Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Summer Zucchini Carrot Bread

Featured Ingredient: Walnuts (Optional)

Time to enjoy Summer's Fresh Bounty of produce.  We all are probably less apt to use canned goods this time of year, especially with the bevy of fruits and vegetables that the summer months bring at reduced prices.  I don't know about you, but  this year I'm not seeing as much of a difference in the cost of  the local fare than the produce that came from Chile in the winter time. Probably has a lot to do with the freight cost of $4+ dollars a gallon.  Fortunately, my area has one beacon of hope.  If I am looking to make a pie or something that requires several pounds of something, I tend to take a trip over to Food Bazaar a limitless international market, with prices that are more in line with what you would expect in Summer. Last week I got beautiful, just ripe peaches for 99 cents a pound. They were transformed into a Peach Pie, topped with Tahitian Vanilla Ice Cream and Whipped Cream.  That's a recipe for another time.  Or the next time they go on sale.

Summer Zucchini Carrot Bread

This is one of the my favorite summer quick breads.
It's filed under Walnuts. If you don't want the additional texture, just omit them. (I had to put this entry somewhere). As all us foodies know, people eat with their eyes.  The beauty of this bread is when it's sliced, it's also very pretty with its little emerald and topaz flecks.  Let's be honest, quick breads are really loaf-shaped muffins in disguise and muffins are really heartier cupcakes.  However, the ingredients in this quick bread are rather healthy and could justify an additional piece or two.  There's beta carotene from the carrots, low cholesterol canola oil, antioxidants from the cinnamon and of course fiber from the unpeeled zucchini.  It's a great mid morning snack or accompaniment to your afternoon coffee or tea. Instead of big loaf make small little loaves to help with your denial. You can also freeze the loaves for up to a month, so none of this scrumptiousness goes to waste.  If you don't have one of these, I seriously recommend you buy one.  I got this one at Home Goods a while back.  It makes the perfect size little loaves, that are also great for gifting around the holidays.

I love this thing!
Zucchini-Carrot Bread

2 medium zucchini - washed but not peeled (about 1 lb)
2 large carrots (about 1/4 lb)
2 large eggs
1 3/4 granulated sugar
3/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease and lightly flour the bottom of a 9" x 5" loaf pan or multipe mini loaf pan.

2. In a food processor fitted with a shredding disk, process zucchini and carrots until shredded.  (You should have about 4 cups of shredded vegetables.

Shredded Carrot and Zucchini

3. In a large bowl, combine eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla untl blended.  In another bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon.  Gently fold dry ingredients into egg mixture, stirring until combined (batter will be thick).  Add zucchini-carrot mixture; stir until combined.

4. Turn batter into prepared pan (s). If using the 9" X 5" pan.  Bake 1 hour and 5 minutes and check with a toothpick.  If if does not come out dry, continuing baking. Baking time vary by oven.  You are better off, checking before it's overdone.  For smaller loaves bake about 45 minutes.

5. Transfer pans(s) to wire racks.  Let cool 15 minutes.  Remove bread from pan and let cool completely before slicing.

Moist heavenly-ness!

Zucchini Carrot Bread

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Jam-Asian Fusion Paella

Featured Ingredients: Kidney Beans & Coconut Milk

Hope everyone had an enjoyable 4th of July weekend.  Aside from the extra day off, which should be standard, it was a typical weekend. My favorite part was that I got to listen to fireworks for 4 straight days. The neighboring towns each had their turn.  The fact that my town is bordered by 5 others, makes me that much more fortunate in this regard.  Last year, I was lucky as it poured rain on the 4th of July.  Ahh peace.

My kids don't care anymore, so now fireworks are nothing more than noise.  At least with a commercial show you can guarantee things will get quiet by 10:30 p.m.  Then there are the (insert descriptive expletive noun here) that just can't get enough and stock up so they can shoot them off around 11 p.m. or later.  I'm also fortunate enough that firework purchases are legal in my state. I used to have a neighbor that lived behind me, who would shoot of bottle rockets and all sorts of very loud fireworks, close enough for me to find pieces of ash in my yard.  Probably to impress his kids, or so he thought. He and his wife got divorced a couple of years ago. I guess she got sick of the fireworks too.  The neighborhood has been far quieter ever since.

Well, aside from the fireworks, nothing is more synonymous with July 4th than a picnic.  We laid low this year, but we did do some outdoor dining. Here is one of the Uncanny Goodness dishes I made.

I started with Chorizo Sausage with Mango from Whole Foods. 

Chorizo Sausage with Mango

I thought the best way to incorporate this would be to take flavors from cultures that dominantly use these ingredients in their cooking.  I ended up with a fusion dish borrowing tastes from India, Thailand, Latin America and Jamaica, creating somewhat of a deconstructed Paella.

Starting with fragrant Basmati rice I did a variation on Caribbean Rice & Peas which is really Kidney Beans, using Coconut Milk and a bit of Curry Powder.  I topped that with Sausage and Chicken Vegetable mixture with Mango Chutney to bring out the sweet mango flavor. (I found their weren't enough pieces of mango in the sausage - but the idea was there.)  In retrospect I would have sliced the sausage vs. cooking it outside of its casings and had larger pieces of chicken.  But the flavors did come together and was a nice switch from our predominantly Mexican, Italian, or American Bistro repetoire.

Jam-Asian Fusion Paella - Serves 4

Rice Recipe:
1 1/2 cups basmati rice
2/3 cup Coconut Milk
1 3/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 14.5 oz can kidney beans 

Rinse Rice until water runs nearly clear.  Let drain.  I have been reading about this method and it really works.  Other sites say to soak it, but I was very happy with the results with just the rinsing.  Another great tip is to let the rice cook about 10 minutes on low heat until the water is absorbed (it seems to absorb way faster than it is supposed to - then take off the heat and let the rice expand and soften for another 10 minutes).  You should end up with separate tender grains - not a sticky mess.

Heat chicken broth to boil.  Stir in coconut mik, curry and rice.  Stir. Reduce heat and let cook on low to simmering heat for about 10.  Check rice after 10 minutes to make sure it is not sticking to the bottom. Stir in kidney beans.  When rice is al dente.  Take off the heat and let it sit for another 10 minutes or so until tender.  Fluff rice with fork

Meat Mixture
Olive Oil as needed
1 cup chopped vidalia onion
1 large clove garlic minced
1/2 cup sliced celery
1/2 cup diced red pepper
3 links chorizo sausage
2 cups cooked chicken
1 tbsp mango chutney
1/2 tsp coriander

Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat olive in a heavy 12-in skillet.  Add onion, pepper celery and saute until vegetables are shiny and the celery and red pepper are crisp tender (about 3 minutes).  Add garlic and saute for 1 minute.  Add sausage and cook until cooked through (the idea is to make sure your vegetables are not overdone by the time your sausage is done (about 10 minutes).  If you find you are getting a lot of brown bits add a little chicken broth to deglaze the pan.  Add mango chutney, coriander and cooked chicken and saute until heated through.
Use 1 tbsp cilantro as garnish.

Serve over rice.

Jam-Asian Fusion Paella