Tag Archives: autumn

The Crown Prince Squash Challenge

This week I’ve been posting pictures on The Veg Box Cafe facebook page of all the family meals we managed to get out of one pumpkin. For those of you following the fate of our lovely crown prince squash, here are the recipes…

All these recipes fed 2 adults and 2 children. The cheesecake and hummus obviously stretched a bit further than even our voracious appetites! Please be very careful when you cut into these big squashes! They require a big sharp knife and some strength to dissect…but they are well worth the trouble. Scoop out and save the seeds for planting next spring if you have a little patch in your garden or allotment.

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Day 1: roast crown prince squash, red onion & walnuts with mushroom, leek & kale orzo pasta

1. Carefully slice a couple of wedges out of the squash. Chop into bite-size chunks and toss into a roasting tray. Peel and roughly chop 2 or 3 red onions and add them to the tray. Drizzle olive oil and season well. Use your hands to toss the veg in the oil and seasoning and put into a nice hot oven (about 200) for about 20 minutes/half an hour.
2. Meanwhile make the pasta. In a wide pan, with a little olive oil and butter, fry a sliced, washed leek until it starts to soften. Add sliced mushrooms, garlic and seasoning and cook for another minute or two. I added a tsp of whole grain mustard at this point too but some fresh thyme or rosemary would work well here too.
3. Add the orzo pasta (follow the pack instructions or use your judgement with amounts, the pasta will swell to about double the size) to the vegetables with a glass of white wine/dry white vermouth and stir fry until the liquid has been mostly absorbed. Add a wine glassful of water/stock and cook and stir until the liquid has been absorbed. Repeat this process until the pasta is nearly cooked through.
4. When it is time to add the last glass of water/stock, add a few large handfuls of sliced kale. Check for seasoning.
5. Test the squash in the oven with a sharp knife. If it is soft and starting to colour add a generous sprinkling of walnuts to the roasting pan and put it back in the oven for no more than 5 minutes longer.
6. Serve in bowls. A bed of orzo with a big spoon of roasted squash, onions and walnuts on top. Lovely for a sunny autumnal supper!

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Day 2: Thai pumpkin, red pepper and cashew nut curry, with jasmine rice.

1. Slice and dice a couple more wedges of the crown prince. Pop them into a roasting tray (roasting squash really accentuates it’s natural sweetness and helps it keep it’s shape) with a roughly chopped red pepper, oil and seasoning. Roast in a hot oven for 20 minutes/half an hour.
2. Meanwhile put on the rice and start making the base for your curry. Rice is actually incredibly simple to cook if you just leave it alone and don’t fiddle with it. The fool-proof rule is one part rice to two parts water. We use a coffee cup to measure out ours at home and that feeds the four of us perfectly. One coffee cup of rice and then two coffee cups of water in a small pot with a lid. Put it on the hob on high, as soon as it comes to the boil turn it right down to very low, leave the lid on, don’t stir it! Have a peek in the pan after about 10 minutes, if you see little dips in the surface of the rice and all the water has been absorbed then it’s done. Take it off the heat and leave the lid on the pot until you are ready to serve.
3. While the rice is cooking and the squash is roasting make the curry base. You will need a large pan/pot. Fry a scoop of thai green curry paste (use your judgement for amounts here please, we like it hot but the kids like it mild so we normally have two pots on the go and cook them simultaneously) in a little oil, grate the zest of a lime over the paste and when it starts to sizzle add a tin of coconut milk. Add a small splash of light soy sauce (or tamari if you are coeliac) and another 1/2-2/3 of a tin of water. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer and then add some greens. We always have a bag of sliced green beans in the freezer, broccoli or kale would work well here too.
4. Check the squash with a sharp knife to make sure it’s cooked through then add a generous sprinkling of cashew nuts to the roasting dish and return to the oven for the last 4/5 minutes. Then add the squash, peppers and cashew nuts to the coconutty mixture and bring it to temperature.
5. Add the juice of the lime and a good handful or two of chopped coriander and serve.

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Day 3: crown price squash, chestnut and sage risotto.

1. In a wide pan, fry a large diced onion in a little oil and a knob of butter until it starts to soften. Add another couple of diced wedges of the crown prince squash to the pan. Keep stir frying until the wedges start to take on some colour. Add a good few handfuls of peeled chestnuts (I get bags of them ready peeled and frozen and keep them handy in the freezer) and a few roughly torn sage leaves.
2. Add your portions of risotto rice to the pan with a large glass of white wine or vermouth. Stir fry until most of the liquid has been absorbed.
3. Then add a glass of stock (or just water and seasoning, or sprinkle a good quality organic veg stock cube over the rice and just add water) and stir until it has been absorbed. Keep repeating this step until the rice is cooked through. This could take 20 minutes-half an hour.
4. Taste for seasoning, adjust if necessary and serve. We like ours served with a fine grating of hard cheese, some wedges of lemon, a scattering of rocket leaves and some finely diced red chillies. I would highly recommend you do the same, it’s delicious!

