Dog & Garden Therapy

try some chocolate mint in your next cake or bread

try some chocolate mint in your next cake or bread

Today doesn’t particularly feel like summer. With leaves falling and temperatures dropping its clear warm days are about to come to a raging halt. The wishful thought of an endless summer brings me into the garden where vegetables continue to hang on. The jalapeno peppers are losing their camouflage as they ripen from green to red and the haricot vert cling to their stems as they lengthen. Fall favorites like butternut squash are ripe for the picking. Their skin has darkened and now ready to be trimmed away in preparation for roasting.

butternut squash ready for roasting

butternut squash ready for roasting

My dog, Deacon, follows me and takes a roll in the oregano. There is something about the herby fragrance that brings pizza and Greek baked chicken to mind. Hmmm, either one would be great for dinner tonight, but my attention quickly turns to one overgrown zucchini. I can’t fight it any longer.

nothing like the love of a great pet

nothing like the love of a great pet

Back inside I sit down to type. I can’t help but notice that Deacon is at my feet. I pause and am reminded that every time I sit and write this blog she is at my feet. Dogs sense things. Whether it’s my body language or some grieving scent she knows when to provide comfort. It’s clear why all dogs go to heaven.

slice of heaven come winter

slice of heaven come winter

If you are tired of eating zucchini go ahead and freeze this cake to be enjoyed in a month or two on a crisp fall day with your favorite cup of tea. You will be glad you did.

Endless Summer Zucchini Sweet Bread

2 cups all purpose flour

1-cup white whole-wheat flour

1-teaspoon baking soda

1-teaspoon fine sea salt

½ teaspoon baking powder

3 teaspoons cinnamon

2 tablespoons ground flax seed meal

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 2/3 cup sugar

¾ cup vegetable oil

1 lemon, grated zest plus 1 tablespoon juice

1-teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chocolate mint or spearmint

2 cups packed shredded zucchini *

1 cup chopped walnuts

Powdered sugar

Heat oven 350F. Spray a coffeecake pan or Bundt pan (or any pan you like that has at least a 10-cup capacity or 2 small loaf pans) with no-stick cooking baking spray. In bowl, sift flours, baking soda, salt, baking powder and cinnamon; stir in flax seed meal and set aside. In large bowl, whisk eggs, sugar, oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla and mint. Add dry ingredients, stirring with a spoon until dry ingredients are moistened. The mixture will be very thick. Add zucchini and mix very well to loosen up the batter. Stir in nuts. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 5o to 60 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes before inverting onto rack to cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar just before serving.

*Note: I grate my zucchini on the large cutters of a box grater and squeeze out some of the excess moisture with paper towels.

As always I recommend King Arthur Flour, as it is consistently the best.

I love my Grandog

I love my Grandog, too! So darn cute.

Mint Julep Brownies Go Italian

Mint Julep Brownies

Mint Julep Brownies

In the “Spirit” of the Kentucky Derby I really felt I needed to share this recipe today. It’s one of those better late than never moments. If you bake just one thing from scratch your whole life it should be a brownie. Unlike pies (see yesterday’s post) brownies are hard to mess up, very simple to make and waaaaay better from scratch.

As always use the best ingredients available. I highly recommend Cacao Di Pernigotti. When I saw it was made in Italy (you all know how proud I am of my Italian descent) I knew I needed to try it. I love it. In the Piedmont region of Italy the company has been in business since 1860. Made by the Dutch processed method the cocoa is rich and dark with a hint of vanilla–great pairing with some good old Kentucky bourbon. BTW–I don’t get paid for endorsing any products;  I simply like to share some of my favorite finds with you. Now-go place your bets and bake some brownies!

brownie batter

brownie batter

Mint Julep Brownies

  • Servings: 5 dozen 1-inch squares
  • Print

Bourbon Brownie Layer

10 ounces 70% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate, chopped

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons Cacao Di Pernigotti unsweetened cocoa powder *

3 eggs

1-cup sugar

3 tablespoons Austin Nichols Wild Turkey Kentucky Bourbon

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup all purpose flour

¼ teaspoon baking powder

Mint Julep Frosting

1 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons butter, softened

1 to 2 tablespoons heavy cream

2 to 3 drops peppermint oil

Chocolate Drizzle

3 ounces 62% Cacao Semisweet Chocolate, chopped

1-teaspoon butter

Heat oven 350F. Spray a 9-inch square baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Using two pieces of parchment paper, line the baking pan with the parchment with one piece perpendicular to the other, fitted into the corners and leaving an overhang on all sides (this will help lift the brownies out of the pan after baking). Spray the parchment with non-stick spray. In a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter, stirring, until smooth. Whisk in the cocoa powder until well blended; set aside. In large bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, and bourbon and salt until well mixed. Whisk in warm chocolate mixture. Add flour and baking powder; stir until just combined. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until puffed and a few sticky crumbs cling to a wooden pick inserted in the center. Cool in pan on a wire rack to room temperature. In small bowl, beat powdered sugar and butter. Gradually add enough cream to create a smooth spreading consistency. Stir in peppermint. Spread frosting over brownie. For chocolate drizzle, melt semisweet chocolate and butter until smooth; place in a piping bag and drizzle in a decorative pattern over brownies. Cool in refrigerator for 10 minutes before slicing into bars or squares.

* Do try Cacao Di Pernigotti unsweetened cocoa powder available at William-Sonoma. It’s made in ITALY!!!!!

perfect for a tailgate

perfect for a tailgate