Lemon Zucchini Cake

 

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Zucchini Lemon Cake with Raspberry Curd

I harvested what I suspect will be the last mini-zucchinis from our garden last week (small cry). After enjoying this lemon zucchini cake for the first time a few months back, I really wanted to make it again. Note that it’s called cake, rather than bread, and that’s because the texture is so light and moist and lovely! I slightly adapted this recipe from Becca’s Vegetarian Blog and decided to write it up so I won’t forget it, and so I don’t have to weigh the ingredients next time. 😉

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups grated zucchini
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • zest from 2 lemons, plus juice of one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
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Wet ingredients

Steps:

  1. Preheat your oven to 320 degrees and grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix the zucchini, oil, egg, sugar, lemon zest and juice with a large spoon.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir gently until the flour is integrated.
  4. Pour batter into the loaf pan and bake for 55 – 60 mins. until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

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Black Sticky Rice with Mango

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Black sticky rice with coconut cream and mango

It was cool, gray, and raining all day, so when I found some mangoes on Saturday, I decided we needed to make black sticky rice with coconut cream and mango, because what could be more comforting?!

For some reason, its been several years since we made sticky rice at home, but a day mostly spent at home provided the perfect opportunity. The rice has to soak for hours before you can cook it, so you could start the process in the morning, or the night before, depending on when you want to enjoy it.

You don’t have to use black rice, but you do need to purchase sticky or glutinous rice. I like the black rice because it has a slightly nutty flavor and turns a pretty purple when cooked. It still has its outer bran layer, like brown rice, so it’s also a lot more nutritious than white rice. If you have the opportunity to visit an Asian grocery, I recommend doing all of your shopping there for this recipe. Standard groceries seem to charge 2-3x as much as the Asian groceries or even Trader Joe’s for coconut milk or coconut cream.

(Yield: about 8 servings)

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Measuring black rice

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups black rice
  • water
  • 14 oz. can of coconut cream
  • scant 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • sliced or cubed mango (I used 1 mango for every 3 servings)

Steps:

  1. Pour the rice in a medium sized bowl and cover with water by 1 to 2 inches. Soak for at least 3 hours, or up to 12 hours.
  2. Drain the water off and place the rice in a medium sized pot. Measure 5 cups of water and add to the pot.
  3. Bring the rice to a boil, then turn down to a gentle boil and cook for another 30 minutes. If the water seems to be cooking off too quickly, you can add a bit more as needed. Decrease the heat to low and cook about 10 more minutes.
  4. While the rice is in its last leg of cooking, open the can of coconut cream and pour it into a large sauce pan. Add the sugar and salt and stir. Cook gently for a few minutes until the sugar has dissolved and then turn off.
  5. Turn off the rice and stir in half of the coconut cream mixture. Set aside the offer half. Cover the pot of rice and let stand about 30 mins.
  6. Scoop about a half cup of rice onto a plate, drizzle additional coconut cream on top, and top with mango.
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Pouring coconut cream into black sticky rice
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Time to eat the black sticky rice with mango!

 

Fried Green Tomatoes

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Green tomatoes from our summer garden

At some point in October in Portland, the tomatoes stop ripening, and it’s time to make fried green tomatoes. They are crispy on the outside, and juicy and tangy on the inside. They remind me of southern meals, but you can enjoy them almost any time. In years past, we had so many tomatoes that I made them several times, but this year our yield was so low, that I waited till now to pick any green ones.

As you can see in the picture above, sometimes when you cut into a green tomato, you have a sweet surprise awaiting you — the tomato was starting to ripen from the inside out. These slices are especially good!

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washed green tomatoes split by the recent rains

Ingredients:

  • Green tomatoes, preferably medium to large size (2 large ones was enough for 3 people at my house)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal flour
  • salt and pepper
  • vegetable or olive oil
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Preparing to dip the tomatoes in buttermilk and then flour mixture
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Ready for frying

Steps:

  1. Cut the tomatoes into approximately 1/4 inch slices and sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides. Let them sit for 10 mins. or so to tenderize a bit. This is particularly helpful if the tomatoes are hard.
  2. Mix flour and cornmeal together in a wide bowl.
  3. Pour buttermilk into a separate small bowl.
  4. Heat a large fry pan on medium heat with a few tablespoons of oil.
  5. Dip tomato slices into buttermilk and then into flour mixture, flipping to cover both sides.
  6. Place slices in oil, and cook on each side for about 3 or 4 mins., until golden and crisp.
  7. Remove from pan and serve hot!