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Day 4: I roasted 5 wedges of the crown prince squash, when they were soft and cool enough to handle I peeled them. Two went into a yummy hummus. 3 went into a honey, lemon and ginger pumpkin cheesecake.

Pumpkin hummus.

1. Put one can of rinsed and drained chickpeas, the zest and juice of a lime, a tablespoon of tahini, a crushed clove of garlic, 1/2 tsp each of ground cumin, coriander and smoked paprika and the cooked wedges of squash into a food processor with the bade attachment (or even a smoothie maker, or you can use a stick blender and a tall wide jug/cup).
2. Just cover the contents with half and half, olive oil and cold water. Season well with salt and/or black pepper. Whizz it all up until it gets to the consistently you like. Add more oil/water if you need to.
3. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve with toasted pitta breads or alongside a salad.

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Pumpkin, honey, lemon and ginger cheesecake.

1. Smash up a packet of ginger nut biscuits. (I used a 250g pack, put them in a freezer bag and bashed them with a rolling pin. If you are lucky enough to have a food processor at home the just put them in there with the blade attachment.)
2. Melt half a pack of butter (125g) in a small pan, then tip in the crushed biscuits, give it a good stir then evenly squish into a round silicon cake tin. Pop the cake tin into the freezer to cool while you make the cheesecake topping.
3. Put the 3 roasted and peeled wedges of squash into a mixing bowl (unless you have a food processor with a blade attachment, in which case do the rest of the mixing in this) with the zest and juice of a lemon and an inch of peeled and finely grated fresh ginger. Using a stick blender, purée the pumpkin until silky smooth.
4. Add 200g of runny honey, 360g of full fat cream cheese and 3/4 eggs. Whizz this mixture up together, scraping down the sides as you go with a spatula. When the mixture is completely smooth and well incorporated take the cake tin out of the freezer and put it on a baking sheet. Carefully pour the pumpkin cheesecake purée over the buttery biscuit base and pop it in the oven.
5. My cheesecake took 40 minutes to cook at 180 degrees but check it after 30 minutes or so. You can tell it’s cooked when the middle is minimally wobbly, firm enough to have a slight spring back when you gently press it with the back of a spoon or a clean finger.
6. Wait for it to completely cool before you serve it. If you want to take the whole cheesecake out and put it on a serving plate I would highly recommend you cover it in clingfilm and put it in the freezer overnight. Take it out of the cake tin when it’s frozen solid and put it on a plate to defrost in the morning of the day you need it.

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Day 5: I came home from work to find Adam had made us this delicious pumpkin spaghetti. Lucky me!

Here’s his recipe.

1. Slice and dice the rest of the crown prince squash. Toss in olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme and roast on high for 20-30 minutes until soft. Meanwhile cook the pasta and make the sauce.
2. For the tomato sauce: fry a large diced onion in olive oil until it really softens. Add plenty of chopped garlic (at the very least, one clove per person). Add a generous squeeze of tomato purée and a glass of left-over red wine if you have such a thing in your house…by some miracle we had! Let the wine cook off for a few minutes then season well and tip in a tin of chopped tomatoes. Let this simmer gently for as long as you can.
3. Meanwhile cook the spaghetti. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil, add the spaghetti strands and cook until just done.drain the pasta reserving some of the starchy liquid to loosen the simmering sauce.
4. Take the squash out of the oven and carefully scrape it into the tomato sauce. Bring it all to temperature, taste for seasoning then mix it well with the pasta in the big pot. Add a ladle of the starchy pasta cooking water to get things mingling.
5. Serve generous mountains of this yummy pasta with an optional snowy topping of grated cheese.

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Crown prince squashes should be available until early spring next year as they keep so well over winter. Apparently there’s been a bumper crop of them this year at our local organic farm, Perry Court. Hurrah! Look for them at The Goods Shed farmers market if you are local to Canterbury, they also sometimes sell them downstairs from us at Canterbury Wholefoods shop.

Let me know if you try any of these recipes. How about taking on the crown prince squash challenge yourself?! Feel free to post your pictures and recipes on The Veg Box Cafe facebook page wall. Sharing is caring 🙂
Liz x

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Chanterelle Orzotto

I have finally started making recipe card prints again. Summer disappeared in a flash this year and so so far I have spring and only one vegetable from summer done… Not great progress but the ball seems to be rolling once more.

