Florence Fabricant's Leek, Mushroom and Goat Cheese Tart

Tart_1

I have to say that when I first saw this recipe in the paper, my eyes sort of glazed over and I just kept going. I don't really know why - after all, I like vegetables and tarts and goat cheese - but perhaps I judged too quickly that the combination of all three would be fussy and twee and not really my kind of thing. I figured it was one less thing I'd have to try, moved on and promptly forgot all about it.

And then, a few months later, Hannah announced she was closing up her food blog to continue elsewhere and told me that if I hadn't already made the tart, I should get to it. Right quick. Well, she didn't actually say Right Quick, but it was implied. So, I made my way through the Internets, googling left and right to find the archived recipe. And, like it was meant to be, I found it. Just waiting for me to come by and snatch it up.

Oh, I'm so glad I did. Thank you, Hannah, for pointing me in the right direction. And thank you, Florence, for coming up with this in the first place. Because, dear readers, I'm pleased to say that we've got another winner here, another one for the laminated files, the Hall of Fame. Yes, it's that good.

First of all, it's just so pretty. But then, it's also just so easy. Well, for a tart. And most importantly? It's fantastically delicious. Crisp, buttery pastry encasing a sweet and mellow filling of sauteed vegetables, topped with tangy, crumbled goat cheese - I mean, it really is as good as it sounds.

Better even.

The hardest thing about this was contemplating the frozen puff pastry. I'd never used any before (ridiculous, I know) and found myself a bit intimidated by the prospect of pate feuilletee in my very own house. But really, all there is to it is a bit of unfolding and rolling. That's it! Well, and some trimming. A monkey could do it. A monkey with knife skills.

You saute leeks and mushrooms and sliced fennel (for all you fennel haters, I swear to you that the anise flavor is imperceptible. Just a faint background note! Bringing all the livelier flavors to the fore! It's delicious. Trust me) before halving the defrosted puff pastry and rolling each piece out into a long rectangle (I halved in the wrong direction which proves that my recipe-reading skills are for naught, or that a monkey could do this better than me). You have to trim the edges and then form a little border and glaze it with an egg wash, which sounds irritating, but is finished quite quickly and the benefit is that your tart puffs up in all the right places and just looks so professionally appealing.

The pastry gets baked empty the first time, is filled with a goat-cheese-and-egg mixture for the second baking and then receives the topping of sauteed vegetables and goat cheese for the third pass in the oven under the broiler for a final, burnished touch. I set out still-warm squares of this for my guests and they were gone - gone! - in minutes.

I'm beginning to think that Florence Fabricant might just have the best recipes at the New York Times.

Leek, Mushroom and Goat Cheese Tart

Yields 10 to 12 servings

1 small bulb fennel
2 medium leeks, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise and rinsed carefully
16 medium cremini or white mushrooms (about 1 pound)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 4-ounce package puff pastry (like Dufour), defrosted according to package directions
3 eggs
8 ounces goat cheese

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Trim fennel of green top and root end, reserving fronds and quarter bulb from top to bottom. Using a mandoline or very sharp knife, cut fennel and leeks into paper-thin slices. Clean and slice mushrooms.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a skillet over medium heat; add fennel and leeks and saute until just tender but not brown, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Heat remaining teaspoon oil in skillet over medium-high heat; add mushrooms and saute until they release all their liquid and most of it boils away, about 5 minutes. Combine fennel mixture with mushrooms and saute together briefly; season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.

3. Unfold puff pastry onto lightly floured surface or Silpat; cut in half lengthwise to form two long rectangles. Gently roll out each rectangle to approximately 5 by 14 inches and place on cookie sheet (or cut into two circles, if desired). Trim edges by 1/4 inch strips all around; set strips aside. Break one egg into a small bowl; beat slightly. Brush edges of pastry with some egg. Use trimmed strips to make a raised border on each. (Or, fold pastry edges over to form a rim.) Brush entire surface with remaining beaten egg. Prick interior of pastry all over with a fork. Bake unti pale gold, about 10 minutes. If pastry has puffed up inside edge, press it down gently. Set aside.

