Zucchini bread with chocolate chips

Zucchini bread with chocolate chips

This summer I have seen a bounty of fresh vegetables and fruits make their way into my kitchen, either from a friend’s garden or one of our many farmers markets. That means I have my apron on when I get home at night or early in the morning to prepare a tasty treat or mouthwatering meal for friends and family.

This zucchini bread is one of them. I had to make a second loaf because the first one was so popular it didn’t last long at all!20140702-213919-77959294.jpg

The zucchini came from a friend’s family garden. It was huge. There was enough for both loaves, zucchini chips and a zucchini sauté.

Zucchini bread with chocolate chips

1 1/2 cups spelt (or whole wheat) flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup granulated (or turbinado) sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup light olive oil
1/3 cup milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup Greek yogurt (I use orange or vanilla flavored)
1 tablespoon orange zest
2 1/2 cups grated zucchini
4 to 6 ounces chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together first five ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Stir in cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar. In a separate mixing bowl, lightly beat eggs, then stir in olive oil, milk and vanilla. Add in yogurt and orange zest, stirring often to get rid of lumps. When mixture is smooth, add in zucchini. Stir into flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake for about an hour or until toothpick comes out clean (make sure to poke around in a few spots as it doesn’t seem to bake consistently). Let cool, then slice and serve. Refrigerate leftovers. (Adapted from a recipe on simplebites.net)

 

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I found some golden beets when I went to Whole Foods (they also had some at Rainbow Co-op). I knew I must buy some, but I didn’t cook them until today.

I wanted to make a soup since the weather has been horrid the last couple of days. The thought of something hearty and warm cheered me up as I prepped the beets and put them in the oven.

But after working in a hot kitchen for more than an hour, I decided to chill the soup instead.

I love the contrast of the sweet beets to the savory greens. It makes every spoonful an adventure.

This is adapted from a recipe on epicurious.com. I served it with an olive hummus and raw green beans.

Roasted golden beet soup
4 golden beets with greens
2 tablespoons fresh minced ginger
3/4 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
Kosher salt to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups unsalted vegetable stock

Wash beets. Remove greens and set aside. Peel the beetroot and cut into 1 1/4- inches pieces. Place in a baking dish and toss in 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Place in a preheated 400-degree oven for about 45 minutes. While beets are in the oven, sauté ginger, onion and garlic in remaining olive oil using a 1-quart saucepan. Reserve 2/3 of the mixture for the soup.

Rough chop the beet greens (I added some spinach and chard since I had a little left in the fridge). Add to the ginger/onion/garlic mix and sauté until leaves are wilted. Stir in 1/4 cup vegetable stock, letting it warm up, then remove from heat and set aside for a few minutes to cool. Purée with an immersion blender. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Remove beets from oven. They should be soft, but not quite fork-tender. Put the remaining 2/3 ginger/onion/garlic mix and the beets in a 2-quart saucepan and let heat up, stirring in the remaining vegetable stock and a pinch of salt (you can add more later, if needed). Let dimmer about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in lemon juice and zest. Let cool a little, then purée in a blender or food processor.

If serving hot, return to saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring often to avoid burning on the bottom. If serving chilled, cover and let soup cool to room temperature before serving (you can place bowl of soup on top of a bowl of ice to chill further if desired).

Place in individual bowls then spoon a little puréed greens on top before serving.

 

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I wanted to do something different on New Year’s Day instead of the traditional black-eyed peas and cabbage. I already shared the recipe for black-eyed pea falafel.

I found this recipe for Brussels sprouts, and substituted pecans for walnuts since that’s what I had in the cupboard. http://theshiksa.com/2013/11/12/roasted-brussels-sprouts-with-pomegranate-molasses I have store-bought pomegranate molasses, so I used that instead of making my own (recipe for pomegranate molasses: http://theshiksa.com/2011/09/07/pomegranate-molasses/).

The dish has a nice balance of sweet, tart and savory, and has layers of textures, from the crunchy nuts to the pop of the pomegranate kernels.

Here’s how I made it:

Brussels sprouts with pomegranate

1 pound Brussels sprouts, halved

1 tablespoon olive oil

Kosher salt (I used about 1/2 teaspoon)

1 cup toasted pecan halves (about 1/2 cup chopped)

1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss the Brussels sprouts in olive oil and place in a single layer in a large ceramic baking dish. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes. In the meantime, place pecans in a separate baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and bake for about 5 minutes. Chop lightly. Toss Brussels sprouts and pecans in pomegranate molasses, then add pomegranate kernels and serve.

Black-eyed pea falafel

Black-eyed peas are a traditional Southern food, and if eaten – with cabbage – on New Year’s Day is supposed to bring luck. I made falafel from black-eyed peas yesterday to celebrate the new year, but this falafel is good any time of year.

