This is my breakfast this Monday morning while Nash has a grasse matinée. Okay that half of the one in the back was about a fourth of it, the one in the front is a miniature version (for Nash) with flax added (next time I will add to the big muffins, too), but either way, they are amazing. I am still able to find huge bright green zucchini here in Nyon, and over the weekend they inspired the muffins. Actually, my friend Kelly’s blog inspired the idea with her recent zucchini cake (You are what I Eat), but I figured I would doctor up the recipe a little since I had no butter and wanted to use my grape seed oil. I found the recipe at one of my favorite food blogs (Smitten Kitchen), and actually had chocolate chips on hand. Finding chocolate chips is one of my self-admitted and oh so ridiculous complaints here in Switzerland. Am I so American that chopping chocolate just doesn’t cut it for me? Yes, and most especially in baked goods. I like the wee droppings with the curl at the top and how they melt into perfect, yet subtle (okay depending on how many I use), little hints of chocolate in my goods. And I was ready to sacrifice my last package as Mom arrives in a week with a few (hopefully) bags full.
Zucchini Bread (from http://www.smittenkitchen.com)
Adapted from several sources
Yield: 2 loaves or approximately 24 muffins
1 cup olive or vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups sugar ( 1 cup of agave)
2 cups grated zucchini (used a little more)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt (seems like a lot, but without salted butter, oh so necessary)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional) (or ground flax seeds)
1 cup dried cranberries, raisins or chocolate chips or a combination thereof (optional) (YES chocolate)
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Grease and flour two 8×4 inch loaf pans, liberally. (See those pictures of the cakes inside their non-stick pans? Yup, they’re pretty much hanging out in there for the time being.) Alternately, line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk. Mix in oil and sugar, then zucchini and vanilla.
Combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder and salt, as well as nuts, chocolate chips and/or dried fruit, if using.
Stir this into the egg mixture. Divide the batter into prepared pans.
Bake loaves for 60 minutes, plus or minus ten, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Muffins will bake far more quickly, approximately 20 to 25 minutes. (Mine took 20 minutes exactly, they cook really quick!)
my note- Substituting agave nectar will make the dough seem impossibly runny (and much less desirable pre-baked, unfortunately), but they always turn out fine. Just make sure when you are doing this that you don’t do even exchange. You will have complete liqui-dough if you do. Usually half works fine, sometimes a little extra (thank you, Laura!) Also, adding the flax helps.
These I found at a roadside honesty-policy stand (I will add a photo soon!) They have apples, pears, fresh boxed apple juices, a few autumnal veggies, pumpkins, very strange wine jam confections and a little cash box with a slit where you are expected to dutifully pay what they ask. This request is usually hand written on a little piece of paper tacked to the wall of the wooden stand. It is in their driveway, and I sometimes wonder if they are sitting inside the window listening for the ‘clank-clank-clank’ of the Swiss franc to hit the bottom of the tin box.
Anyway, the end result of these apples was this tart.
Or, rather, what was left of this tart. My husband made this! Okay, so I bought the ready-made whole wheat pastry dough, but he peeled, cored, and cut all the apples, prepared a very interesting base of mixed ground hazelnuts, pine nuts, and walnuts (I think), and then poured a yummy egg-milk-cinnamon mixture over the top, glazed it with butter and agave, let it cook an hour in a medium heat oven, and VOILA! Delicious. Just enough sweet from the tart Boskoops to balance the nutty crumbly base… I love when Fred bakes. Fred’s dad, Claude, had a great talent for making amazing apple tarts. He had an apple tree growing in his beloved garden, and took great pride in slicing the apples very VERY finely. His apple tarts from his apple tree were almost as great a pride as his rose bushes… its hard to believe that he is gone.
Saturday lunchtime, here is Nash having a picnic on our back stoop. I set up one of my old salvaged crates from Tampa that I dragged all the way here when Fred and I moved six years ago, as if old beat-up wooden crates don’t exist in Europe. Anyway, it is the perfect height and he loved having his own little table in the backyard, and it is very sweet for me that my old Tamps ‘piece’ is now something so useful!
And last but not least, our Saturday afternoon we decided to stop in at the Panier Gourmand (“The Gourmet Basket”). I was astounded at the size of one of their pumpkins, and couldn’t help but prop my child up next to it for a photo-op. This is the biggest pumpkin I have ever seen here. I think living out in the ‘countryside’ of Vaud might change my relationship with courges (pumpkins). In Geneva, I would see the odd pumpkin here and there at the grocery store, often already cut and packaged into little more-easily manageable slices, and even small ‘decorative’ ones come Halloween. But pumpkin patches? I have spent six years envying all the facebook pumpkin patch albums, I must admit. But here, there seem to be pumpkins everywhere! Already I have come across huge assortments of all colors, shapes, textures, sizes… very excited about all of this. And it makes me feel VERY fall, which is my favorite season, in fact. It means butternut squash everything. I overdid it with the butternuts last year, but have a coconut butternut squash dish on the agenda for this week already (sorry, Fred!) Bienvenue l’automne!