Tag Archives: ginger

Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts

DSC_5826I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned before how I used to despise brussels sprouts when I was a kid.  My mom would simply boil them and serve them to us, as though they were supposed to be edible.  Since then, I have come to love brussels sprouts.  In fact, they are one of my top 5 favorite veggies of all time.   I love their bitter earthiness, and they are so versatile – you can pair them with sweet, sour, spicy, umami, whichever flavor profile you want!  They won’t let you down.  One of my 2015 goals was to make more Asian dishes, because, well, why not, really.  I came across this recipe in a recent Bon Appétit issue, and ripped it out immediately to add to my recipe folder.   Taking a look at my folder reminded me that I need to post on this blog more frequently, lest I want to end up being a recipe hoarder and die by having a box of recipes fall on my head.

This recipe is for all of the brussels sprouts lovers out there, as well as the Asian food lovers.  Enjoy!

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Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts
Adapted from Bon Appétit

2 lb. brussels sprouts, halved
5 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
Sea salt, freshly ground pepper
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. finely chopped, peeled ginger
2 Tbsp. hot chili paste
6 dried chiles de árbol, lightly crushed
1/2 cup soy sauce
3 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. unseasoned rice vinegar
1/3 cup unsalted, roasted peanuts

1.  Preheat oven to 425 F degrees.  Toss brussels sprouts and 4 Tbsp. oil on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt and pepper.
2.  Roast, tossing once, until softened (but not soft) and browned, 20-25 minutes.  Set aside.
3.  Meanwhile, mix cornstarch and 1 Tbsp. water in a small bowl until smooth.
4.  Heat remaining 1 Tbsp. oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high.  Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring often, until garlic is golden brown, about 2 minutes.
5.  Add chili paste and cook, stirring, until darkened, about 2 minutes.  Add chiles, soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, and 1/2 cup water and bring to a boil; stir in cornstarch slurry.
6.  Simmer, stirring, until sauce coats spoon, about 2 minutes.  Let cool slightly.  Toss brussels sprouts with sauce and serve topped with peanuts.

Pan-Seared Tuna Steaks with Ginger Vinaigrette

DSC_5873My relationship with my dad has come a long way.  I feel like he respects who I am, and how I live my life, even if he doesn’t always agree with my decisions.  We don’t talk on the phone that often, but when we do, we make sure to always say, “I love you” before hanging up.  However, as a kid, you could not have convinced me that I would one day have a loving relationship with my dad.  Back then, he was a very different person.  I just don’t think he wanted to be married, and he most definitely did not want to be strapped with two children in his mid-twenties, let alone with two girls.    He was pretty mean and angry, and I was basically scared of him a lot of the time.  Looking back now as an adult, I have empathy for him as a young parent who didn’t have the tools to be a good father.

Things started to slowly shift when I was in my teens.  I’m not sure what changed for him, but I could tell he was working on becoming a better man, and parent.  I remember him blowing up at me for something I did, and then later coming upstairs to my room and apologizing.  There was so much sadness in his eyes.  He looked at me and said something along the lines of how he had reacted was the complete opposite of how he should have reacted, and that he would try to do better next time.  Hearing my dad say that shifted something in the universe for me that day.  It was one of the first times I comprehended that adults, people, could change, and for the better.   We aren’t born a certain way, predestined for a specific path.  Rather, we decide who we want to be.

I’ve often wondered if my dad carries around any guilt or shame about the kind of dad he was to my sister and I growing up.  A few summers ago I went home for a visit.  My dad and I went out for an early morning walk, and we started talking about how things were when I was a kid.  I told him that the only way for my brain to reconcile the man he was back then with the man he is today is to think of them as two completely different people.  It’s like at some point, he shed the skin of my younger dad, and morphed into my older dad–one who is patient, kind, affectionate, and considerate.   I have so much love for my dad.  And although we are a lot alike in many ways, we see the world differently.  After all that we have been through, it feels so good to think of my dad, and smile.

