The air has a crispness to it now that signals the changing of the seasons, autumn is here.
There are some incredible colours on the trees and the falling leaves are beginning to line the garden in that sludgy layer of detritus.
It’s time to find the wellies out of the airing cupboard and I’ve even been out to buy a new bobble hat. Our flavours and tastes change at this time too, cooking can get a bit heavier. Light salads are replaced with chunky soups and the slow cooker is working over time. Nothing wrong with that at all though.
With bonfire night looming this weekend I though I’d share a few quick treats with you. All using the humble butternut squash. They may not be the most ‘healthy’ of recipes but we all need a treat every now and then. There are 2 recipes today and I’ll send another one tomorrow that will really make your bonfire go off with a bang.
Maple Spiced Squash Butter
(makes 10oz jar approx)
A maple sweetened butternut squash spread with warm seasonal spices.
- 1 medium/large squash – seeds removed (keep for recipe 2!)
- Water for roasting
- 120ml maple syrup
- 1/2 vanilla bean – halved
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 whole star anise
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves
- Juices of 1 small lemon
- Pre-heat the oven to 200C
- Place butternut squash halves on a large baking sheet – cut side down. Add a few tablespoons of water to the sheet for steam.
- Place a piece of baking parchment over the squash then cover it with foil and seal around the edges of the baking tray.
- Roast for 60 mins or until the flesh is tender – then set aside to cool.
- In the meantime heat the maple syrup with cinnamon sticks, halved and scrapped vanilla bean and anise star in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.
- Cover and turn off the heat. Leave to infuse whilst the squash cooks.
- When ready strain the infused syrup into the bowl of a food processor, reserving the whole spices for later.
- Scoop out the squash flesh and add to the bowl. Add the ground cinnamon, cloves and lemon juice and puree until smooth.
- Pour the mixture back into the saucepan along with the whole spices again.
- Bring to a simmer and reduce heat, cook uncovered on a low heat, stirring frequently for 20-25 mins or until thick
- Remove from heat and ladle into a jar, cover and let cool to room temp then refrigerate for a few weeks or in the freezer for up to 6 weeks.
- You can either fish out the spices or leave them in to infuse further.
I’ve had many suggestions for this but it all boils down to personal taste. It could form the basis of a cheesecake, be spread on toast, used on a cheese board as a kind of dip/chutney or I personally think it goes well in a dollop on top of your porridge.
Making your own spiced latte at home work too, brew up a coffee with a generous helping of the ‘butter’ and mix thoroughly.
The best use will come into tomorrows recipe though!
Roasted Squash Seeds
For a simple home-made snack these are great for filling you up and are surprisingly tasty. You could also use pumpkin seeds if you have any left over.
- Butternut squash seeds from 1 or 2 squashes
- 2 tsp Olive Oil
- Salt to taste
- Preheat oven to 150C
- Using the seeds from the previous recipe, wash and remove any stringy pulp. Dab with kitchen paper to dry any excess water.
- Add the olive oil to the bowl and mix well to coat the seeds. Add a few sprinkles of salt. You won’t need much and can always add a bit more if you want after cooking.
- Spread seeds onto a sheet of baking paper and onto a baking tray.
- Roast for 15-20 mins or until you start to hear the seeps ‘pop’
- Allow to cool and enjoy
Chris ‘Butternutbutter’ Pinner