I belong to the Denver Bloggers Club group on Meetup; it’s not unlike the one I started a few years ago that I originally conceived to simply get to know other local bloggers. There being strength in numbers, I eventually was in a position to have several other bloggers join me at local restaurants for a sampling of their menu items and some one on one experiences with the chefs and/or owners.
It’s always been one of the fun parts of blogging so I was excited about the opportunity presented to us by the clubs leader, Jenny Finke from the blog ‘Good For You Gluten Free.‘ In partnership with Uncorked Kitchen, Jenny had arranged for us to participate in a cooking class at their facility in Centennial, CO.
Our challenge on the day of our visit was to make two dishes, both a White Wine Braised Chicken with Mustard and Thyme as well as this Roasted Butternut Squash with Chile Yogurt Sauce. The setup inside the kitchen included multiple work stations with cook-tops and stoves and then several prep tables where we gathered into smaller groups and each group prepared both dishes, fluctuating between the prep stations and the cook-tops.
I would guess that the majority of the attendees had some skill in the kitchen (if not all of them but they are not all food bloggers so that wasn’t a given). The work was simple; pretty much just some basic slicing and dicing and emulsifying together the ingredients for an herb paste. The fun for me was not in necessarily learning a new skill but in participating with a like minded group of 15 other people…lots of laughter and a bit of wine and it was a very convivial group!
For the Butternut Squash dish, we all had an opportunity to finish a plate with a professionally designed look, guided by Chef Albert Gonzales. This was fun but if I’m honest? I don’t see myself doing this when serving at my kitchen table. Most of my company is spur of the moment; they would have to manage with some of the ingredients drizzled on top. But Chef Albert was so creative and we tried to follow his lead that day; I think everyone enjoyed a chance to recreate his masterpiece.
The other instructor for our group was Chef Eric Robbins, also one of the owners. He was warm and funny and I can see why he decided that teaching what he loved was his true calling. And teach they do. From novices to experienced, they have something for everyone. You can even sign your kids up for drop in or camp experiences during school breaks that are structured for their age level. For those looking for a truly unique experience; how about a birthday party theme where the kids get to prepare and enjoy their meal? I know some kids who would LOVE that!
So how about this featured dish of Butternut Squash with Chile Yogurt Sauce? I admit it has several components but none are difficult to prepare. Yogurt and Sriracha and mixed together and swirled on a plate. Simply dollop a tablespoon of the mixture on the plate and push it with the side of a tablespoon to get a swirl. Yes, practice does make it more perfect! Or drizzle it on top…sometimes we just gotta eat! The squash is coated with olive oil and cinnamon and then roasted to perfection. Once it’s cooled a bit, it’s placed on top of the Chile Sauce and then garnished with a cilantro and garlic paste and topped with roasted and salted pepitos (pumpkin seeds).
I remember thinking at the time that I could have eaten this all by itself…and I eventually did. Maybe not dressed up quite so fancy but it was just as tasty; maybe just not quite as elegant. The White Wine Chicken with Mustard and Thyme was the perfect accompaniment and I hope to share that dish with you tomorrow. This spring weather is so perfect for gardening and is like my siren call, ‘Come outside Barb, we need you!’ and I am almost helpless in trying to ignore it. But I’ll try.
In Denver Metro area? Uncorked Kitchen is near Park Meadows Mall in Centennial. Get some friends to sign up with you for one of their fun skills events or take your perfect partner for a date night event that features a meal and beverage for two. You make it and eat it! Either way…you’ll have fun, learn something new and have some great food…win win right?
Not in the mood to cook? Stop by their wine bar with a gorgeous view of the Front Range; on a clear day you really can see forever!
Butternut Squash with Chile Yogurt Sauce
- 1 large Butternut Squash
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
For the Herb Paste
- 3 oz cilantro, leaves and stems
- 2 small garlic cloves, crushed
- 4 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 3 Tbsp pumpkin seeds, salted and toasted
For the Chile Sauce
- 1 cup Greek yogurt
- 1 1/2 tsp Sriracha or Sambal
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees
- Cut the squash in half lengthwise, remove and discard the seeds and then cut into wedges 3/4 inch wide and about 2 3/4 inches long, leaving the skin on and placing the pieces on a baking sheet. Mix together cinnamon, salt, pepper and 2 Tbsp olive oil in a small bowl.
- Drizzle the oil mixture over the squash on a baking sheet and mix; making sure that the squash is evenly coated. Roast for 35-40 minutes until soft and starting to color on top. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
- To make the herb paste, place the cilantro, garlic, 4 Tbsp of olive oil, and the salt in the bowl of a small food processor. Process to a fine paste and set aside.
- When ready to serve, mix together the yogurt and Sriracha sauce. Plate with a swirl of the sauce on the plate topped with slices of squash, garnished with the herb paste and pumpkin seeds.