Harlequin Squash, Apple and Sage Stuffing

Another year, another stuffing recipe.

Harlequin stuffing, familiar? We’re back with another potato recipe, traditional Irish recipe at that, being converted into a harlequin one. This time we’ve ditched the sausage and opted for apple. Now, less of this we, dear reader, it’s my show. I found I couldn’t tolerate pork, doubt I ever could, why? Who knows. Why is there so much Jack can’t eat and yet he has so many recipes? He’s a wonder, humble too. Stuffing varies from place to place, I see it often online as this bread cube lumpy concoction and that isn’t the stuffing I grew up with. This is childhood taste revisited, or as close as I can make it. Stuffing was mashed potato, onion, sage, rarely fresh, but I like it fresh, and sausage. It was billowy, creamy and crusty on top and delicious. It has been a long time since I have had it. Last year I made a meat version, this year, aside from the butter but margarine could replace, I never list until I’ve tried and soy allergy stops that trial, but you’re creative dear readers, I know you’ll manage. Er, rambling there, sorry, aside from the butter it could easily be vegan. I tried it unbaked and it is worth making. Tomorrow I’ll bake it and add a photo if I remember.

Rake the tops and hope for crusty stuffing. The taste of childhood revisited.

So, yeah, addressing the giant berry in the room, you need harlequin for this. It’s the best potato substitute I’ve ever eaten. It’s dry at first when you’ve freshly steamed it, but add the buttery onion and apple, a delicious aromatic variation I have to admit, and suddenly it’s this creamy, fluffy mixture. My sage wasn’t in it’s prime and I had to add a little dried to up the taste, but you could use all dry if you can’t get fresh, use a third of what’d you use in fresh. Three ingredients are from my garden. The squash, sage and onion. There is a huge benefit over the pork version, you can freeze this. My Mother warmed me of freezing sausage meat and I stay away from it, this though can be frozen. Handy as it does make quite a bit. I went by the squash, but you can adjust it as you see fit. Try other vegetables and let me know how it fared. I’ll see you again, dear reader.

Ingredients

375g Harlequin Squash, Peeled and Cubed
125g Cooking Apple, Peeled and Chopped Fine
50g Butter
1 Medium Yellow Onion, Chopped Fine
16-20 Fresh Sage Leaves, Chopped
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Makes about four 170g Servings

Method

1. Steam the Harlequin Squash and place into a bowl, Mash and set aside.

2. Chop the Onion and Apple finely and fry in Butter until Onion is translucent and Apple tender. Add the Onion and Apple mix, Sage, Salt and Pepper to the Harlequin Squash and mash everything together. Taste test and add more Sage, Dried if there’s no more Fresh, if required.

3. Scoop mixture into a greased baking dish and smooth down. Bake at 200c (Fan) for half an hour. For a crispier top grill for the final 5 minutes. If freezing divide and freeze in tin trays.

Creamy and delicious.

Roast Table King Squash, Sweet Potato and Pecans

You can use as much rosemary as you like.

I really dislike when recipes call for very specific ingredients, now, setting that aside get your freshly harvested, recently cured table king squash and….I’m joking of course, any firm mild tasting squash will do here. This is a little different from my normal method in that usually I like the vegetables to try and crisp up as much as possible, but this instead locks in the moisture and keeps everything tender. It’s a different method, but one I’m very happy with. Let’s see how much of a post I can squeeze out of such a simple recipe.

Less shrinkage as there’s less moisture loss.

One twist to he norm is the salting of the pecans, it adds a really amazing contrast to the sweeter vegetables, the boiling water helps the salt adhere. I’m aware I’m not selling this much, but recipes like this always seemed daunting to me when they were oversold with hyperbole, you only realise how much of those posts is window-dressing after you’ve been making these recipes a long time. As I said above the moist is held in by the coating, there isn’t much in it but it’s more than enough, any more and you’d end up with soggy vegetables. The taste is pretty subtle, just a pleasant sweetness accentuating the natural sweetness of the vegetables. Of course you could do this with any vegetables you’d like. I think of recipes like this as American, there always seems to be something like this whenever an American holiday recipe post appears anywhere. I’m not sure what country squash is most popular in, if my love is to be held against entire countries then obviously Ireland will win out.

