Gem Squash – a sumptuous vegetable.

Hello again…

….so two posts in one week! Not bad huh?

I wanted to share with you this fabulous vegetable which I grew up with back home in Africa. It is simply the most wonderful squash going and I haven’t seen it in the UK for a long time, so imagine my joy when I was shopping for my weekly veg at the local green grocer and I stumbled upon this wonderful delight. I couldn’t contain my excitement and immediately bought 8 (yes I know, maybe a bit of overkill, but seriously, if you hadn’t eaten something in 12 years, wouldn’t you buy way to many?! ).

So I cooked them and then my husband and myself ate them for dinner with roast pork, and oh my was it everything that I had dreamt about and more, it took me back to the days when I was a kid and was sitting around the dining room table wondering what vegetables we were going to get that day, if it would be the dreaded broccoli or the divine gem squash.  So, needless to say, I was very happy. My husband who is also from Africa, was equally delighted with the gem squash. So do yourselves a favour, go to your local green grocer and ask them for this wonderful vegetable, you won’t know what you have been missing out on until you have tried them!

This is what they look like –

Lovely and green

Lovely and green

Now for the recipe…

Gem Squash – how to cook them:

  • 4 Gem Squash (basically allow 2 per person, so if 5 people, then 10!)
  • Salted butter for putting inside
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

1. Cut off the little stem at the top of each one, it should come off fairly easily, then cut each gem squash in half.

Pre pip removal

Pre pip removal

2. Remove all the pips using a teaspoon (basically the same way you would for butternut squash), so you end up with something looking like this:

Ready for boiling,

Ready for boiling,

3. Place all the gem squash in a large pot (it doesn’t matter if they are on top of each other), fill the pot with cold water ensure that you cover the gem squash. They will float, but that’s fine, as you will put a lid on top, so try to ensure that you don’t overfill. Kind of like the picture below.

Ready for boiling

Ready for boiling

4. Bring to the boil and when the water starts to boil, set your timer for about 10 mins, basically you want them to be nice and soft but still retain the shape, if you over boil, the skins will be soft. The easiest way to tell if they are cooked is to gently put a sharp knife into the yellow flesh and if it slides in easily, they are ready, if there is a bit of a resistance, then boil for a few minutes more. Once cooked they will look something like this –

Just out the pot.

Just out the pot.

5. Then take your salted butter (or whatever you have non salted is just as good) and put a nice little knob of butter in each of the cavities of the gem squash. Something like this –

Ready to be eaten.

Ready to be eaten.

6. Season with a bit of salt and pepper – I reckon if you added a bit of grated cheese to it, it would be delicious and serve. If you are dieting, then don’t add the butter, just season well, it will still taste divine.

7. Everyone has different ways of eating it, I like to use my fork and scoop it all out onto my plate to eat alongside all the rest of my food, my partner prefers to eat it out of the skin scooping out all the lovely flesh. Either way is fine – it really is up to you, word of warning though if you do eat it out of the skin, it is very hot when it just comes out the pan, so be careful.

Well, that’s it from me for now, I hope to be back later this week with my Great British Bake Off bake along entry, so look out for that and if you do decide to make these, please let me know in the comments below. I hope that you like them as much as I do.

Till next time.

Deon

 

 

 

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Cheddar Cheese and Chilli Bread.

So, it’s been awhile…

…..apologies for that, I have been busy with my parents coming to stay, getting a new website built and most importantly of all, going on holiday and having a blessing celebration with my lovely husband. I had such fun and ate soo much yummy Greek food, that I do believe I probably gained some weight, but I guess that is what holiday’s are for.

As I was going away for most of September, I was unsure of where or not I would be able to take part in this month’s Cheese Please challenge over on the wonderful Fromage Homage, however, when we got back from holiday, as per usual there was no bread, or anything in the fridge (apart from a wonderful meal cooked by a friend of ours who was staying over), so yesterday, myself and my partner were wondering what type of bread to make and so we decided to make Cheddar Cheese and Chilli bread, which ties in neatly with this months challenge.

You will see from my previous post for the cheese please challenge when I entered the Feta, Oregano and Sundried tomato into the August Cheese Please challenge that I went into more details and had more photos, so for guidance on how to knead the bread and when to add the cheese extra and how, please see that post, which you can find by simply clicking here.

Now for the recipe –

Chilli and Cheddar Cheese Bread:

  • 500g Strong White Bread Flour (you could also use 250g Strong wholemeal and 250g Strong white).
  • 17g Polenta (or Semolina)
  • 14g Fresh Yeast
  • 6g Salt
  • 300g tepid water (if using fresh chillies, put those in before the water and then deduct the amount they weigh from the total water)
  • 50g olive oil
  • 5 or 6 fresh red chillies OR 15g of dried chilli flakes. You should add the amount of chilli you are comfortable with, if you don’t like chilli, then add less, but if you like, add more, but do add some as you need the flavour.
  • 150g Cheddar Cheese (any brand will do)

Method:

1. Put flour, and polenta into a big mixing bowl, add the fresh yeast and crumble it into the mix.

2. Add the salt, fresh chilli (or dried if using) and give it a mix around so all the ingredients are combined.

3. Add the water and olive oil and combine in the bowl under a rough dough is formed.

4. Tip the dough out onto a clean surface and then knead for ten minutes until the gluten has started to work and the dough is nice and stretchy as per the images in my previous post here. At this point you want to add the cheddar cheese as you would the feta cheese in the previous post.

5. Shape the dough into a rough ball and return to the bowl, cover with a shower cap or clingfilm and set aside in a warm place for an hour.

6. After an hour the dough should have doubled in size, if it hasn’t this could be due to a particularly cold day so maybe give it a bit more time.

7. Tip the dough out and then knock back the air gently. Then flatten out on the clean surface before stretching out the dough and folding it back onto itself, again, if unsure of how to do this look back to this post. Once this is done, gently turn the dough over and shape it into the size or shape of the tin that you are using, or free form if that is how you wish to style it. I used a loaf tin for mine as we like the shape of our bread to be in a loaf.  Should look something like below:

Chilli and Cheese dough

Ready for second rise

8. Cover with the shower cap and set aside for 45 minutes, after which time check that it has risen to your liking, if so switch your oven onto 220 degrees C non fan, set your timer for a further 10 minutes to check if the oven is ready.

9. If oven is ready, remove the shower cap, slice the bread in 2 or 3 places using a sharp knife to let the air out (if you forget, its not a drama!) and gently place in the oven for 37 minutes.

10. Remove from tin and place on a cooling rack and allow to cool. TOP TIP – to check bread is ready gently tap the bottom of the bread and if it is ready it will sound hollow. 

11. Once the bread has cooled sufficiently, then either slice it open to eat it, or put a clean tea cloth over it to allow it to return the crust and eat when you like. To help it last longer, you can freeze it or store it in a plastic bag.

So good we made two!

So good we made two!

Cheddar Cheese and Chilli

Cheddar Cheese and Chilli

Cheddar Cheese and Chilli Bread

Cheddar Cheese and Chilli Bread

Enjoy and I hope you try this sometime, it is a firm favourite in our house!

I am entering this recipe and blog post in to September’s Cheese, Please! Cheddar Challenge.