Italian Style Zucchini Bread: A Challenge

A boatload of zucchini is never a problem around here as we enjoy it so many ways. You can find one of my favorite recipes here for funfetti zucchini bread, but today we are going with an Italian spin on the loaf. It was a challenge to get it right.

Inspired and intrigued by Deb Wise’s recipe for a Tuscan Pignoli Orange Zucchini Bread on my recipes.com I immediately went to work to change it. At first glance, I loved her use of almond and semolina flours in the mix, but then I noticed 2 teaspoons of baking soda plus 1 of baking powder and a red flag went up. I hate the metallic bitterness of unreacted baking soda in quick breads and muffins and I just did not think there was enough acidity in the recipe to balance out the baking soda and allow it to do its job. I also noted an overload of oil and sugar in the ingredient list which conjured up an overly sweet and greasy loaf image. I find most quick breads don’t ever suffer from a reduction in the oil and the sugar in the recipe and in my mind it feels so much healthier.

In my first attempt, I reduced the baking soda form 2 teaspoons to 1 1/2 teaspoons plus I added 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice. I reduced the sugar by 1/4 cup and the oil by 1/3 cup. I did not use the nuts (too expensive an ingredient to experiment with), but kept everything else the same. The result is the loaf pictured above. It was greasy and tasted slightly metallic. It was sweet enough, so I opted out of the icing. Did you notice it is slightly sunken in? That is the result of too much leavening. I knew it needed further refinement.

The next loaf required a dramatic decrease in baking soda (from 2 teaspoons to 1), oil (from 1 cup to 1/2 cup) and sugar (1 1/4 cups to 3/4 cup) and the addition of 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and the results were deliciously amazing. First, the aroma is super nutty and the flavor is bright with citrus and just a touch of sweetness. The texture is perfectly light without any greasy feel. Bonus points for a perfect rise without sinking. My husband described it as “fresher tasting”.

Tuscan Lemon Zucchini Bread

  • 1 cup (about 4 1/4 oz.) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (about 2 3/4 oz.) semolina flour
  • 1/2 cup (about 1 3/4 oz.) almond flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (I use avocado oil)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cups grated unpeeled zucchini *

Heat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9- x 5-inch loaf pan with baking spray. Whisk together flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl just until combined. Place eggs in a large bowl; lightly whisk. Add sugar, oil, vanilla, and lemon juice and zest; whisk until smooth. Stir in grated zucchini. Add flour mixture to egg mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Do not overmix. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool bread in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of pan to loosen bread. Remove bread from pan, and cool completely on rack.

I am fresh out of grief lessons, but don’t want to give up on blogging. From time to time, I hope you enjoy the recipes shared here. You can see more of what I do on instagram @goodgriefcook

Two Roads & A Recipe

Ricotta chive gnocchi with brown butter, lemon and chive sauce

Ricotta chive gnocchi with brown butter, lemon and chive sauce

Moving forward on this grief journey I am taking a bend in the road and celebrating my William and his favorite Robert Frost poem……..

Two roads...photo by William Keys

Two roads…photo by William Keys

…..with the concept of “two roads and a recipe”. If ever there was a book title that is it. I will be twisting up one recipe and featuring it in two ways. In addition, I hope to highlight what is growing in my garden path. While the poem may highlight looking back with regret these recipes will only have you sighing with satisfaction. Which sauce do you choose?

gnocchi with meat sauce

gnocchi with meat sauce

And while we are out in the garden lets pick some joyful moments to add to the menu. The more joy you add the better life tastes.

beautiful, fresh from the garden, chives

beautiful, fresh from the garden, chives

Caitlin and Sam are celebrating their 2nd wedding anniversary next week. I wish them a long life of commitment to each other and no regrets. May they make each other better people every single day. Thanks for bringing such joy to our families. They love gnocchi and I love them, so from my heart to yours enjoy.

