Carrot-Zucchini Bread

19 Aug

Thank you Alice for the amazing tip on the easiest apple pie ever! I now have a packet of puff pastry in my freezer for those last minute dessert needs.

So we’ve explored quite a few fruit desserts recently, but how about a sweet vegetable bread?

1-Carrot Zucchini Bread with Ginger 055

Being the end of summer here in Minnesota everyone has an overabundance of zucchini from their gardens, so why not make bread with it?! This recipe from Leite’s Culinaria intrigued me because of the addition of carrots and candied ginger to a basic zucchini bread recipe. Yum!

Carrots & Zucchini

I grated the zucchini and carrots in my greatly loved, ancient but usable food processor.

grate!

They can very easily be grated with a hand grater as well. Just take care with your knuckles!

1-Carrot Zucchini Bread with Ginger 016

See, so pretty!

My friend and sous chef Karen measured out all the dry ingredients.

dry ingredients

We got to try the candied ginger, which was delicious and quite expensive. After a bit of poking around, I think I might try to make my own as it doesn’t look too difficult to do. David Lebovitz has a lovely recipe that I mean to try shortly.

candied ginger

I mixed the eggs in the mixer until they were frothy,

eggs

then added sugar, oil and vanilla. Once they were all well combined

eggs and sugar

I tossed in the shredded veggies and mixed those in as well.

1-Carrot Zucchini Bread with Ginger 039

At that point the dry ingredients were tossed in all at once and stirred together just until combined.

add dry to wet

While I was mixing and combining, Karen had gotten a loaf pan and a muffin pan all ready for the batter by greasing them with spray oil.

1-Carrot Zucchini Bread with Ginger 048

We filled the baking pans and into the oven they went.

symmetrical

Because the recipe gave baking directions for the loaf but not the muffins, I improvised and checked the muffins at 30 mins. They were perfectly done.

funfetti

They looked like party muffins with the green and orange flecks and then every once in a while there was a spicy chunk of candied ginger to liven things up.

The loaf baked for a full hour at 325°F/162°C.

Carrot Zucchini Bread with Ginger loaf

It was quite delicious plain, but slathered with butter is even better.

Carrot Zucchini Bread with Ginger

I experimented with the zucchini loaf and some sharp cheddar in trying to make a grilled cheese sandwich. It was quite tasty, but the slices of the bread should be very thin to allow the cheese to melt before the bread starts to burn.

Carrot Zucchini Bread grilled cheese

CARROT-ZUCCHINI BREAD RECIPE
via Leite’s Culinaria
Makes two loaves or 24 muffins

INGREDIENTS
Nonstick cooking spray
3 cups sifted unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup minced candied ginger
3 large eggs
1 cup canola oil
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup carrots, peeled and grated
1 cup zucchini, grated

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F (162°C). Coat two loaf pans with nonstick cooking spray or butter. You could also make them in two muffin tins.
2. Sift together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, and baking powder in a medium bowl. Stir in the salt and candied ginger.
3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until light and foamy. Add the canola oil, sugar, and vanilla, whisking vigorously until the sugar dissolves. Whisk in the carrots and zucchini.
4. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture all at once and stir with a wooden spoon just until blended. Divide the batter evenly between the pans.
5. Bake until the zucchini bread is well risen and firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour for a loaf pan or 30 minutes for muffin tins. Let the zucchini bread cool in the pans on a rack for 10 minutes, then invert them and finish cooling them right side up on the rack. Of course, a thin slice for the cook while the loaves are warm isn’t out of the question.

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Easiest Apple ‘Pie’

5 Aug

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You know those nights where you think… oh mannnnnnnn.. I wish I had apple pie? (Especially after being tormented by DELICIOUS CAKE RECIPES. Thanks, B!)

Well, here you go, this is the world’s EASIEST substitute. We often have puff pastry sheets languishing in the freezer after some savoury pie, like the leek and chicken pie we made last week. Usually there are offcut pieces that you know will be difficult to use up.

All you need is an apple, a little butter, sugar, alongside some puff pastry offcuts, and you can make this pie like deliciousness.

ingredients

I pre-heated the oven, and then started by peeling, quartering, coring and slicing an apple. I went for a Granny Smith this time, but I am pretty sure I have used every type of apple over the years. Slice them a few milimetres thick… no idea what that is in inches, but thin-ish.
peelslice

I then started to assemble them. Lay your puff rectangles on some baking paper on a baking tray. Mine were around 2 inches by 5 inches, but you can have any offcut size and adapt your topping to suit.

