Saturday, October 4, 2008

101 Things to do with a Zucchini (A Many Part Series)

Oh the joys of Fall, the beautiful foliage, the lovely weather, crisp nights, and zucchinis hiding under the leafs until they grow to immense size... No matter how vigilant, no matter how many times a day you check the garden, they're always there. One foot, two feet, 5,10,15 pounds!! Monster zucchinis that just keep coming. A friend of mine once made one a little hat, drew a face, swaddled it and left the "zucchini baby" on my door step.

  But one need not fear the Zucchini Babies, a few hours on a weekend afternoon will fill your home with zucchini goodness. 

    Our first project is the most obvious, who doesn't like Zucchini Bread? Dense, moist, chewy, deliciousness, and it's got green vegetables in it, so it's good for you right? The best part is the versatility, make it how you like it!

       Required ingredients: Zucchini (duh) flour, sugar, eggs, leavening

See? Isn't that simple? Now here's a long but certainly not exhaustive list of add-ins.  Nuts (almonds are my favorite), seeds (flax, sunflower etc...) Dried fruit(great for soaking up all the wetness from the zucchini), chocolate chips and other candy pieces. For this batch I'm using almonds flax seed and dried cranberries.

Now, I don't have any measurements here because I don't use them. Don't be afraid to make your own recipe up, and create it as you go! It's not as hard as most cookbooks would have you believe.

First shred your zucchini. Mine is a "winter variety", that is if I pick it and leave it it will get a shell like a pumpkin and keep through the winter. This one is still fresh so the skin is tender. It however has very developed seeds, so I'm going to scoop them out, season them and toast them like pumpkin seeds. I then send it through the shredder attachment of my quisinart, one could of course grate them by hand just watch your knuckles! (Red zucchini bread is not so appetizing)

It will seem quite dry, don't be fooled this vegetable is mostly water and will get soggy soon! My zucchini made several cups of shred, so I'm going to add three eggs, just enough to start coating the shred. I then add my chunky yummy things and mix them in. As you mix you will notice liquid magically appearing from the shred. Now start adding flour, a cup or so at a time. With the first cup of flour add a tablespoon or so of leavening (baking soda or baking powder) I've actually forgot the leavening and had wonderful bread, but too much will impart a metallic taste, so too little is better then too much. Continue adding flour until the batter looks like heavy cake batter. It's ok to be a little stiff as the zucchini will continue to release liquid as it bakes.

Grease and flour your pans. and apportion your batter between them. The batter shouldn't be more then three or so inches thick, this bread is dense and will have trouble baking compleately if it's too thick. Your oven should be between 350 and 400 and preheated. 

Put the bread in, and go take a nap. Seriously, it'll be a while. I've never managed to over-bake zucchini bread, and it will be a while. It's a little tricky to decide that it's done, you can do the toothpick test, thump it for radar sounding, insert a thermometer... What ever you do, when you think it might be done, leave for ten more minutes.

VoĆ­la!! Goodness in loaf form. Make a dozen and freeze them. Give them as gifts. Eat them with every meal. But no matter how good they are don't plan to plant extra zucchini next year so you can have more...

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