Lemon-Tarragon Zucchini Bread

OMG, I cannot even begin to express how sick I am of summer squash.  Four lousy plants, plus our CSA contribution, and it has simply taken over my kitchen counters.

Our kitchen freezer is literally stuffed with frozen, shredded zucchini.  We’ve eaten the stuff every. stinkin’. day.  Often for more than one meal.

I’ve put it in omelets, scrambles, casseroles, stir fries, cream sauces, tomato sauces.  I’ve hidden it in meatloaf, meatballs and spaghetti sauce (which is one way to get my vegetable eschewing son and grandson to eat it).  I’ve stewed it, fried it, sauteed it and roasted it.  I’m getting ready to make it into pickles and relish.

And I finally broke down and made some zucchini bread.

My sister-in-law, Tough Yankee Broad, is an accomplished cook, avid gardener and fellow crochet addict.  Recently she found a recipe for Glazed Lemon Zucchini Bread, since she, too, is Awash In Squash; I asked her to let me know how it came out if she made it.  She did, and pronounced it “okay” with the caveat that, since she lives in the middle of nowhere Vermont, she had to use bottled lemon juice.

I, on the other hand, had two lemons sitting on my counter, leftovers from Jolly’s birthday cake.  Keeping in mind TYB’s statement that she doubled the recipe because “who only has one cup of shredded zucchini on hand and only makes one loaf of bread with it??” but not wanting to make a metric fuck-ton of it in case it was simply “okay” I began mentally tweaking the recipe.

The original recipe called for canola oil which, despite the return of moderate amounts of wheat flour and sugar to our diet, is still on my “banned” list, so I used melted and cooled butter instead.  It also called for buttermilk which I worried might have had something to do with my SIL’s bread not being very “lemony” so I decided to just use plain, whole milk.  After shredding a medium-sized zucchini, I got about a cup and a half, so I kept the liquid to 1/2 a cup, combining half of the lemon juice with 6 tablespoons of milk, figuring it would keep the bread plenty moist.

To be honest, I held back two tablespoons of lemon juice, fully intending to make a glaze for the bread, but while it was baking it occurred to me that glazing it really would be gilding the lily, and opted for sprinkling the reserved juice over the bread once it came out of the oven (it was the right choice).

As for the tarragon, that was a bit of an afterthought when I was assembling the ingredients – and one of desperation, to be honest, since for some reason the tarragon in our herb garden has gone completely nuts this year and is taking over.  Don’t ask me why, for I don’t know; every year prior it’s been rather lackluster.  Maybe it has something to do with the bitterly cold winter we just had (that killed my thyme)?  Who knows…

As for the bread, well, it was magnificent – holy cow, so so so SO good.  Just lemony enough, not too terribly sweet (glazing the bread would have made it so) and the tarragon gave it a wonderful herbaceous hint that was just lovely.  Yum, yum, YUM.  I’m going to make a lot more to freeze and give away as gifts – in fact, most of it will be given away as gifts because if I keep it in the house, I’ll eat it ALL.

It’s just that good.

Lemon-Tarragon Zucchini Bread. Not your run-of-the-mill quick bread!

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Lemon-Tarragon Zucchini Bread
Serves: 16
Ingredients
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
  • 6 tablespoons milk
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1 medium zucchini, grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan; reserve 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and set aside.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar and melted butter until well blended and thick. Whisk in the milk, lemon juice, zest and tarragon. In two batches, stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, mixing well and scraping down the bowl after each addition. Fold in the grated zucchini.
  4. Pour into the prepared loaf pan; bake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  5. Allow to cool for 30 minutes on a baking rack. Turn out the bread and return to the baking rack; sprinkle the top with the reserved lemon juice and allow to cool completely before serving.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 188 calories, 6.7g total fat, 39mg cholesterol, 187.1mg sodium, 82.8mg potassium, 29.9g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 17.4g sugar, 2.9g protein

Winter Squash Casserole

It’s funny, where you can find inspiration for a dish.

