Toward the end of summer I’m thrilled when my vegetable garden presents a cornucopia of several vegetables; my favorite for decades has been zucchini, the green variety. I catch them at their peak, about six to eight inches. However, larger ones work well in stews and casseroles, or stuffed with chopped veggies, cheese and ground meats. I love growing the patty pan type yellow squash; their spaceship shape is so alluring! Savory or sweet, zucchinis versatility knows no bounds as it succeeds in a main or side dish or dessert, which I describe further down.
I never gardened as a child, or knew anything about growing vegetables, only eating canned varieties, and sometimes a meal mixed with frozen, awful and squishy carrots, peas and Lima beans. We had salad occasionally. I began my love for fresh vegetables when I married, and my husband and I moved to Zurich, Switzerland. There, we both studied Jungian psychology for five years, and began raising two children and finally, I discovered garden-fresh veggies at local farmers markets!
During the 1970s, I started to incorporate a wider variety of vegetables into my diet. Overtime I bought and grew zucchini in Zurich. And, once we all returned home, I continued to grow zucchini. I began growing kohlrabi, beets, onions, chives, tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers. I had learned about fennel in Switzerland and grew that at home too, along with other herbs I was learning about, such as parsley and tarragon. Our family loved the long-pale skinned cucumbers we ate in Zurich, known as the Armenian cucumber. And too, more recently I’ve developed a passion for growing garlic! Do any of you grow garlic? If you do, please share with me your process? I use garlic constantly in savory dishes.
For use in winter, I freeze small bags of zucchini, sometimes grated, sometimes in half inch moon slices. I parboil them for barely 3-4 minutes, next plop them in cold water, and once cooled, I place them in zip-lock freezer bags. The zucchinis stay tasty and useful up to year, maybe longer! But, before I add them to many dishes, I squeezes out their moisture.
For sweet dishes, I stay with fresh-from-the-garden zucchini, but, once grated, I still squeeze some moisture out of them using a clean dish cloth. Chocolate and zucchini make a succulent combination! What I like with this bread is the creative thrill I get when I add different ingredients, like cinnamon, nuts, raisins or coconut, depending on my whims and wishes that day, and the company I’m serving!
One important tip with this bread is to make sure you use a loaf pan which is a little large than normal– go with a container 10-by-5-inches, otherwise it’s a bit difficult to remove the loaf from the pan after it’s baked. Important too is to remember to use parchment paper in the pan, (leaving 3-4 inches as an overhang on the two long sides, use these as handles) in addition to buttering the pan first, and then greasing it again on the parchment paper, plus a dusting of 1-2 tablespoons of flour added to the buttered parchment layer. Completing this step will make for easy removal of the baked bread.
INGREDIENTS Serves 8-10
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled – plus extra for the pan
2 cups flour
1 3/4 cup sugar
1/4 to 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups zucchini, grated and squeezed
1 cup chocolate chips
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter the pan; size is described above.
2. Whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, salt and baking soda, and cinnamon if desired.
3. In another medium bowl, stir together the butter, eggs, vanilla, plus the zucchini. Stir this into the dry ingredients, then fold in the chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Shake the pan gently once or twice as the batter settles.
4. Bake 1 and 20 minutes, checking at 1 hour and ten minute making sure that a toothpick comes out nearly dry with only a few crumbs on it. Cool completely on a wire rack and frost, if desired, with the simple cream cheese topping below.
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
1/2 cup butter, softened
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1-2 Teaspoons vanilla
3-4 cups powdered sugar
1-3 Tablespoon plain, honey or flavored yogurt
1 Mix the butter and cream cheese well, until no lumps are visible. Stir in the vanilla, next add the powdered sugar slowly, first the three cups, one at a time, then add the forth cup, until the frosting reaches the consistency you desire. If you’d like the frosting a bit thinner, or with a fruity flavor, stir in some yogurt.
TIPS AND TWEAKS:
- Try adding a half cup of raisins when adding the chocolate. The same goes for coconut. Use unsweetened coconut since the bread is sweet enough.
- For nutty flavor add a half cup of hazelnuts, cut in half.
- to spike the flavor add a half teaspoon of cayenne pepper with the dry ingredients.
- For more herb flavor, with a spicy, pungent kick, try garam masala, essential in Indian cooking. One main ingredient in garam masala is cardamom. Cardamom is a bit bitter and strong, but can be warming too, especially if you add cinnamon as a companin spice. Some research reveals that the flavor of garam masala might be reminiscent of ginger and pine. It’s known to enhance the taste of squash, and so would be perfect in this bread. Add a small amount, about half a teaspoon to the dry mixture.