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What can you say about Zucchini Bread? It’s fine, but it’s not special. I find it really hard to get excited about something so mundane. I know that might sound hypocritical coming from someone who can wax poetic over the glories of a grilled cheese sandwich. But, what can I say? I love cheese and, well, zucchini is just zucchini.
Don’t get me wrong. I like zucchini. It regularly appears in my stir fry. And, it has proved a good understudy for Japanese eggplant in my “Thai Red Curry with Chicken.” Most frequently I add grated zucchini and carrot to my marinara to bump up the nutrition quotient. But it really is just a delivery system for other flavours. It has no flavour of its own and the texture is a bit dubious as well. That said, I do have a really great recipe for a “Chocolate Zucchini Bundt Cake.” It’s rich, moist and delicious. But, alas, the recipe is lost in a mountain of yet-to-be transcribed recipes… in a box, in the den and not likely to see the light of day until later this summer… perhaps. I enjoy a good zucchini loaf from time to time, but really it’s the nuts and spices that I like.
So, what to do about Zucchini Bread day? First, I was determined not to make the traditional sweet loaf. Like I said, that’s all about the nuts, not so much the zucchini. I searched my favourite website for inspiration and lo and behold… I found my perfect muse. Epicurious.com has a recipe for tea sandwiches that sounded perfect – Radish Sandwiches on Zucchini and Basil Muffins. The recipe is from the July 1990 issue of Gourmet and is meant for a summer buffet kind of presentation. I decided to make regular sized muffins and skip the radishes but the primary goal was achieved. No sweet, nut-filled loaf for me… instead I got a savoury bite of basil infused goodness. I had my fresh-from-the-oven muffin with a slab of feta cheese and a few slices of cucumber. It was the perfect accompaniment to my afternoon tea.
Okay, so these muffins are really all about the basil instead of the zucchini. But, that little green squash pulled its weight. The muffins are moist and light, just what you would expect from a bread that uses more vegetable and less fat to create the texture. Really, it’s the zucchini that makes that chocolate cake so good too.
The real test for me is to ask “would I make them again?” And, yes, I believe I will. They are a nice addition to the brunch table and they held well over night, so they would be good in a picnic basket too. I guess there was something to get excited about after all.
[ed: After recovering from fast food day and sticky bun day, Sarah is back with another healthful post!]
You know that scene in “Julie & Julia” where Julie attempts to poach an egg for the first time? Well that was me the other night. I am a big – nay, huge – fan of eggs benedict and I have purposely been putting off actually making them for myself because who needs that kind of enabling, self-destructive knowledge? In the name of 365foods though, I made the sacrifice.
It wasn’t the hollandaise that made me nervous, it was the egg poaching. What if everything breaks apart and then I’m left with egg soup? Yick! I was finally up for the challenge though so I looked up a few eggs benedict recipes on the internet, chose the shortest one and dove in. (Small insert here – I have much newfound respect for all those cooks who can construct these little suckers and have them actually be *warm* when they are served!)
First up: egg poaching. I filled my largest, deepest frying pan with a couple inches of water and a generous splash of vinegar. Apparently vinegar makes all the difference. I let the water boil, then turned down to medium. My recipe said to crack the egg into a small bowl and then pour into the water. I tried this … and then watched in horror as the egg white merrily made its way around the pan. There was enough still stuck to the yoke so I left it alone. I tried turning up the heat with the next one and that worked better. I made eight in all (we had company – I wasn’t that out of control!) and while some had more egg white than others, all of them turned out just fine. I left them in for about four minutes, at medium-high heat, and the yokes were soft-ish and not runny. A success I’d say.
Next: the hollandaise. I found a recipe that did not involve whisking ingredients in a double boiler so I very happily chose that. Two egg yolks, two teaspoons of water, some lemon juice (I squeezed a whole lemon in) and a pinch of cayenne into the blender and turn on low for about a minute. Next, take the wee middle part out of the blender lid, turn blender back on (carefully – because it could splash out – and it did) and pour in half a cup of melted butter. Blend on low for about a minute and you’ve got delicious hollandaise! Add some white pepper if you have some (I had only black, which I added but then had spotty hollandaise).
Meanwhile, you should be frying up some back bacon or black forest ham and toasting the English muffins (in my case, I was defrosting the English muffins then toasting them).
Now here’s my question: how the heck do you do all of the above and keep everything warm?? Maybe I need to practice more (in the fall maybe – it’s getting to be bathing suit season!) but I could get the egg poaching and the ham frying going at the same time, but the English muffin toasting and the hollandaise making had to wait until the first two were done. Perhaps if I made the hollandaise in the double boiler that would heat things up when I poured it over to but alas, I didn’t. I also had company and may have been doing a bit of visiting!
In any event, the eggs benedict were very tasty, if a bit cold. I recommend trying this with perhaps four eggs benedict instead of eight because then you might have a chance of keeping everything warm. Go forth with hollandaise!