fig and zucchini bread

fig and zucchini bread #dessert #wheat #foodphotography #foodstyling #zucchinibread #baking

Where do I begin! The first time I baked this bread, the dog stole it and ate the entire thing! I left the freshly baked bread out to cool on the kitchen counter and stepped out to take care of a few errands, boy was I in for a shock! By the time I came back, it was gone and there were no traces of any crumbs! I thought perhaps, I was being absent minded as usual and had stored the cake in the refrigerator or kept it some odd place. In the 4 years since I've had Snoopy he has never eaten anything off the table and we never feed him table scraps. My suspicions were confirmed later that day, as he voluntarily skipped his usual dinner begging routine. As you can probably imagine, Snoopy never skips a meal, he starts begging an hour before and when I do feed him, he munches his food down in a few seconds. I was worried he would throw up or fall sick and that is no fun. Thankfully, the bread was still in its testing phase and I knew that none of the ingredients in the first version would be deadly to him. Snoopy was just overstuffed and I knew that I would need to be more vigilant and careful when it come to him and our food. Lesson learned!

fig and zucchini bread #dessert #wheat #foodphotography #foodstyling #zucchinibread #baking
fig and zucchini bread #dessert #wheat #foodphotography #foodstyling #zucchinibread #baking

After Snoopy stole the first version of the bread, I knew a repeat was going to happen soon, there were several things I needed to fix to make this a good bread, I wanted it to be the best zucchini bread I have ever made in my kitchen to date. I wanted the bread to have some amount of whole wheat in it and I didn't want the bread to a soupy overly wet mass and it needed a little spark of flavor. I also wanted the bread to be simple, zucchini bread is comfort food and comfort should not be tedious to prepare, it should be easy, comfortable to make and comfortable to eat.  

fig and zucchini bread #dessert #wheat #foodphotography #foodstyling #zucchinibread #baking

I tried a trick I learned from watching America's test kitchen (this is what they do with bananas for banana bread), I microwaved the zucchini to force out the excess liquid. I got a little over a cupful of liquid from the shredded zucchini which made a huge difference. The rest of the recipe, is all about stirring the ingredients together, the hardest part is probably grating the zucchini! 

fig and zucchini bread #dessert #wheat #foodphotography #foodstyling #zucchinibread #baking

 

fig and zucchini bread

yields: 1 loaf (8 1/2 " X 4 1/2") 

ingredients 

1 tablespoon walnut/olive oil + a little all purpose flour for coating the loaf pan.

1 lb zucchini

1 cup dried figs, chopped 

2 large eggs

1/4 cup minus 1 tablespoon walnut oil/olive oil (I tried both separately)

1 teaspoon madagascar bourbon vanilla extract

3/4 cup ( 5 7/25 ounces)  raw brown sugar

1/4 cup plain low-fat greek yogurt

4 1/4 ounces all purpose flour

4 1/4 ounces whole wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon dried ginger powder

1/4 teaspoon kosher sea salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup (2 3/5 ounces) chopped walnuts

6 whole figs dried, thinly sliced across their length

1. Place a wire rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350F. Coat a 8 1/2" X 4 1/2" loaf pan with a little oil and dust with a little flour.

2. Trim the ends off the zucchini and grate them into fine shreds. Place the shredded zucchini into a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 2 minutes. Transfer the zucchini into a larger strainer lined with two layers of cheesecloth/muslin. Allow the zucchini to drain for about 30 minutes or until you have about 1 cup of liquid. Bring the ends of the cheesecloth together and squeeze the zucchini to release as much as liquid as possible. Discard the liquid (you can use this liquid to prepare smoothies/juices or stocks) and place the shredded zucchini in a large mixing bowl.

3. Add the 1 cup of chopped dried figs to the zucchini along with the 2 large eggs, oil, vanilla, sugar and yogurt. Stir the contents together with a wooden spoon until combined. 

4. In a separate bowl, quickly whisk the flours, ginger powder, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Quickly stir the flour mixture into the wet ingredients in the large mixing bowl until combined. Fold the walnuts into the batter and then transfer the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Tap gently to release any trapped air bubbles. Place the thinly sliced whole figs in a single center row on top of the batter in the pan.

5. Bake for about 45-50 minutes, rotating the cake 180 degrees once during the baking process. The bread is done when the center is firm to touch or a knife should come out clean from the center of the bread. Allow the bread to cool for 10 minutes in the pan and the run the edges of a knife around the cake. Remove and allow the bread to cool on a wire rack. Slice and serve as needed. 

