Friday, August 12, 2011

Zucchini Bread

As some of you know, I teach English to Japanese adults here on Okinawa. I sort of found the job by accident online (I have a degree in Communication/Event Management), but it's been so rewarding getting to meet people from the local community and learning about Okinawan traditions and Japanese pop culture.

Just the other day, I was teaching some of students at the local spa. (Let me just say that I *really* adore them. They're fun and quick to laugh - mostly at me, but I'll take it.) Anywho. We've been talking about food (hussah!) the last few weeks and I asked them to share some of their favorite go-to recipes.  (The answers included pan-seared vegetable and meat rolls and quick miso soup - yum!) When the girls asked me what my favorite is, I knew I'd never be able to pick just one so I offered a new favorite instead - zucchini bread!

Would you know, they had no idea you could make bread with zucchini! They were totally floored when I said it and were hanging on every word as I explained how to make it. In all fairness, I had never actually made zucchini bread until the week before we discussed it (hides face in hands). I promised to bring them a couple loaves when I returned for work the next time. I did (leaving the two loaves for them to try in private so they could honestly react to it with each other) and wouldn't you know, in typical Japanese fashion, the next time I returned, they had baked me Okinawan donuts (called "sata andagi") in return to say thank you. I'm still not sure who got the better end of that deal ... ;)

This recipe comes from AllRecipes, has been saved by over 100,000 members, and has a five-star rating.

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Ready in: 1 hour, 40 minutes
Yields: 2 loaves


Ingredients:

  • 3 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 C vegetable oil
  • 2 1/4 C white sugar
  • 3 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 C grated zucchini
  • 1 C chopped walnuts
Directions:
  1. Grease and flour two 8x4" pans. Preheat oven to 325. 
  2. Sift flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon together in a bowl. 
  3. Beat eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture, and beat well. Stir in zucchini and walnuts until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pans.
  4. Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes. Remove bread from pans, and cool completely. 
Et voila!
(Ok, I don't have a photo of the finished product, but how 'bout a photo of an equally delicious berries 'n' cream tart from Jyo-gi Patisserie in Naha?)

 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Aebelskiv...(huh?!) and Typhoon Muifa

I'm writing this as hubby, puppy and I ride out the last half of Typhoon Muifa. She's been sluggish and moody! It's been wildly windy and the rain has been pelting the house (and sneaking under the front door!) for almost 24 hours now. No worries, though, as I have not only great company but also a fun new birthday present to try out (thanks Momma G!).

I present to you ... aebelskivers. They're delightful little pancake-y puffs that are often served on holidays in Denmark. I first learned about them while thumbing through the latest Williams-Sonoma catalog (::sigh::). I was so excited not only to receive a large box from my mother-in-law (Momma G) on my birthday, but to open it up and find my very own ("Norpro") Aebelskiver pan!

The cast iron pan is small, but extremely efficient. It heats up quickly, retains the heat and distributes it really evenly. I recommend looking into them for your own kitchen if you think you might use it often enough.

This recipe is the one that came with the pan (I figured it was probably pretty trustworthy and a good place to start). We made these yesterday for breakfast, but also snacked on them for dessert. Hubby has convinced me to try a dinner version of these -- maybe little hamburgers? We'll see.

Yields: about 40 Aebelskivers
Ingredients:

  • 2 C flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 C buttermilk (*Like I mentioned, we're in a mandatory lockdown while the typhoon rips through so going to the commissary wasn't an option. I don't keep buttermilk on hand and I never end up using more than, oh, a quarter of it. I Googled [yes, that's a verb] "buttermilk substitute" and found this recipe. You'll need to make two batches, but it was quick and worked great!)
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • *Optional: Apple slices or other fruit for filling. (*We used applesauce, apricot preserves, and chocolate pieces.)

The set up.
(Note the giant punch bowl: I was testing an iced coffee recipe I can't wait to share with you! Oh, and one of my favorite mugs from back home: "When the going gets tough, tell me I'm beautiful!")

Directions:
  1. Sift together flour, salt and baking soda. Add buttermilk and egg yolks. Beat egg whites until light and fluffy, forming soft peaks. Gently fold egg whites into batter.
  2. Heat Aebelskiver pan on medium heat. Grease each cup (with a little butter or oil, or spray vegetable oil) and fill 2/3 full.


  3. Cook for approximately 1 to 1 1/2 minutes (per side) until golden brown. Flip using skewers. When both sides are done, serve with a sprinkle of confectioner's sugar. (Best when served warm.)
  4. Optional: Fill each cup only 1/3 full with batter. Place a small amount of fruit in each cup and cover with an additional 1/3 batter.
Et voila!

And in case you're wondering what it looks like here outside Cafe Groenhout:
It may be hard to decorate, but I'm thankful for my very sturdy little concrete bunker!

And how my little chef (Banks) is handling it: