Spicy Zucchini Bread

You know how it goes this time of year. I’ve got zucchini coming out of my ears. Leaving it on the vine to get absurdly big ain’t helping matters. I’ve already done stuffed zucchini, sautéed zucchini, etc. Today I finally had the time to make some zucchini bread. I found a lighter version of your typical recipe and decided to spruce it up a bit by using garam masala instead of cinnamon. I also used two eggs instead of the egg/egg white combo the recipe called for and used all wheat flour. They came out incredibly moist and flavory. I’m quite pleased and will probably use this as my go-to zucchini-bread recipe.

This would make really good muffins, which you could top with ginger cream cheese frosting so that everyone you serve them to would love you forever and ever.

2 and 2/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp table salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp ground garam masala
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup canola oil
2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 cups zucchini, grated
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup raisins, finely chopped

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350ºF. Coat two 8- X 4-inch loaf pans with cooking spray; set aside.
  • In a large bowl, sift together whole-wheat flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and garam masala; set aside.
  • Using an electric mixer, in a large mixing bowl, beat eggs until frothy. Add sugar, vanilla extract, oil and applesauce, and beat until thoroughly combined; beat in zucchini.
  • Add sifted ingredients to egg mixture and mix just until everything comes together; fold in nuts and raisins. Pour batter into pans and bake until a toothpick inserted in center of bread comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Serve warm with butter, cream cheese or aforementioned cream cheese frosting.

Garden Woes

Our garden has been pretty disappointing this year. Here’s are some of my woes:

  • Blossom end rot on the zucchini plants (apparently due to a calcium deficiency, I’m learning on the interwebs).
  • Paltry raspberry yield.
  • Bitter beets (planted too late so it was too hot for them).
  • Funky-tasting arugula.

We’re not completely ruined, though. The tomatoes are looking great, the peppers love this heat (all billion pepper plants) and we haven’t had to buy cilantro or parsley all summer.

Oh, and this sweet pea is growing like a weed!

I cooked something!

I really did cook, it was amazing. There was hot water and olive oil and everything. I adapted this pasta recipe to use some of our abundant kale crop. The pasta is from a little Italian deli in Oak Park, IL. I have no idea what it’s called but it sure looks funky. This dish is really tasty as leftovers served cold the next day.

Pasta with Kale and Olives

1 bunch Tuscan kale, chopped into ribbons
12 oz short pasta like penne
4 tablespoons olive oil
5 anchovy filets
1/3 cup chopped olives (I used some leftover tapenade here)
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
3-4 cloves garlic
zest from one lemon
handful of parsley, chopped

Cook kale until tender in boiling salted water. Remove after 5 minutes and set aside. Add pasta to cooking water and cook until not quite done. Drain, saving a cup of cooking water. Put pot back on stove at medium heat and add olive oil, 2 cloves garlic, anchovies and olives. Cook until tasty-smelling. Add kale and pasta and cheese. Stir and add some of the cooking water to make it a little saucy. Make a gremolata out of the remaining garlic, lemon zest and parsley. Top with the gremolata when serving, and add some more cheese if you’re feeling fancy.

I’m still here, I swear!

Uh, what the hell happened? I’ve been MIA for five months. That is NOT like me. What can I say? A lot has happened.

I got a new job.

I got knocked up.

Well, I guess that’s it. But those are two major life events, people! Cut me some slack. I definitely fell off the exercise wagon this summer, and we’ve been really bad at cooking because of general distraction and laziness.

But I’ve still been trying to eat healthfully, after all, I have a wee one on the way who needs her leafy greens. I’ll start posting some of my meals again, and I’ll probably talk a bit about how the pregnancy is affecting my attitude towards food. Stay tuned!

Forgive my absence, darlings

My apologies for the extended break. I’ve been thinking of you, I swear, I just kept getting distracted with life, which should always trump writing about life, in my opinion.

Here’s some eye candy from my garden and my table to help us get over this awkward period of reacquaintment:

Raspberries!

