The roots of this recipe are from a Masterclass I took online from Alice Waters. Delicata squash is a wonderful light winter squash. It doesn’t keep as well as other winter squashes so the availability is usually limited. If you find it at the grocery store or your farmer’s market, it’s worth a try. Grab it when you see it because it will be gone soon.
When Natalie and I go to St. Louis to visit Kevin, Katy, and Evan, we usually have breakfast at one of the First Watch restaurants. They are a breakfast/lunch-only restaurant and their menu is unique with fresh and healthy foods cooked with care. On our last visit there, I discovered they had a cookbook, which I bought. Included was a recipe for their seasoning used in much of their cooking, First Watch seasoning. But, of course, I always adjust and modify recipes. (I can’t help myself.) I increased the spices a bit and added the smoked paprika.
So here’s my version which I call St. Louis Seasoning in order to avoid any copyright and trademark issues.
Now, there is really nothing wrong with Kosher Salt except for the fact there are two distinctly different types, and if you use the wrong kind you will really mess up your recipe.
When we so to St. Louis to visit Kevin, Katy and Evan we will almost always eat breakfast at a restaurant names First Watch. I had always thought it was a small local chain, but recently found out it is a relatively large US chain.
We love the breakfasts at First Watch. They are healthy, they use the freshest ingredients, and do a superb job of providing an alternative to the sugary, fat-laden breakfasts that are typical in most places.
We went there the last time we were in St. Louis and I was delighted to find out that they have published a cookbook, which I immediately purchased.
The next week, I mixed up some special First Watch seasoning from the cookbook and proceeded to use it to re-create their fabulous roasted potatoes. With great anticipation of the potatoes on my plate, I tasted them and found that they were so salty, they were inedible.
Terribly disappointed I checked my recipe against the book and determined that I had followed the book correctly. Was it a misprint? Did they print Tablespoons for the amount of salt when they really meant teaspoons? I assumed that there was a misprint and was planning on contacting the publisher, but as usual got sidetracked with all the other demands of life.
A few weeks later, I was reading Samin Nosrat’s bestseller, Salt Fat Acid Heat, and got my answer. True Kosher salt is dried by a process that forms light, flaky crystals of salt that dissolve easily. The brand that most restaurant kitchens have is Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt. On the other hand, Morton Kosher Salt (the kind I had) is formed of large cubical crystals. A tablespoon of Morton Kosher Salt weighs almost twice as much as a tablespoon of Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt and thus is twice as salty. They are both pure salt, but because the Morton variety is much denser, it is twice as salty as the same volume of Diamond Crystal Kosher salt.
The problem is not in the salt, but the way we measure. If we measured by weight (grams), it wouldn’t matter which kind of salt you used. One gram of either would have the same saltiness. But, since we in the states typically measure by volume, (cups, tablespoons, teaspoons) we find that a tablespoon of Morton Kosher salt weighs almost twice as much as a tablespoon of Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt. This makes a good case for measuring by weight rather than volume and is especially important in things like pickling, canning and baking.
I am assuming that most recipes that specify Kosher Salt imply a light salt like Diamond Crystal Kosher salt because that seems to be what most chefs use. It is also better to err by using a less salty product like Diamond Crystal Kosher salt because you can always add more salt if the dish isn’t salty enough. If you oversalt, there is usually no easy fix.
I decided to depart from the “recipes only” format and add a section on cooking tips and techniques. Now, that the kitchen remodeling is done and we have a nice new kitchen, I am spending more time honing my cooking skills and enjoying it immensely.
I’ve been taking some online classes from famous cooks at MasterClass.com and learning some interesting ideas. I have also read Samin Nosrat’s bestseller, Salt Fat Acid Heat, and it’s the first book that I have read that talks in depth about balancing flavors in food.
So, I’ll periodically post some of the most useful gems that I find in this material.
We were caught in a January Polar Vortex with temperatures in the minus range and I needed to drive Natalie to work since her car wouldn’t start. I knew I had part of a loaf of multigrain bread left for a quick breakfast of toast and coffee. I went to slice the bread, but mold had beat me to it. Panic! I looked in the refrigerator and the closest thing I had to bread was a package of corn tortillas, but toasted tortillas wouldn’t cut it for breakfast. So. in a few minutes, this is what I came up with. Usually desperation cooking produces OK results, this one turned out superb, so it made the website. Unfortunately, my Spanish vocabulary is very limited.