WONTONS FROM SPAAAACE

Kerry Altiero: “These, I thought when I invented them, are like no other wonton on earth. They are large triangles filled with winter squash and flavored with our amazing Secret Spice, which is basically curry from heaven. Then, recently, I had an Indian samosa for the first time. So much for an original idea. The ingredients are different but the effect is similar: a crispy fried exterior around a soft, warm, spiced filling. So maybe they are not from space, but from the subcontinent by way of the Headacre Farm garden and my own crazy brain.”

Serves 6

1½ cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into large dice (from 1 average-size squash)

½ cup sliced onion

2 cloves garlic

1 bay leaf

1 large egg

6 egg roll wrappers

½ cup Secret Spice (see recipe below)

Salt

Coarsely ground black pepper

1 cup stemmed and chopped spinach

Vegetable oil, for frying

¼ cup diced ripe tomato

½ seedless shredded cucumber

1 cup plain yogurt

2 teaspoons black sesame seeds

6 sprigs cilantro

2 lemon wedges

In a large saucepan, place the squash, onion, garlic and bay leaf. Add water until it covers the vegetables by an inch. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat to a simmer. Cook, covered, until the squash is fork-tender. Drain and mash well, using a hand masher or an electric mixer. This can be coarse or smooth. Put in the refrigerator to chill.

Beat the egg together with 1 tablespoon of water. Place the egg roll wrappers on the counter.

Combine the squash filling with half of the Secret Spice and season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste. Divide it into 6 equal parts.

Place each piece of filling in the center of a wrapper. Distribute the spinach among the wrappers.

Brush a ¼-inch-wide line of egg mixture around the border of each wrapper. Fold the wrapper point to point to make a triangle and press the edges to seal. Nudge the filling to distribute it a little, leaving a 3/4-inch border.

At this point, you can refrigerate the wontons for up to 2 days.

To cook, put oil to the depth of 1 inch into a heavy pan over medium-high heat (or use a deep fryer set to 350 degrees F). Fry the wontons until golden brown, in batches if needed. Drain on paper towels.

On a warm platter, arrange the tomato, cucumber and yogurt in small piles next to the wontons. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and remaining Secret Spice and top with the cilantro. Squeeze the lemon over (you could just put the wedges on the plate, but you never can depend on folks to get the hint).

I like to sip a Maine Root Ginger Brew for a gingery addition to an exotic dish from SPAAAACE!

SECRET SPICE

Kerry Altiero: “This spice is magic. The idea is similar to curry powder, but without some of the more floral, cinnamon-ish notes that you’ll find in a garam masala or similar blends. Another difference is the toasting process. Traditionally, spices are bloomed in oil to bring out their full flavor. Because this one gets bloomed in the oven instead, you can sprinkle it right on your food.

“Full disclosure: This is really only Semi-Secret Spice. At the restaurant, the ingredients list is much longer and would scare people away (plus, there are some secrets I want to keep). This version is a shortcut that uses commercial curry powder as a base. It is much easier, and will make whatever you put it on much more delicious.”

Makes 11/3 cups

1 cup curry powder

¼ cup paprika

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons finely ground black or white pepper

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees F.

Mix the spices together and spread to a thickness of ¼ inch on a cookie sheet. Toast for 45 minutes.