It seems like squash takes over the farmer’s market this time of year, and we’ve been looking for ways to use it up. Enter zucchini bread. So not healthy, but I so don’t care. Have you tasted this stuff? It doesn’t taste much like squash, but it’s so sugary and moist. The edges are crisp and golden. Deelish.
Allie, one of my favorite fashion blog writers, made zucchini bread awhile back, and wrote about it on one of her blogs, My Wardrobe Today. It inspired me to try it for myself. Food, fashion, it’s all good…
The recipe I used was from the Food Network, featured on Paula Deen’s show, Paula’s Home Cooking. I have not seen the show because we don’t have cable (gasp!) and just watch our PBS chefs. There are a lot of reasons we choose to not pay for 500 channels, mostly because of an incident in college when I found myself skipping class to watch an episode of E! True Hollywood Story about the TV show 90210. Sad, sad, sad.
Anyway, I found this recipe through a Google search. Also, the recipe says to bake for one hour, but I found that it took one hour and 20 minutes. Set your timer for an hour, and if it’s not done when the timer beeps, retest every five minutes or so.
Makes two loaves.
- 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3 cups sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 1/3 cup water
- 2 cups grated zucchini
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, nutmeg, baking soda, cinnamon and sugar. In a separate bowl, combine oil, eggs, water, zucchini and lemon juice. Mix wet ingredients into dry, add nuts, and gently fold in. Pour even amounts into two greased loaf pans, for one hour, or until a tester comes out clean. Alternately, bake in five mini loaf pans for about 45 minutes.
Got your attention? It sure had ours when we watched Ming Tsai and Michael Chiarello create this masterpiece on Simply Ming last week. Honey and Balsamic Glazed Salmon Spirals with Sesame-Orange Spinach…sounds heavenly, no? The Sage and Rosemary Oven-Baked Potatoes are our own addition.
Ming’s show is based on the idea of east meets west, and every week he pairs two core ingredients that are used in each dish. He also calls on another chef to create a recipe using the core ingredients, inviting viewers into the envious kitchens of famed chefs such as Michael Chiarello, who created this dish.
The core ingredients for the salmon and spinach were balsamic vinegar and sesame oil. The best tips we learned on the program were not to overdo it on the sesame oil (a little goes a long way) and that salmon need not be served piping hot. It’s better to let it rest to really let the flavors meld together.
Honey and Balsamic Glazed Salmon Spiral with Sesame-Orange Spinach
- 1 center cut salmon filet, skin, belly, and pin bones removed (about 1 1/2 to 2 lbs.)
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon gray salt
- 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard powder
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 20 ounces spinach
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons sliced garlic
- Zest of 1 orange
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon mixed white and black sesame seeds
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash, rinse, and stem the spinach. Heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large 14-inch sauté pan over high heat. When hot and just beginning to smoke, add the sliced garlic and cook until golden brown, then add the orange zest and spinach. Cook the spinach, tossing frequently until fully wilted and tender. Remove from the heat, drizzle in the sesame oil, and check for seasoning. Divide the spinach, and quickly wipe out the pan with a paper towel. Spread about 1/3 of the total spinach on a plate. Cover the remaining 2/3 spinach with foil and reserve warm.
In a small bowl, mix together the honey and balsamic vinegar.
Using a sharp knife cut the salmon into 4 lengthwise strips (from collar to tail). Lay the strips of salmon out flat and season on all sides with salt, pepper, and the mustard powder. Line the top of each salmon strip with equal amounts of the plated spinach. Start from one end and roll the salmon up into a spiral, secure each with two wooden skewers. Place the sesame seed mixture onto a plate, and dip each side of the salmon spirals into the seeds.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in the 14-inch pan that was wiped out after the spinach. When hot, but not quite smoking, add the salmon spirals and brown for about 2 minutes. Turn the salmon over and allow to brown for about 1 minute on the other side. Brush about 1-2 tablespoons of the honey/balsamic mixture over the salmon and place in the oven for about 6-7 minutes. Remove the salmon from the oven and brush again with the honey/balsamic. Arrange the reserved, warm spinach on a large platter or each of 4 plates. Remove the skewers from the salmon and place on top of the warm spinach, spoon a bit more of the honey balsamic over the salmon, and drizzle little more sesame oil over the top.