I still have different ideas as to what the squashes will be used for. There are two currently sitting in the shed, one of each, but the rest will take a few more weeks, nearer a month for some, before harvest. Hopefully by then, dear reader, I’ll have found even more wonderful uses for these brilliant berries. Until later

Ingredients

200g Table King Squash, Peeled and Cut into Medium Chunks
200g Sweet Potato Peeled and Cut into Chunky Strips
25g Pecans
1/2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 Tbsp Maple Syrup
1/2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1 Tsp Fresh Rosemary, Chopped
1/8 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
Pinch Ground Nutmeg

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 220c (Fan) and line a tray with grease-proof paper.

2. Add the Pecans to a sieve and pour over hot water, drain and then toss with salt. Set aside.

3. Add the Everything but the Squash, Sweet Potato and Pecans to a bowl and whisk together until Sugar has dissolved. Add the Squash and Sweet Potato and mix together until coated, tip out onto prepared tray and bake for 30-40 minutes or until Vegetables are tender. Add the Pecans 10 minutes before end.

Then harvest another Table King afterwards.

The Garden Isn’t a Harsh Mistress

Getting a few saved bulbs down early just in case I might be busy later.

There have been a lot of posts recently, haven’t there, dear reader? I’ve been making recipes and harvesting what’s come into readiness, it’s been a hectic few weeks. But I doubt anyone will complain, I’ve tried to balance them as best I can. It’d be fun to have a post a day for the entire month, I won’t force it, but if it happens that there’s enough to fill the month then it’ll be an accomplishment, of what merit, well, let’s pretend great things.

I’m honestly shocked they grew.

I can’t tell if you can remember, mind reader isn’t in my bag of tricks, but let’s recap the carrot situation. There was a heatwave that destroyed the carrots, twice no less, I learned that the top soil needs to be moist as moist can be. Crust kills. So, I did what anyone would do, I angrily threw down seeds and they grew, then in spite of warnings I split up clumps of carrots and transplanted them. Then, rational being that I am, I added two squash plants to the raised bed and left it to fend for itself. Lo and behold onto your hats, dear reader, I have carrots!

I had to chase this all over the garden.

Of all shapes and sizes, lumpy and bent, straight and narrow, all natural, organic carrots. Grown with little care, some feed, whatever the squash got they did too and when I pulled one up today to see it was large, shaped like a horse, and I took a few more. A bunch later and I was awed, my first ever harvest of carrots. I can take all I’ve learned and hopefully do better next year, but this is an achievement for me. I failed last year, but now I have grown carrots.

I’m going through all the shapes it seems.

I haven’t eaten any yet, but the skins are thin and the flesh tender. These are flyaway, supposed to be safe from carrot fly, well, they must have been with all the moving and thinning they took. It really is an amazing feeling to harvest your own vegetables, no matter how many, how large or how ordinary. Fresh produce is special in taste and the sense of accomplishment. There is so much that can go wrong from planting to harvest. Next year I plan a bigger harvest and do all I an to insure it grows. Okay, I’ll see you later, dear reader.

Peeled, blanched and frozen already.

Rooibos Jasmine Rice

I’m cleaning up some of my recipes pages, dear reader and splitting off the ones that have become too crowded. If possible I’ll update these with photos in the future, but for now this will have to do. I’ll schedule these so they won’t overrun the site.

Ingredients

1/2 Cup of Jasmine Rice
1 Rooibos Teabag steeped in 250ml Water
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Cloves of Garlic, Crushed and Chopped
1/16 Yellow Onion, Chopped Fine
Salt and Black Pepper to Taste
Pinch of Dried Parsley

Method

1. Heat Olive Oil in a pot on a medium heat. Then add the Garlic and Onion and cook for 5 minutes or until soft.

2. Stir in Rice and cook for 2-4 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Rice should be slightly translucent and may brown slightly. Add Rooibos, Salt, Black Pepper and Parsley and stir up the Rice, and bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to medium (3 on hob) cover and let it cook for about 12 minutes.

