Wednesday, 11 November 2009

The Mighty Squash

Most of us are pretty much familiar with the acorn squash, butternut squash, Hubbard squash, spaghetti squash and even the pattypan, but how many of us have heard of Blue Ballet, Delicata, Kabocha, Sweet Dumpling, Turban Squash, Yellow Crookneck, Uchiki Kuri and the cute Golden Apple Squash. To be absolutely honest, many of these were new to me too, until of course I started growing my own squashes and my knowledge began to extend, as well as my taste buds.

All squashes are members of the Curcurbita family that vary in colour, flavour, shape, size and textures. The three botanical species of squash that exist in the Curcurbita family are: Curcurbita pepo - includes acorn, gourds, summer squashes, spaghetti, table queen, and courgettes. Curcurbita maxima - banana, buttercup, golden nugget, hubbard, marblehead and pumpkin. Curcurbita moschata - includes butternut, calabaza, ponca and waltham.

I have not always been successful in growing pumpkins or squashes, especially when they start to bulk up, as some suddenly seem to rot and fall off. Nevertheless, they are easy to plant, don't require a great deal of work, and whether it’s a small squash or a large one they are really rewarding to harvest. These days with advanced horticultural practices, squashes are available all year round. There are winter squashes with tough skins that are mostly autumn harvested and soft-skinned summer squashes that are mostly available in summer.

Though considered a vegetable in culinary terms, botanically speaking, the squash is a fruit hence its use for sweet pies, tarts, and recently muffins as in my case. Squashes can also be eaten raw in salads, as well as cooked: stuffed, fried, baked, boiled, steamed, stir-fried, pureed and mashed. Both summer and winter squashes can be cut into bite-size pieces and added to soups and stews.

Other parts of the squash plant are edible. Squash seeds can be roasted or ground into paste. The tendrils and greens can also be eaten, as can the blossoms which are often stuffed and deep-fried. I recently learned that the squash was a staple in the Ancient American Indians diet. The Ancient American Indian extolled the squash to high status in the belief that the squash seeds would increase fertility if planted nearby. An expression used by Ancient American Indians about the squash was that it was ‘the apple of God’. I think that is beautiful.
Source: vegparadise and Wikepedia
I have so many golden apple’ squashes rolling about, that I am still looking for ways to eat them. So I had decided to make a squash version of the strawberry cheesecake muffins, they turned out pretty good. Then I decided to make another version, this time the squash cream cheese was stirred into the muffin mixture, they were also a hit. Sometimes all you have to do is think ‘outside of the veg box’.
I am submitting this recipe into this weeks Weekend Herb Blogging#209 which celebrated its 4th Birthday last week. The weeks host will be Astrid from Paulchen's Foodblog. WHB is a weekly food blog event that showcases information and recipes about herbs, vegetables, fruits and other plant ingredients. WHB was initiated four years ago by Kalyn's Kitchen, it is now organized by Haalo of Cook (Almost) Anything At Least Once. It is such a wonderful food blogging event, if you have not participated in it, I would strongly encourage you to do so.
Squash cheesecake muffins: Two ways
Makes 6
115g caster sugar
4 tablespoons of cream cheese
4 tablespoons of cooked and pureed squash
175g plain flour
1 tablespoon of baking powder
Pinch of salt
20g unsalted butter, melted
1 egg
125ml milk
Icing sugar for dusting
Preheat oven gas mark 4. Put half the sugar in a bowl, add the cream cheese, squash puree and mix together. Set aside.Sift the remaining sugar, flour and baking powder into a large bowl, then stir in the salt. In another bowl, beat the butter, egg, and milk together, then add to the dry ingredients until combined. Spoon half the batter into the muffin casings, then add a tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture to each one. Top with the remaining batter and bake for 20 minutes or until cooked through. Allow to cool, serve dusted with icing sugar.
D preferred these more than the ones above. Which one do you like?
Marbled Squash cheesecake muffins
Makes 12
Make a reliable recipe for plain muffins. When ready to put into each of the casings, gently stir in squash cheesecake puree which should be made up of 6 tablespoons of cream cheese, 6 tablespoons of cooked, squash puree and 2 tablespoons of caster sugar. The squash cream cheese should be stirred in so it resembles a marble effect. Spoon into muffins cases and bake according to recipe instructions. Allow to cool before sharing and enjoying.


  1. These are gorgeous photos! Which way did you enjoy more?

  2. ooh yum, I like the ones with the separate filling. I bet they'd work nicely with the marrow cream too.

  3. I like them both! Both or beautiful! You should open your own bakery!

  4. Thank you so much Sarah. I prefer the first one.

    Thanks Nic. I agree - that one is my preference too.

    Jenn -
    Welcome to Mangocheeks Bakery :)
    'Virtually' open every-day

  5. I am such a huge fan of winter squash! I'm so happy to see these recipes. I've never thought to mix them with cream cheese. I had pumpkin malai kofta last night. It was delicious! I'm also a huge fan of kabocha squash cooked in a thai cocounut curry. If you've never made it, I highly recommend it.

  6. Thanks Leah.
    I have never had pumpkin malai kofta, sounds delicious. If you have any idea how to make it, I would love the recipe!

    I have never had kabocha squash, so may either try to grow some next year or pick it up at the grocery store, should I ever see it here and as recommended cook it in a Thai green curry. Thanks : )

  7. I am an absolute squash addict and I actually have a feature on my blog right now called the 12 Weeks of Winter Squash (as opposed to the 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies that some other bloggers are doing). These cupcakes/muffins look amazing! I am adding them to my list of squash recipes to make.

    I have never heard of so many of these varieties. I will have to keep my eyes peeled.

  8. Loved these so much-and u have alovely blog!!!
    and yeah both are lovely!!!

  9. Thanks Joanne.

    I will be over later to check out your feature on the 12 Weeks of Winter Squash. I wasn't aware that other bloggers were doing a 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies. So thanks for sharing that too. I will keep my eyes out for a nosy.

    Welcome and Thank you for visiting my blog Vanillastrawberryspringfields. I liked your entry on last weeks WHB.


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