Chocolatey Zucchini Loaf (Or: And some other news.)

Photo  3I feel like this is part 7000 in my ongoing attempts to use all the zucchini.

I’ve had this Double Chocolate Zucchini Loaf from Tracey bookmarked for ages and when we brought in another bumper crop of zukes, it seemed like a good idea. Then Melbourne threw a spanner in the works by having such hot weather. Not only was it too hot to bake anyway, our air-con gets cranky if we have the oven on at the same time as it. Finally, Sunday morning was cool enough for me to bake before it heated up too much. I GOT TO THE GRATING! And then to the eating. Seriously, this was all that was left by the time we got take a photo.

Related: my lovely Lady Friend Esther made us a delicious Zucchini Slice for dinner last night (with yet more zucchini) and I thought I should bring it to your attention. Also, that’s her blog all about our little family and it makes for some excellent reading. (Here ends the cross-promotion.)
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Zucchini Pickles (Or: Hooray! Something to do with the enormous zucchinis we are growing.)

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Esther and I have become garden people. Well, Esther is the one who is doing the bulk of what gardening types refer to as ‘keeping things alive’. We pulled up a bunch of our garden last year and went crazy Broadway-style at Diggers. We planted a bunch of this type of zucchini and they are amazing! Would recommend! However, by gum, are they prolific!? So many zucchinis.

Now I grate a zucchini into nearly every single thing I make already and the number of zucchini we had was out of control. Something had to be done!

Bread and Butter Zucchini Pickles

Based off this recipe and freaking delicious.

  • 1kg zucchini
  • 1.5 brown onions
  • 6 Tbsp salt
  • 4 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 tsp mustard powder
  • 3 tsp mustard seeds

Step one: be lazy like me and crack out your food processor. I chose the blade that would cut the zucchini the the thinnest slices but, in retrospect, I’d probably make them a little bit thicker next time.

Use your food processor to slice up the zucchinis and onions. Place in a large bowl with the salt and cover in cold water (chuck in a few ice cubes to make it super-icy). Leave it for an hour.

After an hour, drain and dry thoroughly. I used my salad spinner and did four ‘loads’ of zucchini. I spun each lot four times and that got most of the liquid out.

Combine the vinegar, sugar and mustards in a saucepan and simmer for five minutes. Set aside to cool until room temperature.

Put the dry zucchini in a bowl and pour over the cooled brine. Divide amongst sterilised jars (remember – we did jar/bottle sterilising before!) and leave over night before eating with alll the things!

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Put Some More Chocolate on the Chocolate Cake Birthday Cake

Want to know a secret about the New Fat Ladies? We really really really like cake – reading about it, baking it and of course, eating it. We make a lot of cakes, and over the coming months we’ll be sharing at least a few of our favourites from events in our lives, both big and small.

The first is a cake that S-J baked for her beautiful partner’s 30th birthday party. A two tiered rich chocolate cake with lashings of white chocolate frosting, decorated with edible wildflowers from her garden. I was super sad to not be there for the party to eat a slice or three, but now I get to write about the cake and that’s almost as good as getting to eat it, right? Well no, but I’ll talk about my birthday cake in a second, and I definitely got to eat that one!

So let’s get to the recipes. And a couple of tips. Look out for the tips.

Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake
from FEAST by Nigella Lawson

Some maths will be required to work out how many batches you will need to replicate the number of layers that S-J made or to get to the size that you need (maths that ends in cake is maths worth doing). If you do just one batch as is written below, you will get a lovely cake more suited to 8-10 mouths.

Cake
200gm plain flour
200gm caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
50gm cocoa
175gm butter (softened)
2 large eggs
2 tsps vanilla essense
150ml sour cream

Tip: This cake is best when you make it with ingredients at room temperature, so make sure you remove the butter, eggs and sour cream from the fridge at least 2 hours before baking.

Preheat oven to 180C. Grease and line your tins.

Add all ingredients to the bowl of your food processor and blend until you have a smooth, thick batter. Pour mixture, split evenly, into your tins.

Place tins in oven and bake for 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Leave to cool for ten minutes on racks, then turn out to cool completely. This cake is super prone to splitting, but you don’t need to worry about that as very soon you’ll cover any unsightly cracks with luscious frosting.

S-J’s White Chocolate Frosting

75gm butter (softened)
180gm white chocolate
500gm icing sugar
1 tbsp golden syrup
125ml sour cream1 tsp vanilla extract

To make your frosting, start by boiling a saucepan of water. Reduce the heat to a very low simmer and put a glass or metal bowl on top (you just made a homemade baine marie, go you!), add butter and chocolate to bowl and, once melted, stir to combine. Tip: this bowl will be REALLY HOT, use an oven mitt to move/hold it. Remove bowl and let cool slightly. Add the golden syrup, vanilla and sour cream to the chocolate mixture and stir to combine.