4. Meanwhile, combine remaining eggs with 6 ounces of goat cheese and blend until smooth. Spread onto pastry. Return to oven and bake just until set, about 4 minutes. Remove from oven and spread with mushroom-leek mixture. Crumble remaining cheese on top. Just before serving, broil tarts for a few minutes, until cheese softens and starts to brown. Garnish with fennel fronds.


Maury Rubin's Cranberry, Caramel and Almond Tart

Unbaked

It really wouldn't have been fair not to follow up this post with a more detailed one, because despite the shrunken crust, this tart really is one for the recipe files, the lamination, the hall of fame. It comes from Maury Rubin, of City Bakery fame and the author of the fabulous Book of Tarts (which I own, and yet have never baked from, puzzlingly), so of course its pedigree promises great things. And if you'll note in your printout that you must line your unbaked, empty pie shell with aluminum foil and pie weights before blindbaking it, then you'll have spectacular results, I'm sure.

Oh, and another thing? I think the metal tart pan is key. I forgot mine at home, and had to use a glass pie dish instead, and while I'm not sure what effect that had on the crust, something tells me that Maury calls for a metal tart pan for a reason. But otherwise, the rest of the recipe is so easy. You melt sugar in a nonstick pan until a brown caramel emerges. You add warmed cream and melted butter to the pan and stir this into a luscious sauce, before tossing frozen cranberries and sliced almonds in it and piling it all into the baked pie shell.

Wait, one more note. Keep an eye on your oven. Ours was a bit hot and the top layer of almonds burned in the second baking. We attempted to pick off the worst offenders, which resulted in a slightly lopsided tart. But covered with a dollop of barely sweetened whipped cream? It didn't matter at all. The faintly bitter caramel, the bright and saucy cranberries, the mellow, crunchy almonds - they all blended into a fantastic, sophisticated dessert that absolutely shone on the holiday table.

Cranberry, Caramel and Almond Tart
Serves 10 to 12

Tart dough
13 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 tablespoon heavy cream

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Let the butter sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, until malleable.

2. Place the powdered sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer or a large free-standing bowl. Add the pieces of butter and toss to coat. Using a paddle attachment with a standing mixer, combine the sugar and butter at medium speed, until the sugar is no longer visible.

3. Add the egg yolk and combine until no longer visible.

4. Scrape down the butter off the sides of the bowl. Add half of the flour, then begin mixing again until the dough is crumbly. Add the remaining flour and then the cream and mix until the dough forms a somewhat sticky mass.

5. Flatten the dough into a thick pancake, wrap it in plastic and refrigerate at least 2 hours before preparing to roll out the dough.

7. Lightly butter a 9-inch pastry ring or fluted tart pan and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a nonstick Silpat pad.

8. Once the dough has thoroughly chilled, cut it in half, then cut each piece in half lengthwise. Rotate the dough 90 degrees and repeat, until you have 16 equal pieces. Sprinkle your work surface with a thin layer of flour. Knead the pieces of dough together until it forms one new mass and shape it into a flattened ball. Flour a rolling pin and sprinkle flour again on the work surface underneath the dough. Roll out the dough into a circle one-eighth-inch thick.

9. Dock the dough with a pastry docker or prick the dough all over with a fork. Transfer the dough into the ring or tart pan by rolling about a third of it around your rolling pin, lifting it and placing it into the ring. Gently pat the dough onto the bottom and up the sides of the ring. Trim the edges so that they are flush with the top. Put the baking sheet with the ring into the freezer for one hour. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature before filling.

Filling and assembly
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into eight pieces
1 cup granulated sugar
1 3/4 cup frozen cranberries
2 cups unblanched sliced almonds

1. Measure the cream and butter into a saucepan and heat it over low heat. When the butter has melted completely, turn off the heat.

2. To make the caramel, spread the sugar evenly in a perfectly dry 10-inch deep nonstick skillet and place it over medium-low heat.