They are a great source of protein, with 14 grams in 1 cup of cooked peas.

Black-eyed peas

Black-eyed pea falafel

8 ounces dried black-eyed peas, soaked overnight

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup cilantro, lightly chopped

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon curry powder

1/2 teaspoon celery salt

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

2 heaping tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Soak peas overnight in 2-quart saucepan. Add salt. Bring to a boil, then let simmer 20 to 25 minutes until peas are done, being careful not to overcook. Skim off foam; drain well. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Add peas and remaining ingredients to a food processor. Pulse until texture is fairly smooth and consistent. Add a little more flour if needed to firm it up enough to hold together. Form balls about 1 inch to 1 1/4 inch in diameter and place on ungreased ceramic baking dishes. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn falafel over and bake for another 10-15 minutes. Serve with sprigs of fresh cilantro and tzatziki or tahini sauce.

This is the first fruit tart I ever made.

This is the first fruit tart I ever made.

I found a tart pan in a thrift store, and for $1 I couldn’t resist buying it. I have always dreamed of making a fruit tart of my own.

I have always admired the beautiful fruit tarts I’ve seen in bakeries. Some were beautiful pieces of art that tasted as good as they looked. Others? Well, let’s say they needed serious improvement.

Anyway, I brought home my new prized possession and in a few days I was able to get to work on making a fruit tart. They are much easier than they look, although there is a lot of time involved in the process.

I have made a couple of tarts, including one for a friend’s Christmas party, and they turned out beautifully. I plan to make more since I have gotten great feedback about the ones I’ve made so far.

Just a note: Before you begin making anything new, make sure you read through the recipe and make sure you understand it before you begin. If there is something that puzzles you, either contact the author or google the term to get clarification.

It is also a good idea to make sure you have all the ingredients and equipment before you get started. This recipe is designed for an 11-inch tart pan. If you use a smaller one or a different type of baking dish, you will have to adjust the recipe and cooking time up or down.

Back to the tarts … There are three components: the shortbread crust, the custard and the fruit. The shortbread and pastry cream can be made a day or two in advance. The fruit should always be added fresh.

Basic fruit tart

Shortbread crust

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup ice water
2 tablespoons apple or plum jelly

Sift together flour and sugar. Pour into a  food processor container. Using plastic pastry attachment, cut in the butter with small pulses so you don’t over mix it. This should take about 15 to 20 seconds. It will look like a clumpy flour mixture. Lightly beat the egg yolks. Stir in the water. Slowly add the mixture to the dough, pulsing the food processor as you add it, until it is blended, being careful not to over blend. It should still look like a clumpy flour mixture, but holds together well when you squeeze some in your hand. Pour mixture onto a floured surface and flatten the dough into a circle. Cover it with plastic wrap and put it on a plate. Refrigerate for at least an hour. When ready to bake, roll dough out on a lightly floured surface until you have a 12- to 13-inch circle. Place in tart pan so it fills the bottom and the sides. Pierce in several places with a fork. Place tart pan on a large baking sheet (some of the butter will drip out). Bake in preheated 400-degree oven for about 5 minutes. Turn oven down to 350 degrees and bake another 15 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool completely. Brush cooled crust with jelly and let it dry before adding the custard. This helps keep the crust from getting soggy.

Custard

1 1/2 cups nonfat milk
1 1/2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons cornstarch

Slightly beat the egg yolks. Stir in the cornstarch until you have a smooth mixture. Heat milk and sugar in a small saucepan until it is just about to boil. Reduce heat to medium. Stir in vanilla. Remove from heat. Put a few tablespoons of the heated milk into the egg mixture, one at a time, stirring with a whisk as you add them so the egg yolks get heated but don’t cook. Return the milk mixture to the heat, then slowly pour the egg mixture into the milk, whisking continuously. Continue to stir until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and pour into a glass mixing bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, placing the wrap directly on the custard so a skin does not form. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate at least one hour. When ready, spread the custard evenly across the cooled crust. Top with fresh fruit.

This is the second tart I made.

This is the second tart I made.

Fruit topping

4-5 cups fresh fruit, sliced (leave berries whole)

1/2 cup apple or plum jelly for glaze (optional)

Berries, bananas, pears, kiwi, mango, peaches or canned mandarin oranges will work. You can use any combination, and decorate the top however you like. Random placement works just as well as structured designs.

To glaze (optional): Heat the jelly slightly in a small saucepan until it is liquid and smooth. Let cool, then brush across fruit.

Note: Fresh fruit tarts do not keep very well, so are best served the same day you assemble them. I have had moderate success with freezing them, but I recommend finishing the tart the same day. Makes 12 or more servings.

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