Tomatoes!

tomatoesWe’ve got ten(!!!) heirloom tomato plants and it’s hard to keep up with their bounty. BLTs have become a weekly meal at our house.

One thing we’ve been making with them is pasta sauce. Roast cherry tomatoes with garlic & olive oil, puree and then add some fresh basil. It’s easy and delicious. Here are some tomatoes all sliced up and ready for roasting.

tomatoesroast

Why so much pasta sauce? I got a pasta roller for my birthday (thanks, M & D!) so I’ve been making fresh pasta. It’s fun and easy, and now there’s a bunch of homemade ravioli hanging out in the freezer.

ravioli

I’m not the only one going to town in the kitchen. Jim succeeded in luring me away from a community garden meeting when he sent me a picture of the tomato tart he’d just made.

tomato tart

Quite the incentive to come home, don’t you think?

Sometimes you just gotta fry

I know this blog is about healthy eating, but there are times when fried food is absolutely essential. My policy on fried food these days is that I should only have it when it’s truly worth it. When you’re going to eat the Platonic ideal of fried food, if you will. Most French fries, for example, are mere shadows of what they should be. But you know that restaurant that has the best fries ever? Save your fried food consumption for that place, not the place with the droopy, under-salted jerkwad fries. They will only leave you disappointed and unsatisfied.

Tonight was a fry night. We were just scrounging, eating up leftovers and whatnot, when I realized that we had two zucchini blossoms from the garden that were ready for eating. So I mushed up some goat cheese with lemon zest, basil & prosciutto to make a filling (ricotta is also popular) and made a batter out of flour, cornstarch and beer. My motto lately? “Wingin’ it!”

Stuffing the blossoms was kinda tricky, you want to fill them up just enough that you can still twist the petals closed. I used a Ziploc bag with the corner snipped off, worked pretty well. Then I fried them up real nice like, and that was that. Way too much effort, really, for just two blossoms, but man were they good. Well worth the frying, I’d say.

The end of the arugula harvest

The arugula had gone to seed. We needed to act fast. With my sister-in-law Susan’s vague recipe in hand (more a suggestion than a recipe, really) I sprang into action.

Wait, it’s Saturday. I did not spring into action, that’s ridiculous. I woke up 9 times, looked at the clock, and went back to sleep before finally dragging myself out of bed. Then we hurried to hit the first day of the South Shore Farmer’s Market before heading over to a 10 am engagement at the community garden. Glad we made it to the market, it was hopping! Things have changed: the breakfast burrito place now serves egg-hashbrown parfaits, the stand at the north end that had the sweetest snap peas is gone and there were only 1.7 gazillion dogs instead of an even 2 gazillion. But much is the same: the St. Anne’s Center is still selling their amazing jams and salsas, you still have to call ahead to reserve a carton of eggs from Jone’s and you still run into tons of friends.

Yep, the farmer’s market is an event. I love it, and I love that one of the new stands is Balzano Artisan Meats, the only local producer of dry-cured meats. We picked up some Paletilla Hungara made from pork shoulder seasoned with paprika. Their meats are pricey, but I really look forward to trying their Speck, which you can’t find many places.

After cultivating an impressive sunburn at the community garden and watching The Arcade Fire on Austin City Limits, I finally sauntered into action. I’m not going to write up a recipe exactly, because there are things I would do differently next time. Consider these guidelines for a summery dinner.

1. Pick some arugula.

2. Ball a melon. Don’t be gross, you know what I mean. Cantaloupe, to be precise.

3. Slice some very good cured meat, such as prosciutto or serrano ham.

4. Make a dressing out of lime juice, olive oil and smoked paprika. I also added one garlic clove and a smidge of honey. I think I’ll try this dressing on fish sometime, it was really tasty.

5. Put it all together and eat with toasted bread. I did this kinda like a green salad, heavy on the arugula, but next time I think it will work better with the arugula serving more as a garnish than a base.