Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Taste of Tradition: Zucchini Bread

We all remember when our love for cooking and baking began.  Whether it was when you were a wee little one helping mom in the kitchen or a twenty-something trying to avoid eating ramen (guilty) everyday at college, we all have that moment when we knew we had a passion for cooking!

For me, that love for cooking did not come as a child.  Being from an Italian family that was always cooking up something, I just took advantage of the fact that I had great food to eat! However, when I was a teenager and getting ready to head off to college, I started spending more time in the kitchen with my Nonna (grandmother).  I became fascinated with how she never measured anything and just threw ingredients into a pot and somehow produced a mouth-watering dish! From watching her, I knew I wanted to encompass her passion and carry-on the dishes that she made oh so well!

A few years ago, when my grandmother asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I responded with "your recipes."  And so began the trial and error of my grandmother and I writing down all of her recipes and quantifying ingredients so that I could share those delicious dishes with others, without causing anxiety by saying "oh, just toss in a little salt here, a sprinkle of parsley there.." and so forth!

The final product: A Taste of Tradition: DiVincenzo Recipes.  After much debate (my grandmother may kill me), I am going to start a "Taste of Tradition" series where I will post recipes from our family cookbook.  First up is something simple and tasty for the summer - Zucchini Bread.  I figure I'll wait to bust out the big gun Italian recipes to help my Nonna get used to this too! :) 

Zucchini Bread

-2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
-2 cups sugar
-2 teaspoons baking soda
-1 teaspoon cinnamon
-1/4 teaspoon baking powder
-Pinch of salt
-1 cup oil
-2 cups of cooked, pureed zucchini (about 2-3 medium-sized zucchini - can leave skin on)
-3 eggs
-1 tablespoon vanilla extract
-1 cup of walnuts or raisins (optional - I omit this myself)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 

To prepare the zucchini, cut up the zucchini in chunks or slices to help them cook faster.  Place them in a pot of water and bring to a boil.  You can also put them in a bowl and steam them in the microwave to soften them up. 

Once softened, transfer the zucchini to a food processor and puree until smooth.  Set aside. 

In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Mix in the oil, eggs, vanilla, nuts or raisins if using.  Add the pureed zucchini and stir until all ingredients are well combined. 

Pour the batter into a bundt pan or loaf pan.  The batter makes enough for one large loaf (9x5 or 8x4) and a little extra for two smaller loaf pans (this is what I did since I love using my mini loaf pans - they're cute)! 

Bake in the oven for about 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the bread comes out clean.  Let rest for 10 minutes before turning out of pan and finish cooling on a cooling rack. 

Slice up the warm bread and devour! The great thing about this bread, aside from its delicious taste, is that you can eat it for breakfast, as a snack, or dessert! However you eat it, enjoy!

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

New England Seafood Boil

Since vowing to post more recipes again, I also rejoined Food Network's FN Dish Summer Soiree.  This is a weekly "challenge" where food bloggers have to use a certain food item and/or theme when preparing a dish.

This week, we had to use corn on the cob! Now, corn on the cob can obviously be served on its own, but I decided to incorporate it into a dish that is quite popular here on the east coast - the New England Seafood Boil!

Also known/prepared as the New England Seafood Bake, this dish is very versatile and you can swap out and/or add ingredients that you prefer.  I would have normally added clams to this dish as well, but, as some of you may know from the news, Market Basket (our local grocery store) has been going through a family feud, causing protests, which in turn has caused the shelves to be emptied of food and no new deliveries have been made.  Therefore, fresh clams were off the table as I do not have another grocer nearby.  I just hope this feud ends soon!

Okay, enough of the Market Basket rant and back to business! As I said, this dish is very versatile, so don't be afraid to have fun with it and add in ingredients you like!

New England Seafood Boil

-1 pound sliced kielbasa
-1 pound of baby potatoes (or large potato cut up into smaller pieces)
-3 ears of corn, cut into 12 pieces
-1 pound of medium to large sized shrimp, shells on
-1 pound of little neck clams
-1 medium onion, sliced
-2 lemons, cut into thick slices
-1 teaspoon of minced garlic
-1 teaspoon of coriander (optional)
-1 750-ml bottle of dry white wine (or you can use water)
-Salt and pepper to taste
-Fresh parsley for garnish

In a large pot, layer all of the ingredients, starting with kielbasa, corn, potatoes, and then shrimp.  Toss the onions and lemons on top and then sprinkle with the garlic, salt and pepper, and coriander (if using).

Pour the wine (or water) over all of the ingredients and cover with a lid.  Cook on medium-high heat for about 20 minutes.

This dish does not have a lot of jazz.  It is very simple.  But sometimes simple is just what you need! This dish is very easy to throw together and the cleanup is easy too (which my husband loves)!

Serve with a sprinkle of the fresh parsley and your favorite summer drink.  Enjoy!

For other recipes using corn, see below:
The Lemon Bowl: Corn on the Cob with Lemon Basil
Feed Me Phoebe: Grilled Corn on the Cob with Honey-Basil Butter
The Heritage Cook: Mexican Elote Corn Casserole (Gluten-Free)
The Cultural Dish: New England Seafood Boil
Dishing With Divya: Corn on the Cob with Roasted Garlic Herb Butter
Virtually Homemade: Grilled Corn with Tomato Basil "Butter" (Vegan)
Devour: 4 Cobs, 4 Ways
Daily*Dishin: Quick Thyme Corn Cobbettes
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Farmers Market Salad with Grilled Corn
Red or Green: Grilled Corn on the Cob
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Buttery Corn on the Cob
Weelicious: Cheesy Corn on the Cob
Domesticate Me: Charred Corn with Bacon, Chiles and Cheese (aka Mexican Street Corn Salad)
Swing Eats: Corn Pasta with Fresh Summer Corn, Tomatoes and Chives
Haute Apple Pie: Roasted Corn off the Cob Salad
Taste With The Eyes: Grilled Corn, Soy Mirin Glaze and Wasabi Goat Butter
In Jennie's Kitchen: Corn and Lemon Thyme Ice Cream + Homemade Creamed Corn
FN Dish: Off-the-Chart Corn on the Cob Recipes Pin It