3. The sugar should turn straw-colored, then gold and then a nutty-brown caramel after about 10 minutes. Slowly whisk the cream and butter into the sugar. Be extremely careful about the sugar, which can splatter as the cream is added (long sleeves are a good precaution). Strain the caramel into a bowl and cool it for 30 minutes.

4. Stir the frozen cranberries and the almonds into the caramel and mix until all the fruit and nuts are coated. Spoon the filling into the partially baked tart dough mounding toward the center.

5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until juices and the caramel are bubbling slowly around the edges. Remove from the oven and let stand for one hour, then gently lift the tart ring off the pastry.

6. Let the tart cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.


John T. Edge's Hypocrite Pie

Pie_2

Reading about regional American food makes me go all soft inside. An interesting narrative, simple ingredients, straightforward preparation - it makes for a good book and usually pretty good eats. Maybe it's because I haven't seen very much of rural America, or because much of that kind of narrative is bound up in the romantic ideals of what America used to be like, but I could curl up on my couch and read about that stuff all day long.

So when the LA Times published an article about John T. Edge, food historian and Southern Food Alliance director, my ears perked up. The reviewer, Charles Perry, was exasperated with Edge, finding his books misinformed and often overblown. But what kept Perry (and me) intrigued was the selection of recipes that Edge included. Apparently they were both "unusual and worth trying" (italics mine). I didn't need much encouraging.

In a case of total serendipity, I had volunteered to bring dessert to my book club on The Known World by Edward P. Jones, a novel about slave-owning blacks in the antebellum South. Could there be a better opportunity to make 100-year old Hypocrite Pie from North Carolina? I suppose I should have gone at the recipe a bit more gimlet-eyed and left myself more baking time when Perry noted that the recipes needed "tweaking". But I figured the LA Times test kitchen did that tweaking for me before reprinting the recipe (well, they did adjust the sugar amount, so I'll be thankful for small mercies).

I whizzed together an all-butter crust and let it chill throughout the day before coming home and throwing the pie together. After sauteeing apples in butter and sugar and cinnamon until the apartment smelled like Thanksgiving, I layered them at the bottom of a crust-lined pie dish (make sure you roll out that crust as thin as thin can be - mine was too thick). Then I beat together the buttermilk custard and poured it over the apples. The raw pie smelled divine - the creamy sourness of the custard offset the sweet, spiced apples perfectly. I slid the pie into the oven and waited. And waited. And waited.

If I hadn't had to run to book club, I would have waited longer. But I couldn't. So after an hour of baking, I pulled the pie from the oven. The crust was pale as can be, and the custard wasn't much darker. It had set, though, and the knife test came out clean. But just as I thought, when we cut into the pie later, it could have used more time in the oven. And perhaps a wee parbaking of the crust before the filling was added. The custard tasted good, but it was still a bit too jiggly, and the crust at the bottom was soggy. However, the crisp and melting edges of the crust were toasty, almost shortbread-y against the sweet filling.

I loved the homey pie's mysterious name. I loved its ease of preparation and its vanilla custard smell. I loved imagining North Carolinians eating it at the dinner table a hundred years ago. I wish I'd had more time to bake the pie properly - to a gilded, firm state. Because I think I would have enjoyed it more had it not been so... pallid. But I'm glad I made it all the same.

Hypocrite Pie
Serves 8

6 tablespoons butter, divided, at room temperature
3 tart apples, peeled, cored and sliced
3/4 cup sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
Unbaked crust for a 9-inch, deep-dish, 1-crust pie

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet. Add the apples, 1/4 cup of sugar, and the cinnamon. Cook over medium heat until the apples are tender, 4 or 5 minutes. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, combine the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter with the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and beat until creamy. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time. Mix in the vanilla, flour and buttermilk and beat until silky.

3. Prick the bottom of the pie crust with a fork. Spoon the apples into the crust and spread them around as flat as possible. Pour in the buttermilk mixture, ensuring that it covers all the apples. Bake in the oven until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, 50 - 55 minutes (be prepared for it to take longer).


