You may know it by chayote or mirliton, depending upon where you live. But for me this mildly flavored squash will always be called “chuchu”! It is definitely not a popular vegetable in the US, but extremely common where I came from, Brazil.
I always liked chuchu and always will. However, not everybody likes it as I do. Chuchu is not a very flavorful squash, it may even be a little bit bland with a slightly sweetness to it, especially when eaten raw, and its flavor and texture changes completely once cooked. I guess not many people is aware of this vegetable, and unfortunately I don’t get to eat it as much as I would like, as the price around here is not that friendly. Last week though I saw it at the grocery store for $0.69/lb and more than quickly filled up a bag with 4 yummy chuchus! I even find it weird to buy chuchu since my grandmother had it growing like crazy in her backyard and we would always get some every weekend when we visited her, all year long. Now, every time we go back to visit my family my mom makes chuchu for me!
The way I like to eat it is by simply cooking it with some sautéed garlic and onions and a little bit of chicken broth. Once cooked it is tender and succulent, but sturdy enough to hold its shape. And talking about shape, I added a whole chuchu to my picture today so you could see how it actually looks like (in case you don’t know it already, obviously). It is shaped like a pear and sometimes has a prickly skin, it has sort of a seed inside which I always take off but have once heard that it is edible too. And even though there may be a hundred recipes that use chuchu I will probably always eat it the simplest way, so I can taste it by itself and bring back memories that no other vegetable will ever do. It is funny how we get to miss the simplest stuff once we cannot have it often, and when it is there all the time we sadly take if for granted.
Lunch today was nothing special: rice, beans, grilled chicken, tomato salad, and the best part: chuchu. And I ate my chuchu as if it was some sort of caviar! Yum!
Changing gears from lunch to dessert… Fall is here to stay, and with it comes all the goodness of bright orange pumpkins! Do I need to say I have been dying to make something with pumpkin this past few days?! Well, today I finally got to it and made some “Pumpkin Custards”, from the book Moosewood Restaurant Low-fat Favorites. So easy to make and so good, with definitely a “fallish” flavor to it! It is basically the filling of pumpkin pie baked in individual ramekins. Deee-li-cious!
I used brown sugar, omitted the ginger (not a big fan), and did not add nutmeg to mine because I don’t like it with sweet stuff (love it with savory though, especially in white sauce or mashed potatoes, but this is another subject…), and I think that if I had ground cloves I would add a little bit to the custards, as I think cinnamon and cloves makes perfect pairing with all things pumpkin sweet!
Here goes the recipe for you all. And I have leftover pumpkin so watch for some more pumpkin goodies this coming week! (Guess what… pumpkin muffins anyone?!!)
(Moosewood Restaurant Low-fat Favorites)
2 cups cooked pumpkin (16-ounce can)
1 1/2 cups evaporated milk (12-ounce can)
3 egg whites
3/4 cup maple syrup or brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Preheat oven to 350F.
Prepare eight 6-ounce baking custard cups or ramekins, with a light coating of cooking spray. Arrange the cups in a shallow, flat-bottomed baking pan.
Whril all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour the custard into the baking cups. Pour boiling water into the baking pan to about a 2-inch depth. Bake for about 45 to 60 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the cups from the hot water and cool at room temperature, then refrigerate.
Serve chilled, garnished with fresh apple slices if desired.