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I’m pretty sure this was the first time I’ve ever made a dish using fresh tuna.  I was shocked at how easy it was.  I mean, it should be easy, because it’s fish, but making a tuna dish always seemed so intimidating to me.  If you enjoy fresh tuna and have never attempted a dish in your own kitchen, start with this one.  It’s super simple and very tasty.

Pan-Seared Tuna Steaks with Ginger Vinaigrette
Adapted from Food and Wine

5 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
5 Tbsp. sake
2-1/2 Tbsp. mirin
3 Tbsp. minced shallot
1/2 Tbsp. finely grated, peeled fresh ginger
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 bunch of Broccolini, trimmed
Two 1-inch-thick yellowfin tuna steaks
2 tsp. toasted white sesame seeds

1.  In a small saucepan, simmer the soy sauce, sake, mirin and shallot until the liquid is slightly reduced, 3 minutes.  Remove from the heat: stir in the ginger.  Slowly whisk in 1/4 cup of the oil.  Season with salt and pepper.
2.  In a steamer basket set in a large saucepan of simmering water, steam the Broccolini until tender, about 6 minutes.  Transfer to plates.
3.  Meanwhile, in a large non-stick skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil.  Season the tuna with salt and pepper.  Sear over high heat until golden brown but still rare within, about 30 seconds per side.
4.  Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.  Slice against the grain and transfer to the plates.  Drizzle with some of the vinaigrette and sprinkle with the sesame seeds.
5.  Serve with the remaining vinaigrette.

Black-Eyed Peas with Coconut Milk and Ethiopian Spices

DSC_5501I have been leveled by PMS this past week, and wanted to write about it since I can’t seem to muster up the desire to write (or think) about anything worthwhile that isn’t maudlin.  In lieu of a typical blog post, I thought I would share a poem with you that I wrote tonight on my commute home:

Hopelessness, negating everything
I was looking forward to yesterday.
It’s a cliché to say every woman
turns into a monster during her time
of the month.  But I feel the change,
right down to my cells.  Nothing
can alleviate this sensation of dread.
I have to ride it out, like a nasty storm
that causes you to lose your bearings.
And know that when this passes, I will
once again look forward to my favorite things.

DSC_5481DSC_5484And one of my new favorite things is this dish.  I’ve never made an Ethiopian dish before, although I really like Ethiopian food.  It’s a Marcus Samuelsson recipe, so I knew it would be delicious.  A word of caution when making this:  wear gloves when handling the chiles!  I failed to do that and spent several hours with my hands writhing in pain.  After several attempts at trying to wash the oils off, I finally succeeded by slathering my hands in vegetable oil, then washing it off with a mixture of baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and a splash of dish detergent. Thanks, Google!  That being said, I could eat this every day.
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Black-Eyed Peas with Coconut Milk and Ethiopian Spices
Adapted from Food & Wine

2 cups dried black-eyed peas (12 ounces)
Kosher salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large red onion, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 habanero chile, seeded and minced
2 teaspoons berbere seasoning (see Note)
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
3 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
2 scallions, thinly sliced

  1.  In a large saucepan, cover the peas with water and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderately low heat until tender, about 40 minutes.
  2. Add a generous pinch of salt and let stand for 5 minutes, then drain well.
  3.  Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt the butter. Add the onion, ginger, garlic and chile and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and just starting to brown, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the berbere and turmeric and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring until softened, about 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in the coconut milk and stock and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down and the sauce is thickened, about 20 minutes.
  6.  Add the peas to the sauce and cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until the peas are lightly coated, about 10 minutes. Fold in the cilantro and scallions and serve.
Note

Berbere is an Ethiopian ground red chile spice mix. It’s available at specialty food shops and from kalustyans.com.

Apple, Bacon and Goat Cheese Salad w/ Ginger Vinaigrette

My husband and I just returned from the best vacation we’ve ever taken.  We went up to Cape Cod for 5 days, and then spent another 3 days in Boston.   I love getting away from NYC in the summertime.  There is something about breathing in the smell of fresh cut grass, strolling outside with a hot dog or ice cream cone, and adjusting to the slower rhythms of small town life that makes me nostalgic for childhood summers.

