Friday, October 5

Zucchini Chocolate Cake

Still on my quest to use my leftover zucchini, yesterday I decided to try my hand at fixin a zucchini cake. (P.S. Mr. McQuack ate almost all the zucchini bars.) I still have 10 zucchini/summer squash left on my counter, and I'm pretty sure there are 3-4 more left in the garden.

I cracked open one of my favorite Lutheran cookbooks from the 1970's, confident that I would find at least one zucchini cake recipe within. Imagine my surprise when I found none! And this from the cookbook that has provided this blog with so many, many gems in the past! So I grabbed the next one from the pile, another stellar Lutheran church cookbook, but one that's about 15 years newer than the other. Lo and behold - two recipes, side-by-side, for zucchini cake: "Chocolate Zucchini Cake" and "Zucchini Chocolate Cake". Good Lord, what could possibly be the difference?!

I carefully compared both recipes, and you know what? They are almost exactly identical. The differences are subtle: "Chocolate Zucchini Cake" calls for "sour milk" (the thought of which fills me with nausea) and a sprinklin of chocolate chips on the top. "Zucchini Chocolate Cake" has more cocoa, no sour milk, and no chocolate chips. Because I make these things in the mornin and have a weak stomach, I opted to make the Zucchini Chocolate Cake to spare myself the sour milk gaggin. I did add chocolate chips on top though, for the hell of it.

3 eggs
2 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter or oleo (I used butter, but called it oleo because you know I love that word)
1/4 c. oil
2 tsp. vanilla
2 c. grated zucchini
1/4 c. milk
2 1/2 c. cake flour (OMG have you ever used this stuff? It was my first time and my feelins are mixed. It's got the consistency of powdered sugar, so it sticks to everythin and coated my entire kitchen with a fine dustin of flour. It was also a pain in the ass to pour it out of the cereal-style box it comes in. BUT when I got the batter all mixed up I could really see the difference - it was like chocolate mousse!)
1 1/2 tsp. soda
2 1/2 tsp. bakin powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 c. cocoa
1/2 c. chocolate chips

How to:
Cream the first 5 ingredients, then sift dry ingredients together and add alternately with milk. (Note this will be really difficult because you're gonna have about 3 cups of dry and a measly 1/4 c. of milk. You might have to add more milk. I did.) Then add zucchini and mix well. Bake in a 9x13-inch pan at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes.

The verdict:
Unfortunately, I neglected to take my oven timer to my studio with me and didn't hear it goin off upstairs for 15 minutes, so the cake got a smidge burnt. It still tastes good though, despite its somewhat crusty top and bottom layers. Mr. McQuack gives that a thumbs up, sayin he doesn't much like sweet stuff anyway. I drizzled a hint of chocolate syrup on top of my piece and microwaved it for 30 seconds and WOWZERS it is seriously good. The cinnamon gives it just the right amount of spice, and the cake flour (I guess) contributes an almost brownie-like consistency. If you grow zucchini, you should definitely try this recipe. You won't be sorry!

Tuesday, October 2

Zucchini Salad or Relish

Still tryin to get rid of the zucchini...yesterday's zucchini bars barely made a dent in the stash:

This recipe seems promisin, though. It calls for 4 cups of zucchini, which should knock at least 2 more of these troublesome squash off my countertop. Zucchini "salad or relish" sounds an awful lot like a batch of refrigerator pickles, just made with zucchini instead of cucumbers. We shall see.

4 c. zucchini (chopped)
1/2 c. onion (chopped)
1/2 c. green pepper (chopped)
1/2 c. celery (chopped)
1 (2 oz.) jar pimentos (chopped) (somebody likes usin parentheses as much as I do...)
2/3 c. cider vinegar (chopped - just kiddin)
1/2 c. salad oil (this means vegetable or canola oil - why are these recipes always vague!?)
2 Tbsp. wine vinegar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

How to:
Mix all ingredients together. Marinate for at least 6 hours. You may add other seasonin if desired such as oregano, basil, dill or seasoned salt. (Thanks. Now you tell me.) This keeps well when refrigerated. (Okay, but for how long? A week? 10 days? 10 months? 10 years? Nice to know the details. Har har har.)

The verdict:
It's only been chillin for about two hours as I write this. Verdict TBD! UPDATE: I finally tasted it after lettin it marinate for a full 24 hours, and I must say - this is pretty good! It's very crunchy, with a nice vinegary/peppery flavor. I ate some straight up, and also tossed some with a lettuce salad for a great lunch. It really seems like it would be a better hot-weather food though, so I will remember this recipe when I'm overrun with zucchini again next summer.

Bonus unrelated tip at the bottom of the cookbook page:
Popcorn will pop better if you put it in the freezer 24 hours or more before poppin. (WHO KNEW?!)

Monday, October 1

Zucchini Bars

For the love of Midwest Cookin, I seriously need to rid myself of some zucchini.

If you grow zucchini, then you know what I mean. It never ends! I've had plants bearin zucchini in my garden since May and I am sick to death of eatin it. Grilled, fried, baked, sauteed; in sauces, in soups, in stir fry. I have had ENOUGH of goddam zucchini. So what's a girl to do with all this zucchini at the end of the season?

To find the answer, I turned to Midwest cookbooks - and boy, did I find a lot of options! This week, I will be makin my best effort to use up this accursed zucchini (yeah, yeah, and "summer squash" too - though these are pretty interchangeable in my opinion). After cruisin through a couple of church cookbooks, I have come to the conclusion that I'm not the only one who's had the zucchini problem. In fact, I'm pretty sure that's where the inspiration for recipes like this came from.

3/4 c. butter
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1+3/4 c. flour
1+1/2 tsp. bakin powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 c. raisins
2 c. zucchini, minced (the hell with that - I grated mine)

 How to:
350 degrees 35 minutes (I'm not kiddin (for once) - that's literally all she wrote. Luckily, I'm a pretty good baker, so I did what came naturally and creamed the butter and sugars, added the eggs and vanilla, sifted together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, gradually mixed them into the wet ingredients, folded in the raisins and zucchini, and then spread it all into a greased 9x13 pan. These are bars, after all. The lack of instructions are mysterious; this recipe falls at the bottom of a cookbook page, so I have to wonder whether the publisher was just like "screw it" and left the remainder of the recipe off in order to not have the text stretch over two pages, or whether the author of the recipe just assumed that everyone knows how to bake so the actual steps for makin these bars were unnecessary. Either way, the instructions you say? "Weak sauce.")

The verdict:
I can say that these smelled pretty good while they were bakin. 35 minutes didn't seem to be quite enough time; the top was still a little light when I pulled them out, so I popped them back in the oven for another 5 minutes. The result? A flaky, buttery, not-too-sweet bar perfect for breakfast. It's got vegetables in it so it must be good for you, right?