Not long ago, we were listening to a podcast in which one of our favorite chefs and guest bloggers, Elizabeth Buckingham, was a guest. Elizabeth talked about the bounty of the harvest season and gave some great tips for utilizing the gorgeous foods coming out of our gardens (if we’re lucky) and off of local farms. The show, Mile High Locavorist is an independent, interview-driven podcast bringing attention to the people and stories of the local food movement in Denver. Guests range from government, business and non-profit leaders to food producers, thought-leaders and chefs. Nate Reyher, founder and host, works as a consultant and is a member of the City of Denver’s Sustainable Food Policy Council. You can listen to that particular podcast here.
Because she is so wonderful and generous (read her previous guest blogs on In Good Taste Denver), Elizabeth shared this great recipe with us that takes advantage of some of the wonderful squash that are in season.
The much-missed Judy Rodgers cultivated a seasonal eating mentality at her legendary Zuni Cafe in San Francisco long before farm-to-table was even a concept. Savory tarts are commonly eaten in Europe but tragically rarely appear on menus or dinner tables here. A simple dough – either pie crust or puff pastry – makes a perfect base for just about anything your CSA can throw at you. Slice the vegetables thinly so they cook through before the pastry burns, and always add a generous garnish of grated sharp cheese like Pecorino or aged Gruyere. This classic sweet-salty fall combination of apples, bacon, onion and squash leaves you satisfied but not stuffed – perfect with a crisp green salad and a glass of Chardonnay.
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed in refrigerator
About 3 tbsp. mild olive oil
12 oz. yellow onions, thinly sliced (about 3 cups)
Garlic cloves, to taste
1 crisp apple, thinly sliced
3 or 4 slices bacon (about 4 oz.)
4 oz. thinly sliced butternut or other winter squash
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh thyme
Gruyere or Parmesan
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 400°. Warm olive oil in a large skillet; add onions and a few pinches of salt. Cook over medium-high heat for a few minutes, until onion begins to color lightly. Reduce heat to medium-low, add garlic, bay and thyme, and cook gently until onions are generally golden and tender but not mushy, about 15-20 minutes in total. Reduce heat if onions or garlic begin to brown too much. Taste and adjust seasoning; remove bay and thyme. Allow to cool.
Slice bacon into ½-inch thick strips and fry gently until a little of the fat renders. Drain and toss with apple slices.
Remove puff pastry from refrigerator and if necessary, roll dough until it is about 1/8-inch thick.
Arrange on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spread cooled onions over dough, leaving about a 1-inch border. Dot with apple and bacon mixture, season generously with fresh pepper and fold in sides to form a neat border. Sprinkle with cheese, if using, and bake until richly golden, about 20 minutes. Cut into squares and serve warm or at room temperature.
Chef Elizabeth Buckingham is a Colorado native; she earned her culinary degree from Le Cordon Bleu Paris. A spontaneous scuba diving trip to the Bahamas following her graduation led to the next eight years of her career: she cooked aboard dive boats and later progressed to head chef aboard private yachts worldwide. Elizabeth teaches public and private cooking classes in the Denver area and offers corporate recipe development and trade-show services to her clients. She thinks everyone should know how to cook at least a little bit. Find her on Twitter @chefbuckingham.