Friday, 26 October 2012

Bish bosh - lots of squash, some soup, a curry and a bit of a rant

I do love squash. Not the drink kind, but the veg kind. The foodie blogs are full of it at the moment - pumpkin, roast butternut squash - lots of soup. I love the way it grows in the garden sneaking its way across the veg patch, spreading leaves and tendrils all over the place. I remember reading a book called The Bongleweed by Helen Cresswell when I was a child about a plant that eventually takes over a village and wreaks havoc. Everytime I see a squash plant, it reminds me of this story.

The Husband didn't grow any pumpkins/squash on purpose this year (apart from the courgettes) so we were intrigued when triffid-like plants started appearing in the patch. What would result? Would it be edible? Squash do have a  habit of cross-pollinating (I am told) and producing interesting, but generally inedible,  offspring, so when these beauties appeared, well, we were all set to consign them to either the chickens or the compost heap.

I know they look a little like yellow courgette from the outside (albeit of marrow-like proportions), but the flesh is more like butternut squash. It's anyone's guess what crossed with what to produce them, but to our surprise, they are quite edible. We had 3 to start with, but one (over a kilo's worth) went into chutney, along with some of the green tomatoes and a whole load of windfalls from a friend, fairly early on. By the way, we were so disheartened by the green tomato problem (i.e. what to do with all of them) that we tried a tip that my mum passed on, and put them all in a drawer. And guess what - they ripened. Magic.

Anyway, the squash. So last week, after exhorting everyone to make nice simple leek and potato soup, and finishing my own vat of it, half of the next biggest one went into a squash and chorizo soup - I can't quite remember what went into it, except (you guessed it) squash and chorizo. I guess there was an onion, some celery, and veg stock, and after I'd bubbled it all to cook the veg, I took out some of the chunky veg before whizzing the rest up then putting the reserved bits back in. 

cheese & spring onion all melty in the middle,  honest!
It was very good on Saturday lunchtime, along with some quesadillas (toasted tortilla sarnies, which I make in a dry frying pan if you haven't come across them - the kids love 'em), but then I reverted to my soup making roots on Sunday and added the leftover veg from Sunday lunch (cabbage, carrots and leeks) plus some more stock and whizzed it all up again to keep me going through the beginning of the week. You see, you don't need a recipe or a clean pan to make soup.

So, 1.5 squash down, 1.5 to go. Now the Sunday lunch I mentioned earlier was a particularly gorgeous roast leg of lamb. The left overs have been in the fridge, alongside the 0.5 squash, since the weekend. Yesterday was a bit of a challenge in more ways than one, not least because after taking Blue for a routine check up at the hospital (he's 'horribly healthy' - apparently that is a medical term - such a relief) we discovered that we were stranded. No cabs to be found so we headed for the bus, but guess what -  no buses from hospital to town between 4.30 and 4.56 - which in turn meant we would miss the 5 p.m. bus from town to home, and have to wait till 5.30. For a 40 minute bus journey. And with Pink due out of Rainbows at 5.45. You do the maths. 

After raging incoherently - much to Blue's embarrasment and to no one who would admit to listening to me - about the lack of an integrated public transport system, and on the insanity of trying to live with only one car, enlightenment dawned and I threw myself on the mercy of my friend who had taken us to hospital after school in the first place. Her daughter was still in her swimming lesson so she came along and picked us up afterwards. I have some wonderful friends.

A quick meal was required, something that I didn't have to think about. I'd had to feed the beast that is Blue's stomach with a vastly over-priced toasted panini thing from Costa at the hospital, and Pink had been fed by a friend before Rainbows, but they were both still hungry, but also utterly exhausted, so I cooked them some pasta which they ate with grated cheese and chopped ham (I don't apologise - needs must), but what about for the Husband and I?

