Baked squash with celery and herb cream: sweet dumpling a very pretty striped and dimpled squash is ideal for this. Photo: Tessa Traeger
This recipe was devised on one of the rare occasions that we had a major power cut, with three young children needing to be fed and only the timber burner for warmth and cook. We wrapped the squash in foil and tucked them into the edges of the timber burner, away from the flames. The children dipped cubes of bread into the cheesy, fondue-style fill. It became a popular supper dish in less chaotic hours, too.
Our favourite squashes to use for this recipe are uchiki kuri( also known as onion squash ), buttercup and blue ballet. All have dense, strongly flavoured flesh that soaks up flavours and fat without becoming mushy and marrow-like. The skin of the squash retains its beautiful, vibrant colouring and is thin enough not to need peeling. We think it is the best part.
You can also serve this dish as a starter, using individual smaller squashes. The photo shows sweet dumpling a very pretty striped and dimpled squash that is ideal for this.
Serves 2 hungry people
squash 1, about 1-2kg
creme fraiche about 300 ml( you need enough to fill the squash by)
lemon juice of
celery leaves 3 sprigs, or 1 lovage leaf
rosemary, thyme or sage 2 sprigs
butter 1 knob
garlic 1 cleave, finely chopped
nutmeg a little, grated, or cinnamon stick
good melting cheese, such as comte, gruyere or cheddar 150 g, grated
ocean salt and black pepper
To garnish( optional)
olive oil 3 tbsp
sage 4-5 leaves
Heat the oven to 200 C/ gas mark 6. Cut the top off the squash to make a lid and set aside. Scoop out the seeds and a little of the flesh so that you are left with a clean squash bowl. To stop the squash toppling over, it is a good idea to make a base for it to sit on: take a approximately 30 cm square piece of foil, squeeze it together and shape it into a bangle. Set it in a roast tin and place the squash on top.
Fill the squash three-quarters full with creme fraiche and then add the lemon juice, herb sprigs, butter, garlic and grated nutmeg or the cinnamon stick. Season with salt and pepper.
Place the lid back on the squash. Cover with foil and cook for at least an hour. The cooking hour will differ, depending on the size of your squash. It is done when a sharp knife slides through the flesh with no resistance.
Remove the herb sprigs and sprinkle in the grated cheese. Place the squash back in the oven, without the foil, for about 10 minutes, until it has browned and the cheese is nice and gooey.
The fried sage garnish is optional, but it seems and savor great. Heat the olive oil in a small frying pan and add the sage leaves, building sure they are completely dry if you have washed them. Fry for about 30 seconds, until crisps, then remove and place on kitchen paper to drain.Sprinkle the leaves on top of the squash filling.
The easiest style to serve this is to spoonful out the creamy contents on to each persons plate and then cut chunks off the squash horizontally, working your style down. Serve with toasted sourdough bread.
From Fern Verrow by Jane Scotter& Harry Astley( Quadrille, 25 ). Click here to order a transcript from the Guardian Bookshop for 17.50