Sage and Rosemary Oven-Baked Potatoes
This is a very relaxed recipe we threw together after smelling the sage from our garden. Modify to suit your tastes.
- Yukon Gold potatoes
- Dried sage leaves
- Dried rosemary
- Olive oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a pestle and mortar, mash together the herbs, lemon juice, and a good glug of olive oil. Brush potato wedges with the mixture, and place wedges on a greased baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, and turn wedges; cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until tender inside and oh-so-crispy on the outside.
Lately I’ve been searching for the perfect recipe for bran muffins. We like to make a big batch on Sunday and freeze them for the following week for a healthy mid-morning snack. (I can’t be the only one with a grumbling stomach at 9:30 a.m.!)
Some that we’ve made have been too mushy. Others have been too hard. These muffins are just right. They’re a bit of a mash-up of a couple of recipes, with a twist. We left out raisins because Luis and I each have specific ideas about when and how raisins should appear in food. I won’t go into that here; it’ll just sound neurotic. Anyway, we substituted dried cranberries, and since orange goes so well with cranberry, we threw in some zest and juice from an orange.
Flavorful, great texture, and full of fiber…couldn’t ask for more from a muffin.
Cranberry Orange Bran Muffins
Makes 12 to 15 muffins.
- 3 cups bran
- 2 cups organic flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 cup cane sugar
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- zest of 1 organic orange
- 1/4 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and oil the muffin tins. Zest and then juice the orange. In a large bowl or stand mixer, mix together the bran, flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Add the sugar, honey, oil, water, vinegar, zest, orange juice, and cranberries. Stir together (or blend) until just mixed. Spoon into muffin tins, and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, testing with a fork or skewer to see if they’re done. Let cool (the hardest part!).
I did something so stupid last night that the whole boot of Italy is kicking me in the arse right now. Italian nonnas would scream in terror and cover their grandchildren’s eyes at the sight of it. All I can say in my defense is that hunger clouded my judgement and made me do the unthinkable.
All day yesterday visions of spinach lasagna danced in my head. After my post-workout shower, I preheated the oven and put a pot of water on to boil. The cookbook I was following had two recipes for marinara sauce. One was fairly traditional, the other “quick and easy.” I was skeptical of the latter, but the rumbling in my tummy was louder than the little voice warning me that this was a very bad idea.
The problem with the recipe was that it instructed one to throw all of the ingredients, raw, into a blender. This included 1/2 an onion and two cloves of garlic per cup of sauce. I cut down the amount of onion and garlic to less than half and threw in the tomatoes, oregano, basil, salt, and pepper. After giving it several whirls, I took off the lid and had a taste. Oh. Dear. Lord. It was like eating bright orange onion juice. This was some seriously offensive sauce.
I desperately started to try to bring the sauce back from the great beyond by dumping out over half of it (outside, natch) and adding tomato juice. No dice. I added 28 ounces of San Marzano tomatoes. Still bitter. Salt, sugar, more spices. Forget it. The sauce grew higher and higher as I added everything I could think to add. My sauce had flat-lined, but I was still performing CPR. Had Luis been home, I could imagine him pulling me away. “It’s gone!” he’d scream. “You’ve done all you could!”
The sauce was wrecked, there was odious orange gunk everywhere, and I was too annoyed to bother starting again. I also was out of tomatoes. The oven, still warming up in anticipation of spinach lasagna, was turned off. Game over.
Spinach lasagna will have to wait for another day, a day on which I’ll make marinara the right way…starting with the happy smell of sautéing onion and garlic. Some things are worth the wait.