Squash tart

• Ingredients: For a 22 cm diametre and 3.5 cm high (minimum) mould: One sweet or shortcrust pastry base – I prefer sweet pastry, which is the one I have used; 425 g. mashed squash; 400 g condensed milk; 2 large eggs; 1 tsp ground cinnamon; 1 tsp ginger; 1⁄4 to tsp ground nutmeg; 1⁄2 tsp Jamaica pepper; 1 pinch ground clover (optional); 1⁄2 tsp salt.

• Preparation: Preparing the squash mash: This can be done either by boiling (in water or steam) or baking. Personally I prefer baking as boiling makes it very watery and requires careful squeezing and draining for a long time until excess liquid is eliminated. Cut the squash, removing the seeds (which can be afterwards toasted and eaten as the well- known sunflower seeds) and fibrous bits. The portions should not be too small. If the squash is small, just cut it in half. Place in an oven tray with the skin facing downwards and bake in a preheated fairly cool oven (165 oC) for about an hour, until soft. It should not be toasted or burned as this would give it a different taste, it should just bake slowly until the pulp is and easily mashed with a fork. You may cover it with tinfoil in order to stop it burning. Once cooked, scrape off the skin and mash the pulp, making sure the resulting puré is smooth. Put through a sieve to remove excess liquid. Reserve until use (it may be kept in the freezer – or so I have been told, I have never tried it myself). Prepare the pastry according to recipe and, once ready, keep in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before use. Roll out the pastry between two freeze bags or sheets of greaseproof paper, otherwise it will stick. Line the 22 cm mould to a height of about 3.5 cm. Prick it with a fork to stop it raising. There is no need to pre-bake the pastry as it will cook for almost one hour. Keep in the refrigerator until use. Preheat the oven to some 210 oC. In a large bowl mix the squash mash with the condensed milk, spices and salt. This mixing should be done very gently to avoid air getting whisked in and cracking the pastry during the baking process. Carefully mix in the eggs one at a time. Pour the mixture into the lined mould and stick in a preheated oven for about 15 minutes.

Power the heat if it is swelling too fast, as the idea is for it to cook through slowly. After 15 minutes, lower the temperature to 170 oC to allow the filling to cook through. It should bake for a further 40 minutes. Check by pricking with a knife. During cooking, try not to open the oven as this would lower the temperature. When ready, turn off the oven leaving the tray inside until the temperature has gone down gradually. Wait until it has cooled completely before serving accompanied by double cream or ice cream.

Squash compote

• Ingredients: 1⁄2 kg. squash; 2 cups sugar; 2 cups water; 1 tbsp vanilla.

• Preparation: Slice the squash into 2-3 cm slices. Peel and place in a low wide saucepan together with the water and vanilla. Simmer for 50 minutes.

• Presentation: Once cold, serve in a bowl with sprinkled walnuts on top.

Squash and walnut cake

• Ingredients: 2 cups flour; 2 tsp baking powder; 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda; 1⁄2 tsp salt; 1⁄2 tsp cinnamon; 1 cup oil; 2 cups sugar; 4 eggs; 1 cup chopped walnuts; 1 cup chopped chocolate.

• Preparation: Whisk the eggs and sugar. Add the oil and squash. In a separate bowl sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and cinnamon. Mix well and add to the egg and sugar mixture. Whisk in the nuts and chocolate. Pour into a greased and floured tin and bake in a hot (360oC) oven for 1 hour 15 minutes.

• Presentation: Serve sprinkled with icing sugar.

Roast squash with berries

• Ingredients: 60 g. dried cranberries – 125 ml. orange juice – 500 g. squash – 1 onion – 1 boskoop apple – 2 sticks thyme – 2 tsp oil – salt – pepper – ground ginger – 50 ml. stock.

• Preparation1: Gently heat the cranberries in 100 ml orange juice, simmering for 10 minutes. Cut the squash into wide strips. Peel and dice the onion and apple. Mix the apple and softened cranberries with the juice and thyme. Gently fry the onion in 1 tsp oil.

• Preparation2: Add the cranberry mixture and gently fry for 3 to 4 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste, adding ground ginger. Leave to cool. Cook the remaining squash in the rest of the oil, basting with the stock and remaining juice. Simmer for 10 minutes and season to taste.

• Presentation: Serve the squash with the cranberry sauce.

