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!

Click the image to enlarge

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

Gingered Strawberry-Rhubarb Cobbler

Father’s Day this year was nice for Beloved, I’m happy to report.  Jolly took him out for dinner the night before; I made him Crab Cake Benedict (served over sauteed Swiss chard and caramelized onions) for brunch and some lovely chicken livers sauteed with white wine, onion and capers over a traditional risotto for dinner.  He got to take a nap and putter in the garden and we gave him a couple of cute gifts, both useful and funny.

He enjoyed himself, which is the goal of any good Father’s Day.

I also made him this.  The man is a strawberry-rhubarb fanatic, and since our rhubarb is gorgeous this year and we had two quarts of fresh strawberries in the fridge, why not make him a strawberry-rhubarb dessert as a Father’s Day treat?  And because cobbler is easier than pie, as well as every bit as tasty, well…there you go.

Now, this is not paleo (like cobbler could ever be truly paleo); in fact, it’s not even gluten-free.  (You can make it gluten-free and more paleo friendly by using the topping recipe here, if you like).  What it is is freaking delicious, and if I’m going to make the light of my life one of his favorite desserts for Father’s Day, I refuse to feel the least bit guilty about it.  All of the ingredients, including the AP flour and granulated sugar, were certified organic, and the fruit was locally grown – you can’t get more “local” than your own back yard.

So there.

The addition of the crystallized ginger in the topping was just wonderful, and the topping itself was tender and fluffy and simply delicious.  I’m going to throw caution to the wind and make a cobbler with this topping again when peaches are in season later this summer.  It’ll be awesome.

*smiles and thumbs nose*

Gingered Strawberry-Rhubarb Cobbler. Crystallized ginger really elevates the topping of this marvelous springtime dessert.

Click the image to enlarge

Gingered Strawberry-Rhubarb Cobbler
Serves: 6
[i]To make this gluten-free and more paleo-friendly, [url href=”http://www.janssushibar.com/grain-free-peach-cobbler/” target=”_blank”]use the topping recipe here[/url].[/i]
Ingredients
  • [i]For the filling:[/i]
  • 2 1/2 cups diced rhubarb
  • 2 1/2 cups hulled and quartered strawberries
  • 1/2 cup evaporated cane juice [i][b]or[/b][/i] granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca flour [i][b]or[/b][/i] corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • [i]For the crust:[/i]
  • 2 tablespoons evaporated cane juice [i][b]or[/b][/i] granulated sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher sea salt
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup finely diced crystallized ginger
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the rhubarb and the strawberries with the sugar, tapioca or corn starch, and lemon zest. Set aside the mixture for 30 minutes to macerate.
  3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the 2 tablespoons of sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt. Using the tines of a fork, cut the butter in until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the milk, egg, and crystallized ginger just until moistened. Do not over mix.
  4. Pour strawberries and rhubarb into a 2-quart casserole dish; drop the cobbler batter by heaping tablespoonfuls on top of the fruit. Sprinkle a little extra sugar over the cobbler topping, if desired.
  5. Bake for 30-35 minutes until cobbler crust is golden brown and fruit filling is bubbling. Serve warm; top with lightly sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, if desired.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 304 calories, 9.3g total fat, 52.4mg cholesterol, 189.4mg sodium, 252.4mg potassium, 52.4g carbohydrates, 2.5g fiber, 24.6g sugar, 4.4g protein

Quinoa and Asparagus Salad with Poached Eggs

I’ve really been too busy lately to do much blogworthy cooking, but when we got spring onions, asparagus and mint in our first CSA box of the year, I immediately began to think about what I could do with it.  After a brief perusal of my pantry and fridge, it didn’t take much thought to come up with salad.  Quinoa salad.

Unbelievably, fantabulously delicious quinoa salad.

I can’t even begin to tell you how much I loved this.  So fresh, so wonderfully tasty.  We had it for Sunday brunch, topped with poached eggs, but it would be great as a salad on its own, with all of the vinaigrette and the green onions tossed in (this is how I ate the leftovers I hogged for myself) and perhaps topped with some thinly sliced steak or grilled chicken breast.

The vinaigrette may sound weird, but it’s actually really, really good, and would work quite well on any green salad.