Fan out the apple, this is half an apple on each piece of pastry. Then sprinkle with a scant teaspoon of sugar, and dot with a teaspoon and a half (or so) of butter.

fan_applesugar_butter

Then into the oven…. I baked these for 30 minutes, then while they were still warm, served with ice cream. Cream would work well also.

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Voila… so simple. Also kind of impressive for so little work!

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Easiest Apple ‘Pie’
ingredients (for two)

Two pieces of prepared puff pastry (around 2 inches by 5 inches)
1 apple, peeled, quartered, cored and sliced thinly
2 scant teaspoons of white sugar
3 teaspoons of butter

Preheat oven to 175C/350F.

Line a baking tray with baking paper and assemble the ‘pies’. Fan half an apple the length of each pastry base. Sprinkle the sugar over the apple, and then dot the butter the length of the apple.

Bake until pastry edges are golden, around thirty minutes.

Serve with cream or ice cream.

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Chocolate Strawberry Nutella Cake

15 Jul

Mmmmmm, cake is a good direction in which to take this series of blog posts. I’m glad Alice posted that recipe for the Lemon Syrup Cake…I think she has just introduced me to my new favorite cake.

On the subject of rich cakes, how about this one??

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I spotted this cake on Pioneer Woman’s blog. I follow her on Facebook and she posted such a tantalizing photo that looked so interesting that I was compelled to try it. I’ve made it a few times now. That’s how you know it’s good.

The first time I made it, my friend Karen and I didn’t want to use strawberries, so we went ahead and swapped them out for cherries. It was a really good choice.

ramekins_cherry

Also, I thought it might be interesting to mix it up and make individual desserts, so we baked those in ramekins. Also a good choice as the cakes were a little gooey in the middle and altogether quite delicious.

The next time I made it was for my little friend’s birthday.

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I used strawberries as the original recipe suggests.

We melted the butter, added the cocoa and boiling water

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Isn’t that pretty??

Mixed together the dry ingredients, then poured the melted chocolate into the bowl while mixing it on low.

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Word to the wise…do as I say and not as I do. I spilled a significant amount of the hot chocolate mixture while attempting to pour it straight from the pan into the mixer.

After mixing together the liquid ingredients,

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pour it into the chocolate mixture and voila!

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Prepare the cake pans by lining them with rounds of baking paper and spraying them with non-stick cooking spray. Then pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake.

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Alternately, grease some ramekins and fill them 3/4 full of batter. This recipe would make at least 12 ramekins full of cake.

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Bake the cakes. When they are finished, let them cool before turning the large cake rounds out onto a cooling rack.

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Peel the parchment paper off the back of the cake before cooling on the rack.

The individual cakes don’t need turning out. You can build the cake right in the cute little baking dish.

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While the cakes are cooling, whisk up some whipping cream and confectioners sugar in the mixer.

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The whipped cream was quite a hit with the helpers.

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Here’s the fun part – building the cakes!

building the cake

First a layer of Nutella on the cake

Nutella

Topped with a nice dollop of whipped cream

whipped cream

Then add the berries

strawberries

Add the second cake and repeat.

For the individual cakes it’s even easier. Keep the cakes in their baking dishes, add the layer of Nutella

ramekins_Nutella

ramekins_covered

Yum!

Top with a generous dollop of whipped cream and the berries.

ramekins_final

Done! Now enjoy!

Chocolate Strawberry Nutella Cake
by the Pioneer Woman

Ingredients

FOR THE CAKE:
2 sticks butter
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 cup boiling water
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cup Nutella