Russ Parsons' Tart of Garlicky Greens and Black Olives

Tart

Happy New Year! 2006 is starting out well, with good food and even better company. Last night I had the pleasure of drinking a glass of rose cava (delicious! who knew?) with the lovely Miss Molly of Orangette, who was in town to visit her sweetheart. We went to Bar Carrera, and had some interesting little bits to eat (a poached egg on a pool of what tasted like pureed chorizo, some salty little bits of jamon iberico, and soft little brioche rolls spread with processed tomatoes, smoked paprika and powdered olive oil...). It was my first experience meeting an Internet friend, and I highly recommend it. It's funny, you sit across from a total stranger, but you know things about them! You know about their favorite foods, their annual adopted family picnics, their childhood memories. And if you think they sound like lovely people on their blog, they're exponentially better in real life. Molly, it was a pleasure. Come and visit again soon!

Christmas in Berlin was lovely, replete with homemade Stollen (no picture of which to speak, so I'll have to make it again, photograph, and then tell you all about the hijinks that ensued when I first made it), candlelight galore, and the company of lots of my favorite people. Unfortunately, I also came down with a horrific case of strep throat, endured a night of debilitating stomach pain due to erythromycin, and spent five days in bed. Oh, it was a good time! My mother took care of me with delicious, homemade soups and banana-soy shakes. Is there any better place to be sick than at your mom's house? Probably not.

I came back to celebrate New Year's Eve with Ben and some friends on the 43rd floor of an apartment in Battery Park City. It was a pot-luck affair, so we brought a vegetable tart courtesy of Russ Parsons (when in doubt...). It was delicious: salty and creamy and crumbly, with pungent notes from the olives and the mellow taste of cooked garlic. Next time, though, I'd add more greens (I think I eyeballed a low amount). You can tell I've taken a break from blogging by the not particularly in-focus shot of the tart, still clad in its metal frame.

The crust was a quick little thing that came together in seconds, and tasted delicious (but I used an extra tablespoon of water to bind it). It was blind-baked before the filling of ricotta, chopped olives, wilted greens and garlic and a few eggs was added. On top of that, we shaved (I should say, Ben shaved. A Ben action shot! I'm so proud) some ricotta salata and let the whole thing go in the oven until browned and set. It was more creamy than vegetable-y. So to each his own: if you like greener tarts, add more vegetables. Russ, thanks for another stellar recipe.


Kimberly Boyce and Leslie Brenner's Apple-Quince Pie

Slice_7

Those tender apples! That flaky crust! This pie was a labor of love. At first, it made me want to pluck my eyes out and wail like a banshee. Then I wanted to dump the entire thing into the trash. But in the end it won my heart. Some people at our dinner party even said it was the best apple pie they'd ever had. I warn you: it is a pain in the neck. It might take you the better part of a day or two. You might find yourself whimpering at times. (This is beginning to sound like childbirth. I realize I may be overdramatizing for effect. Clearly this is necessary to illustrate my agony.) But stick with it: the rewards are outstanding.

The recipe comes from an L.A. Times Thanksgiving story that's two years old. Upon rereading the article after baking the pie, I realized that I could have benefited from some of the writing's calm tone. You are supposed to let the quince roast for 3 hours (we took the pan out after two, fearing total quince collapse thereafter.). The pie dough is supposed to be studded with clumps of unprocessed butter, rendering the rolling of it an exercise in nerves. The filling is supposed to be piled as obscenely high as a pie at the Carnegie Deli - that's what makes the pie so satisfying. What a relief!

As for the crimping job I did - well, let's just once again thank my parents for prevailing with their common sense and preventing me from chucking the entire thing. In hindsight, I have to agree - the pie looks nice! I think fear-of-overhandling-pie-crust-itis might have colored my judgement.

In the end, this gloriously burnished pie was a delight. It baked for exactly the amount of time specified. It came out glossy from the egg wash, sparkly with cinnamon sugar, and when the knife sank through the crust, it crackled and flaked just as it should. And the flavor - tart apples that kept their silky shape, gorgeously perfumed roast quince, a perfect blend of spices - was stunning. At Thanksgiving we served it with softly whipped cream. But it was equally wonderful cold and plain the next day, and the day thereafter. Then it was gone. I can't believe I'm trying to figure out when I can next attempt it.

