Sunday, July 30, 2006

Zucchini Bread

Wow! It's been a while since I've written. We were having really hot weather which made it unbearable to cook or bake so we were eating lots of wraps, sandwiches, and salads. The weather has since cooled down and in the past month, we've receive about 4 pounds of zucchini and summer squash through our CSA box. We grilled, broiled, sauteed, etc. And still had leftovers! So I thought I would bake zucchini bread. I love it but had never previously made it.

I searched and read many recipes. I tried really hard to find a recipe that didn't call for oil but couldn't so if any of you out there have such a recipe, I would be most interested in trying it out. In any case, I found the recipe I used and modified from the Food Network website. The recipe below includes the modifications but if you want to see the original (which isn't that much different) than click on the title of this entry.

So over the course of two days, I made two slightly different versions of this bread. On day one, I used the recipe you see below and baked it for 50 minutes. One day two, I left out the ground cloves and allspice, and added 1/2 tsp of nutmeg. I also lessened the amount of vegetable oil to 1/2 c and baked it for the full 55 minutes.

Mind you, when I made this recipe, I halved the recipe so that I would only have enough batter for 1 loaf. On day two, I realized that on day one I didn't add enough baking soda or powder but it still came out moist and wonderful if not a tad bit flat.

There were some interesting differences. Day one bread was lighter in color and sweeter. Day two bread was a rich brown and rose a little bit more (not surprising given that I added the right amount of baking soda and powder). Interestingly enough though my taste tester thought the darker one was more buttery but it had less oil for sure!

-1 cup granulated sugar
-1/3 cup + 1/2 cup brown sugar
-3/4 cup vegetable oil
-2 eggs
-2 cups flour
-3/4 teaspoons baking powder
-3/4 teaspoons baking soda
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
-1/2 tsp allspice
-1/2 tsp ground cloves
-1 1/2 cups finely chopped zucchini

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Combine sugars, oil, and eggs and mix. In another bowl, mix flour, baking powder, soda, salt, and cinnamon. Add to sugar/oil/egg mixture to moisten. Carefully fold in zucchini. Divide mixture into 2 greased loaf pans. Bake for 55 minutes or until done.

The first time I made this, I decided to put all the batter into one loaf pan and since it fit just fine, I figured it would work. It failed -- the middle collapsed so horribly. So if you get any grand ideas to do it this way, don't!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Green Dumplings Revisted

Aren't these much prettier than the explosion you saw on 6.19.2006? I made them into the true dumpling shape as suggested by the packing and I boiled them in batches instead of steaming them in a tray. It prevented any sticking and they were oh so tender. Boil for 2-3 minutes to cook wrapper and heat the stuffing through.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Banana Bread

I just adore banana bread and think there's nothing like making it yourself. I found this recipe when I was in graduate school and was going over to a friend's for brunch. I want to say I found it on but I can't remember. I love this recipe because it only has seven ingredients, all wholesome. It's oh so simple and oh so tasty.

Makes 1 loaf
Time: 15 minutes for prep, 60 minutes for baking

-2 cups all-purpose flour
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1/2 cup butter
-3/4 cup brown sugar
-2 eggs, beaten
-2 1/3 cups mashed overripe bananas (more or less 3 bananas)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan.

2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar. Stir in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture; stir just to moisten. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.

3. Bake in preheated oven for 60 to 65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.

I've noticed that no matter how long I bake banana bread the dead center always comes out gooey while the ends of the bread are perfect. In the past, I've let it go longer but then the ends get dry. So at 60 minutes today, I took the bread out so that it could continue to cook in it's own heat outside of the oven. I had perfect results.

The banana bread was soft and moist. So much better than what you could buy at the store.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Linguine with Mushrooms

Linguine with Mushrooms is similar to the Funghi Trifolata recipe I wrote about on 5.2.2006, a recipe by Mario Batali. I think his recipe is good but Deborah Madison's takes the cake. Her's is much tastier and just as easy to make. The difference is the lemon juice and wine which totally enhances the flavor of the mushrooms and pasta. This recipe comes from Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, a cookbook I just adore.

