Zucchini Apple Cake recipe

 

I've been cooking up a storm, I'm afraid. What with the bounty of apples and squash we've collected, there's nothing for it but to make cake while the sun shines.

Also our neighbor and good friend had surgery Wednesday, and not being the casserole sort, I thought a garden treat might be just the ticket. I tweaked the linked recipe as follows--and doubled it. (Why give all the calories, away?)

It's divine and bouyant enough to accommodate an even higher percentage of whole wheat flour, should you choose. And think of how virtuous you're being. All that organic fruit and vegetable matter. And walnuts, imbued with those lovely Omega 3s. Better have a second piece...

Zucchini Apple Cake

Ingredients:

 

1 1/2 TBS unsalted butter (sweet cream)
3 eggs
3/4 cup oil
3/4 to 1 cup brown sugar, loosely packed 

1/4 cup of maple syrup
1 tsp of vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups of grated raw, unpeeled zucchini

1 cup, grated, raw, unpeeled tart apples
2 cups white unbleached flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsps baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsps (heaping) ground cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp ground cloves

1 cup shelled walnuts, chopped

2 TBS of rolled oats

sliced apples

1-2 tsp brown sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

 

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan.
2. Mix wet ingredients together with sugar and maple syrup.
3. Fold in grated zucchini.
4. Mix dry ingredients in separate bowl.
5. Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients.
6. Fold in walnuts
7. Pour batter into buttered pan.
8. Top with apple slices tossed in remaining sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle rolled oats over the top.

 

9. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes at 350 or until knife comes out clean.

 

10. Let cool for approx. 15 minutes, cut around the edges carefully, flip over and remove from pan. Cool on rack.

 

 

 

Broccoli rave and rant

All you people in the fecund, woody corridors of the East and Midwest have no idea of the toe-tapping, teeth-grinding and hand-wringing Mile Highers suffer waiting for their gardens to produce. All that moist air and black earth, those glistening hot nights; why you've been pulling peas out of your planters since March, haven't you?

Go look at Norma's post. I'll wait. See those tubs of blueberries? Tubs. Of. Blueberries. My blueberry bush looks like it's been to Mt. Sinai and back and they're flagrantly tossing these lapis gems on cereal. You know where we get blueberries in Colorado? Costco. And they taste like gunshot.

Know what's coming up here? Broccoli. That bright green cruciferous favorite of George H.W. Bush, flowering cabbages, basketfuls of bitter, tough florets left too long on the stalk. And it's time for dinner.

Mark Bittman came to the rescue (not in the flesh, though that would have been nice had he offered to cook). His aid came in the form of How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, which I'm quite liking for its informal toss-this-or-that-in approach. Turn to the aparagus gratin recipe. A riffer, Bittman offers recommendations for other gratins, including a variation for broccoli with pesto, breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese.

I did this on stovetop so as not to heat the house by firing the oven.

Broccoli Gratin by way of Bittman

Sautee broccoli in garlic and olive oil until tender.

Add 1/2 to 3/4 cup pesto  (I did a simple pesto from walnuts, basil, olive oil and salt)

Top with 1/2 cup prepared breadcrumbs (Bittman says, "homemade," whatever)

and 1 cup grated parmesan cheese.

Cover until cheese melts and broccoli is heated through.

You'll like it. Tastes a lot better than it sounds.

Grazie mille, Mark.

 

 

 

 

Local beet, goat cheese and arugala salad

Imagine that a beautifully styled photograph of roasted beet salad occupies this spot. The cordovan-colored roots are glistening with vinaigrette and sitting atop a bed of bright, perky baby greens. Dollops of creamy white goat cheese and a handful of woody pecans punctuate the image. Everything about this shot says "languid, lazy summer" meal.

So here's reality.

I spent 30 minutes peeling and chopping the beets afterwhich I boiled them in the microwave. This resulted in a red sea of a mess when a tsunami of pink water flooded turntable. Cleaning of the microwave ensued. Eventually I drained the beets, threw them in a roasting basket and carried them out to the grill, trailing rose-colored juice through the back of the house. Then there was the chopping and roasting and cooling of pecans. The whisking and amending of the vinaigrette (a tablespoon of chopped shallot and a bit of dijon added necessary depth and tang.) The retrieving and cooling of the beets (thank goodness for big freezers). The tossing of the salad. The serving to self and husband.

It was delicious. But it was anything but languid and beautiful.

The recipe follows:

3 large beets, peeled and cubed

3 Tbs olive oil

1 Tbs minced shallot

1 tsp dijon mustard

1/4 cup rice vinegar

2 Tbs sherry vinegar

salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste

4 oz baby arugula leaves

1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecans

2 oz goat cheese, crumbled

Instructions

Cover beets with water in a microwaveable dish. Nuke until soft. Drain. Then roast on grill in a grill basket with a splash of olive oil and salt and pepper until slightly browned. Cool. Make vinaigrette from mixing the next six ingredients. Toss everything in a large bowl.

Put cold compress on forehead.

Braciole recipe

All this butterflying, browning and simmering started with this: The Rigatoni with Sunday Gravy at Table Tales.

So to celebrate Nake-id IT's birthday, we commenced. Inspired by the following blog posts here and here, we decided to start with braciole (pronounced bra-jool). Braciole is a rolled slice of beef that's been pounded and layered with salt and pepper, romano cheese, parsley, garlic and breadcrumbs--anything, really that suits your fancy. We used flank steak that Mitch marinated overnight in wine and then butterflyed slicing it horizontally.

Then he pounded it under plastic wrap--to curtail any errant flecks of meat from going airborne.

Dusted and slathered with goodies.

 

Roll the steak from one butterfly wing to the other and secure with kitchen twine or skewers. Brown all sides in olive oil.