For the first three days of our vacation I walked around with a big, idiot grin on my face.  I kept remarking to Mr. K that something would inevitably go wrong on this trip since everything up to that point had been so perfect.  He would simply respond by shaking his head at me.   Whether slurping down raw oysters, reveling an IPA, or breathing in the smell of salty ocean air, I was in a kind of vacation trance, whereby everything we did seemed to me to be the perfect thing to be doing at that exact moment.

One of the highlights of our trip to Cape Cod was the 3-course breakfast we were served every morning out on the back patio of our Bed and Breakfast.  The owners of the B&B were this extremely gracious older couple, and the husband proudly told us that he made all the meals.  Every morning I would go for a jog, and then my husband and I would proceed downstairs like two kids on Christmas morning, eagerly anticipating that day’s breakfast.  The courses included dishes like baked eggs in prosciutto “cups”, applesauce pancakes with bacon, and fruit parfaits.  Mr. K and I would take our time savoring every bite, and I took added pleasure in being served a home-cooked meal.

After we returned home, one of the first things I did was write down all of the great moments from this trip that I didn’t want to forget.  The next time I have a stressful day or week, I will look at that list to be reminded of life’s pleasures.
DSC_5026Speaking of which, this salad is truly of one of my current pleasures.  I can’t eat it without moaning just a little bit.  I got the idea for it from a local restaurant that makes a similar salad.   If you like bacon at all, you will enjoy this salad.  Oh, and my apologies for only taking one picture this time around.  I was running late and we were starving, so it was the best I could do.  Quick tangent:  when we were in Boston we ducked into a run-of-the-mill pub near Boston Common for lunch one day.  I wasn’t that hungry so I ordered a BLT, thinking I would just eat the 2 or 3 strips of bacon out of the sandwich along with the tomato and lettuce and that would be that.  Well, the sandwich had a PILE of bacon in it.  We’re talking at least 8 strips of bacon.   I ate a pile of bacon for lunch, and I had absolutely no regrets.

Apple, Bacon and Goat Cheese Salad w/ Ginger Vinaigrette

Yield:  4 servings

5 oz. baby spinach
4 oz. goat cheese
1/3 cup walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
1 Fuji apple, quartered and diced
8 strips of applewood-smoked bacon

Ginger Vinaigrette
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
sea salt
black pepper

1.  In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium-high heat until crispy, around 8 minutes.  Remove from skillet and place on a paper towel-lined plate.
2.  Meanwhile, place spinach on 4 plates.
3.  Crumble goat cheese and distribute evenly, along with walnuts and apples, over each salad.
3.  Roughly chop cooked bacon and distribute onto salads.
4.  Add olive oil to a medium-sized bowl.  Whisk in lemon juice, ginger, sea salt and black pepper.  Dress salads, toss, and serve.

 

Soba Noodles with Miso-Roasted Tomatoes

DSC_4854My food cravings are slowly disappearing.  I have had a sweet tooth ever since I can remember.  Along with that, I am someone who thinks about food constantly.  This is all wrapped up into my love/hate relationship with food.  I love it because it brings me so much pleasure to eat.  The unhealthy side of this is that I, for most of my life, have been an emotional eater.  So while food might give me pleasure while I’m eating, as soon as the meal is over, the pleasure evaporates into nothingness.  I am usually left with feelings of guilt and lots of critical analysis as to how healthy what I just ate is and what it could potentially do to my body.