FOR THE FRUIT:
2 pints strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

FOR THE WHIPPED CREAM:
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Method:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 round baking pans with parchment, then spray the parchment with baking spray.
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the cocoa and stir it until smooth. Pour in the boiling water, let the mixture bubble up for 20 seconds or so, then turn it off and set it aside.
In a measuring pitcher or bowl, mix together the buttermilk, baking soda, eggs, and vanilla. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, mix together the sugar, flour, and salt. Stir in the hot chocolate mixture, stirring gently until it’s halfway combined and less hot. Pour in the buttermilk mixture and continue stirring gently until the batter is all combined.
Pour the batter into the pans and bake them for 17-20 minute, until they’re just set. Remove them from the pans and set them aside to cool completely.
B’s option: For ramekin cakes, spray the ramekins with baking spray and fill them 3/4 full of batter. Bake for 15 minutes and check with a toothpick to see if the cake is fully baked.
Meanwhile, prepare the strawberries by stirring them with the sugar and the vanilla. Let them macerate for 15 minutes, then drain off the excess juice.
B’s option: I used the strawberries without any vanilla or sugar, however, I did macerate the cherries for that cake. The cherries would also be good soaked in an almond liqueur for more a grown up treat.
Whip the cream with the powdered sugar.
To assemble, turn one layer upside down on a serving platter. Spread half the Nutella all over the surface. Spread on half the whipped cream and top with half the strawberries. Place the other layer upside down on top and repeat with the rest of the Nutella, whipped cream, and strawberries. Keep chilled until serving. Cut with a serrated knife!
B’s option: For the ramekin cakes, leave them in the baking dish, spread them with a layer of Nutella, top with a dollop of whipped cream, then the fruit. Serve individually, with a spoon.

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday, Cambria. I hope your wish came true!!

Rich Lemon Syrup Cake

8 Jul

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B posted her favourite go-to salmon meal. And I am not sure I have a go-to salmon recipe at all. I will have to try hers. It looked great.

I was reminded of this old go-to recipe by my friend Beth last week. I found it in our newspaper about fifteen years ago, when they re-printed the three most requested recipes (oh, remember the days before the internet?). I made it for my dad’s birthday and doubled the quantities, and mixed up my numbers, and managed to double double the butter. And IT WAS FANTASTIC. It is super rich, and seriously good, almost pudding like. I even made it for my brother’s 21st birthday cake, on a massive scale. I could barely lift it, and people loved it.

You will need…

ingredientsCakeingredients_syrup
For the cake: plain flour, baking powder, butter, caster sugar, milk, butter, lemon and eggs. And for the syrup, more lemon and sugar.

It is a simple method so I will list it in the recipe below, and the hardest part is creaming the butter, so if you have a KitchenAid you will be set.

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Rich Lemon Syrup Cake
ingredients

cake:
250g (8oz) butter
1 1/4 cups caster sugar
grated rind of one lemon
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/4 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup of milk

syrup:
2 tablespoons lemon juice
grated rind 1 lemon
1/4 cup caster sugar

Preheat oven to 185 (365F) degrees, and grease a 20cm baking tin, and line the base with non-stick baking paper.

Cream the butter and sugar, until light and fluffy. Add the lemon rind and juice, and mix through. Slowly add in the beaten eggs. Whisk together the flour and baking powder, and stir in to the mix, alternately with the milk.

Pour into the tin and bake in the 185 degree oven for 10 minutes, then turn down the oven to 170 (338F) degrees and cook for a further 45 minutes. Leave to cool for 10 minutes.

Put the syrup ingredients in to a saucepan and warm until the sugar has melted. Poke a few holes over the top of the cake with a skewer, and then spoon the syrup over the top.

Leave to cool… supervised.

ronnie

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Roasted Salmon

17 Jun

I’ve been traveling for work quite a bit recently. After weeks on end of eating fancy restaurant food, there’s nothing I love more than a tasty, simple home made dish. That lamb salad of Alice’s looked so very good! That will be on my menu as soon as I get home to my kitchen.

Salmon is one of my favorite, easy, go-to dishes for a quick weeknight meal. It’s a quick, easy way to get some good healthy protein that is heart-healthy and it’s quite versatile. I eat it year round, with warm grains in the winter and with or atop salad in the summer.

plated salmon

The easiest way to cook salmon is to top with your seasonings of choice, wrap it in aluminum foil and bake it.

squeeze of lemon

Lemon juice pairs very well with fish of any kind, so I always use lemon or sometimes lime juice.

Sprinkle it with salt and pepper…

salted and peppered

…and a nice layer of lemon slices atop for an extra lemony zing.

lemony goodness

Then wrap the foil around the fish

foil

Put it in the oven for 20-30 minutes and voila!

voila

I paired the roasted  salmon with a fresh spinach salad and a rice/lentil mixture that I had made.

summer dinner

It was so good! And the next day I had a large spinach salad with chunks of salmon, tossed with a balsamic vinaigrette. The leftover salmon would also be delicious mixed with cream cheese and spread on crackers or rye bread.