 

Then simmer for hours in homemade red sauce preferably made with San Marzano or San Marzano-style tomatoes. Our meat fell appart completely; if you want it to retain a pretty rolled aspect, cook it a bit less.

Then manga! We loved it!

Apple Gingerbread Cake

Upside Down Apple Gingerbread

This year the apple tree didn't deliver. A mixed blessing; we don't have apples, but we don't have squirrels pelting the cats, either. And that vague smell of vinegar and decay if we aren't vigilant about collecting the fallen.

I typically make my mother-in-law's apple cake for Rosh Hoshanah or thereabouts, so on one of my few excursions out recently, bought a bag of organic Jonathans from this vendor at the Farmer's Market--a very generous bag of damaged bakers for $5 that taste like cider and perfume. I couldn't immediately locate the apple cake recipe (it has since surfaced), but was of a mind to combine the tart taste of apples with a dark gingerbread. And found this.

I doubled the recipe to get two cakes and used about 4 tbs less butter than called for. We loved it. Great with tea, but promises to be even better with whipped cream!

First challah ever for the New Year

To kick off the new year right, we started our morning with fresh challah and honey. (Rosh Hoshana actually starts tonight at sundown.) I made the dough yesterday (from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day), then Mitch rose early to roll it out and bake it.

It's not Sheindy's challah--the melt-in-your-mouth gold standard--but for a first effort it wasn't bad.

Wishing you and yours a happy, healthy and creative new year. L'shana tovah!

Spaghetti yoga

Last night after processing the above mountain of tomatoes with a proportional ratio of raw garlic, I went to yoga.

I shook hands with the yoga teacher, whom I had never met, and spotted the woman next to me through various poses as she did me. It wasn't until about mid-way through the practice as I began to glow from exertion that I realized my hands smelled pungently and distinctively of raw garlic. Like I had been ingesting the stuff whole for weeks.

As the teacher twisted me into a broken facsimile of full pigeon, I kept thinking, he's going to forever think of me as Stinking Rose.

Tomato gore

They are a perverse lot, tomatoes. One minute you're shouting at them to ripen up, the next you're begging people to take them before they decompose into pools of red gore.

This week faced with a basket of soggy beauties, I decided to make spaghetti sauce. But being mid-week and and lacking the fortitude to blanche, peel and seed tomotoes, here's what I did:

Recipe--Peels-and-all Spaghetti Sauce

1 dozen fresh tomatoes, cored and halved

5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 onion, chopped

1/4 cup olive oil

Red pepper flakes, a healthy pinch

1/2 cup chopped, fresh basil

3-4 Tbs of tomato paste

Salt to taste

Directions: Sautee garlic and onion in olive oil until translucent. Add red pepper flakes. Turn heat down to low and add tomatoes. Stew for about an hour, leaving the pot uncovered to allow sauce to reduce. Stir in basil and tomato paste. Grind to bloody pulp with an immersion blender.

Bon appetit!

Coq au vin: Eating purple meat

About making coq au vin, Mom warned me: It's not so bad, except peeling those damn little onions.

Our generation of cooks-with-airs wields knives emboldened by the power of the Internet. (On the odd chance that you might not be able to live another minute without knowing how to peel pearl onions, here you go.) Braised pearl onions are a sweet-savory revelation and worth the fuss. Use frozen and you'll find yourself transported to the Furr's Cafeteria of your memory.

I followed Julia's recipe to the letter. And for the first two-and-a-half hours of preparation had a grand time, sauteeing, buttering, braising, blanching, beurre manié-ing. Well into the third hour, I thought, "It's a flippin' chicken! Enough with the layering of flavors, already."

Yes, it was delicious. Rich and velvety, humble--just chicken, wine and vegetables--but elegant enough to serve to company, which we did. With wild rice, a hazel-nut-and-arugala salad (thanks, Patricia) and organic peach cobbler. And, yes, more wine.

Coq au vin and the power of memory

Like many well-educated housewives, my mother purchased Mastering the Art of French Cooking in the mid-1960s and tucked right in. One night I sat at the kitchen table, the red fleurs-de-lis calico of Julia Child's masterpiece open for quick reference, Mom braising pearl onions and, simmering bacon and finally browning chicken, after which, she poured this pungent amber liquid over the bird, told me to stand back--I was all of about six--and whoosh--flames! Clearly this was not an every-day meal.

I was an absurdly picky eater at the time, hot dogs and vegetable soup, mostly, hamburgers rarely and only with ketchup. I loathed cheese, salads and anything with mayonnaise (a fetish that continues; would that I still hated cheese!).  When Mom set cooled mushrooms and a chicken wing in front of me, its skin tinged red from the burgundy, I balked. She implored me to "just to taste." For whatever reason, I did, fearing the noxious taste of canned spinach, or the slimy, nasally tang of mayo. But I was wrong. Here was something rich and savory, chicken that no longer tasted of muscle and paste, but transmogrified by wine into a hearty, delicious stew.

After that first bite, of course, I begged for more, requesting it on birthdays and special occasions. Dutifully, Mom made it Julia's way a few more times then wised up. "My shortcuts," she called them. She browned the chicken and vegetables and then threw everything into our black enameled roaster; braising it in the oven, allowing the gorgeous alchemy of wine and heat to scent the house.  There were no more flames, no more parboiled bacon, but it still tasted like a revelation.

***

I'm attaching this recipe for coq au vin here. Julia Child and her partner Simone Beck wrote their recipes as narratives, insinuating ingredients like characters in a story, the cooking process working as plot. This recipe is written more conventionally.

***

Tomorrow I plan to make the dish Julia's way for guests in honor of her birthday, Aug. 15. Julia Child changed the way millions of women cooked and what Americans ate. And in honor of my Mom, who started a picky eater on a more adventurous path.