3. After the 12 minutes is up, remove it from the heat. Let it stand for another 10 minutes or so. After 10 minutes, lift the lid and take a fork and fluff the Rice.

Baked Harlequin Squash Fries

I was going to julienne it with the peeler.

Yeah, I, er, cut my finger, skinned the tip a bit, nothing major, but I seem to be making a tradition of this. The peeler just snagged on the small squash and, yeah, if any of this isn’t quite coherent then I’m laying blame on the finger whether it was that or not. You could say I’m pointing the finger…don’t cry, dear reader, I’ll stop making bad jokes someday. So, here we are a again, another harlequin squash another recipe, it is just a tweak of my sweet potato fries, but there’s rosemary and it’s harlequin squash, it’s never not amazing when it harlequin squash.

More or less rosemary to taste.

So, not much here, which means there’s not much leeway, if you keep things as even as possible, not easy when you consider the shape and hollow cavity of the squash after peeling and de-seeding, then you won’ have to worry about uneven cooking. This can be tweak with any spices you like, but I enjoy the simple taste of  fresh harlequin squash, the crispy crunch and he soft interior. This is why I grow them, these simple recipes that showcase its strengths. I have no need for potatoes when I have squash like this. They do resemble McDonald’s fries a bit, don’t they. I should’v called it a copycat recipe and become world renowned. It could happen, shush. Nothing stopping you using any squash this way, but only harlequin seems to crunch up like this. Maybe I’m wrong, if I am tell me of other squash, I’m always on the look out for new varieties. I’l see ou again soon, dear reader.

These posts are scheduled, by the time you see this my finger will probably be healed.

Ingredients

1 Medium Harlequin Squash, Around 400g
Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tsp Fresh Rosemary, Chopped
Salt, Pepper and Garlic Powder to Taste

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 175c (Fan) and line a baking tray with grease-proof paper.

2. Peel the Harlequin Squash, remove the seeds with a spoon and slice them lengthways, each slice should be about about half a centimetre thick, then cut them into half centimetre strips. Add to a plastic bag, season to taste then drizzle in the Olive Oil. Shake everything until the Harlequin Squash Fries are coated.

3. Spread out over the prepared tray. Making sure there’s plenty of room between the fries. If making a large batch use two trays. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. until the Harlequin Squash is dry and crisp. Remove from oven and transfer to a plate and let cool for a minute or two. Harlequin Squash will crisp up more as it cools.

A Plateful of…Basil?!

Thankfully they were a bit dry so it was easy move them.

It’s taken, well, a year I suppose, but today I had my first harlequin squash cottage pie, roll down a bit for the recipe. Now, this is a recipe blog, I am a food blogger and I will acquit myself accordingly! OMG! You guys won’t believe this recipe only takes…I was joking, don’t look at me like that! I’m just poking fun, mostly at myself. The recipe is pretty simple, an original, the usual thick and rich gravy, a benevolent blessing on the mistake that made me discover the thickening and enriching power of cashew butter. The topping though requires time, it takes over seven years without potatoes, it takes three years of growing harlequin squash and it takes seven months of growing to harvest. A berry, ever and always will I think of them as such, it lends them a magical air, that when steamed and mashed becomes so close to a floury potato that without the sunshine colouration, a yellowed hued bliss in a bowl, any tampering with the colour would be hubris, hue hue hue, you would scarcely tell them apart. Add to that a little salt, some cheddar, heat and finally grill and therein lies what will the best meal of the year for me. This year’s secret ingredient is smoked salt it add such perfect notes to the harmony of squash mixed with gravy and meat. If I still had my old stomach capacity I’d gladly eat two. I’ll just have to wait for the next pie day to roll around. I just typed an entire paragraph on pie, I should write a book on this, it’d be terrible but mesmerising. Like a car-wreck, you’d be loathe to look away.

It took an hour to pick all the leaves.

As you can see I’ve been harvesting basil again, I’d swear by the tomatoes and chillies as companion plant because whenever I see them start to grow the basil follows suit. This time I scalped the entire top of the plant leaves about five inches at the base. Then I poured in comfrey and nettle tea, the smell of which is utterly unholy. I have no intention of letting this be my last harvest, but it was time to cut it down by a lot. I did notice that even though the plants were extremely large they still were barely flowering. It’s an interesting thing to watch plants helping each other, even if they’re not, leave me my fantasy. Also my basil.