Apple-Quince Pie
Makes one 9-inch double-crusted pie

6 medium quinces
2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
1 cup dry white wine
2/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 vanilla bean
1 double-recipe pie crust dough
6 medium apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch slices
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon, divided
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
1 teaspoon sifted cornstarch
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons melted butter
1 egg

1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Peel, quarter and core the quinces, and cut them into one-fourth-inch slices. Place them in a 9 1/2-by-11-inch baking dish, along with the orange juice, white wine and one-third cup sugar. Slice the vanilla bean and scrape the insides into the dish. Stir to combine, cover with foil and roast for 1 hour.

2. Opening the oven briefly, lift the foil and stir the quinces. Roast another hour. Repeat twice, for a total of 3 hours of roasting time. Let the pan cool, then chill for 1 hour.

3. Divide the dough in half. Keep half in the refrigerator and roll out the other half into a 13-inch circle one-fourth-inch thick. Fit it into a buttered, 9-inch pie plate. Fold the edges in and down to form a three-fourths-inch overhang all the way around the pie. Chill it in the refrigerator.

4. In a large bowl, toss together the apples, one-third cup sugar, one-half teaspoon cinnamon, the nutmeg, cloves and cornstarch. Add the applesauce, vanilla extract, melted butter and roasted quinces and gently toss again. Fill the pie, mounding the filling gently. Chill.

5. Roll out the remaining dough into a 13-inch circle, one-fourth-inch thick. Take the pie from the refrigerator and drape the dough over the top of the filling. Fold the edge forward, dropping the dough into the crevice between the mound of filling and the side of the plate. Lay the overhang of dough onto the bottom lip. Use scissors to trim, leaving one-half-inch beyond the edge of the plate. Crimp in a rustic fashion. Chill for one hour.

6. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk the egg. In another small bowl, combine the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar and one-fourth teaspoon cinnamon. Brush the surface of the pie with the egg, then sprinkle it with the cinnamon sugar. Use the tip of a sharp knife to imprint a star design onto the top of the pie, cutting only halfway through the dough, or decorate with leaves cut out from extra dough. Pierce a hole into the center of the pie to allow steam to escape.

7. Bake until shiny, dark golden-brown and bubbling at the edges, 1 hour and 50 minutes to 2 hours.


Kay Rentschler's Butternut Squash Pie

 

Pie
I know Thanksgiving is over. It doesn't matter. You have to go, now, to buy yourself some butternut squash and make this pie. Because it could be among the greatest squash pies ever made. If I had stars on this blog, this pie would get most of them. It's better even than Rose Levy Beranbaum's pumpkin pie with gingersnaps spread out over the crust, which was my all-time favorite up until this Thanksgiving. Move over, Rose. There's a new pie in town.

Last Thanksgiving, Kay Rentschler wrote an article about the glory of butternut squash. I clipped only the pie recipe (and the squash roasting recipe, which was a total dud, but more on that beyond this parenthesis), and produced it with a flourish when my stepmother kindly agreed to let me take over the Thanksgiving baking this year (I made three pies, dear readers. Three. In one day. My brain exploded neatly onto my plate after that.).

The pie has the usual holiday spices - ginger, cinnamon, fresh nutmeg, but then the filling gets punched up with a pinch of cayenne pepper. The pie would also be my first foray into cooking with vegetable shortening, something my nutritionally-sound self would normally wrinkle her nose at. What could be better than an all-butter crust? Well, the joke's on me. Apparently, ones made with (trans-fat-free, thanks to Whole Foods) vegetable shortening and butter are delicious.

A note on the recipe now. I don't know what kind of oven Ms. Rentschler was using. But instructions to bake chunks of butternut squash in a 200-degree oven will not do. A 200-degree oven will warm plates or dry out meringue. It will not roast squash to a melting, caramelized state. I was foolish enough to try this temperature out for an hour and a half before cranking up the dial. So, note on your printouts of the recipe that the squash should go into an oven at 350 degrees, for an hour or so (you'll know when your squash is done - it will be caramelized and soft). We don't have a foodmill, so after the roasting I put the chunks of squash in a food processor and blitzed them to a velvety puree.