I don’t know about anyone else, but the little “ticker” over on the right-hand side of the screen on Facebook fascinates me.  I’ll often click on it just to see the photo or status someone on my friends list “likes” or see the post or status they’re commenting on.  I’ve found some hilarious and infuriating things over there – and, occasionally, something instructive.

Such was the case last weekend when I clicked on something that looked like a recipe by my friend Barbara, a professional chef who owns the blog Tigers and Strawberries.  (She hasn’t blogged for quite some time, but has left the blog up – which is a great thing; it is a marvelous resource of recipes and cooking knowledge.)  In fact, that’s exactly what it was – a simple recipe on one of her friend’s post about discovering delicata squash.

And, like all of Barbara’s recipes, it looked marvelous.  Right away I sent her a private message saying I planned to make the dish soon (I made it the next night, as a matter of fact) and asking if I could post the recipe here when I did.  Gracious as always, her reply was, “Go for it.”

So here it is.

And it is every bit as marvelous as I had anticipated.

Barbara gave no real measurements – it was just a list of ingredients and general instructions for the dish – so I had to sort of wing it when it came to proportions.  We had a fairly large butternut squash that we’d just pulled out of our garden, so I used that, along with two Fuji apples because they are delicious and hold up fairly well to cooking.  The only other ingredients were 2 parts almond butter to one part maple syrup, dried cranberries and slivered almonds.

Since the almond butter I used was an all-natural butter with no added salt or sugar, I ended up reversing the proportions of that and the maple syrup (which turned out to be a good thing once I saw the calorie content of a serving).  On a whim, I also added raisins along with the dried cranberries and I had no slivered almonds, so I used chopped pecans instead.

I also didn’t realize when I began that it was going to make a HUGE amount, but that’s okay – it is so very, very good that we’ve eaten the leftovers every day this week for lunch (and there is still some left in the fridge that we’ll probably polish off today).  In fact, it’s so good that Beloved is campaigning for it to be part of our Thanksgiving dinner this year, and I may very well accommodate him.

This would work well with just about any kind of winter squash, and Barbara says you can use sweet potatoes if you prefer.  She also says this would make a great dessert, and if you use sweet potatoes, I’d have to agree.

Note:  This dish is vegetarian as written; if you sub the butter with olive oil or palm oil shortening for greasing the pan, it will become vegan – and dairy-free – as well.

Winter Squash Casserole. This delicious and simple casserole is perfect for a chilly autumn day - or your holiday table.

Click the image to enlarge

Winter Squash Casserole
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 3 cups butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2″ dice
  • 2 cups apples, peeled, cored and diced
  • 1/2 cup unsalted almond butter
  • 1 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 cup dried unsweetened cranberries
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Generously butter a 9″ x 13″ baking dish.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the almond butter and maple syrup until well-blended. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients except the salt and pepper. Pour the almond butter mixture over the contents of the bowl and toss to coat all of the pieces of squash and apple evenly. Add the seasonings and stir to combine.
  4. Pour the squash mixture into the buttered baking dish and spread out evenly. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes, or until the squash and apples are tender. Remove the foil and return to the oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until the top of the casserole begins to brown.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 425 calories, 13.2g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 343.5mg sodium, 426.3mg potassium, 77.5g carbohydrates, 6.6g fiber, 26.5g sugar, 3.8g protein

Banana-Blueberry Muffins

Sorry there was no post yesterday; The Young One and I were attending something called Destination Kent (we’re there again today, as a matter of fact) – a requirement for all incoming Freshmen.  I simply didn’t have time to do anything else.  I probably wouldn’t have anything today if I hadn’t had such a hard time winding down last night.  Talk about information overload.

I have to tell you:  I am exhausted.  Running around a college campus in a pair of shoes you thought were comfortable until you spent 12 hours walking all over creation and back has a way of sapping your energy.  The crappy food didn’t help much either; something that renews my trepidation about what The Young One will eat while he’s there.  Let’s just suffice to say after 3 chocolate croissants, a glass of apple juice and a cup of hot chocolate for breakfast yesterday morning, the sugar crash that happened was of nearly epic proportions.  It was all the kid could do to keep from sliding out of his chair into a snoring heap on the floor during the “welcome” portion of yesterday’s activities.