Here are some beautiful chanterelles I picked up from our local farmers market The Goods Shed

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I get excited by wild mushrooms and haven’t found chanterelles myself before. Thought these would make some lovely prints and an even better lunch. And so to work!
Here are the prints

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And here my lovely autumnal lunch…

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I love making risotto-style dishes with different grains. Pearl barleyotto, speltotto and orzotto are my usual favourites. Orzo is a very useful and delicious rice-shaped pasta which you can get in most good food shops now. This recipe is very simple.

~ Start by making a bowl of saffron stock. Simply pour freshly boiled water over a pinch of saffron strands, some salt and pepper in a glass bowl or jug.

~ fry a large, finely diced onion and some chopped garlic in a wide pan with olive oil and a knob of butter. Fry on medium until the onions soften and start to colour.

~ add your portions of orzo pasta with a splash of Marsala wine and stir until the liquid has been absorbed by the pasta.

~ add your chanterelles (or whichever mushrooms you like) to the pan with a ladleful of saffron stock. Stir until the liquid is absorbed.

~ add another ladleful of stock, stir until the pasta has drunk it all up and keep repeating until the pasta is cooked through.

~ taste for seasoning and finish off the dish with a dash of cream, some chopped parsley and finely grated hard cheese. The cream and cheese is not strictly necessary and this dish could very easily be made vegan if you leave them and the butter out. (Easily gluten free too if you substitute the orzo for risotto rice.) Very nice with toasted nuts/seeds on top!

Enjoy! Liz x


Leek and caper cheesy pasta bake

A great way to get the kids to eat their vegetables is to smother them in a cheesy sauce and this pasta bake has countless variations.

I love putting capers in mine, they are salty little bombs of green in an otherwise bland-looking white sea of sauce and they work very well with sweet, softened leeks. (They also work with cauliflower, broccoli, roast squash, mushrooms…use whatever vegetables you have around!)

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Boil pasta.
In a separate pan sweat a chopped and washed leek and a couple of crushed garlic cloves in olive oil and a generous knob of butter.
When the leeks are sweet and soft add a couple of heaped tablespoons of flour (I like to use spelt but any flour will work) season well and stir.
Add small splashes of milk, stirring continuously until the sauce is cooked and the right consistency. Think thick yoghurt.
Add a couple of heaped teaspoons of small capers, a teaspoon of Dijon mustard and some grated cheese. Taste for seasoning and combine the sauce with the now cooked and drained pasta.
Pop under the grill or into a hot oven until it starts to bubble and colour.
Serve straight away with some steamed veg or crisp salad leaves. Enjoy! Liz x


Smoked cheddar, mushroom and leek pearl barleyotto with marmalade roast kuri squash

This is a recent creation that will turn anyone who thinks they don’t like marmalade. Marmalade is beautiful paired with a lovely smoked salty cheese. Think sweet and bitter, salty and smokey. This recipe takes the cheese and marmalade toasty up a notch.

Start by preparing your squash. Hack the squash very carefully into slim wedges, slather over some oil and season well. Bake in a hot oven for about 1/2 an hour until they start to colour and soften.

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Meanwhile soften chopped onion, celery, carrot, mushrooms and leeks in a hot pan with oil and garlic. Remember this is an English version of a risotto (using pearl barley instead of risotto rice) so think ‘English’ when adding herbs and veg. I added sage, thyme and rosemary and a bay leaf. Add the pearl barley with a generous splash of white wine, season very well and stir. Add warm water from a kettle (you can use stock if you like but I think this is unnecessary here as the veg and herbs used pretty much equates to a stock, you want these veg to speak for themselves), about a mug at a time letting the liquid absorb each time before adding the next, keep stirring and adding warm water until the barley is cooked through. Taste for seasoning, bearing in mind you still need to add the cheese which will be quite salty.

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Take the squash out of the oven and spread over some lovely glistening marmalade. About a teaspoon per wedge is plenty. Pop the squash back into the oven for another 5/10 minutes until they are properly caramelised and sticky. Grate a generous amount of good smoked cheddar into the barley and stir. Taste for seasoning and spoon into bowls. Top with the marmalade encrusted squash wedges and enjoy! Liz x

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Submitting to autumn

Making lunch for my lovely mummy friends at home today and it is definitely soup weather.

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Sweet potatoes (this is also great with winter squash of course) are simmering with onions, garlic, chillies, cumin seeds, coriander seeds and smoked paprika. I’m also making a sweet and spicy topping of caramelised onions and chickpeas with cumin seeds and Harissa.

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And here it is… ‘Spicy Sweet Potato Soup with Caramelised Onions, Chickpeas and Harissa’

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Also good with natural yogurt to cool it down a little. Liz x