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DIY Dried Apple Slices

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Dried Apple Slices

I was feeling like making a healthyish muffin recipe (Apple Apricot Muffins) which uses dried apples and apricots, but I didn’t have any dried apples on hand. But I do have plenty of fresh apples, and it turns out that drying them yourself couldn’t be easier. I have an old low quality food dehydrator that I’ve kind of given up on, so this was a test of the oven method, and it worked great. It also helps that we have a second oven in the drawer space underneath the regular oven, which comes in handy whenever I want to dry something for a long time on low heat.

There’s just a few key decisions to make. If you want to preserve the apple skin, which make the slices look prettier and increases their fiber content, then don’t peel them. Similarly, if you want the slices to have the pretty star shape in the center, don’t core them. But if you don’t like these chewy dried bits, go ahead and peel and core them. In that case, you’ll end up with more traditional looking apple rings.

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Apple slices soaking in lemon juice and water

Ingredients:

  • ~ 3 medium apples per baking sheet
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • bowl of water
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Apple slices about to go in the oven

Steps:

  1. Setup a large bowl of cold water with lemon juice.
  2. Slice your apple in 1/8 inch slices, starting at one end.
  3. Soak the apples in the water for 20 – 30 mins. to minimize browning.
  4. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
  5. Spread a kitchen towel on your counter and place the apple slices on it. Pat them dry.
  6. Transfer the apple slices to your lined baking sheet(s).
  7. Bake the apple slices for about 3 hours, and flip the slices. Then bake for another hour or so. The exact time will vary based on your oven’s true temperature, the thickness of your apple slices, etc. I turned the oven off after about 4 hours, and let them sit in the oven for another 30 mins or so. At this point, mine were dry but soft in texture. If you want them to be crunchy, let them go another hour!

 

 

Apple Apricot Muffins

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Apple Apricot Muffins

This recipe is slightly adapted from the Cheese Board Collective Works cookbook (2003), and we’ve been enjoying it for over 10 years. It produces a mildly sweet pastry with a moist interior, and chewy chunks of dried apple and apricot. It also features oats, pecans, and wheat germ, and uses vegetable oil instead of butter, so I think of it as existing on the healthier side of the breakfast world. It’s a good Fall recipe and will leave you sated until lunch time.

You can prep all of the dry ingredients in advance, as I did, or you can even go as far as mixing the complete batter and storing it in the fridge until the morning. There’s a short resting period required for the oats and dried fruits to soak and expand, so don’t forget to figure this in to your prep time.

(Yield: about 15 muffins)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour, plus 1/4 cup of whole wheat or spelt flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup raw wheat germ
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried apples
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
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Muffin cups of batter

Steps:

  1. Combine all of the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the dried fruits and nuts. (I use kitchen shears to cut the fruit into pieces, which seems to go faster and be less sticky than using a knife.)
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla.
  3. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir gently until the majority of the flour is integrated.
  4. Let the batter rest for at least 15 minutes to allow ingredients to soak and expand fully. (At this point, you could refrigerate the batter until the morning.)
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and grease or line your muffin pan.
  6. Fill muffin cups to the top and bake for about 28 minutes. The muffins will be a deep golden brown, firm, and springy. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes.
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Apple apricot muffin with a little butter – yum!

 

 

Pear and Almond Scones

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Pear and almond scones with sides of clotted cream and pear butter

These are the best scones I’ve ever made. Pears and almonds were clearly meant for each other. I offered clotted cream and pear butter on the side with these this morning, since I had some of both, but that just turns them into straight up dessert. The only accompaniment they really need is a hot mug of your favorite tea.

The first time I whipped these up was just a month or so ago, but it’s pear season and I keep picking or buying them from farms and patiently waiting for them to ripen. Pears are unusual in that they don’t ripen on the tree, but only after picking. This works out well because so many other fruits that I like to pick demand to be dealt with as soon as I get them home. For this recipe, try to use moderately ripe but still somewhat firm pears. If they’re super ripe, they’ll become mushy when you roast them.