Roasted Salmon
Makes 2 servings

1 large salmon fillet
1 lemon
salt & pepper

Cut a lemon in half, slice a few slices for the top of the salmon and save half for squeezing over the top.

Place the salmon fillet on a piece of aluminum foil in a baking pan. Squeeze the reserved lemon over the top and add salt and pepper to taste.

Wrap the fish in the foil and place in the oven at 375 F for 15-20 minutes. After 15 minutes, you may want to check the fish, just open up the foil packet and flake it with a fork to see if it is cooked all the way through. If it flakes easily and the fish is opaque, then it’s done. If not, put it back in the oven for a few more minutes then check it again. My fillet was quite thin, so it didn’t take very long to roast. When it’s fully cooked, remove it from the foil and perch it atop a mound of rice or a salad and eat.

There are quite a few flavor options you can choose for seasoning your salmon. You can add fresh dill or tarragon, a fresh ginger/soy sauce/scallions mixture or you can try it with Dijon mustard and some honey or even chopped garlic, mustard and mayo. Get creative and enjoy it!

Lamb, roasted vegetable and couscous salad

27 May

Well B, your infamous carrot cake has been giving me cake cravings. All baked goods really. Yummo.

Whilst consuming said baked goods with a cup of tea on the verandah with the wonderful Beth, she started talking about her plans for dinner. Roasted carrots and parsnips, lamb from ‘the boys’ at the local kebab shop, couscous and an amazing dressing. Now, she HAD ME at the dressing. I promptly invited myself over, in the name of the blog of course. ALL FOR YOU, the things I do huh? It’s an iPhone photo filled post. Hope that’s OK.

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Here is the finished product in all it’s glory. It is one of those, pretty easy to whip up if you have it all there, meals. Beth calls it a cheat meal, because she gets a foil container of delicious sliced lamb our much-loved Turkish Kebab House. But I call that resourceful.

I arrived to this array…

ingredients

… good A to B of Cooking reader, our Beth. She knows the drill.

To make this, you’ll need: parsnips, carrots, olive oil, onion, lemon, coriander, cumin, full cream yoghurt, honey, pistachios, couscous, and some lamb, cooked and sliced up – kebab style if you can get it. Beef would work too I reckon, but us Aussies, we love our lamb.

We peeled the parsnips and chopped them up in to a tail and a few halved sections. And the carrots in to about four pieces. A drizzle of olive oil and then a sprinkle of cumin seeds, a good pinch of salt and a grind of fresh pepper, and they were in to the oven. Toward the end we added pieces of onion, as they take less time to roast.

veggiesroast

While that was roasting, we made the dressing. Or Beth made the dressing and I watched on.

dressing1dressing2

She whisked together yoghurt, olive oil, lemon juice, ground cumin, and honey. We then tasted and added more of things to get it ‘right’. If it is too lemony, add more honey. Make sure you get a good taste of cumin too.

We prepared the couscous, which was a matter of following the pack and boiling the same volume of water as couscous, and then mixing it through and letting it sit a couple of minutes, then fluffing it with a fork.

When the veggies were nice and roasted, it was time to assemble. First the couscous, then the veggies, then some pistachios, the lamb, a generous handful of coriander, and then a smattering of the dressing.

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Put the platter in the middle of the table and serve yourself. Honestly… delicious.

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Thanks Beth!

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Beth’s awesome dressing

ingredients
1 cup plain yoghurt
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 teaspoons ground cumin
3 teaspoons honey

Whisk the ingredients together until thoroughly combined, and taste for balance.
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Roasted Veggies

ingredients
5 carrots, peeled and sliced in to four, lengthways and then across once
5 parsnips, peeled and chopped roughly to a similar size as the carrots
1 red onion, peeled and sliced in to quarters. Separate the layers

1 tablespoon (ish) oil
a good pinch of cumin seed
pinch of salt
grind of pepper

Put the carrots and parsnips in a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with the cumin, salt and pepper and bake in a 200C/390f oven until they are roasted through and just starting to brown. Add in the onion pieces and cook  for another 10 minutes or so.

