I have a lot of squash. No, stop. Back up and readjust your mental image of “a lot of squash” to include a lot more squash. Okay, got that? Now double it. Now make all the squash three times the size of the tiny little yellow things you see in the supermarket. My two summer squash plants have been producing like crazy and I have been wandering around the neighborhood like a vegetable enforcer telling my neighbors that if they do not take a squash from me I am going to BEAT THEM TO DEATH WITH IT. I’ve also been offering impromptu tutorials to all my facebook friends about how to use a squash as a marital aid or companion. I cannot overemphasize how hard I have been trying to get rid of all this squash.
I also happen to like squash and appreciate their nutritional payload, but my children do not agree. I’ve been playing the “How can I hide squash in this other thing so they might eat it?” game for months now. Today, I decided to try shortbread. It turned out pretty decent after I fucked up the first tray by overcooking them.
Keep in mind that this is savory shortbread. And when I call them biscuits, I mean that in the British way. These are not the things you get at breakfast places when you order biscuits. These are sort of like extra thick shortbread cookies, except instead of sugary sweetness they are made of savory goodness.
Here’s the recipe, more or less.
2 sticks of butter, softened, laying on the counter. Take these out of the fridge right now before you read the rest of this recipe.
4 tblsp shortening (Or lard. Lard will also work.)
4 cups of flour
Pinch of baking soda (optional)
1 summer squash
1 cayenne pepper
8-16 oz of sharp cheddar cheese, grated (I threw in two handfuls but did not measure, but I promise that TOO MUCH CHEESE will not tank your recipe)
1tsp of finely ground sea salt
1 tblsp of dried greek mountain oregano. (You can use boring storebought oregano if you don’t grow your own, but once you go greek mountain you’ll never go back, so you really want to hook yourself up with the good shit and now is as good a time as any. Go buy a plant and put it on your porch.)
2 tbsp of FRESH pineapple sage. (The flavor of this did not “pop” as much as I hoped it would in the final product. You could omit it or try 2 tsp regular dried sage. Regular sage is stronger stuff.)
Also, you want to gather another stick of butter and some minced garlic and some more sea salt for later. It won’t go in the dough, just make sure you have it. (So yes, that is THREE sticks of butter you need for this recipe.)
Preheat oven to 375F.
1) Peel the yellowy skin off the squash. I mean, you don’t have to, it doesn’t really matter actually. But I did because I’m juvenile and don’t like skin and NO I DONOT LIKE CRUST ON MY SANDWICHES EITHER, MOM. I’m pretty sure it would be fine if you didn’t. Just wash it well I guess.
2) Grate or chop or smash or put the squash in a supercollider. Then puree it in a food processor or a blender. Do whatever you have to do to turn that squash into goopy mush. (I had to melt one of the sticks of butter and pour it over the grated squash to get my pathetic food processor to pulp it properly. It needed more liquid to weight it down or adhere it or something. I don’t know. If you don’t have to melt the butter, don’t. If you do, it’s fine. Go ahead and try that.)
3) Once your squash is pulp, cut that cayenne pepper in half and scrape the seeds out of the middle and throw them away. Then chop it into the tiniest pieces you possibly can and throw it in your squash mush. Remind yourself in vain not to rub your eyes, but do it ten minutes later anyway. Add oregano and sage. MORE PULPING. PULP ALL THE VEGETABLES. IF YOU CAN’T DRINK IT THROUGH A STRAW IT’S NOT PULPY ENOUGH.
4) I know you’re feeling like some kind of vegetable tyrant right now, having just spent like an hour giggling like a maniac while you continually pushed the button on your food processor that UTTERLY DESTROYED ALL VEGETATION IN IT’S PATH AND PROVED YOU HAVE ULTIMATE POWER, but now you gotta give that a break and throw your flour in a bowl. Add the salt to the flour and a pinch of baking powder if you like your shortbread a little more fluffy. If you like it dense, no baking powder, fool. Stir the dry ingredients together.
5) I have a kitchen-aid mixer. Okay, technically I do not, I just use my mother’s because she never uses it. It is the greatest thing ever. If you do not have access to one, I am sorry; you will have to mix things with your hands or one of those hand held mixers or some shit. I remember when I had to do that. My thoughts and prayers are with you. ANYWAY. Dump the vegetable/herb mush and the other stick of butter (or both sticks of butter, if you didn’t melt one for pulping) and the shortening into a big bowl and cream them together. (I like the taste of butter. I like the texture of shortening in my finished baking. I use both to get both. Traditional shortbread only uses butter. I reject this approach and substitute my own: added shortening or lard 5EVAR.)
6) Slowly add the flour until it turns into recognizable dough. If you add all the flour and the dough is still sticky, just add flour in 1/4 cup increments until it forms itself into a ball that you can pick up and knead in your hands without being sticky or dripping all over the place. You do not have to knead a shortbread dough, that’s just the kind of consistency you’re looking for. Can you pick it up and play with it? You’re good.
7) Mix and/or knead in the cheese. This is the last mixing step. Cheese comes last. It just needs to be evenly distributed. It doesn’t need to be blended or mixed or anything.
8) Flour a surface and a rolling pin and roll out the dough to about 1/2″. Cut circles out of the dough with a circle cookie cutter if you’re fancy. I used the top of a drinking glass, you bourgeois motherfucker.
9) Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. If you don’t have any I guess you can lightly grease and flour the sheets. But seriously, parchment paper is awesome. If you bake a lot, you owe it to yourself to get some. It seems like less functional wax paper, but it’s so much better. Anyway, put a dozen dough circles on each baking sheet.
10) Bake for 30 minutes at 375F. Let cool. (No but seriously, I’m still fiddling with the baking time. Keep an eye on your biscuits to make sure they don’t overcook. Check them every 5 minutes or so.)
While the biscuits are in the oven, melt an additional stick of butter. After it is melted, mix in minced garlic and sea salt to taste. There’s no right answer, it just depends on how much you personally like garlic and salt. I like garlic a lot, and salt not so much, so I prepared my butter accordingly. Whatever you choose, don’t go over 1tsp of sea salt or it will be tooooo salty. I just used a pinch and it was fine, but again, I would have sex with plain garlic if it asked, so YMMV. You want to do this melting and mixing as soon as you put the biscuits in the oven, because this gives the garlic time to mingle with the butter and flavor it. The butter will probably solidify a bit before the biscuits come out. That’s okay, pop it back in the microwave and melt it again when they are ready.
When the biscuits come out, brush the tops with the garlic butter mixture. Let cool. I found that the middle of the biscuits, when properly baked, looked a little raw when you split the biscuit in half. If you keep cooking to try to make this wet stripe in the middle go away, you will overcook your biscuits. I think this is because of the nature of pulped squash, and not because there is anything wrong with the baking. Anyway, it’s fine. Makes about 2 dozen if you don’t fuck up the first batch like I did.
Feel free to dip in garlic butter sauce while you’re eating them too. (Or you can just do shots of garlic butter sauce, but this is supposed to be a recipe about squash.)
Congratulations, you are eating a savory salty snack and eating your vegetables at the same time.
One of my children ate them. The other one did not. Oh well. Can’t win ‘em all. I think they’re delicious!