Add the icing sugar into the bowl of the food processor and whizz briefly to remove any lumps. Pour the chocolate mixture into the processor and process until frosting-y. Depending on your climate you may need to add a little more of either sour cream or icing sugar to achieve the right consistency.

Slather the icing on cakes and pile up. S-J decorated this cake with fresh edible flowers from her prolific garden, but it would also be lovely with chocolate curls or fondant decorations.

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Sunny Day Pasta with Haloumi (Or: fried cheese? Yes please.)

IMG 2091So, you’ve made your delicious sunflower seed pesto and you are wondering what to do with it — as opposed to just shoving it in your mouth as is — look no further!

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Sunny Day Pesto (Or: Hurrah! No nuts!)

sunny day pesto

One of our close friends has a nut allergy. Not, as I originally typed, a ‘butt’ allergy. As far as I know, she is fine with butts.

She has never eaten pesto. Ponder that for a second. No pesto. Ever.

I was watering our basil one day and thinking about how to remedy this situation and I turned to my faithful pal, the internet.

Sunflower seeds. THE DELICIOUS ANSWER WAS THERE ALL ALONG!

Basil

 I grabbed handfuls of basil and ran to the food processor. I was going to make this happen for her. Yes indeed.

So I whizzed up all the pesto ingredients and, revelation time, sunflower seed pesto is infinitely more delicious than ‘normal’ pesto. Dump the nuts and go seeds, folks. You won’t regret it.

And our nut-free friend enjoyed it too.  Continue reading

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Balsamic Cherry Pie

Over the festive season last year I was lucky enough to get to eat (too many) of the most delicious spiced cherries in red wine from  Bruny Island Cheese (club) and I have been chasing that taste ever since.

Cherries are one of the most versatile fruits, great fresh, stewed, jammed, savoury or sweet, and always delicious. For this pie I borrowed the amazing cherry pitter from S-J and took to gutting my cherries with maniacal glee (pro-tip: don’t wear a white shirt while you pit 1kg of cherries, it’s a blood bath). Full disclosure, I have not mastered the pitter and did have to issue a warning to my test-eaters to be on the lookout for stray pits – only 7 were found in the whole pie so that’s about a 95% success rate, I’m calling it a shaky win.

PIE!

Filling:
1 kg cherries
3 tbsps cornstarch
pinch of salt
1/2 cup white sugar (minus 2 tbsp to reserve for sprinkling)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/8 cup good quality balsamic vinegar (should be quite syrupy)
1/8 cup orange or lemon juice
1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter

Pie dough/pastry, enough for a double layer pie
I used Smitten Kitchen’s Pie Dough 101 but did the whole thing in the processor to save my bench top.

Egg Wash:
1 egg, lightly beaten
reserved white sugar

Preheat oven to 200C.

If you make your own dough, ensure that it is chilling in the fridge while you make the filling, if you’re using store bought frozen dough, make sure it’s defrosted in the fridge (needs to be pliable to line the dish).

Pick over your cherries and remove any stems and nasty fruit. Use your pitter (or a knife – be careful!) and remove all pits.

In a large bowl stir together all the pie ingredients except the butter. Mush the cherries a little as you go to release their juices. Enjoy your delightfully pink fingers and attack the cat with them. It’s good if you forget you have cherry fingers and wipe hair out of your face and discover the red smear hours later and give yourself a fright.

Roll out half of the chilled dough between two sheets of bake-paper to about 14-inch round (I never roll things perfectly round, but good luck to you). Ease it into your pie plate – remove one of the sheets of bake paper, flip the dough into the pan and use the edges of the paper to help ease the crust in. Press the base and corners to make sure there are no air bubbles. Trim the edges leaving an overhang of about 2 cm.

Pour the filling into the crust. I like a gooey pie – if you don’t you may like to hold back some of the liquid in the bottom of the bowl. Chop your butter into small cubes, scatter those on top of the filling.

Roll out the remaining dough the same way, cut into 2cm strips and layer half across the pie, leaving 2cm overhang. Take the remaining strips and weave to make the lattice. Fold the overhang under the bottom crust, pressing the edge to seal it, and crimp the edges together. Using a pastry brush, egg wash the pie crust, then sprinkle sugar over the top.

Bake the pie on the middle rack of the oven for 25 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 175C. and bake the pie for another 20 – 25 minutes, or until the crust is golden (if it starts to brown on top too quickly, tent with tin foil and continue baking). Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

I think this pie is about 200% more delicious after a night in the refrigerator and is excellent served with whipped cream and/or vanilla bean ice cream. A lemon zest infused marscapone would also be pretty delish!

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