Wedding Day photo by Campli Photography

Wedding Day photo by Campli Photography

Ricotta Chive Gnocchi with Two Sauces

1 (15 oz) container part-skim ricotta

3 egg yolks

1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

2 tablespoons finely snipped chives

few grinds grated nutmeg

pinch white pepper

1¼ cups all-purpose flour plus more for dusting board

the dough

the dough

Line a baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper and sprinkle with semolina flour. In a bowl, combine all ingredients adding just enough flour for dough to hold together. It will be a bit sticky. Turn dough out onto a floured work surface. Cut dough into 6 portions. With floured hands and using just enough flour to prevent the dough from sticking, roll each dough piece into a rope about ½-inch thick. Cut the rope into ½-inch pieces. Roll each cut piece on the tines of a fork or a gnocchi board. Place on prepared baking sheet making sure gnocchi don’t touch each other. Cover and chill until ready to cook. Can be refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen up to a month. Cook gnocchi in boiling salted water for about 1 minute or until they are floating. Serve with lemon brown butter or bolognase sauce.

gnocchi board is made in Philadelphia by

gnocchi board is made in Philadelphia by

To make Lemon-Chive Brown Butter: melt 1 stick of unsalted butter over medium-low heat until it turns a toasty brown color, about 6 minutes. Add a squeeze of lemon juice, a tablespoon of snipped chives and a pinch of salt and ground pepper. Add cooked gnocchi, tossing to coat. Serve immediately.

To make Bolognese Sauce: In stock pot, melt 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add ½ cup each diced onion, small dice carrot and chopped celery; cook 3 to 4 minutes or until softened. Add 1 pound ground beef, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon and cooking until no longer pink. Add 1 teaspoon kosher salt and few grind of pepper. Add 1-cup dry white wine. Increase heat to high and continue cooking until wine has evaporated. Add ½ cup of milk; cook until mixture again appears dry. Add 1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes. Cook, uncovered, on very low heat for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Spoon over cooked gnocchi. Sprinkle with shards of parmesan cheese.

the ridges create places for the sauce to cling onto the dumplings

the ridges create places for the sauce to cling onto the dumplings

The Challenge & Lemon Cookies

lemon cookie

lemon cookies

If you are following this blog you are either grieving or mourning or both or know someone who is. What? Grieving and mourning aren’t they the same thing? In a nutshell, no they are not. Today’s challenge is to understand that grieving and mourning are different. They are two separate experiences. If you understand the distinction you can be a catalyst to healing. That’s a good thing.

heart

Let’s start with grief. Grief is an internal experience. It is one’s feelings about the loss. It is about natural reactions to pain and one’s private protest to the assault. It’s one’s wish to undo it and have it not be true. Grief is often accompanied by keeping a stiff upper lip. It’s not looking weak. It’s carrying on, but in a kind of isolation. The griever may look OK on the outside, but on the inside is a lonely turmoil.

Mourning, on the other hand, is grief gone public. It’s wading through the territory of loss and pain surrounded by supportive people. It is active work of recognizing the loss and how to change and adapt to it. Different people mourn in different ways, but essentially it is expressing your feelings or doing something outside yourself.

The truth is that many people grieve, but they don’t mourn. Take the challenge. Be active in your grief. Step outside yourself. Share your feelings and celebrate yourself and your loved one. And if you know someone who has suffered a loss encourage them to mourn and be the catalyst to healing. Take the challenge.

afghanistan

Recently, my neighbor asked if I was up for a challenge. Apparently, the local bakery refused to share their recipe for her favorite lemon cookie and she was having trouble trying to duplicate it. Always up for a challenge I got busy in the kitchen. Luckily, I already had my winning lemon cookie recipe from a Mrs. Field’s Cookie contest to use as a base. With a tweak here and there I came up with a pretty good replica—at least that is how my neighbor called it.

IMG_2182

mine on the left and bakery on the right

mine on the left and bakery on the right

Mine are more crispy and more lemony than the bakery version. Both are good.

Lemon Drop Cookies

 2-½ cups all-purpose flour

1-teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon fine sea salt

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

1-cup sugar

2 egg yolks

Grated zest of 1 lemon

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

½ teaspoon lemon extract

Heat oven 350F. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. In large mixer bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks, lemon zest, juice and extract. Add dry ingredients; blend well. Drop cookie dough by tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 15 to 16 minutes or until edges are lightly brown. Transfer cookies to cooling rack.