Even Audrey Baked in the Summertime

Picture borrowed from www.twistedsifter.com, colored by Dana Keller.

Picture borrowed from http://www.twistedsifter.com, colored by Dana Keller.

It may be past Labor Day, but if you hovered around New York City last week you’d be hard pressed to find someone who believed it. It was very sticky, impressively hazy, and just a little bit smelly. It made everyone who had packed away their AC units rethink doing so, and I saw more than one adult run through an open fire hydrant.

Zucchini Polaroid

So we took the opportunity to bake. (No, really. We’re not that bright.)

Zucchini bread is a harvest season favorite because of all the unruly zukes that manage to get away from you and take a turn towards plus size. People literally beg you to take zucchinis off their hands, and really, who am I to deny them?

The comically enormous zucchinis tend not to have as much flavor as the smaller ones – which is too bad because so many of them seem to get away from their gardeners – but they make a perfect foil for a sweet bread. And just one can often yield a healthy sized zucchini bread, a handful of zucchini muffins, and still a bit leftover for zucchini fritters.

In the Zucchini Battle of 2011 we gave a good list of things to make when the harvest explodes, one of which was zucchini bread. But as the recipe has been asked for, I’ve decided to elaborate. It’s so easy there’s almost no reason not to take 15 min and use the bartering system to take someone’s garden veggies (including some uberzukes) and return a bread back after.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of flour
  • 2 1/4 cups of white sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tsp cinnnamon
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 sticks of butter (or 1 cup vegetable oil)
  • 3 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups of grated zucchini
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

(I found a vegan recipe here! So when I’m not baking for others, I can chow down too.)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and grease two 8X4 inch pans. Sometimes the mixture fills one 9×5 just as well and is a fatter more luscious bread. But play it by ear with how much mixture you have and whatever kinds of loaf pans.

Start by shredding up the zucchini with a grater: and prepare to get jacked. Or if you prefer spaghetti-arms and you have one near, a food processor with a grating attachment will work just as well.

Shredded Zucchini (sans food processor)Stir up all your dry ingredients in a bowl (flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon), while melting your butter on the stove. Keep a watchful eye so your butter doesn’t brown.

In a separate bowl blend sugar and melted butter, and then add eggs one by one.

Zucchini Bread Wet IngredientsAdd dry ingredients to wet ingredients, stir up altogether, and then add zucchini and chopped nuts. Feel free to add dried cranberries, chocolate, and other nuts and dried fruit depending on your tastebuds.

Zucchini BreadsPour mixture into buttered pan (or pans). Bake for 45-60 min. You’ll know your bread is ready by the smell, and if a toothpick comes out clean. Enjoy plain, or if you’re feeling crazy fry it in a pan for breakfast and enjoy with a cup of coffee.

Zucchini Bread

Then share with neighbors.

The smell of baking zucchini bread is a classic sign of fall in our household. While Audrey might have enjoyed a sweltering bake day with us last week, this week she’d be back in sweatpants (ha, a likely story) as the weather has dropped an ominous 30 degrees. But at least, like us, she’d have some comfort food to mourn the passing of summer with. Fare thee well, lovely summertime.

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His Royal Poofiness

In a recent CSA batch we got a scrumptious pile of veggies that seemed of the perfect variety for a frittata. An onion, a beautiful head of broccoli, some zucchini, and eggs all came in our share and all we needed to supplement our meal was some garlic, a splash of milk, and some farmer’s cheese. Hands of Broccoli And so we made our classic and simple frittata. We sautéed some onions and garlic and threw our vegetables in.

Then, as per usual, we covered our veggies in a cheesy egg mixture and watched as it turned into what we call a poor man’s quiche.  But this time, for reasons I can’t possibly tell you, our frittata poofed up like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man and glistened on the stove in all its chubby glory. At which point I started jumping down and shrieking, “I made a soufflé!!!!!”

Whereupon – obviously – the soufflé-like frittata deflated like a Ghostbuster hit it and totally devolved. My ever-supportive husband then turned to me and unapologetically stated, “You don’t know much about soufflés, do you?”
(Picture above not taken in time.)

Our meal was delicious, poofed or not, but I have to complain for the record that soufflés are so sensitive.  I mean, come on.

Windowsill Growings-Ons

We’ve made some mentions lately of goodies from our garden being thrown in our meals, like scallions in our peanut noodles and chives in our eggs, et cetera, but it’s been a while since we’ve given a progress report on our window garden’s goings-ons.

Our cherry tomato plants we were so dubious about are actual tomatoes… or tomatoes of the not-red-yet variety.  They’re cramped and could definitely be happier – drought not helping – but they’re fruiting, so I, for one, have big plans for their future.

Cherry Tomato Plant

Cherry Tomato Plant

We have added zucchini to our plot, knowing that it tends to grow copiously. And copious it has been! The zucchini greenery has spread like mad, and we now have little zuchi flowers a-bloomin’!

Zucchini Flowers

I’ve heard rumors you can cook with the flowers, but haven’t heard of any appealing recipes. Would be delighted by contributions.

And a certain someone demanded we have a lemon tree. I have no clue on earth how a lemon tree will survive in our apartment come winter, but I assume we’ll find out. And it must be going well enough as little buzzy bees have been visiting our windowsill!

Lemon Tree BeesAnd as our last addition, we grew some berries! They’ve quickly gotten squiggly with the heatwave we’ve been suffering, but when we get to them in time they’ve been a stupendous treat.

Strawberry Plant

In less good news, our spinach totally kicked the bucket. It was a comic failure. As were our mustard greens. And our mint has on days and off days. But I’m taking the optimistic view that for our first window garden ever, things are going in our favor.

Zucchini Battle

Zucchini BattleHere’s a secret they don’t tell you about visiting the country: if you leave your car unlocked – for mere seconds – someone will come along and sneakily dump a 30-pound box of zucchinis in your trunk when you are distracted by a deer.

This makes the Bronx look rather tame.

Zucchini TartThe other thing they fail to tell you is that there’s a million things to do with zucchini. With our surprise 30-pound box, we dedicated a meal a day for a week to zucchy dishes.

Zucchini Fritters and Golden BeetsWe started ambitiously on a Monday with a zucchini tart, the recipe for which came from our seasonal bible. It’s a base of bread crumbs with vegetables on top and a cheesy egg mixture, which turned out to be a crowd pleaser.

On Tuesday, we had share veggies: mesclun greens with golden beets alongside some local goat cheese and zucchini fritters (egg, a little flower, s&p, fried in butter).

Ratatouille PastaIf after a long Wednesday you received tomatoes, onions, garlic, and basil in your CSA… what would you make? It seemed pretty obvious that this was a night for pasta, and so we cooked what we deem ratatouille pasta! Zucchini and summer squash with the fresh tomatoes, onions, garlic, basil, sautéed up with some whole wheat pasta. And the coziest Wednesday night meal was set, to be paired with a Cary Grant movie (“His Girl Friday”).

img_7808On Thursday, zucchini bread seemed to be in order. All kinds of variations are plastered over the internet and they’re easy to make. Also, I’ve found that when you give people zucchini breads, they inexplicably love you.

Zucchini and BeansFor Friday, a variation on beans and rice with zucchini, tomatoes, shallots, oregano, cumin, and chili pepper.

And on Saturday, another Vegetables From An Italian Garden meal – zucchini pesto! It turned out quite beautiful and impressive (perfect for a Saturday evening first course affair), and while vaguely like pesto, had delicious summer zuch undertones.  Highly recommended.

img_7618

And on the seventh day, we rested.

Aka: ordered take-out.  It did not contain zucchini.