I'm not hugely good at using up cold lamb. It doesn't appeal to me for sandwiches, and the only recipe I've really taken to for it is a Rose Prince one called Cold Meat Pilaff where you basically cook it up with some cooked rice and spices, tomatoes and pine nuts. Very yummy but I wasn't in the mood, after all that raging. I needed something comforting. Then I remembered a random jar of Rendang Curry Paste that I'd bought on one of my rare trips to a supermarket. It's a Malaysian inspired curry paste, lemon grassy and lighter than some of the Indian curry pastes - more like a Thai curry paste. A quick forage through my impeccably arranged (not) cupboards later, to locate the paste and a can of coconut milk, a bit of chopping and bingo.

Lamb & Squash Rendang Curry

1 onion, chopped as you like
2 tablespoons Rendang Curry Paste (my jar was 185g and I used about half of it for 2 of us)
300g squash, peeled and cut into similar sized chunks to the lamb
1/2 can coconut milk (or thereabouts)
3-4 mushrooms, cut into chunks
4 tomatoes, quartered
350g cold cooked lamb, cut into bitesize chunks

Cooked rice to serve, and parsely/coriander to garnish if desired

Heat up some oil in a pan, add the onion and fry for a few minutes till softened. Add in the squash, stir in, then add a couple of tablesppons of rendang curry paste, and pour in about 1/3 can coconut milk. Bring to the boil and then simmer gently to cook the squash. Chuck in the chopped mushrooms and tomatoes after about 10 mins. When the squash is cooked, add in the lamb, stir through and then serve. 

You may or may not need to add in more coconut milk as you are cooking - keep an eye on the pan. I ended up using about 2/3 of it. If you have any curry and coconut milk left over, like I did, heat it all up the next day, add a bit of stock powder and a little water, bring to the boil whizz up and bingo - soup.

So two down, one more to go. Anyone got any suggestions? 

I'm adding this to the October Simple and In Season in the hope of getting some more inspiration. It's hosted by Franglais Kitchen this month, nad here's the link to Ren Behan's lovely Fabulicious Food blog


  1. Mmmm. I do love lamb in a curry. And squash. I also love that you have your own very own unique species of squash!
    I would probably just cut the last one up, roast it, maybe add some mozzarella or gruyere to melt for the last few mins and serve with whatever.
    Or there is the squash and fennel lasagne from Hugh's Veg which was very yummy.

    1. Oh yes, I've seen that squash recipe too - might give it a go...

  2. Very interesting about the squash. As you say, hybrids are often bitter and not good , but hybrids are also where new varieties come from! I have had the same issue with chillies - the hybrids are often very wierd-looking and bland in flavour & heat terms. You certainly made the most of your opportunity.

    1. We were pleasantly surprised that these squash have been edible. Still wondering what to do with the 3rd one!

  3. Those tomatoes look delicious in that curry!

    1. They were a bit of an afterthought (I was on a mission to use stuff up before a half term trip to my parents) but they worked really well in the dish.

  4. Wow, all sounds lovely. Might have to make the squash & chorizo soup tomorrow. I love rendang curry too. I'm totally bookmarking this post!

  5. Fab post, love your freaky squash / courgette thingys!

    1. They are a little weird, don't you think. Wondering what we might get next year!

  6. Oh I love these recipes. The lamb curry sounds wonderful - I know lamb and coconut milk go well together in curry so the squash must give a lovely twist. Delicious

  7. Squash and chorizo soup is inspired. I am now regretting chucking my marrows on the compost heap. x

  8. Inspired by this post I have put a rendang curry in the slow cooker for our friends coming over for dinner today. Am also going to attempt some roti canai

    1. is that what Lorraine Pascale made a few weeks ago? The swirly bread that you pipe out? It looked great - would love to know how it turns out. I haven't been brave enough yet - piping makes me nervous. Hope the curry's good.

  9. 3 Studies SHOW How Coconut Oil Kills Fat.

    This means that you actually burn fat by eating Coconut Fats (in addition to coconut milk, coconut cream and coconut oil).

    These 3 researches from big medical journals are sure to turn the traditional nutrition world upside down!


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