Another recipe to enhance your reading of the Natalie Seachrist Hawaiian Mysteries
Natalie Seachrist and her friends enjoy many of the foods and beverages for which the Hawaiian Islands are known. This rich recipe for dessert, or as a side dish, comes from environmental artist and author Beth Surdut, one of my favorite presenters of images from across the globe. It may be especially enjoyable for those of you who follow vegetarian and vegan diets. Inspired by her travels in Indonesia, Beth’s offering is, “more exotic, more multi-sensory than pumpkin pie.” Her recipe serves four and features the Kabocha or Japanese pumpkin squash. Its sweet flesh and adaptability to the climate of Hawai`i makes it popular with diners and Island gardeners alike. It can be served warm or cold. As other recipes, season and sweeten to taste! The following silk painting is from her series, Art from the Kitchen-Painted and Served.
PREPARING THE SQUASH
1 Kabocha Squash[or similar-sized pumpkin; or 2 smaller pumpkins] Halve squash. Remove pulp and seeds [unless you’d like to try growing them…] Cut circle around squash stem to create a decorative lid and set aside.
5 Eggs 1 C. Coconut Milk
[for silken custard, do not use lite coconut milk]
1/3 to 1/2 C. coconut palm or white sugar
[a high amount yields sweet rather than savory custard]
sugar substitute or large-grained sugar will alter texture]
1 Pinch salt
1 Pinch Cinnamon, ground
[more if desired]
1 Pinch Cardamom, ground
[more if desired]
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
PREPARING THE CUSTARD
Beat eggs with fork until well blended.
Mix in coconut milk and sugar.
Stir in salt, spices, and vanilla, adjusting to taste.
Beat mixture until smooth.
Pour custard mixture into prepared squash shell.
COOKING & SERVING THE SQUASH CUSTARD
Place squash shells in a steamer, with decorative stem lids at the side of, but not atop the shells.
Pour in water to just below the tops of the shells.
Place the cover on the steamer and steam for 45 minutes.
Add boiling water if the water in the steamer runs low.
Test custard with a fork. If it is runny, replace cover on the steamer and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, or longer, until the custard is fully set.
The custard may be served warm or cold. Slice a large squash as you would a pie, or serve individual squash shells to each guest.
Beth and I met at a print shop in Windward O'ahu, where I first saw images of her exquisite presentations of tropical flora and fauna. She was then working in a delightful beach-side studio in Punalu'u that was filled with wondrous art, the sounds of Island musicians, and a cat or two. Inspired by nature wherever she goes, her journeys have introduced her to many locales and cultures in the world. At this time, she is focused on creating illustrated wildlife essays in pen and ink and presenting the stories of ravens shared with her by residents and visitors to Southwest. To listen to her illustrated Radio Series on NPR please visit The Art of Paying Attention. You can learn more about her prolific work at BethSurdut.com.
Nature writer, artist, and certified environmental educator
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