It’s that time of the year again when gardeners are facing a glut of zucchini. If you can’t bestow any more of the vegetable on your friends and neighbors here are three excellent recipes to create items for your afternoon tea menu.
MISS VERA’S ZUCCHINI BREAD
This is one of the best zucchini breads I’ve ever tasted. A good thing about tea breads is that they freeze well and can be quickly pulled out as a special treat for unexpected guests.
3 eggs – beaten
2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
2 cups grated zucchini (do not peel)
1 cup crushed pineapple (drain well)
½ cup applesauce
3 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup raisins
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease and flour two 9”x5” loaf pans.
In a large bowl mix the first seven ingredients. Set aside. Place the next six ingredients in a separate bowl and whisk together. Slowly add to the zucchini mixture. Put about ¼ of the flour mixture in at a time and stir until all the ingredients are combined and there is no unblended dry mixture. Stir in the walnuts and raisins.
Divide batter between the two pans. Using a spatula, even out the batter. Place pans on center rack in the oven. Make sure the pans are at least a few inches apart. Bake for approximately 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean. The baked loaf should have risen to the top of the pan and have slightly left the sides of the pan. (The top will probably crack – don’t worry this is normal for tea breads.) If the toothpick doesn’t come out clean, put the pans back in the oven for a few minutes longer and test again. When baked, remove pans from the oven, and set on a cooling rack. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Turn out onto the rack and then carefully turn right side up to cool completely – at least two hours. This bread tastes better if you let it sit for at least one day before eating. Wrap in plastic wrap or foil and store at room temperature. Will keep for days. Freezes very well.
3 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ tablespoons baking powder
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
½ cup dried cherries, roughly chopped
1 cup grated zucchini, lightly packed (do not peel)
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel (zest)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup milk (approximate)
Sanding sugar (optional)
Preheat the oven to 500° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl whisk together the first four ingredients. Cut in the butter until it is the size of peas. Stir in the cherries and then put the zucchini and lemon zest on top. Don’t stir them in yet.
In a small bowl whisk the egg with the vanilla and milk. Add all at once, to the dry ingredients and stir until the dough is evenly moistened. It will seem dry at first but keep stirring and the zucchini will begin to give up its liquid. (If necessary, add a little more milk.)
When the dough comes together, scoop it onto the floured counter and gently pat into a circle about 1 inch thick. Using a floured 2 ½ inch cutter, cut out the scones and place on baking sheet. Sprinkle with the sanding sugar, if desired.
Turn the oven down to 425°F and bake the scones in the top third of the oven for about 22-25 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick when inserted into the center of a scone comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and let cool.
ZUCCHINI AND LEMON CURD
This not only makes a scrumptious curd for scones but also is a good filling for tarts and cakes. It is an excellent way to use up those zucchinis that hid in the plant leaves and became enormous.
Important: Read all the notes at the end of the recipe.
4 lbs. prepared zucchini
3 ½ lbs. sugar
8 oz. UNSALTED butter
2 large eggs
Peel the marrow and discard the seeds. Cut into cubes and steam until very tender. Drain very thoroughly, then put in the blender or food processor and process until smooth. Return to the pan and add the sugar and butter. Grate the lemon rind and squeeze the juice. Add to the pan. Heat gently, stirring until the butter and sugar have dissolved. Simmer very gently for a further 30 minutes, stirring constantly as the mixture thickens. DO NOT LET IT BOIL. Pour into warm jars and cover.
It is best to use a double-boiler to ensure a slow gentle cooking that is necessary to make curds. A heatproof bowl, placed over a pan of hot water, can be substituted.
Small jars are preferable because once opened, curds do not keep long. Be sure to store in the all the prepared jars in the refrigerator.
Do not overbeat the eggs before adding to the mixture; this can result in bubbles in the finished curd.
Strain the beaten eggs to ensure there are no lumps of egg white in the curd. Cook gently, stirring to prevent it sticking to the pan.
If, at the end of the cooking time, the curd seems very thin, add another egg yolk, and cook for another 5-10 minutes. Remember the curd will thicken as it cools. It will also shrink in the jar, so fill the jars right up to the brim.