Monday, 19 December 2011
Squash + Quiche = Squiche
We hosted a big dinner party for Cowie’s birthday recently which involved us catering for 22 people. We decided on the menu about a month beforehand which had to balance taste, generosity and budget. A large joint of meat was an option, but with this number of people it would have been hard to have cooked it just right and have fun ourselves. So we opted instead, to have some X rated fun with the sausage maker.
My first batch of what I had termed Somerset Sausages, involved mustard, cider and sage. I thought they gave the mighty Cumberland Sausage a run for its money, but Cowie thought they smelled of sick. So we jettisoned the unfortunate sage and dialed up the thyme and added some chunks of apple and a slosh of cider brandy. The result was a rich, herby, apply taste of Somerset. All we had to do now was to make enough sausages for 22 people. Gulp.
And for our starter we popped down to Mere Fish Farm to collect a dozen trout which we planned to smoke over apple wood chips and serve with a horseradish crème fraiche sauce, slices of cooked beetroot and a handful of local watercress.
With the meat and fish courses sorted we sat down and smugly gulped down some coffee. But something felt wrong. Oh God. We’ve forgotten about our vegetarian friends! Having gone to so much effort with the starter and main course we had to cook them something on a par – at least in terms of effort – but hopefully from a taste point of view as well.
The punning side of my brain kicked in as it often does in times of crisis. How about we serve a pastry-less veggie strewn quiche inside a squash and called it a squiche? Bingo.
The dinner party went brilliantly and we have subsequently made a squiche for a midweek supper together which is detailed below.
1 squash – Butternut, Crown Prince or any other firm textured but creamy medium sized squash
150g of rehydrated wild mushrooms
2 garlic cloves
1 roasted courgette
1 flamed red pepper
100g goats’ cheese
50g mixed chops nuts
Salt and pepper
Cut the squash in half and scoop out the brains. Smear with olive oil and sprinkle with chopped nuts and pop a garlic clove, still in its skin, into each squash half. Season. Roast for 40 minutes until the flesh is cooked but well before it starts to lose its structural integrity.
Then make the quiche mixture as you would do normally and feel free to meddle this combination of flavours. Roast the courgette in smallish pieces and blacken the pepper over a flame before peeling the charred skin off and cutting into small pieces. Then beat the eggs and add the cream. Then mix in the tarragon, vegetables and rehydrated wild mushrooms. Add a splash or two of the mushroom liquor which will add some woody depth. Then plop in goats’ cheese in chunks and give it all a good mix.
Remove the garlic cloves and pour the quiche mixture into the squash halves. You may need to find a way of balancing the squashes so they don’t topple over and cause chaos.
Season and cook in a medium oven for 30 minutes. The egg mixture should be firm to the touch but have some springiness to it. Serve whole or in slices with a watercress salad and lentils.
So if you are struggling for ideas of what to cook a vegetarian friend, or even are wondering how to cut back on meat whist still eating something interesting, give the squiche a bash. You could give it an exotic Moroccan twist by using cumin, chilli and a scattering of nuts… or keep it more simple and let the squash speak for itself along with some complimentary ingredients from the Flavour Thesaurus.