Afterwards, we had a serious, if brief, discussion about the importance of making better choices for breakfast – especially since he’s not used to such carbage (to say nothing of not being a morning person under the best of circumstances).  Of course, Mom may just have to make sure he has a steady supply of vat-pasteurized, non-homogenized whole milk from a local dairy that grass-feeds their cows and treats like these to keep him full, happy and reasonably healthy.

The Young One is not the only younger member of the family whose diet I keep an eagle eye on, at least in my home.  I always keep fruit in the house for the preschool-age G Man; he doesn’t really get cookies, candy or other sweet treats at Meema and Papa’s house.  But the boy just adores fruit, and he’s especially fond of bananas and blueberries, so I always try to make sure to have some on hand.  On the downside to that, I sometimes have bananas slowly rotting on my counter – after all, there’s only so many bananas a little boy can eat during his weekly visits to the grands, and the rest of us have to really be in the mood to eat a tasty nanner.

It seems to be different if you put the tasty nanner in bread form, for these disappeared quite rapidly (which is why I try not to bake very often).  I whipped these together for our Sunday brunch one day some weeks ago, and since I didn’t want to wait an hour for a loaf of bread to be done, muffins it was.  The addition of the blueberries was rather inspired, if I do say so myself, lending the muffins a light, fruity flavor that was just delicious.

I have a feeling The Young One’s dorm room is going to become quite popular when care package time rolls around.

Banana Blueberry Muffins. Blueberries add a touch of light fruitiness to these gluten-free banana bread muffins.

Click to enlarge the photo

Banana-Blueberry Muffins
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 2 1/4 cups almond flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/4 cup potato flour
  • 1 heaping teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 large very ripe bananas
  • 3/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 4 tablespoons melted ghee
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F; generously grease the cups of a 12 serving muffin tin.
  2. Whisk together the flours, baking soda and salt in a large bowl; set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or another large mixing bowl if you’re using a hand mixer), mix the eggs, bananas, sugar, ghee and vanilla on medium speed until well blended. Add the dry ingredients in three additions on low speed, mixing well and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Gently fold in the blueberries with a spatula.
  3. Divide the batter between the 12 prepared muffin cups and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.
  4. Place on a wire rack and allow to cool for 10 minutes before turning out the muffins. Allow to cool completely before serving.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 249 calories, 14.2g total fat, 56.7mg cholesterol, 230.1mg sodium, 264.9mg potassium, 23.9g carbohydrates, 3.4g fiber, 11.7g sugar, 2.2g protein

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumble

Yesterday, I mentioned that we’d had more than our fair share of “indulgences” while my kids were visiting.

This is one of them.

Strawberry-rhubarb anything is one of Beloved’s favorite things to eat; I can’t even begin to describe how happy he is to have both growing in our gardens.  Since we celebrated Father’s Day on Friday, due to his travel schedule, I thought it would be nice to make a strawberry-rhubarb something.  In years past, it would have been a pie, but crumbles and crisps are so much easier (and I haven’t perfected the perfect gluten-free pie crust yet).

Was it good, you ask?  Well, let’s put it this way – it didn’t last 24 hours.  Heck, half of it was gone before we ate the dinner for which it was supposed to be dessert.  It made a damn fine breakfast, too, paired with scrambled eggs and good, strong coffee.  An altogether delightfully delicious and versatile treat.

Note:  The cardamom in the “crumble” part gave it a really wonderful flavor, but if you don’t have it, that’s okay – it’ll still be good.  Also, make sure you place the pie plate on a foil-lined baking sheet before putting it in the oven; it will bubble over the edges of the dish.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumble. A simple, gluten-free dessert featuring sweet, juicy strawberries and tart rhubarb.

