Our town is home for an auction house, which holds auctions of miscellaneous junk at the Rotary Club hall every few months. The types of item vary widely, both within and between auctions. For a while they had a lot of Nazi militaria (which seldom sold at all), and a few months ago there was a row of five or six nice mahogany chests of drawers. You never know what you'll find.
Last week I went to the preview, and the first thing I encountered when I walked in was a table full of antique cooking utensils. Like someone had entered a time warp and grabbed everything small from a Victorian kitchen: choppers and egg-beaters and poachers and butter molds and a bunch of things I can't even identify. It was all one lot, of 51 pieces. And I wanted it.
I went to the auction; I bid; I won (even within the dollar limit I had set myself). I am now the proud owner of a hodgepodge of antique (not vintage, nope—older than that) cooking items. And I plan to try them all out.
Round one: the choppers (note: there were no knifes in this collection). An even dozen, all different. Or maybe thirteen, if you could the strange bell-shaped one. I think they're gorgeous—hand crafted, with lovely wooden handles. So of course I had to find out how they worked. Guess what: they work just fine, and each one works a little differently.
Confession: when I first looked at the lovely array of sharp-edged tools, my immediate thought was, "what great murder weapons!" I'll be testing them with that in mind. They fit so nicely in my hand, and I just sharpened them…
Okay, back to the real world. I set myself the task of chopping the onion for today's dish: stuffed squash. What can I say? They had cute, stripey locally-sourced pattypan squash at our market, and I had to take them home. They make a pretty presentation, and the stuffing could be used in a wide variety of vegetables—peppers, or even onions. Anything that starts out hollow or that you can hollow out without the vegetable collapsing.
(this filled four small squash, but you can multiply the recipe)
1 small onion, chopped
1 Tblsp butter
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 lb sausage
1/2 cup white bread crumbs, soaked in milk
Fresh thyme (or other herbs)
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice the smaller end off the squashes and hollow them out with a melon baller or small sharp spoon (try not to pierce the skin). Place in a lightly oiled baking dish.
Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute until tender, about 3 minutes. Place in a large bowl and let cool.
When the onion mixture is cool, add the sausage, breadcrumbs (drain off the excess milk), herbs, salt, pepper and cheese. Mix (hands work well for this!).
Fill each of the hollow vegetables with the mixture. Stand them up in the baking dish and sprinkle a little more oil over the top.
Bake for 30-40 minutes (length of time will vary depending on how large your squash or vegetable are—you want to be sure the pork sausage is thoroughly cooked).
These can be served hot or warm (so can be made ahead).
Next time: the six antique egg-beaters!