additional fifteen after stuffing.

I used the stuffed squash as a main dish, with beets, a pilaf, and salad. And there are three more Delacorns for my delectation. Thank you, compost pile.

Looking for…Thanksgiving recipes. Every family has dish for Thanksgiving dinner that simply must be served or “It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without (fill in the blank.)”  I’d love to hear from you if you have a family favorite you are willing to share.

Pumpkin Spice Cake

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1½ teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon ginger

½ teaspoon nutmeg

¼ teaspoon cloves

¼ cup or one-half stick butter

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup, tightly packed, dark brown sugar

½ cup vegetable oil

3 eggs

1½ to 1¾ cups pumpkin puree

1/3 cup buttermilk

Heat the oven to 350 degrees and grease and flour a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Line with parchment of you wish to turn the cake out.

Sift together flour, baking powder and soda, salt, and the spices.

Cream together butter and granulated and brown sugars.

Add and beat in oil and eggs.

Mix in pumpkin.

Add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk and mix enough to make a smooth batter.

Pour into the baking pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a tester inserted comes out clean.

Sandy Oliver

About Sandy Oliver

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working Waterfront. Besides freelance food writing, she is a pioneering food historian beginning her work in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house. After moving to Maine in 1988, Sandy wrote, Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century published in 1995. She is the author of The Food of Colonial and Federal America published in fall of 2005, and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtin. She often speaks to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history and in sustainable gardening and cooking. Sandy lives on Islesboro, an island in Penobscot where she gardens, preserves, cooks and teaches sustainable lifeways.