Makes 4 servings
Time: 30 minutes or less (especially if you use pre-sliced mushrooms)

-1 pound farfalle (I used linguine)
-2 tbsp olive oil
-1 tbsp butter, plus extra to finish-1 pound mushrooms, thinly sliced
-1/2 lemon
-Salt and freshly milled pepper
-1/2 cup dry white wine
-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
-1 small bunch parsley, finely chopped
-Freshly grate pecorino Romano or Parmesan, optional

Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta. Meanwhile, heat the oil and butter in a large skillet. Add the mushrooms and saute over high heat until browned around the edges 4 to 5 minutes. Squeeze the lemon over them, season with salt, then lower heat to medium and cook 5 minutes longer, stirring occasionally. When the pan becomes dry, add the wine with garlic and half the parsley. Season with salt and pepper and reduce heat to low.

Salt the pasta water well, add the pasta, and cook until al dente. Be sure to give the pasta a good twirl when you first put it in the water so it doesn't all stick together. Scoop it out and add it to the mushrooms, allowing a little of the water to drip into the pan. Raise the heat and add the rest of the parsley and a little additional butter to finish. Serve with or without cheese.

As an aside, I've received mixed messages about rinsing pasta with water. Sara Moulton on the Food Network doesn't like it at all because it removes the starch from the pasta which apparently makes it harder for it to absorb flavoring. Deborah Madison says it shouldn't be done unless you need to stop the cooking at once, as for baked pasta that will be finished later. In this case, it could probably just be undercooked a bit.

I don't know. Thoughts from the foodies out there?

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Udon Noodles with Tofu

When the tough gets going I like to think it's for a reason. For example, I would not have found this recipe if I hadn't gone to the doctor's last week. On Wednesday morning, I ran into the hall closet door which was wide open. The sad thing is that I saw it open before I went into the bathroom. After finishing up, I walked right into and split the skin above my right eyebrow and part of my eyebrow itself. I was beside myself. Anyway, it was this incident that led me to the doctor and ultimately to this super quick, super easy, and tasty dish.

While waiting for the doctor, I decided to peruse diabetic living. I am not diabetic but it was the magazine closest to me so I gave it a go. During my wait, I found this recipe, and many others, which seemed so simple and easy. It also has the added bonus of being colorful and beautiful.

I think it was worth it to smack my head to get a hold of this recipe.

Makes 4 generous servings
Time: 30 minutes or less, especially if you buy baked tofu

-8 ounces dried udon noodles or whole wheat linguine (I used regular linguine)
-12 to 14 ounces smoked teriyaki-flavor or firm plain tofu cut into 1/2-inch pieces
-1 1/2 cups diced cucumber
-1 large carrot, cut into think bit-size pieces (I made carrot peels instead)
-1/2 cup green onion

Note: I used 8 oz firm plain tofu that I pan fried on the stove to brown it a bit. If you buy the already flavored baked tofu, you'll save 10-15 minutes.

Ginger-Soy Vinaigrette
In a small bowl, whisk together 2 tbsp rice vinegar or cider vinegar, 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil, 2 tsp reduced-sodium soy sauce, 4 minced cloves, 1 tsp grated fresh ginger, and 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper. Makes 1/4 cup

Cook pasta according to directions -- be sure to add plenty of salt to the boiling water. Drain, and cool pasta slightly.

While pasta is cooking, combine tofu, cucumber, carrots, and green onions. Add drained pasta. Drizzle ginger-soy vinaigrette. Toss salad gently to coat.

The recipe calls for reduced-sodium soy sauce but I used regular soy sauce and felt that it could use more salt. Perhaps I didn't salt my pasta water enough, I don't know. I also didn't think there was enough sauce for the amount of pasta and tofu. I recommend makes 1 serving plus an additional 1/2 serving.

The flavor is not over powering at all. It's quite light and initially I felt that it wasn't enough but I think it's because my palate is used to strong flavors. But the flavor is really nice and it's certainly a refreshing recipe for hot summer days because you can serve this at room temp or chilled. I think next time, I may add more soy sauce and more ginger. After all this recipe is called ginger-soy vinaigrette yet it has 4 times the garlic! Hmm.