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.

chocolate walnut oil ice cream, 3 years + a giveaway

dark chocolate walnut oil ice cream

Three years ago,  I started this little blog. To be honest, I had no clue, no agenda or mission statement, all I wanted was a spot to write about the food I cooked at home, the food that I loved. You see, as a kid, I wanted to either attend culinary school or learn editorial photography but life had other plans and I ended up as a molecular biologist studying physiology and biochemistry. The only goal, I had was to make this my space to learn and indulge in things I loved to do. 

dark chocolate walnut oil ice cream 4

One of the questions, I get a lot is on food photography and I thought that this bloggiversary would be the perfect time to share my personal experience with you. Equipped with my point-and-shoot camera, I started to photograph the food I prepared at home to share in my posts. Most of those photographs are terrible, styling food would frustrate me, and my early photographs would not get accepted by the "food photography sharing" sites, even after I upgraded to a DSLR. At this point, I was ready to throw in the towel  till I spoke to my dad (who used to be a professional photographer until he retired) who gave me probably, the most important advice I have received to date, "practice". Practice made a huge difference in my work. For those of you who want to learn food photography or for that matter any type of photography, I can't stress how important practicing is. Make mistakes in your photographs and learn from them, figure out what pleases you the most about a photograph you took and what doesn't. Then retake the shot and see if you can change things, you are your own best teacher! Listen to what others say but also pay attention to your own instincts. 

dark chocolate walnut oil ice cream 2

To celebrate three years, I'm sharing this dark chocolate ice cream recipe with you. It's special because it's infused with all sorts of walnut deliciousness in it. There's walnut oil, a bit of walnut flour and some walnut bits that make this ice cream delicious. Walnut oil has the aromatic fragrance and flavors of freshly toasted walnuts, it really is amazing and really makes the walnut flavor pop in this recipe.

To thank you for all the support and love you have shown me and my work, I'm giving away one of my favorite kitchen appliances, a 2- Quart Frozen Yogurt-Sorbet-Ice Cream Maker courtesy of the super awesome folks at Cuisinart. All you need to do is follow the instructions on the widget below. The giveaway will run from August 4th till August 10th, 2014 and is only open to legal residents of the United States (sorry due to shipping reasons). Good luck!

NOTE: THIS GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED

dark chocolate walnut oil ice cream 3
ice30bc_silo

chocolate walnut oil ice cream

yields: 1 quart

ingredients

1 cup heavy cream

2 ounces dark chocolate chips (I used 63% cacao from Guittard)

1/2 cup (3 1/4 ounces) dark brown sugar

1/2 cup (2 1/4 ounces) unsweetened natural cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon kosher sea-salt

2 cups whole milk + 4 tablespoons 

2 tablespoons cornstarch

4 generous tablespoons walnut flour

1/4 cup walnut oil (you could substitute a light flavorful fruity olive oil)

1/2 cup chopped raw walnuts, frozen (toasted can also be used)

1. Heat the heavy cream in a thick bottomed saucepan on medium-high until it just begins to simmer. Remove from stove and stir in the chocolate chips, brown sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Stir until the chocolate chips have completely melted. You might need to whisk the chocolate to combine the ingredients completely. 

2. Make a slurry of the cornstarch with the four tablespoons of milk, keep aside. Place the saucepan with its contents back on the stove. Add the 2 cups of milk to the saucepan and whisk until combined. Heat the contents on medium high until the milk begins to boil and boil for 1 minute. Immediately, whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Whisk in the walnut flour. Boil for another 2 minutes, the mixture will thicken to a custard like consistency. Remove the saucepan from the stove.

3. Pour the contents of the saucepan into a clean gallon ziploc bag. Seal airtight and place the bag in an ice-cold water bath to cool or leave in the refrigerator to chill completely. Once the ice cream base has completely cooled, pour in the walnut oil and whisk a little. Refrigerate for another 10 minutes. Transfer the chilled ice cream to your prepared frozen canister of your ice cream maker. Churn for about 30 minutes until the ice cream has formed. Alternatively, follow the instructions given by your ice cream maker's manufacturers. 

4. Transfer half of the ice cream to an airtight freezer proof container. Sprinkle half of the walnuts over the ice cream and then layer with the rest of the ice cream. Sprinkle the remaining walnuts over the ice cream. Randomly swirl a silicone spatula or butter knife through the ice cream to distribute the walnut bits. Cover the surface of the ice cream with parchment paper and freeze for at least 4 hrs before serving. I like to garnish the ice cream scoops with a little extra walnuts right before serving. 

Disclaimer: I did not receive any financial compensation from the participating sponsor in this giveaway. All opinions stated are my own.