Sunday, September 28, 2008

holding on to summer... plus another recipe (Zucchini Date-Nut Bread)

I love this time of year. As much as I do not like saying goodbye to summer, late September also means cooler mornings and nights, the start of Cincinnati's "20 Days 20 Nights" arts festival, and LOTS of end-of-summer produce.

Well, not from my "garden".

My cherry tomato plant didn't do so great, but it wasn't bad for a first try either. They were actually really sweet. I know cherry tomatoes are small, but they shouldn't be that small. Oh, well. Maybe it took after its caretaker.

These tomatoes (below) were SO good. Plump, juicy, and really pretty. I was torn between wanting to slice one of them right away (or just bite into it, really) and wanting to photograph them.

heirloom tomatoes, yellow pear tomatoes, and grape tomatoes from a friend's garden

At any rate, one of my favorite things to do with home-grown tomatoes is to just slice them, season them lightly with sea salt and freshly ground pepper, sprinkle some fresh chopped basil, and drizzle this olive oil on top (just a warning: it's not cheap, but this is my olive oil indulgence). Then mop up the olive oil with this bread. Aaaahhh... simplicity and perfection.

And what to do with an abundance of farmer's market-fresh zucchini? Zucchini bread!

Here's the recipe...

Zucchini Date-Nut Bread

3 cups whole wheat pastry flour (you can also combine 1 1/2 cups regular whole wheat flour and 1 1/2 cups unbleached flour)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup sorghum* (or 1/4 cup molasses)
1 cup turbinado sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 medium zucchini, equivalent of 2 cups grated (I used a food processor)
Ener-G egg replacer, equivalent of 3 eggs (follow instructions on package)
about 1/2 cup chopped pecans
3/4 cup chopped dates, coated lightly in flour (this prevents the dates from sinking to the bottom of the bread while baking)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2 8x5" loaf pans.
2. Sift together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to blend well, then set aside.
3. In a separate bowl, mix together oil, sorghum or molasses, sugar, and vanilla. Add zucchini and mix thoroughly. Add Ener-G egg replacer, and mix until blended.
4. Beat in flour mixture just until blended. Take care not to overmix! Fold in nuts and dates.
5. Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes, then loosen the sides of the bread and invert onto a serving plate.

For an added treat, I also mix some Tofutti cream cheese with a little confectioner's sugar and vanilla to spread on the sliced zucchini bread. Yum!

* Sorghum is a natural, unrefined sweetener. I bought mine from Old Kentucky Home, one of the vendors at Findlay Market.

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