Monday, August 15, 2011

At the Market: Zucchini

I am going to begin a new feature called At the Market which will highlight in-season fruits and vegetables. It is my hope that this will encourage not only fresh, seasonal eating in our household, but will emphasize an awareness for the changing of seasons and the passing of time. It is difficult to believe that we just passed our 1 year anniversary of having moved to San Francisco, and are acutely aware of our temporary stay in this beautiful city. With that in mind we are savoring every morsel we can, including the gorgeous, abundant supply of local ingredients.

I love the zucchina (zucchine, Itlaian pl. or courgette in French)... there are so many possibilities to showcase this summer squash: pastas, sautés, grilled skewers, casseroles, gratins and crudités. Botanically speaking, zucchini is actually an immature fruit and the swollen ovary of the delicate, bright yellow zucchini flower. The soft flavors of this mysterious little plant make it extremely compatible with sweet dishes, one of my all-time favorites being zucchini bread.

This is a quick-bread, one that is reminiscent of my childhood. My mother used to make a deep brown zucchini bread, that I have had difficulty replicating for a long time. Most of the recipes I had tried yielded a golden color that just didn't quite "do it" for me. If was only a few years ago that, after some tinkering around in the kitchen, I was able to come up with a similar recipe. Why not ask mom for her recipe? Well, for some reason, she just one day stopped making it, and I don't believe she ever had this recipe written down. It just came from memory and the lack of practice has moved said recipe to the back of her memory. I think it will one day resurface again... or we will find it scratched on a scrap piece of paper stuffed into a first edition Good Housekeeping cookbook.

Zucchini Bread

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tbls. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1 c. white sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar (light or dark based on preference)
1/2 c. vegetable oil
2 eggs
1/2 tbls. vanilla
2 c. shredded zucchini (about 2 large or 3 small zucchini)

1. Preheat oven to 325°. Butter a loaf pan (I prefer a ceramic dish).
2. In a small bowl, mix together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
3. In a larger bowl, combine sugars, oil and eggs. Mix in vanilla.
4. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and stir until just combined.
5. Mix in the zucchini, and then transfer to the loaf pan.
6. Bake until the center comes out clean when tested, about 50-60 minutes.


note: Use all organic ingredients where possible.
image of zucchini flowers at the Mercato Centrale in Bologna, Italy

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