21 August 2007

Donna's Chocolate Zucchini Bread

When we went with a couple of our friends, Jaime and Joey, to visit Jaime's parents in Welland for the day and to swim in their new salt water pool, we didn't quite realize that we would be eating all day! One of the snacks that our perfect hostess Donna baked up and served between lunch and dinner was this wonderfully simple but oh so tasty Chocolate Zucchini Loaf. What better way to take advantage of in- season produce than to bake with it? This loaf is moist, pleasantly sweet, and has the interesting added taste of cocoa and the crunch of walnuts. Needless to say, when Jaime's mom mailed me a packet of recipes that she had used that day, this is the first one I had to try. Try it yourself and enjoy zucchini in a sweet context--thanks Donna!
3 cups flour
1.5 cups sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
2 heaping tsp. cocoa
3/4 tsp. baking soda
2 cups shredded zucchini
1 cup walnuts
1 cup raisins
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup vegetable oil
Mix all the ingredients except for the last two in a large bowl. Combine the eggs and the oil in a small bowl then add to the mixture in the large bowl. Mix until moist. Grease 2 loaf pans, or line them with parchment paper and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour, using a skewer to test for 'doneness'. Enjoy pool side or on the deck!

20 August 2007

Late Summer Dishes: Pasta & Peperonata

Ahh, what to cook on a warm summer evening with 2 zucchini and 4 green peppers lolling around in the fridge drawer?

The pasta with zucchini is the simplest dish imaginable:

For two people, chop 2 zucchini into thin rounds or half rounds and saute in a large saute pan in some olive oil with thinly sliced onion, a clove of garlic and some hot pepper flakes and salt until cooked through and browned. Add a handful of black olives near the end of the cooking time. Cook 250 grams of pasta until a minute before al dente, preserve a cup of the cooking water and drain. Throw the pasta in with the zucchini "sauce" and mix over medium heat for a minute or two, adding some of the pasta water to moisten. Grate parmigiano or stronger pecorino cheese at the table.

The peperonata, a Sicilian dish, is also simple but requires about an hour to fully achieve the lovely soft texture:

As a side dish, cut 4 green peppers (or any colour peppers for that matter) into 4 pieces and thinly slice each piece. Thinly slice 1 large onion. Grate 1/4 to 1/2 cup of strong cheese. Prepare about 2 tbsp of breadcrumbs. Heat some olive oil in a large pan and saute the sliced onion until wilted over medium heat. Add the peppers and a pinch of salt, give the whole thing a good stir, and lower to medium low. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 50 minutes--the vegetables will become soft and the onions almost caramelized. When sufficiently soft (and don't underestimate or try to rush the dish!) add the cheese and breadcrumbs, stirring to mix. Serve warm or at room temperature. These peppers are a wonderful topping on a piece of crusty bread!