Jeff and Stacey Martin of Lee’s Summit are a team in the kitchen. They both enjoy cooking and entertaining.
Jeff is the district defender for Missouri District 17, and Stacey is a board-certified behavior analyst and consultant for school districts. They raised two sons, one now living near New Orleans and one in college.
Q: Have you always enjoyed cooking?
Stacey: Cooking has always been a part of our family. I learned to cook from my mom and Jeff watched his grandma cook.
Jeff: It wasn’t until I was in law school in Oklahoma that I really started cooking often and enjoying it. I began watching cooking shows on television and trying new recipes. Stacey gave me a copy of a cookbook by Paul Prudhomme, a chef known for Louisiana cooking. It is our favorite cookbook, so we cook from it often and enjoy many Cajun and Creole dishes.
Stacey: When our sons were growing up they often joined us in the kitchen. Now both boys enjoy cooking and often post their latest culinary achievement on social media.
Q: Tell us about the recipe you are sharing.
Stacey: We met while attending college in Fulton. When I visited Jeff in Oklahoma, we went to Pearl’s Oyster Bar, a popular seafood restaurant in Oklahoma City. One dish on the menu we loved was squash Rockefeller.
We were thrilled when we found the recipe online and have made it ever since. The stuffed squash is drizzled with Hollandaise sauce just before serving and we found that classic recipe in the “Better Homes and Gardens” cookbook my mother gave me.
The restaurant recipe called for adding Anisette, which is anise flavored liqueur, to the breadcrumb mixture. We typically don’t keep Anisette on hand, so we omit it.
Q: When do you serve squash Rockefeller?
I can always think of a main dish to serve, but new and tasty side dishes are more challenging. This dish is a great change of pace.
We serve it often, all year round, as an accompaniment to a variety of main dishes, especially with our favorite Cajun or Creole dishes.
Q: What advice do you have for novice cooks?
Jeff: My tip is to find a recipe that looks like something you might enjoy, with a fairly short list of familiar ingredients, and try it.
Stacey: You can then tweak the recipe to be more suited to your tastes. Also, don’t be afraid to cook.
Makes 8 stuffed squash halves
4 yellow summer squash, not peeled
1 cup butter, melted
2 cups dried breadcrumbs (see tip, below)
1½ teaspoons minced garlic
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon Anisette liqueur, optional
1 pound frozen spinach, thawed, well drained and squeezed dry
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
4 egg yolks
½ cup butter, cut into thirds and at room temperature
2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice
Dash white pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Heat a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add the squash and cook until tender, and easily pierced with a fork. Remove the squash and drain. When cool enough to handle, split the squash lengthwise and using the tip of a spoon, scrape out the seeds. Set the squash aside.
In a mixing bowl, mix together the 1 cup melted butter, breadcrumbs, garlic and Parmesan cheese. Add the Anisette, if desired. Stir in in the spinach and green onions and blend well.
Spoon the breadcrumb-spinach mixture over each squash half, mounding slightly. Place the stuffed squash on a baking sheet. Bake, uncovered, for about 20 minutes or until hot in the center.
While the squash is baking, prepare the Hollandaise sauce: Place the egg yolks and 1/3 of the butter in the top of a double boiler. Cook, stirring rapidly, over boiling water until the butter melts. (Water in the bottom of the double boiler should not touch bottom of the top pan.).
Add 1/3 more of the butter and continue stirring rapidly. As butter melts and mixture thickens, add the remaining butter, stirring constantly. When the butter is melted, remove the pan from water and stir rapidly for 2 more minutes. Stir in the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon at a time. Stir in the salt and white pepper.
Heat again over boiling water, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes or until thickened. Remove at once from the heat. If sauce curdles, immediately beat in 1-2 tablespoons boiling water.
Arrange the stuffed squash on a serving platter and drizzle with sauce.
Tips: The breadcrumb-spinach mixture freezes well. If you have prepared fewer squash or happen to have some breadcrumb spinach filling extra, freeze it to use another time.
It would also be good as a filling for mushrooms.
Fine dry breadcrumbs can be purchased in a container. Unseasoned breadcrumbs and are preferred for this recipe.
Roxanne Wyss and Kathy Moore are cookbook authors and food consultants that make up The Electrified Cooks. They have published over 14 cookbooks and thousands of recipes. They are members of Les Dames d’Escoffier and blog at pluggedintocooking.com. Email them at KCComeIntoMyKitchen@gmail.com.