Yeasted Lemon Zucchini Bread

We are lucky enough to have wonderful neighbors who share produce from their vegetable garden year-round. So when they brought over a monster zucchini recently, I decided to make some zucchini bread. But not just any zucchini bread!

While I love traditional zucchini bread — usually a quick bread leavened with baking powder — there is something really satisfying about baking yeast breads. The smooth feel of well kneaded dough, watching it rise, shaping it — not to mention the physical work and patience required. Plus, you can’t beat the soft, fluffy texture!

So I set out to make a yeasted zucchini bread, something with the flavors of the traditional recipe and just a touch of sweetness, like a breakfast bread. It’s delicious served warm with plenty of butter!

 

Ingredients

3 1/2 cups bread flour (stir your flour before measuring to loosen)
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (1 packet)
1 1/2 cups grated zucchini (about 2 medium)
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
3/4 cup lukewarm water
2 tbsp honey
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
cooking spray

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon and yeast. Add the zucchini and lemon zest and stir to incorporate. In a separate bowl, combine the water, honey and olive oil, then add to the flour mixture.

Knead until smooth. I like to do the bulk of the kneading with an electric stand mixer using the dough hook attachment (for about 4 minutes), and then finish it up by hand. The dough starts out a little wet, so add small amounts of flour as you go (not too much) to keep it from sticking to your hands. The end result should be smooth and slightly tacky, but not sticky. (King Arthur Flour has a nice kneading tutorial here.)

Oil your bowl with cooking spray and place the dough inside. Spray the top of the dough, then cover loosely with plastic wrap or a cotton towel. Let rise in a warm place until roughly doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead gently for about a minute. Shape into a sandwich loaf (see this King Arthur Flour tutorial) and place into an oiled standard loaf pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a cotton towel and let rise until almost doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Bake until golden brown and internal temperature registers at 190 degrees, about 45-60 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack. Let cool another hour before serving.

Pictured: Corning Ware Blue Cornflower P-315-B Loaf Dish, Pyrex Yellow 404 Round Mixing Bowl, Pyrex Spring Blossom 444 Cinderella Mixing Bowl

Pasta Salad with Snap Peas, Tomatoes and Mint

With summer around the corner, I’ve been looking for recipes that work well for barbecues, picnics and afternoons at the pool. Naturally, pasta salad is one of those recipes — plus, it happens to be my daughter’s latest favorite food.

As I was poking around the internet for pasta salad ideas, I came across Yotam Ottolenghi’s Pasta Salad with Spring Vegetables and Tomatoes on Epicurious. And I have to say: I’m sure his pasta salad is amazing. Roasted tomatoes in an orange-ginger glaze,  peas and spring onions each charred to perfection in separate batches, everything gently tossed and beautiful. But the recipe is so time-consuming! I’m just not going to spend an hour roasting tomatoes before I can even start assembling the final dish.

So instead, I’ve made a simplified pasta salad inspired by some of the flavors and ingredients in Ottolenghi’s version. I think it’s just as pretty as the original, and pretty tasty too.

Serves 6 

Ingredients

12 oz farfalle pasta (or your favorite shape)
8 oz sugar snap peas
4 stalks green onions, chopped
3 cups cherry tomatoes, sliced in half (red and yellow are nice)
4 tbsp fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped fine
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped fine
olive oil
salt
pepper

Cook pasta in salted water, according to package directions. Drain, then transfer to a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil to keep from sticking. Let cool to room temperature.

Blanch the snap peas by immersing in boiling water for about 30 seconds and then plunging in an ice water bath. Trim the ends and slice in half diagnonally.

Add the snap peas, green onions, tomatoes, lemon juice, mint and parsley to the pasta and stir gently until evenly mixed. Season with salt, pepper, olive oil and more lemon juice to taste.

Pictured: Pyrex Yellow 404 Round Mixing Bowl

Rainbow Coleslaw with Citrus Vinaigrette

It’s starting to feel like summer in Northern California — the days are getting longer, the weather is getting warmer and the school year is winding down. And BBQ season is ramping up!

All of those things put me in the mood to make a summery coleslaw — light and colorful with a subtle citrus tang. I prefer chopping the cabbage and bell pepper by hand, to give the slaw a more rustic look, but I cheat with pre-shredded carrots. A sprinkling of salt in the prep process helps the veggies release some of their excess moisture, so that the finished product remains crisp but doesn’t get as watery.

Serves 6

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Ingredients

1/4 head green cabbage, sliced thin
1/4 head red cabbage, sliced thin
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced thin
5 oz shredded carrots
2 tsp salt
1/3 cup parsley, roughly chopped
honey lemon dressing
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar (optional)

In a large colander, toss the cabbage, pepper and carrots with the salt. Place the colander over a bowl and allow the veggies to drain for at least one hour, up to four hours. Rinse and drain thoroughly (patting dry with paper towels helps too).

Transfer the veggies to a bowl and stir in the parsley. Toss with the honey lemon dressing to taste. If you prefer a little extra tang, add the cider vinegar and toss until well mixed.

Pictured: Pyrex Yellow 404 Round Mixing Bowl 

Bok Choy Carrot Kimchi

Recently when a neighbor brought us a giant head of bok choy from his garden, I decided to finally get around to making something I’ve been wanting to try: bok choy kimchi. Some Googling suggested that bok choy is often paired with carrots in kimchi, and spring onions were in season at our farmers market, so that’s what I went with — not necessarily authentic, but delicious. I love how colorful this kimchi turned out, with the bok choy’s dark green leafy bits, big chunks of spring onion, bright orange carrots and red spices.