After making this recipe a few times, I feel confident that I’m recommending the right amount of liquid to bring the dough together. But I’ll also share with you a tip for scone making that I learned from the Cheeseboard Cooperative’s cookbook. They suggest having a little extra cream and/or buttermilk on hand, and gradually adding it if the dough isn’t coming together and there’s still lots of dry flour in the bowl. I’ve definitely made some scone recipes where an extra tablespoon was required, and then there were even ones where I was sure the recipe was off by a 1/4 cup of liquid. It’s not just you… it’s that the air is more or less humid that day, your flour is retaining more or less moisture, etc.

A few special notes:

  • I highly recommend getting a pastry cutter for integrating cold butter into flour. I’ve tried a few kinds and the wire type pictured below works best. I use it for scones, as well as pastry/pie crusts.
  • I had a hard time finding almond paste recently (not marzipan, which has more sugar, and is used for candy making), so I ordered several 8 oz. boxes of it from Amazon recently. Zero regrets. 😉

Ingredients:

  • 3 pears or about 1 pound of ripe but somewhat firm pears
  • 1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 4 oz. of almond paste, cut into little squares or grated
  • 1/4 cup sugar, plus 1/2 tablespoon for sprinkling
  • 2 eggs (1 for the dough and 1 for brushing the scone tops)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus extra for the egg wash
  • (optional) 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter cut into small chunks (refrigerator cold, not frozen)
  • (scant) 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • sliced almonds
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Pear and almond scone batter before pressing and cutting

Steps:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. Peel, core, and cut the pear into roughly 1-inch chunks. Spread the pears onto the baking sheet and roast for about 20 mins. They should be lightly browned and dry on the surfaces when done. (My pears were less ripe and in bigger pieces than the first time I made these, so they took more like 35 mins. to roast. But the scones turned out oh-so-good with perfect caramelized chunks of pear.)
  3. Whisk the flour, 1/4 cup of sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. (You could tackle these first three steps the night before to save time the morning of.)
  4. Cut the cold butter into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter until the butter is integrated and is about the size of small peas. Gently stir in the almond paste and the pear pieces with a large spoon.
  5. Whisk the egg and then add it along with the cream and almond extract to the flour mixture. Mix gently until the dough starts to come together. If there’s lots of dry flour still, add a drizzle of additional cream to the mixture and stir gently. Try not to stir aggressively in order to avoid smashing the pear pieces, which will make the dough really sticky.
  6. Drop the dough onto your parchment paper and flour your hands a bit. Press the dough by hand into a round about 1 1/2 inches tall. Cut into 6 wedges. Spread the wedges a few inches apart on the baking sheet.
  7. Whisk an egg with a dash of salt and a teaspoon of water, and brush the tops of the scones lightly. Sprinkle a little sugar, and then a few almond slices on each scone and put them in the oven.
  8. Bake for 25 – 28 mins. until they are lightly browned.
  9. Let cool on wire rack for 5 – 10 mins. and serve.
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Pear and almond scones fresh from the oven

Passion Fruit Curd

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Cream scones with lightly whipped cream and dollops of passion fruit curd

It was probably our honeymoon in Tahiti that kicked off my love affair with passion fruit. A yellow skinned variety grew wild on the island of Moorea and we picked and ate whatever we could get our hands on. Oh, how I wish I could grow passion fruit here in Oregon. I did discover years ago that I could order a big box of the fresh fruits from farms in S. California, as well as you can find bags of maracuya pulp frozen in Mexican groceries. The frozen pulp works perfectly here and is a lot more reasonable than buying the fresh fruit in grocery stores.

(Yield: 2 1/2 cups curd)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup or 1 stick of unsalted softened butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 4 eggs beaten lightly
  • 1 cup of passion fruit pulp
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Passion Fruit Curd

Steps:

  1.  Fill bottom of double boiler with 1 to 2 inches of water and bring to a simmer. Avoid boiling the water as it can cause the egg to congeal into hard bits.
  2. Place all ingredients in top of double boiler and cook over gentle heat until mixture thickens. Whisk often for 20 – 30 mins., until curd sticks to spoon without running off.
  3. If you see bits of firm white egg in the curd, you can strain the mixture with a sieve.
  4. Pour into jars and allow to cool. Store in the refrigerator and use within a month.

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