Click on photo to enlarge

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumble
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 2 cups sliced rhubarb
  • 1 quart strawberries, sliced
  • 1/2 cup evaporated cane juice
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca flour
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup tapioca flour
  • 2 tablespoons potato flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 cup evaporated cane juice
  • 2 to 3 tablespoon ghee or clarified butter, melted
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Combine the rhubarb and strawberries with the 1/2 cup evaporated cane juice in a large glass mixing bowl. Allow the fruit to macerate for 30 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir the 2 tablespoons of tapioca flour into the fruit mixture, then transfer to a pie plate and bake, uncovered. for 15 minutes.
  3. While the strawberry-rhubarb mixture is baking, combine the pecans with the tapioca and potato flours, evaporated cane juice, coconut, and cardamom in a small bowl. Stir in the melted ghee, one tablespoon at a time, until the mixture is moist and crumbly, but not wet.
  4. Spread the pecan topping over the fruit and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes, or until the topping is brown and the fruit is tender. Cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 329 calories, 18g total fat, 7.6mg cholesterol, 7.8mg sodium, 523.5mg potassium, 42.2g carbohydrates, 7.5g fiber, 25.5g sugar, 3.6g protein

Chocolate Strawberry Crumb Cake

I sort of mentioned this in passing in a recent post, and got quite a few requests for the recipe.

Then I promptly forgot all about it.

When I realized I’d only posted two recipes this week (three is my norm) and that I hadn’t really done much cooking this week since Beloved is out of town on business, I decided I’d drag it out and post it.

You’re welcome.

This was one of those Sunday morning indulgences – I woke up and thought that a coffee cake-ish sort of thing sounded good and was in the mood to bake.  I had some fresh strawberries on hand and almost made a fruit buckle, but then decided to just put them on top of the cake and drizzle them with some melted dark chocolate.

It. Was. Wonderful.  Fruity and rich, but not too sweet; a great addition to our Sunday brunch.  It would make a nice dessert, too.

A couple of notes –  the coconut milk in the chocolate serves two purposes; it helps prevent the chocolate seizing up when it’s being melted (the double boiler also assists with this) and it helps keep the chocolate from re-hardening after it’s been drizzled over the strawberries.  You can use heavy cream if you prefer.

Also, the servings are not huge, but they don’t really need to be – it’s pretty filling due to the nuts, both the almond flour and the almonds in the topping.  Just keep in mind this is not diet food; it’s neither low in carbs nor calories, but most treats/desserts aren’t.

Chocolate Strawberry Crumb Cake. Fruity and rich, but not too sweet - a great addition to your Sunday brunch.

Click to enlarge

Chocolate Strawberry Crumb Cake
Serves: 8 to 12
Ingredients
  • Cake:
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca flour
  • 2 tablespoons potato flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup ghee or clarified butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Crumble:
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped almonds
  • 1/4 cup tapioca flour
  • 2 tablespoons potato flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 3 tablespoons ghee or clarified butter, melted
  • Topping:
  • 1 quart fresh strawberries, sliced
  • 3 ounces good-quality dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons coconut milk
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Stir together the dry ingredients – the flours, salt, baking soda and coconut sugar – in a large mixing bowl. Add the wet ingredients – eggs, ghee, and vanilla – and mix on medium speed until the ingredients are combined. Increase the speed to high and mix until the batter is very smooth, about 2 minutes.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine all the ingredients for the crumble except the ghee. Stir in the ghee, one tablespoon at a time, until the mixture is moist and crumbly, but not wet.
  4. Pour the batter into a well-greased 8″ x 8″ baking dish, then top with the crumble (there will be a lot). Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
  5. Cool completely on a wire rack.
  6. While the cake is cooling, combine the chocolate and coconut milk in the top of a double boiler over simmering, not boiling, water. Stir occasionally until the chocolate is completely melted and combined with the coconut milk.
  7. Layer the sliced strawberries on top of the cooled cake and drizzle with the melted chocolate. Cut into squares and serve.
  8. Nutrition (per serving): 373 calories, 24.9g total fat, 64.5mg cholesterol, 91.2mg sodium, 483.6mg potassium, 32.1g carbohydrates, 6.9g fiber, 16.8g sugar, 6.1g protein