Last summer we took the kids to a Braves game. We took our seats in the outfield; Jim and I were happily situated with gigundo $8 water flavored beers and the kids had just finished off nutritious Turner Field pizza and nachos when the cotton candy man barked by. I asked ‘Kids do you want cotton candy?’ Our son said ‘YES! YES! YES! Cotton candy!‘ Singing now ‘Cotton, cotton candy! Oh, I love cotton candy.’ But our daughter looked at me quizzically and concerned. I’d never seen consternation from this 4 year old. ‘What is it?’ she asked. ‘Well, it’s cotton candy. It’s, it’s it’s...Jim - what is it?’ Confused look. ‘It’s, well it’s basically fluffy sugar and... it’s pink!‘ What an odd question; were we bad parents? She looked at us, blinking, unconvinced. There is nothing that that little girl loves more than sugar and the color pink, except maybe pork products. ‘Your brother is having some. Would your brother eat anything bad?’ ‘No.’ ‘OK, we’ll get one and you two can share.’ Trepidatiously ‘Okaaaay’. Jim flagged the man down and big bag of puffy pink and blue was delivered. She was still very concerned about the contents of that bag. She eyed it and cautiously watched her brother open the bag, dig in and eat it. She continued to blink at the bag. At least Jim is always a man with a plan. He peeled off a piece and held directly in front of her, she leaned in and grabbed it with her mouth. Now, I am going to do my best to describe what happened next. As she grabbed and it started to melt (as cotton candy does) the sensation took her by surprise, she literally shook from head to toe, an all over body spasm, then, she squealed with delight, her eyes lit up, she smiled ear to ear and then she opened her mouth wide for Jim to feed her more. Jim handed her the bag, she ate until her tongue and lips were quite blue from artificial food coloring and she had sufficiently sugared herself out. After the game we all headed home with our little girl still clutching the plastic bag containing the leftover puff of cotton candy. I have never seen such delight over a food stuff.
The other day I was making macaroni and cheese with butternut squash, which is really, really awesome, but not the point of this blog. One of the directions for the mac-n-cheese is to combine the cream and the squash using a food processor or blender but the recipe warns not to over whip the cream or, well, you’ll end up with whipped cream. Well I understood why not, but thought ‘Why not?’. So another day I whipped them together. A few moments with the hand mixer and I had a bowl full of a pouffy orange fluff. I dipped my finger in, cautiously. It was delicious. I didn’t squeal but I did utter an expletive. Maybe it’s not as mind blowing as the cotton candy but it’s really good.
What to do with it? I’ll tell you what I did with it but I’d love to hear what you would do with it.
Fall Flavored Whipped Cream with Fried Herbs - Makes 20-24
1 3-4 pound butternut squash, cut in half
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 garlic cloves cut in half lengthwise
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt + pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 400. Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds. Salt + pepper the squash and drizzle with olive oil. Roast for an hour. Remove from oven and let cool. Scrape the squash from the rind and combine with the cream. Add more salt and pepper if needed. Using a hand mixer whip until fluffy and light.
Pre-heat the broiler. Slice the baguette in to 1/4” rounds, rub the garlic on the bread slices, lightly brush the bread with a very little olive oil. Toast in the oven for 30 seconds, leave the door slightly ajar so you can keep an eye on the bread, do not take your eyes off of the bread until it has been removed from the oven.
Fill a shallow pan with 1/4” of vegetable oil, heat, add in sage and thyme, alternating. The sage will take about a quick count to 10 and the thyme a quick count to 5. Be careful when frying the sage, throw it in and stand back, it will sound like fireworks going off. Apparently thyme contains a lot of water.
Top the crostini with the whipped cream and the fried herbs.