A very boring hour.

The weather has been dreadful so I’ve been forced to stay out of the garden most days, I have been on squash watch. I’m taking a different tack with them this year, when all the fruit has been harvested or is just starting again I’m dumping a strong batch of the aforementioned tea, in the hopes of pushing the plants to produce new blossoms. I did notice that they won’t produce from the centre, but instead put out a new vine, very short and thick which a new clump of leaves and flowers grow from, almost like a second plant on occasion. I’ve seen it before, but never realised this was what the mature plants end up like. They died in my first year before this could happen. A throw back to non-bush types perhaps? Hence the extreme feeding, if they’re that far away from the roots it might mean they’ll need more to be productive, we’ll see how it fares. I haven’t given up on my hopes for a third harvest. A Jack can dream, dear reader. Until later.

I’ll have pesto well into Winter.

Last of the first harvest is in.

I made more strawberry conserve with the large bitter strawberries.

Haggard, Hardened and Productive

Wait, what date was this harvest?

No, not me! I’m beautif… have an honest face. You shut up. I feel the need to type, dear reader, will you then go with me on a verbal journey, not an overly verbose or deep one, just to the garden to admire the marvels of production, the harlequin squash? Cast your mind back to the chaotic first year, I, naive, young…inexperienced, budding Jack had been told of the marvellous ease that squash grew with. Then the hailstones came, the frost came, the powdery milDEW CAME! Ahem, no I’m fine, that first year I will ever and always recall harvesting my first squash, lifting it gingerly for fear of breaking, I still hold the same reverence for them now, that and I’m clumsy at the best of times, lifting it slowly from the plant, which came up with the squash because it was dead. How they ever grew that year I will never know. Care and diligence, perhaps. T’was love, dear reader, love did grow the squash! Or tomato feed, probably the feed. The second year led to the discovery that with good weather came a second harvest. This year has been a mixture, but thankfully there will be a second harvest, barring some unfortunate occurrence.

Like me falling on them while taking photos.

They’re growing at all angles.

One thing you will notice is how ugly and gnarled the plants become over time. The lowest layer of leaves dies away and you have to let them seal up, they’re hollow tubes, so no infection can make its way into the plant, which rest on a single, fairly narrow stem. The bad weather is causing the powdery mildew, though I’m treating them, it never vanishes. There’s dust blowing where it has dried, but it’s still there. The squash is growing at all angles now, harlequin seems to enjoy spreading out, there are huge tendrils with more leaves and flowers and fruits all spilling every which way. I love it, really I do.

I tried pruning last year and it’s a waste of time.

They can ripen very swiftly.

I’m currently at six harvested, two table king and four harlequin. The table king made a delicious, simple pasta sauce. Next I’ll be making cottage pies. What I’ve done this year is give them a dose of nettle and comfrey tea while the next fruit setting starts, it’s less balance, more general than geared towards fruit, but I’m hoping the it’ll give them a boost and maybe, just maybe, there might be third harvest. It can’t hurt that much. I don’t want them putting out too much green at this stage, but they’ll need to bloom for a third time if I want more squash after this. I did warn that I’d wax eloquent endlessly on squash, didn’t I, dear reader? I enjoy it and thankfully you can skip past this when you want.

Quite a few danglers this year.

Another is wedged between two lids and a block.

I do dispose of the lids after using, you never know what they might be retaining and it’d be  waste to damage a squash because you didn’t want to get a fresh coffee cup lid. Kindly donated by anywhere that has them. I do all I can to keep them happy and healthy, but I think there’s a point where the plant can grow no further, where it’s used more than it’s stored and just stops. I’d like to harvest them all year-round, but I’ll settle for the weeks or months of harvesting. It’s an enjoyable time, in no way diluted by repetition. I’ll be back again soon, dear reader.

All that growth with such a thin centre.

Mounding the earth around it at the beginning helps so much with stability.

The second growth never quite matches the first.