in one short day, i loved someone and lost her. my old boss and I were chatting by our desks one day a few years ago, when the conversation came around to food (this happens a lot with me).
"you know who you'd love?" she asked, "laurie colwin."
she lent me her copy of a slim paperback called "home cooking." colwin's writing reminded me of emails from mara, of short stories by lorrie moore, of the musings of a good friend i never knew i had. she does not write about restaurants or caviar or filet mignon. as the title suggests, every meal takes place in the small kitchen of her first, starter, NYC apartment. she argues against fancy kitchen gadgets and for dishes that remind one of childhood. she is witty, humble and knowledgeable.
i google searched my new best friend, excited to learn about her other books and her life today. perhaps some part of me hoped i'd end up in her kitchen making bread with her, cracking silly jokes and getting flour in our hair. i was devastated to discover that she had died young, several years earlier, leaving behind a husband and a small child. mourning my loss, i devoured "more home cooking," a collection which was published after her death.
two nights ago i made a supper for myself that included "squash tian," a colwin "recipe" that actually just reads like a paragraph. it has become an old favorite of mine and is perfect in the fall when the butternut squash is at its best. it is absolutely simple and terrifically delicious. vintage colwin, you might say.
for squash tian, proportions aren't the issue, method is; but for 4 people you probably need about 2 big butternuts, or 4 of the sweeter medium-sized delicatas. peel, seed, and cut the squash into 1-inch chunks. shake the chunks in a bag of flour, shaking off the excess flour, and put them into an oiled or buttered shallow baking dish. scatter the squash with about 1/4 cup good parmesan; 1 large garlic clove, minced; and pepper to taste. drizzle the tian with about 1/4 to 1/3 cup best olive oil and put into a preheated 400 degree oven. the oven must be really hot, or instead of a crispy topped, melting dish, you will end up with a sodden mess-- trust me, i have had this happen. bake the tian for 30-40 minutes. i myself would be very happy to eat this with salad, but as we do not necessarily live by vegetables alone, something else must be provided...