You’ll need to make a trip to the Asian grocery store to find gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes) and gochujang (Korean fermented red chili paste). They really are the foundation of kimchi’s flavor — no substitutions will do, though in a pinch you can omit the gochujang.

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A few notes:

  • Chopping: If you’re wondering how thick or thin to slice your vegetables, think about how you will eat the finished product. Do you like to munch on big chunks, or do you prefer a slaw-like consistency? Chop accordingly.
  • Spice: Different brands of gochugaru will have different levels of spice, which obviously will impact the spiciness of your kimchi. You may need a couple rounds of experimentation to attain the heat you want.
  • Fermentation vessel: You can ferment kimchi in just about anything — a mason jar, a loosely covered (non-reactive) bowl, a ceramic crock. Mostly it’s important to keep the ingredients immersed in the brine. There are a variety of weights and mechanisms available to do so (e.g., I have used both Kraut Source and Pickle Pebbles), or you can use a zip-lock bag full of water to keep things submerged. I am the lucky owner of a fermentation crock hand made by my mother-in-law, complete with perfectly sized ceramic weights, so that’s my vessel of choice.

Recipe adapted from Kraut Source’s Traditional Kimchi.

Ingredients

3 lbs bok choy, chopped
6 carrots, peeled and sliced
6 stalks spring onion (or 8 green onion), chopped
1/2 cup sea salt
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp ginger, minced
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp turbinado sugar (aka “sugar in the raw”)
1/3 cup gochugaru
2 tbsp gochujang

In a large bowl, combine the bok choy, carrots and spring onions. Sprinkle with the salt and toss, massaging the veggies to ensure they are thoroughly salted. The bok choy should start to soften.

Add enough water to cover the veggies, then weigh them down with a plate and something heavy (like a glass of water). Let them sit for 1 hour, then drain, reserving and setting aside some of the brine. Rinse the veggies in a colander, let them drain for 15 minutes, and then return them to the bowl.

In a small bowl, combine the garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sugar, gochugaru and gochujang. Add to the veggies and mix, using gloved hands or a pair of tongs.

Pack the kimchi mixture into your fermentation vessel, pressing down firmly to eliminate air pockets. Top with some of the reserved brine — enough so that the veggies are just barely submerged. (The bok choy will release additional water during the fermentation process.) Cover with whatever weight and lid you’re using. Note: If you are not using an airlock mechanism, make sure your lid is loose enough to release the gas generated by fermentation.

Ferment at room temperature for at least 5 days, longer to taste. The kimchi should have a pleasant fermented odor — strong but not foul. Taste for doneness, then transfer to the refrigerator.

Pictured: Pyrex Gooseberry 444 Cinderella Mixing Bowl, Pyrex Yellow 404 Round Mixing Bowl, Pyrex Spring Blossom 442 Cinderella Mixing Bowl, Glasbake J2663 Handled Bowl

Double Streusel Coffee Cake

This is my all-time favorite coffee cake: a simple white cake sturdy enough to hold plenty of crumbly brown sugar streusel. It comes from an old Betty Crocker recipe — when I was growing up, the 1969 edition of Betty Crocker’s Cookbook was my family’s go-to for a lot of baked goods. But over the years I’ve made a few changes — most importantly, I’ve always liked to double the streusel topping. It’s the best part! So here’s my take on updating the recipe with the “proper” amount of streusel.

Ingredients

Streusel:
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp butter, softened

Cake:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup shortening
3/4 cup milk
1 egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease an 8×8 or 9×9 pan.

For the streusel: In a medium bowl, mix brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and butter, using a fork or pastry cutter to distribute the butter evenly. Set aside.

For the cake: In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients. Add the shortening and blend with a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles coarse sand. In a separate bowl, mix together the milk and egg, then pour into the flour mixture. Stir until all the flour is incorporated.

Pour the batter into the baking pan and top with an even layer of streusel. Bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 25-35 minutes.

Pictured: Fire King Meadow Green Square Baking Dish, Pyrex Yellow 404 Round Mixing Bowl, Agee Pyrex Paisley Round Mixing Bowl, Hazel Atlas Egg Beater Cup

Rainbow Black-Eyed Pea Salad

I can’t think of a better way to ring in the new year than with a colorful, bright and tangy salad that doubles as a good-luck charm. Black-eyed peas are a symbol of luck and prosperity in the South and a traditional New Year’s Day dish (usually simmered with greens and served over rice).

Here I incorporated them in a chilled salad that can be made up to one day in advance, serves a crowd and is vegetarian-friendly — perfect for a New Year’s potluck. If you’re not a fan of black-eyed peas, you can substitute pretty much any kind of canned bean — navy beans or garbanzos (or both) would be good too. The vinaigrette is also great on its own as an all-purpose dressing.

Adapted from Bay Area Bites’ Healthy Black-Eyed Pea Salad.

Serves 12

Ingredients

4 15 1/2-oz cans black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 red onion, chopped fine
1 red bell pepper, chopped fine
1 orange bell pepper, chopped fine
4 stalks celery, chopped fine
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
zest and juice of 1 lemon
3 tbsp rice vinegar (unseasoned)
6 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp coarse-ground Dijon mustard
1 tsp sugar
salt
pepper

In a large bowl, stir together beans, red onion, bell peppers, celery, green onions, parsley and lemon zest.

In a separate bowl, whisk together lemon juice, rice vinegar, olive oil, mustard, sugar and a pinch of salt and pepper. Pour over the bean mixture.

Stir until combined, then cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Season with salt and pepper to taste before serving.

Pictured: Pyrex Yellow 404 Round Mixing Bowl, Pyrex Spring Blossom 401 Round Mixing Bowl