Whilesome people spend the afternoon watching a riveting game of football or curl up on thecouch for a daily dose of Oprah, my dirty little secret is cooking shows. Baking,cooking, entertaining, public television or cable – I watch them all, but my absolute favorite star is British chefJamie Oliver. He manages to be charming, informative, funny, and educationalall while chopping, dicing, or grabbing fresh veggies from his garden. His show“Jamie at Home” focuses on one ingredient each week, and contains 2 or 3recipes for that ingredient. The recipes are always innovative, interesting, anddelicious and I was spellbound when Jamie made butternut squash muffins on arecent butternut squash episode. Quick, easy, and healthy – perfect for a snack,or to satisfy a kid’s sweet tooth (they’ll just think it’s a cupcake). And it’sa great way to use butternut squash, which is in season now through winter. Makethe muffins with or without the frosting (“frosty top” in Jamie speak); they’refabulous either way. (And check out Jamie’s show; it runs on the Food Network.)

Butternut Squash Muffins with aFrosty Top

14 ounces butternut squash, skinon, deseeded and roughly chopped

2 1/4 cups light soft brown sugar

4 large free-range or organic eggs

Sea salt

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour,unsifted

2 heaping teaspoons baking powder

Handful of walnuts, chopped

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

For the Frosted Cream Topping:

1 clementine, zested

1 lemon, zested

1/2 lemon, juiced

1/2 cup sour cream

2 heaping tablespoons icing(confectioner’s) sugar, sifted

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwiseand seeds scraped out

Lavender flowers or rose petals,optional


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.Line your muffin tins with paper cups.

Whiz the squash in a food processoruntil finely chopped. Add the sugar, and crack in the eggs. Add a pinch ofsalt, the flour, baking powder, walnuts, cinnamon and olive oil and whiztogether until well beaten. You may need to pause the machine at some point toscrape the mix down the sides with a rubber spatula. Try not to overdo it withthe mixing - you want to just combine everything and no more.

Fill the paper cups with the muffinmixture. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Check to see whetherthey are cooked properly by sticking a wooden skewer or a knife right into oneof the muffins - if it comes out clean, they're done. If it's a bit sticky, popthem back into the oven for a little longer. Remove from the oven and leave themuffins to cool on a wire rack.

As soon as the muffins are in theoven, make your runny frosted topping. Place most of the clementine zest, allthe lemon zest and the lemon juice in a bowl. Add the sour cream, icing sugarand vanilla seeds and mix well. Taste and have a think about it - adjust theamount of lemon juice or icing sugar to balance the sweet and sour. Put into thefridge until your muffins have cooled down, then spoon the topping onto themuffins.

Serve on a lovely plate (on a cakestand if you're feeling elegant, or on a rustic slab if you're more of ahunter-gatherer type!), with the rest of the clementine zest sprinkled over.For an interesting flavor and look, a few dried lavender flowers or rose petalsare fantastic.

Makes 12 muffins

Note: Unfrosted muffins freezewell; just wrap them in plastic wrap and stick them in a freezer bag for up toone month.