I made the crust in the food processor the night before, and chilled the round of dough overnight before rolling it out (and developing some serious triceps. Did I mention the three pies I made? DID I?) and fitting it into a pie plate and fluting the edges.
Fluted_crust
This crust was fitted with aluminum foil and filled with dried beans before going into the oven to bake partially.
Pie_weights
Incidentally, the recipe calls for a pizza stone to heat up in the oven and for the pie to be baked on this stone. We did away with this, and the pie was a revelation, so unless you have a pizza stone lying about, don't bother with this step. While the crust was baking, I beat together the filling, and also put together a handy-dandy mise-en-place - look closely and you might even see the cayenne peeking out amongst the spices. I filled the hot crust with the filling and stuck the whole thing into a 300-degree oven, as per the recipe.
Filled_crust
If you're wondering, you guessed right: this is too low for pie-baking (unless your pizza stone does all the work?). After 40 minutes, I had to turn the temperature up to 325 degrees. The pie was done after another half hour. It had puffed up nicely, and still jiggled in the middle a bit.
Puffy_pie
When it cooled, the filling sank down a bit and a little crack developed. I'm not obsessed with cracking pies - I think it gives them character.
Slice_6
I was eating leftover slices of this until yesterday. It was so good, even cold and a few days old. The freshly-made pie had a bit of heat and warmth to it, but nobody guessed what the secret ingredient was. The squashiness of the butternut shone through beautifully, and the custard was firm but light.

Butternut Squash Pie

Yields 1 9-inch pie

For the crust:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons solid vegetable shortening, chilled
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, in 5 pieces
4 teaspoons beaten egg from 1 large egg

For the filling:
2 large eggs plus 2 egg yolks
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4  cup granulated sugar
1/4  teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups roasted squash purée, packed (see below)
1 1/4 cups heavy cream

1. For the crust: Combine flour and salt in food processor bowl, and pulse. Remove lid, scatter vegetable shortening and butter over surface, and pulse 5 or 6 times.

   
 

2. Combine beaten egg and 3 tablespoons ice water. Pulse liquid into dry ingredients, continuing until mixture is evenly moist and dough looks curdy, 10 seconds. Turn onto work surface, and press firmly into disc, adding drops of water if dough feels dry. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or overnight.

3. Roll dough into 15-inch round on lightly floured surface, and fit into shallow 9-inch pie pan. Trim and crimp edges. Refrigerate 1 hour. Meanwhile preheat the oven at 425 degrees.

4. Line chilled pie pan with aluminum foil and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake 25 minutes. Remove foil, and bake until crust dries out and crimped edges begin to color, 3 to 5 minutes. Lower heat to 325.

5. While crust bakes, prepare filling: combine eggs, vanilla, sugars, salt and spices in food processor, and process until smooth. Add squash purée, and process until smooth. With machine running, pour in heavy cream, and process to combine. Scrape filling into hot prebaked shell and until filling is set 2/3 in from perimeter and center still jiggles, about 30-40 minutes. Remove from oven, and cool to room temperature on rack. Garnish with whipped cream if desired. Serve.

Squash Puree
Yields 3 cups

2 3 1/2- to 4-pound butternut squashes, scrubbed
Grapeseed oil spray

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-by-15-inch rimmed sheetpan with aluminum foil, and spray with grapeseed oil. Trim off stem end, then cut through squashes horizontally where bulb begins. Reserve bulb for another use. Cut squash necks in two lengthwise. Slice into 1-inch sections and arrange on sheet pan.

2. Bake, turning occasionally, until squash is tender and beginning to caramelize, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Cool slightly, trim skin away with paring knife, and force flesh through food mill. Use immediately in pie or place in plastic container with lid, and refrigerate up to 4 days; freeze up to 2 months.