Saturday, June 5, 2010

Ralph and his Magical Zucchini

Ralph has 22 zucchini plants, so we were told. I can't tell you more about Ralph because I barely know him, but he's got lots of zucchini, tomato plants and apricots. Word is, he's got money too—lot's of money. He lives alone and probably lonely—or not. He came by the house the other day and dropped off a bag of these fast growing green giants. He was telling us how one day they're just little buds, and like magic, the next day, full-grown greens ready to fulfill zucchini lovers' appetite. He said, you can literally see them grow if one stood long enough to watch. I wonder if he's done that before and spent the night with a zucchini plant. Did I already say he lives alone?

So yesterday, for dinner, I whipped up zucchini stir fry. First time! Organic extra virgin olive oil, garlic, green onion, tomato, thinly sliced pork, shrimp and julienne zucchini. Of course salt and pepper to taste. If the stench of fish sauce doesn't bother you, use that in lieu of salt. If you've never used fish sauce before, consider yourself warned! Serve over steamed white rice....mmmmm... buono!

Today, here's something I made. First time, too! Surprisingly, it turned out amazing if I may be so blunt. Here, try this!

Naughty Nutty Zucchini Bread

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups grated zucchini (do not drain off liquid)
  • 1 peeled and grated apple or crushed pineapple
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts makes it Nutty
  • a jigger of fruit liquor makes it Naughty (totally optional)

  1. Grease and flour-dust or sugar-coat two loaf pans. Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  2. In a medium bowl, mix and sift, flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and cinnamon. If you don't feel like sifting, it's okay.
  3. In a large bowl, dump eggs (without the shells of course unless you want your zucchini bread to have that extra crunch), oil, vanilla, and sugar and get to work and develop good muscles with your whisk. Mixer works wonder especially if you're lucky to own a Kitchen Aid. Is it creamy? Yes? Then stop! Slowly add dry ingredients to the mixture, and beat or mix well. If you want to look like you've slaved yourself over these, go ahead, pour the dry mixture in one heap, and turn the mixer on high. 'Have a blast' (no pun intended). It will be very sticky, but this is not the time to worry. Stir in (do not use a mixer at this point) zucchini, apple and nuts until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pans. Now worry. The oven is hot!
  4. Bake for 30, rotate pans, and bake for an additional 15-30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 20 minutes. Remove bread from pan, and on cooling rack. If you're like me, cut into it when it's still warm. Slap a generous spread of butter and let it melt in your mouth. Ah, this is soul food! Stays moist for days and they freeze well.
When baking, don't be afraid to use your imagination and be creative but most of all, have fun! Very seldom I follow a recipe to a T. Some turn out to be flops and most turn out to be good, and better the next.

Tomorrow, pork and zucchini kebobs.

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