Note: This is a quick bread recipe. I recommend proceeding as quickly as possible to the baking stage as soon as you prepare the wet and dry ingredients. This will prevent excess liquid being released from the zucchini.

oven roasted beets and carrots with coriander

oven roasted beets and carrots with coriander #glutenfree #vegetarian #vegan

Though fall is only a month way, I can already see subtle signs here. The leaves haven't changed as they would on the East Coast but the produce at the farmer's markets have started to change. This weekend, there were a lot more beets than usual along with a few pumpkins. Not a lot but it was still enough to remind me that summer will be over soon.

oven roasted beets and carrots with coriander #glutenfree #vegetarian #vegan
oven roasted beets and carrots with coriander #glutenfree #vegetarian #vegan

Colors always attract my attention, especially when they are all sorts of vibrant gifted. Both summer and fall are also full of various wonderful colors, so this combination of deep pinks with bright orange reminds me of this transitory period. This is one of those side dishes that you can prepare with ease and eat alongside any meal. I'm always fascinated by how different ingredients respond to the same cooking conditions in different ways. Beets and carrots are naturally sweet and when roasted oven their sugars will caramelize to give a delicious touch of complexity. Garlic on the other hand, when roasted becomes sweet and less harsh in flavor. 

oven roasted beets and carrots with coriander #glutenfree #vegetarian #vegan

Be generous with the coriander when you season, a little extra doesn't hurt and you will love the aromatic fragrance that it brings to this dish. I love to eat this dish with a side of rice or a flat bread such as roti and a side of plain unsweetened yogurt. It's the perfect ode to the weather change and for things to come.

oven roasted beets and carrots with coriander #glutenfree #vegetarian #vegan

oven roasted beets and carrots with coriander

yields: 2-4 servings

ingredients

6 medium sized beets 

3 large carrots

1 garlic bulb

1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds, coarsely ground

1/2 teaspoon black pepper, coarsely ground

1 teaspoon kosher sea salt 

1 tablespoon olive oil

a few sprigs of thyme (I used lemon thyme to garnish)

1. Place a wire rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350F. 

2.  Leave about an inch of the stems on the beets. Wash and wipe the beets dry. Peel the outer skin and discard. Cut the beets across the length into 8 sections. Place the beets in a large mixing bowl.

3. Peel the carrots, cut them in half and then slice them into 1/2 inch thick strips. Add the carrots to the beets in the bowl. Slice the garlic bulb in half and add both halves to the bowl. Add the coriander, black pepper, sea salt and olive oil. Toss gently to coat the vegetables evenly. Spread the mixture out evenly onto a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the oven and cook for about 30-40 minutes or until the vegetables are tender but the edges slightly crispy. The beets and carrots will get slightly blistered and the stems of the beets will be browned and crispy. 

4. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with a few sprigs of fresh thyme. Serve immediately. 

Note: On sitting the vegetables can get slightly soft, I prefer to serve them fresh out of the oven because they have a wonderful combination of crispiness mixed in with the soft tender flesh. However, you can reheat these in the oven for about 5-10 minutes at 350F if they get a little soft.


chilled cucumber walnut yogurt soup

chilled cucumber walnut yogurt soup1

Summers are warm and depending on where you live, they can be excruciatingly hot and sometimes, even worse, accompanied by the dreaded "H" word............. humidity! And as much as I like hot weather, humidity is another story, I'll happily avoid it! But even in a hot and humid day, things can be fun and cool, especially if you can indulge in a bowl of this chilled walnut cucumber soup.

chilled cucumber walnut yogurt soup4

I've made a chilled mint yogurt soup in the past but this time I wanted to make the soup full of earthy flavors yet every bit cooling so you feel refreshed with every spoonful. By adding a few toasted walnuts to the yogurt, the soup acquires a rich and creamy texture which makes it delicious. I couldn't resist adding a little chili pepper but that is completely optional, if you don't want a little hot, skip it or remove the seeds from the pepper.

chilled cucumber walnut yogurt soup
I added a few cups of Stonyfield's organic plain low-fat yogurt to make this chilled soup, the yogurt by itself has a naturally fresh tangy flavor that really brought out the taste of the ingredients in the soup, making it the perfect summer soup.

 Note: Here's some geeky biochemical science for you! Cucumbers can be slightly bitter and there a couple of ways to get rid of the naturally occurring compound called cucurbitacin that causes this taste. The amount of cucurbitacin can vary within cucumbers picked from the same plant, however in general, the bitter compound is present in the peels and green parts and it will be less in the center. To get rid of cucurbitacin, I use the method I learned at home, slice the ends of the cucumber off and keep the tips aside, then with the pointed tip of a knife prick a few random holes into the cut ends of the cucumbers. Now rub the exposed cut ends of the cucumber with the cut tips for a minute or two, a slight white foam will form. Rinse the foam off under cold running tap water, repeat this on the opposite exposed side. Once you're done with this, peel and discard the skin and tips. 

chilled cucumber walnut yogurt soup2

chilled cucumber walnut yogurt soup

yields: 2 servings

ingredients

3/4 cup toasted walnuts

1 cup peeled cucumber, diced (see note above on how to remove cucumber bitterness)

1 teaspoon kosher sea salt 

1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground

1 green thai chili pepper (optional)

2 tablespoons lemon/lime juice, freshly squeezed (I used lime)

2 cups plain low-fat (non-fat) Stonyfield yogurt, chilled

a few chopped toasted walnuts for garnish

a little fresh dill/tarragon for garnish

a little walnut oil/extra virgin olive oil for garnish

1. Place all the ingredients from the walnuts to the yogurt in a blender and pulse until completely smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust the amount of salt and pepper if needed. You can also add a little water to the soup to adjust the consistency if needed.

2. Remove from blender, pour into chilled serving bowls. Garnish with a few toasted walnuts, dill/tarragon and a light drizzle of walnut/olive oil. Serve immediately. 

Disclaimer: I am honored to be a member of the Stonyfield Clean Plate Club. I received product or coupons for writing this post, but all opinions are my own.