Archive for ‘Zucchini’

September 27, 2013

Zucchini Nutella Swirl Muffins

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Summertime in Strasbourg means discovering gardens. As a Long Islander, born and raised, the only two times anything grew in my backyard was when 1) a pool appeared and 2) my Italian great uncle Cono managed to make a cucumber grow out of the sandy soil.

As you can see my experience with fresh produce, literally in my own backyard, was fairly limited up until this year.

The Beard’s mom has a garden. And she has zucchini plants. Flowers? What do we call those anyway? Alls I know is that we received zucchini deliveries by the crateful. The weekly task is therefore to find ways to use them all up before they go bad.  There was therefore a lot of cake made in our household…

..but it is zucchini, so it is healthy, right?

Or so I told myself…

This recipe was unbelievable, my only qualm was that it didn’t make yield nearly enough muffins!

 

Zucchini Nutella Swirl Muffins

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What you’ll need:

  • 1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 extra large egg
  • 1 cup grated zucchini
  • Zest of one lemon
  • ½ cup Nutella (or the German knockoff NUSS-something or other)

Now what?

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 f/ 180 c. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners. In a large enough bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon. Whisk to mix well.
  2. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Scrape the bowl. Beat the egg in.
  3. Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet mixture until just combined.
  4. Stir in the zucchini and lemon zest.
  5. Use a ¼ cup scoop to evenly distribute the batter between the muffin liners. They should be 2/3 full.
  6. Dollop 1 teaspoon of Nutella on top of each scoop of batter and swirl with a toothpick.
  7. Bake for approximately 15-20 minutes. Check the centers with a toothpick. The toothpick should come out clean before removing the muffins from the oven.(I am sure this would make a wonderful zucchini loaf, to be baked for about 35-50 minutes, depending on the loaf size.)

Bon app!

3

(look at that swirl!)

August 4, 2012

Very Vegetarian Lasagna | Lasagnes végétariennes

My roommate Alexis told me that he wanted to cook for us the other night.  I said, sure, no problem, thinking that it would be nice to come home to a hot meal every once in a while.  When the hour came for dinner, I arrived at our apartment ready to feast on whatever he had in store for me.  I entered the kitchen and saw a pile of frozen spinach sitting on a plate, an oven that was not preheated and an unconcerned Alexis opening a bottle of red wine.  I glanced at the clock and read 9pm.  He told me that he wanted to wait for the spinach to defrost.  I looked around for a few more clues and when I found a box of lasagna noodles perched on the windowsill, I knew that dinner wouldn’t be before midnight (or the next day, if we waited for the spinach to defrost on its own.) But the French eat late, I told myself.  But I had been hungry since 5pm.  He informed me that we would be eating spinach, crème fraiche and sun vegetable lasagna (rough translation.) My appetite now whet, I pounced into action in order to help this roommate-chef of mine so that soon that lasagna could be in our bellies.  While there is a copious amount of crème fraiche and ricotta in this recipe, the addition of a ratatouille sort of vegetable combination makes you feel slightly reasonable.  After it was finally cooked, he took his bottle of red, and me my bottle of white, and we settled on the couch (in front of the television) in true Franco-American style.

Very Vegetarian Lasagna

What you’ll need:

  • 450 gr fresh spinach
  • 1 eggplant, cut in circles
  • 1 zucchini, cut in circles
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 2 large tomatoes, cut into large chunks
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • flat parsley
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 3 pinches oregano
  • 6 leaves fresh basil
  • 300 gr ricotta
  • 15 cl crème fraiche
  • 2 eggs
  • 15 lasagna noodles (no pre-cooking necessary)
  • 90 gr parmesan
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Now what?

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 f.
  2. Wash the spinach twice in cold water and then blanch them in boiling water for 2 minutes.  Plunge them immediately in a large bowl of cold water so that they keep their green color.  Drain them and remove as much water as possible with the help of paper towel.
  3. Heat the shallot in a pan with a little olive oil for about 5 minutes until they are fragrant and clear.
  4. Simultaneously beat your eggs, ¾ ricotta and ¾ of the crème fraiche.  Add the shallots, spinach and the parmesan.  Salt, pepper and then put it off to the side.
  5. In the meanwhile, fry eggplant circles until slightly golden in a pan.  Once finished, place on the side on plate lined with paper towel to drain excess oil.
  6. Place all remaining vegetables in a pan with a little extra olive oil.  Add eggplant, 2 tbsp of parsley (fresh or dried), thyme, oregano, salt, pepper, and cover it with a lid.  Let it simmer on low heat for approximately 15 minutes.  Once it is a nice mixture with a ratatouille like texture, add cut up basil and let it cook for 5 more minutes.
  7. Butter or oil a baking dish to the size of your liking (we used 26×20 cm).  Place three lasagna noodles on the bottom, followed by a layer of vegetables.  Add three more lasagna noodles and then spread (thickly) a layer of the spinach mixture.  Repeat this process until you are out of all of your ingredients or until you are out of dish space! Be sure to finish with lasagna noodles.
  8. Finally, combine the remaining ricotta, crème fraiche and some parmesan cheese to get a very cheesy top layer to cover your lasagna mountain.
  9. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes or until the lasagna begins to turn golden brown.  Serve immediately with some extra parmesan cheese, as if there just wasn’t enough already…

 

July 20, 2012

Fried Zucchini Flowers | Beignets de Fleurs de Courgette

When a man wants to fry food for you, don’t let him go.  He’s a keeper.  That being said, the French, who pride themselves on simple and healthy vegetable ridden dishes, can also come out of the woodworks with a fried vegetable dish that will blow your mind.  Who knew that zucchini had flowers and that these flowers are edible? Not moi.  But can we eat them raw? I’m not sure.  But can we eat them fried? Hell yes.  Be wary, this leaves you with a lot of extra batter, which sends you into a frying folly leaving you with fried tofu, and fried eggs for example.  Luckily I was straight out of Oreos; otherwise things would have gotten ugly in that kitchen.

Fried Zucchini Flowers | Beignets de Fleurs de Courgette

What you’ll need:

  • 15 zucchini flowers
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 egg (white and yolk separated)
  • 3/4 cup iced water
  • Salt and pepper
  • Basil
  • Frying oil (olive oil will work just fine)

Now what?

  1. Mix the flour, egg yolk and ice water in order to have a homogenous batter.  Add cut up basil and salt and pepper.
  2. With an electric mixer, beat the whites until firm (with a pinch of salt.) Incorporate the egg whites into the batter and let it sit for about 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
  3. Cut the stem of the zucchini flours in order to remove the pistil of the flower.  It is not a bad idea to rinse the flowers in a little white vinegar and open them up in order to assure that there are no creepy crawly critters inside.
  4. Heat a decent amount of oil in a large covered skillet.  Dip the flowers in the batter until they are well covered and then proceed to frying them in the oil.
  5. Place them on a plate covered with a paper towel to drain excess oil and then serve!

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