Squash ice cream

• Ingredients: 650 g. peeled sweet squash – 150 g. brown sugar – 250 g. white sugar – 1 1/2 l. milk – 400 ml. double cream – 200 g. condensed milk – 1 cinnamon stick – 2 tsp ground cinnamon – 9 cardamom pods

• Preparation: Cut the squash and place in a bowl with the milk, brown sugar and cinnamon stick. Heat in a medium/ low fire for 30 minutes till the squash is soft. Meanwhile, put the cardamom pods in a mortar removing the seeds. Remove the cinnamon stick. Add the white sugar, condensed milk, double cream, ground cinnamon and reserved cardamom. Crush well and pour into a container. Stick in the freezer. Stir every two hours, and once it starts thickening stir every hour.

• Presentation: Serve the ice cream with a spoon previously warmed in hot water and pour the crumble on top.

Squash cream

• Ingredients: 200 g chopped squash; 100 g. chopped carrots; 200 ml single cream; 1⁄2 chopped celery leaf; 80 g. chopped brocoli; 1 pinch of salt; 1 sprig of parsley; 50 g. grated mozzarella cheese; 80 g. thickly chopped onion.

• Preparation: Put the squash, brocoli, celery, carrots and onion in a pan with boiling water: Cook until ready. Drain and put in a food processor with some of the cooking liquid. Add salt to taste and the cream. Process until the mixture is really smooth. Gently heat the mixture in a pan until some of the liquid has evaporated. When ready, sprinkle with grated mozzarella before serving.

Sautéed quinoa and vegetable stuffed squash

• Ingredients: 1.5 kg squash; 250 g. boiled quinoa; 1 onion; 100 g. Swiss chard; 100 g. spinach; 50 g. peeled walnuts; fresh tyme; olive oil; salt.

• Preparation: Gently fry the finely chopped onion in a little oil. Add the washed and thickly cut Swiss chard and spinach and cook slowly for a few minutes. Add the nuts, salt and herbs, stir thoroughly and remove from the heat. Mix with the cooked quinoa. Slice the top off the squash, remove the seeds and fibrous pulp. Fill the cavity with the mixture, cover with the top slice of the squash and bake in a moderate oven (180oC) for some 45 minutes or until the squash is soft. Serve in the squash as a soup tureen.

Cream of squash soup with bacon

• Ingredients: 500 g. squash; 1 garlic clove; 1⁄2 onion, chopped; 4 bacon rashers, chopped; 1 tbsp cornflour; 2 cups milk; 1⁄2 tsp stock; cheese to taste.

• Preparation: Boil the squash with salt and the garlic. Fry the bacon and then the onion in the bacon fat. Add the milk and one cup of the squash cooking water. Blend the lot in a food processor. If the mixture is too liquid, add the cornflour previously disolved in a little water. Bring to the boil and serve, adding the bacon and some cheese to taste.

Sirloin steak with squash mash

• Ingredients: 2 pork sirloin pieces – 500 g. squash – 150 g. single cream – 150 g. milk – 5 or 6 garlic cloves – 1 onion – 50 ml. brandy – black pepper– cumin comino – ground ginger – thyme – 2 tbsp squash seeds– olive oil and salt.

• Preparation: Peel and cut the squash, peel and chop the onion and three garlic cloves. Heat some olive oil in a large frying pan and gently fry the squash, add salt to taste and after about 8 minutes add the onion, stir fry for a further few minutes and add the garlic, freshly ground black pepper, cumin and ground ginger, stirring from time to time. When all ingredients have softened, add the single cream and milk and salt to taste, mix well and cook until reduced. Sprinkle salt and thyme over the sirloin steaks. Fry the remaining crushed garlic cloves in a large frying pan, then take them out and add them to the squash mixture. Quickly fry the sirloin pieces in the garlic oil till golden, then lower the fire till they are cooked through. After about 15 to 20 minutes pour the brandy and reduce. Mash the squash mixture till you obtain a creamy texture, slice the sirloin pie- ces and serve them on a large spoonful of squash mash. Sprinkle some squash seeds on top and cover with the meat juices.

Squash and potato curry

• Ingredients: (serves 4), 500 g. peeled and diced squash; 2 large potatoes; 1 onion; 3 garlic cloves; 1 tbsp butter; 2 cardamom pods; 4 cloves; 1 tsp turmeric, 1 chili pepper; 1 bar of cinnamon; 1 tsp sugar; salt to taste.

• Preparation: Peel and dice the squash and potatoes; peel and finely chop the onion and garlic cloves. Toss the potato dice with chopped onion and garlic in the butter until the onion is soft and not quite golden, then add the remaining ingredients having previously crushed the cardamom pods with the side of a knife. Stir and add a glass of water, just enough to cover the ingredients halfway up. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked but not too soft. I like to serve it with boiled basmati rice for a more complete dish. I usually buy spices at a nearby Indian shop but if that is not available where you live you may use curry powder available at most supermarkets.