Layered on top of this is my love of cooking and baking.  As I stated in one of my early blog posts, being in the kitchen is like therapy for me.  I love the challenge of trying a new recipe, the smells that emanate from the kitchen and waft throughout my home, and the anticipation of tasting what I created.  However, if I am baking, I often times have to wrestle with myself to not eat too much of what I’ve just baked.  If I do, it will eradicate all of the good feelings that I associate with baking and I will end up feeling defeated by my own self-loathing.  It’s a slippery slope.
DSC_4838A few weeks ago I decided to try something new.  I recently read a book called Grain Brain.  The author’s hypothesis is that gluten (and carbohydrates in general) is not only bad for our bodies, but bad for our brains.  People with gluten sensitivity are more prone to dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other mental health issues.  This information jolted me into action.  I decided I was going to try and cut out 80% of the carbs in my diet and see how I felt.  If it helped assuage my anxiety in any noticeable way, I figured it would be worth it.

Since then, I have noticed significant changes in my thought patterns.  I feel calmer overall, and not nearly as anxious about things that might have created a non-stop loop of negative self-talk in my mind just a few weeks ago.  But the most surprising thing has been my diminished cravings for carbs, sugar in particular.  I noticed this the other night when Mr. K and I were sitting on the couch after dinner watching television.  For the last few years, I was in a bad habit of eating dessert several nights a week.  It was such an automatic behavior that NOT having dessert would feel like deprivation.  However, the other night I noticed that I had absolutely no cravings for dessert.  In fact, it didn’t even sound appealing to me.  Who am I?  I thought to myself.  This is a completely new feeling.  But you better believe the feeling made me smile.
DSC_4833One of my goals in the cooking realm of this blog was to cook more Asian food.  I love most Asian cuisines but I haven’t cooked many recipes that hail from this part of the world.  I think my biggest obstacle was a feeling of intimidation due to the fact that I had never used many of the ingredients.  I have made a couple of Asian dishes over recent months, and I love the way they have all turned out.  This recipe falls under that umbrella.  The miso and sesame oil give the dish that familiar umami quality that is associated with so much of Asian fare.  Although it’s a noodle dish, it doesn’t taste or feel heavy at all.  As we were eating it for dinner last night, Mr. K and I agreed that it was yet another perfect meal for spring; it’s light and yet very satisfying.  Of course, if you can’t find soba noodles at your local market, whole wheat spaghetti noodles would make a perfectly fine substitute.
DSC_4847Soba Noodles with Miso-Roasted Tomatoes
Adapted from Food and Wine

1/3 cup canola oil
3 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons light yellow miso
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
sea salt
2 pints cherry tomatoes
8 ounces soba noodles
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

1.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  In a bowl, whisk the canola oil, vinegar, miso, ginger, sesame oil, honey, lime zest and lime juice until smooth.  Season with salt.
2.  On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the tomatoes with 3 tablespoons of the miso dressing and season with salt.
3.  Roast for 20 minutes, stirring, until the tomatoes are charred in spots.  Scrape into a large bowl.
4.  Cook the soba in soiling water just until al dente, 4 minutes.
5.  Drain and cool under cold running water.
6.  Add the soba, scallions and half of the remaining dressing to the tomatoes and toss well.  Season with salt.
7.  Transfer to a platter and garnish with the sesame seeds.  Serve with the remaining dressing.

 

Chocolate-Covered Gingersnaps

DSC_4008The holiday season is finally upon us!  Every year I tell myself that I am going to buy a Christmas tree and every year I fail to buy one.  I love the smell of evergreen that hits you when you come home after a long day during the month of December.  It always puts me in a good mood.  Just walking through the Christmas tree vendors on the sidewalks of NYC always seems to put a smile on my face.  In the 11 winters that I’ve spent in New York, I have yet to buy a Christmas tree.   It just seems so daunting:  having to schlep the tree home, set it up, buy ornaments, and then decorate it.   And yet, every year after Christmas I regret not buying one and then resolve to buy one the next year.  It’s really not all that ridiculous.  As anyone who has seen a typical New York apartment knows, space can be quite limited.  Last year was the first time in probably 8 years that I could have actually had a reasonably sized Christmas tree in my apartment.  But we were still living out of boxes and therefore it seemed kind of silly to add a tree to the mess.  This year I gave it considerable thought, but decided against it since we are driving to Minnesota to spend the holidays with my family.  We would have come home to a pile of dried needles on the living room floor.