Make this. Eat this.  Love this.

Quinoa and Asparagus Salad with Poached Eggs. Make this. Eat this. Love this.

Click the image to enlarge

Quinoa and Asparagus Salad with Poached Eggs
Serves: 5
Ingredients
  • 2 1/2 cups cooked quinoa, cooled to room temperature
  • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed and thinly sliced on the bias, tips left intact
  • 1 cup loosely packed flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed mint, roughly chopped
  • 2 large hard-boiled eggs, finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon mild honey
  • 4 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 5 green onions, white and pale green parts, thinly sliced
  • 5 large [url href=”http://www.janssushibar.com/poached-eggs/” target=”_blank”]poached eggs[/url]
Instructions
  1. Blanch the asparagus for 1 minute in boiling salted water; drain and place in ice water to halt the cooking. Drain again and gently pat dry.
  2. Whisk together the honey and white wine vinegar until smooth. Continue whisking while adding the olive oil in a thin, steady stream, until well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and stir in the grated eggs. Set aside 1/4 cup of the vinaigrette.
  3. In a large bowl, toss together the quinoa, asparagus, parsley, cilantro, mint and all but the reserved 1/4 cup of vinaigrette. Taste; season as needed with additional salt and pepper.
  4. Divide the salad between 5 plates. Top each with a poached egg; sprinkle with the sliced scallions and drizzle with the reserved vinaigrette.
  5. Serve immediately.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 438 calories, 30.5g total fat, 259.6mg cholesterol, 194.7mg sodium, 597.1mg potassium, 28.2g carbohydrates, 5.6g fiber, 3.7g sugar, 15.7g protein

Mexican-Style Rice

Cinco de Mayo was yesterday, and if you live in northeast Ohio you’ll either 1) ignore it, 2) find yourself in a restaurant that wouldn’t know real Mexican (to say nothing of Tex-Mex) food if it jumped in their lap, or 3) make it yourself.

For the last 9 years, I’ve opted for number 3.

I guess ideally, I should have posted this recipe prior to Cinco de Mayo, but since I make Mexican food on a fairly regular basis – and you should, too – I figured it would be worth putting up post-weekday-reason-to-drink-margaritas anyway.  Well, that and the fact that it’s the first time I’ve ever really made it successfully.

For some reason, Mexican-style rice, or sopa seca, is something I’ve never been able to master to my satisfaction.  Something of an oddity, really, since things like handmade tamales and traditional chiles relleno pose no problem for me at all and neither of those dishes are what you could call “quick and easy.”  However, since I was making enchiladas for the “holiday” (I found some wonderful organic, sprouted corn tortillas at our local natural foods store) and I’d just made western-style beans a few days before, I wanted some rice.

I wanted some good rice, and I found the recipe over at Homesick Texan.  Lisa is a marvelous cook (her blog is where I found the aforementioned western-style beans originally) and I was more than willing to try her version of Mexican-style rice.  With a few modifications – I like peas and carrots in my Mexican-style rice and subbed half the tomato paste with some homemade Enchilada Sauce while cutting back on the cumin – it was just marvelous.  Not only did I love it, but Beloved, Jolly and Darling Daughter also ate it with great enthusiasm.

Really. Good. Stuff.

Mexican-Style Rice. A must for any Cinco de Mayo feast, this recipe for Mexican-style rice is easy, delicious and pretty much perfect.

Click the image to enlarge

Mexican-Style Rice
Serves: 6
[i]Adapted from [url href=”http://www.homesicktexan.com/2008/06/with-beans-comes-rice.html” target=”_blank”]Homesick Texan[/url][/i]
Ingredients
  • 1 cup long grain rice
  • 2 cups chicken stock or broth, preferably homemade
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher sea salt
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons [url href=”http://www.janssushibar.com/enchilada-sauce/” target=”_blank”]Enchilada Sauce[/url]
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin, or to taste
  • 1 cup frozen peas and carrots, thawed
  • 1 tablespoon of lime juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Combine the rice, chicken broth and kosher sea salt in a large, heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or just until all of the liquid has been absorbed by the rice. Remove from the heat. Stir again, then cover the saucepan with a dry, clean dishcloth and place the lid on top. Set aside for 10 minutes.
  2. While the rice is cooking, sauté the onion in the butter in a shallow skillet over medium-low heat until soft and translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one minute more. Stir in the tomato paste, enchilada sauce, cumin and peas and carrots and continue cooking until the vegetables are warmed through, another 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Remove the onion/vegetable mixture from the heat and stir in the cooked rice, lime juice and cilantro. Season to taste with salt and pepper, if needed, and serve immediately.
  4. Nutrition (per serving): 197 calories, 3.7g total fat, 7.9mg cholesterol, 347.9mg sodium, 313.1mg potassium, 35.3g carbohydrates, 2.2g fiber, 3.6g sugar, 6g protein

