Moving to South Africa was my butternut awakening as I was constantly being bombarded with the most original array of butternut recipes. So much so that it became a running joke in our family. The joke has led to some wonderful inventions.

Master recipe: Roasted butternut

Makes 4 cups

  • 4 cups cubed butternut
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • ½ tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Preheat the oven to 350 °F (180 °C).
  • Place the butternut cubes in a large mixing bowl.
  • Add the ginger, cinnamon, seasoning and oil and mix well.
  • Spread the butternut in a single layer in a flat-bottom baking dish and roast at for 30 minutes, or until soft and done.

Butternut cake

Serve 10-12

This is similar to a carrot cake, and is wonderfully moist. The glaze on top makes it a perfect afternoon treat with a freshly brewed cup of tea.

  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1½ cups roasted butternut (master recipe), mashed
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup dried cranberries or raisins and chopped pecans
  • Preheat the oven to 190 °C (375 °F). Grease a springform cake pan.
  • Beat the oil, sugar and eggs together in a mixing bowl. Add the mashed butternut to the mixture.
  • Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt together. Add this to the squash mixture.
  • Fold in the dried cranberries and chopped nuts, being careful not to overmix. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake pan and bake in the centre of the oven for 40-50 minutes.

Lemon glaze

  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup icing sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • Place all the glaze ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat until the sugar has dissolved.
  • When the cake is baked, remove it from the oven. Using a wooden skewer, poke holes all over the top of the cake and pour the hot glaze over the holes. Leave the cake in the pan for at least 30 minutes.
  • Serve with some freshly whipped cinnamon cream.

Roasted pumpkin and carrots may be substituted for the butternut. To make cinnamon cream, add 1 teaspoon of sugar and ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon to every cup of whipping cream and whip into soft peaks.

Corn blinis with lemon crème fraîche, smoked salmon and rocket

Makes 22-24 cocktail-style blinis or 6 large ones

This is my go-to-recipe when I want a quick but flavourful appetizer. It works beautifully with a cold glass of bubbly. Depending on the size of the blini, you can make big ones for an appetizer and mini ones for hors d'oeuvres. They also freeze beautifully.

Corn blinis

  • 2 cups cooked corn kernels removed from cob
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ¾ cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons chopped
  • fresh coriander
  • Blend 1 cup of corn in a blender to make it creamy.
  • In a large bowl, mix the blended and whole corn with the egg.
  • Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and paprika into another small bowl.
  • Gently mix the flour mixture into the corn mixture, being sure not to over mix.
  • Add milk and continue stirring. Add coriander and check seasoning.
  • Brush a light coating of vegetable oil in a hot frying pan to prevent sticking.
  • Pour in less than 1 tablespoon batter to make cocktail blinis or ¼ cup for large blinis. Once bubbles begin to appear on the surface, flip the blinis and cook the other side until light brown.


  • ½ cup crème fraîche
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • zest of ½ lemon
  • 200 g (7 oz) smoked
  • salmon or trout, sliced
  • rocket leaves
  • cracked pepper


  • Mix the crème fraîche, lemon juice and zest together in a small bowl.
  • To serve, top the blinis with lemon-flavoured crème fraîche, smoked trout or salmon and a little rocket. A squeeze of lemon and cracked pepper to finish.

Mary Rolph Lamontagne:

  • The one kitchen tool she can't live without: my microplane
  • The one thing that's always in her fridge: ice cream(freezer) or cheese
  • her favourite meal - could be something her mom always made for her - anything at all
  • Duck confit with homemade French fries and a green salad.