DSC_3891 I am excited to be spending the holidays with my side of the family this year.  No matter how superb my Christmases have been away from my family, there always comes a moment on Christmas Eve when I wax nostalgic about my family.  No other holiday feels as family-centric as Christmas, and when I am not with them this time of year I always miss them a little more than usual.  I think it’s partly because I don’t have a lot of happy memories from my childhood, but the ones that I do have are mainly centered around Christmas.  Growing up, my parents always seemed to be in a good mood around this time of year.  It seems ironic given that most parents are usually stressed out with all of the activities, shopping, entertaining, etc. that are expected.  My dad was a mail carrier and he would come home loaded up with boxes and tins of candy, cookies and bars from the women on his mail route.  Because we lived in Minnesota, we had one of those deep freezers that people in the Midwest always seem to own.  My dad would fill it up with all of his holiday goodies and it would typically be depleted by the middle of January thanks to his two daughters.  Did I mention I was a chubby kid?
DSC_3939I love all things gingerbread, but I didn’t acquire this taste until I became an adult.  As a kid, gingerbread was too spicy for me.  I would eat every cookie on the endless cookie platters except for the gingersnaps and gingerbread men, adorable as they were.  I have grown extremely fond of gingerbread over the past few years.  I love the depth that molasses adds to a baked good.  I came across a recipe for lebkuchen 3 years ago and fell in love with them instantly.  A traditional German gingerbread, they are a cross between a cookie and a cake, with a much larger ratio of nuts to flour and an added level of flavor due to the candied citron.  There is a company here in NYC that makes insanely good lebkuchen called Leckerlee.  They even package them in traditional collectible tins.
DSC_3940I love the combination of gingerbread and chocolate.  Really, there isn’t much that chocolate doesn’t pair well with.  I only partially dipped these cookies in chocolate because I wanted them to look pretty.  If you don’t care about such things, go ahead and cover the entire cookie in chocolate.  You won’t regret it.  And if you want to add another level of flavor, feel free to throw in a tablespoon of orange zest or candied citron.  It will be a nice complement to the spiciness.

Chocolate-Covered Gingersnaps
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine

Yield:  about 48 cookies

2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 sticks (3/4) cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup molasses
1 large egg

parchment paper
1/4 cup granulated sugar
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips

1.  Into a large bowl sift together 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour, baking soda, and spices and whisk in brown sugar.
2.  In a small saucepan melt butter and whisk into flour mixture with molasses and egg until well-combined.
3.  With a wooden spoon stir in remaining 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour until combined well. 4.  Chill dough, covered, until firm, at least 1 hour, and up to 2 days.
5.  Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
6.  Roll level tablespoons of dough into balls and in a small bowl roll balls in granulated sugar to coat.
7.  Arrange balls about 2 inches apart on baking sheets and bake in batches in middle of oven until flattened and a shade darker, 10 to 12 minutes.
8.  Cool cookies on baking sheets 2 minutes and transfer with a spatula to racks to cool completely.
9.  Dip completely cooled cookies into tempered chocolate (see below) until covered halfway and place on parchment-lined baking sheets until chocolate is completely set.
10. Cookies keep in an airtight container at room temperature 5 days.

Notes
One of the easiest ways to temper chocolate is to place it in the microwave for 30 seconds at a
time on high until the chocolate is almost melted.  Be very careful not to overheat it.  The chocolate should feel neutral in temperature.  To test, use a spatula to place some melted chocolate on your top lip.

Ginger-Squash Cake with White Chocolate Frosting

DSC_3830When I first moved in with my husband (who was my boyfriend at the time), I remember being very excited to cook for him.  Before I moved in, I had been living out in Park Slope with a nice roommate found on Craigslist.  We never ate meals together since we had completely opposite schedules, and I rarely cooked since cooking for one is no pleasure at all.  I ate a lot of hummus, salsa and egg salad on rice cakes.  Looking back, I don’t know how I went without a hot meal for so long.  I’m going to chalk it up to the fact that I was in love, and hot meals were a very low priority at the time.  I’m still in love with my husband but hot meals have moved up the priority list since then.