 

 

Scallops with Meyer Lemon Pan Sauce

As foretold yesterday, I have a scallop/Meyer lemon recipe today. Huzzah!

You know, all those people who unsubscribed because I’m “no longer relevant,” what with my lentils and quinoa and photos of crocus, are going to be disappointed that they missed this one.  It may not be Whole30 compliant, but it’s pretty straight-forward paleo/primal, and it’s absotively-effing delicious.  To say nothing of quick and drop-dead simple.

Oh, well.  Their loss.

Anyhoo, Meyer lemons.  I’d heard of them, but had never actually seen one until last week when I chanced upon a small bag of them at the local supermarket.  I eagerly bought it and left it on the counter while Beloved and I traipsed down to southern Ohio for an extended weekend of dominoes, hot tubs and other middle-aged fun and games (ahem).

I thought the Meyers, which are believed to be a hybrid of standard lemons and mandarin oranges, giving them a deep yellow color and sweeter, more floral flavor than your average, run-of-the-mill lemon, would be fine.  After all, I buy citrus all the time in season and it all does quite well sitting on the counter for several days.

Meyer lemons, not so much, unfortunately – all but one of them were beginning to rot when we returned on Monday.  Disappointed, visions of Meyer lemon goodies in the form of pies and pound cake quickly banished, I salvaged the one good fruit and began to wonder what I could do with it.

Once I’d remembered the scallops, it was easy.

Our butchers, Whitefeather Meats, have recently found a good source of wild, sustainably caught seafood, and last week we were pleased to see scallops in the seafood case.  They’re my absolutely favorite shellfish, so we bought them eagerly and when faced with no leftovers for lunch yesterday I decided it was time to consume them – pan-seared, they take all of about 8 minutes.  Coming up with the sauce took little time, and served with leftover Roasted Root Vegetable Hash, we were eating lunch in the comfort of our home 15 minutes later.

Let me just say, the Meyer lemon pan sauce is outstanding – I was literally licking it out of the pan as I cleaned up afterward.  It would be great on shrimp as well as chicken, so if you don’t do shellfish you can still make it and it will still be outstanding.

No Meyer lemons?  No problem – this would work well with your regular, garden-variety lemons, although you might want to increase the amount of honey and/or butter slightly, to keep it from being too acidic (which is the whole point of the honey and butter in the first place).

Scallops with Meyer Lemon Pan Sauce.  So simple and easy, but impressive enough for company!

Click the image to enlarge

Scallops with Meyer Lemon Pan Sauce
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 pound sea scallops
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • the juice and grated zest of 1 Meyer lemon
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon honey, or to taste
Instructions
  1. Rinse the scallops and pat them dry; sprinkle both sides liberally with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter in a wide, heavy skillet over medium-high heat until the butter begins to foam.
  3. Place the scallops in the skillet and cook until lightly browned but still opaque in the center, about 3 minutes per side. Remove to a plate; cover and keep warm.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking the liquid in the pan until it becomes a light golden color, stirring frequently, about 1 minute. Stir in the lemon juice, scraping up any brown bits, then the zest, rosemary and honey. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until the sauce is reduced and almost syrupy (this should take less than a minute). Remove from the heat and stir in the butter until melted.
  5. Plate the scallops and drizzle with the Meyer lemon sauce. Serve immediately.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 211 calories, 13.2g total fat, 42.5mg cholesterol, 446.6mg sodium, 279mg potassium, 11g carbohydrates, 1.4g fiber, 4.3g sugar, 14.1g protein