Other elements —

Cook a cup of couscous
Wash a big handful of coriander
A pre-prepared serve of lamb kebab meat 

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To assemble
Start with cooked couscous, then pile on the roasted vegetables, sprinkle over the pistachios, then add the kebab meat and a good handful of washed coriander. Pour over the dressing.

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Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

10 May

That sweet potato cake that Alice made looked so good. I love cakes and breads made with vegetables such as zucchini bread, pumpkin pie or carrot cake. It’s that interesting mix of the vegetables you are used to eating as a savory dish, but mixed with sugar, butter and flour they become a delicious sweet treat.

Carrot cake is my specialty. I make it quite often and as a three-layer cake, it’s quite a special and sophisticated treat with the great spices and the tender crumb.

Carrot Cake

Last weekend, I had my friend Brittany and her two girls, Cambria and June come by for a fun sleepover at my house. After a raucous time in the pool, then a good night’s sleep, the girls helped me make a carrot cake. Let me tell you, if you ever need some great entertainment, have two little girls help you bake.

Carrot Cake helpers

We trimmed and shredded the carrots. I don’t ever bother peeling the carrots I use for carrot cake. I just wash them, trim the ends off and shred them in my trusty old (emphasis on the old) food processor.

shredding carrots

We carefully measured our ingredients into the mixer

ingredients

…paying special attention to the sugar.

sugar

After all the cake ingredients were added, we scooped the shredded carrots into the mixer. As you can see, we were quite hands on with our baking.

hands on baking

I neglected to get a photo of the baking pans that Brittany very carefully greased and lined with rounds of parchment paper for me, but here’s what they looked like filled with the cake batter.

Carrot Cake in pans

While the cakes were in the oven, we mixed up everyone’s favorite part of the cake – the cream cheese icing! It’s hard to go wrong with a beautifully creamy sweet filling and topping for this moist layer cake. It’s made up of four ingredients that you cream together in a mixer.

the icing!

We just tossed all the ingredients into the mixing bowl and started mixing. As you can see below, we had quite the poof of powdered sugar that got all over the counter. If you aren’t interested in having your entire kitchen covered in a very fine layer of sugar, you may want to mix up the cream cheese, butter and vanilla FIRST, then add the powdered sugar very slowly.

creamy icing

The next step, of course, is to taste the icing. Which my helpers were VERY happy to take care of for me.

tasters

helper!

In the meantime, the cakes were finished. They made my house smelled SO GOOD!!

cooling rack

After they cooled in the pans for about fifteen minutes, I turned them out onto a cooling rack until they were completely cool. Then began assembling the cake.

one...

As easily as…

one and done

one…

second layer

…two…

three layers

…three…

fully iced

…and voila!

carrot cake cut

cake!

Of course cake is always best shared with a friend. On the patio. On a nice day.

cake!

You can serve it immediately or put it together a day ahead of time and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight for maximum moistness.

It won’t stick around for long.

gone!

Alice?

TRIPLE-LAYER CARROT CAKE WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
From Bon Apetit

Cake
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
4 large eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 cups finely grated peeled carrots (about 1 pound)
(optional) 1/2 cup chopped pecans (about 1/2 ounce)
(optional) 1/2 cup raisins

Frosting
4 cups powdered sugar
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 teaspoons vanilla extract

For cake:
Preheat oven to 325°F. Lightly grease three 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. Line bottom of pans with waxed or parchment paper. Lightly grease waxed paper. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and vegetable oil in bowl until combined. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg into sugar and oil mixture. Stir in carrots, chopped pecans and raisins, if using.

Pour batter into prepared pans, dividing equally. Bake until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and cakes begin to pull away from sides of pans, about 45 minutes. Cool in pans on racks 10-15 minutes. Turn out cakes onto racks and cool completely. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap tightly in plastic and store at room temperature.)

For frosting:
Using electric mixer, beat all ingredients in medium bowl until smooth and creamy.

Place 1 cake layer on platter. Spread with 3/4 cup frosting. Top with another cake layer. Spread with 3/4 cup frosting. Top with remaining cake layer. Using icing spatula, spread remaining frosting in decorative swirls over sides and top of cake. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead. Cover with cake dome and refrigerate.) Serve cake cold or at room temperature.

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