DSC_3812 After getting settled into Mr. K’s apartment, I started to cook up a storm.  I remember feeling like I wanted to really impress him with my cooking skills.  I had made a couple of meals for him out in Park Slope, but I was going to blow him away with my talent.  He was going to feel so loved and nurtured by my cooking.  He would become so appreciative of having a girlfriend that could not only cook but could BAKE that he would be walking around in a constant state of bliss.  We were going to have long, leisurely conversations as we ate our home-cooked meals at the table.  Well, it didn’t really happen that way.  To begin with, I noticed that he would stop talking the minute food was put in front of him.  He also ate his food extremely fast.  In addition, he had become used to eating in front of the television after several years of living solo.   I wanted to have a conversation with him about food.  More specifically, what food meant, means, to me.  For me, food is pleasure, comfort, gratification, and satisfaction.  I feel nurtured when someone makes a home-cooked meal for me.  Likewise, I cook for people to show them that they are important to me.  When I shared this with him, I asked him if he felt the same way.  Turns out, we approach food differently.  He, like me, loves to eat but he doesn’t look at it as a way of nurturing himself.  Rather, it is something to simply be enjoyed.  Throughout our 4-1/2 years together, he has cooked approximately 6 meals for me.  It would be a lot easier for me to accept the fact that he does not enjoy cooking if he were, in fact, a horrible cook.  But he is a fantastic cook!  Everything he makes is exquisite, and it only makes me wish that he cooked more often.  Even better, there is real entertainment value in watching him make a meal.  He’s like a mad scientist in the kitchen.  He tapes his recipe to the cupboard, and not only am I not allowed in the kitchen, but I am not allowed to speak to him while he is cooking lest he lose his concentration.  After we eat the delicious meal he prepared, I step into the kitchen where it looks like it has been ransacked by wolves.  He hasn’t quite gotten the art of cleaning up as he goes.  But I’m confident he’ll figure it out eventually.

DSC_3822 I haven’t made a cake in a very long time.  This recipe is the perfect gateway to bigger and fancier cakes.  It is very simple but still fulfills your cake craving.  The squash adds moisture, much like zucchini does in zucchini bread.  The pecans are in the cake as well as sprinkled on top so you get some crunch.  But I think the highlight of this recipe is the ginger.  I fell in love with ginger a couple of years ago.  I don’t think it’s used enough, especially in baking.  Most recipes call for dried ginger, but I say go ahead and add freshly grated ginger whenever possible.  It really does make a difference.  The white chocolate frosting is a very thin layer.  If you like a sweeter cake, double the frosting recipe.  If you are someone like me who loves baked goods with fall spices this time of year, try this recipe.  And because of the squash, you will be eating your vegetables along with the cake.

DSC_3837Ginger-Squash Cake with White Chocolate Frosting
Adapted from Bon Appétit Magazine

Yield:  8 servings

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup finely shredded peeled butternut squash
3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg
2 tablespoons finely grated peeled fresh ginger
1-1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
3/4 cup chopped toasted pecans, divided

3 tablespoons whipping cream
3 ounces high-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Perugina)

1.  Preheat oven to 350°F.  Spray 9x9x2-inch metal baking pan with nonstick spray.
2.  Whisk flour and next 6 ingredients in medium bowl.
3.  Using an electric mixer, beat squash, brown sugar, butter, egg, ginger, and 1 teaspoon vanilla in large bowl to blend.
4.  Fold in flour mixture and 1/2 cup pecans.  Transfer to pan, spreading to edges (layer will be thin).  Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 minutes.  Cool.
5.  Bring cream just to boil in small saucepan over medium heat.  Remove from heat.
6.  Add white chocolate and remaining 1/4 teaspoon vanilla; whisk until smooth.
7.  Let stand at room temperature until thick enough to spread, about 20 minutes.  Spread over cake.  Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup nuts over cake.