Sunday, March 11, 2007

Zucchini Nut Bread...

Or, How to confuse people with courgettes.

With the sun out this weekend I was finally starting to feel like spring could actually be on its way. This means one thing- SPRING CLEAN! I always start with the best intentions but have a short attention span and wind up doing a Winter Clean or an Autumn Clean rather than having my clear out when everyone else does. I sometimes think I'm a bit of a freak because of that but The Boy reminds me that when it is springtime proper, it's much more enjoyable to be out of doors rather than inside dusting lampshades. Fair point.

So I figured I should get cracking now and see what needs using in the kitchen before I start spending my Sunday afternoons sipping glasses of Rose at my local. Flours, spices, nuts- check. In the fridge there were eggs, sour cream, and courgettes that I'd bought with the intention of adding to a pasta but never got round to (mainly because every time I mentioned that as a dinner option to The Boy I was met with a look that screamed, "Are you serious?").

After a look through some cookbooks I settled on Zucchini Bread. While it's not unheard of in the States, and sells alongside Banana Nut Bread in shops, in the UK it gets me more of the "Are you serious?" looks. The last time I made some and took it into work it remained untouched on the treats table before I made a bet with someone. Within ten minutes it was gone and people didn't believe that it had courgettes.

I forgot which recipe I used last time so settled on one from a fundraising cookbook my mother bought when I was in school. Ultimately the recipe was more of an inspiration as I was missing items and had to improvise and created an entirely new recipe that is exactly like that loaf that I wanted to make.

Don't let the idea of courgettes confuse you- this isn't a savoury bread. It isn't as sweet as some I have tasted but it goes well with an afternoon cuppa and is easy, one bowl baked goods to make. You could frost this if you wanted it to be more cake-like (some sort of cream cheese frosting would be tasty) but I prefer it plain and simple.

Zucchini Nut Bread
Makes two loaves

2 1/4 c. cake flour (the original recipe calls for plain flour- this is what I happen to have)
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 pinches of nutmeg
1/2 c. sour cream
1 c. olive oil (use one that is like in flavour)
4 eggs
2 courgettes (zucchinis), coarsely grated (you need about 2 cups worth)
1 c. walnuts, roughly chopped
1/4 c (or a couple of good size handfuls) dark chocolate, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 175C.

Mix the flour, baking soda, salt, sugar, nutmeg, sour cream, oil, eggs and courgettes either by hand or in a stand mixer.

Add the nuts.

Stir in the chocolate by hand.

Pour into two greased and/or lined loaf tins.

Bake for about 45-50 minutes. Leave to cool for about 10 minutes and then remove from tin and finish cooling on a rack.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Reggae Reggae Sauce

Ahhh, the power of television. Every now and then you get suckered in by the power of persuasion. A few weeks ago The Boy was watching Dragon's Den when, in a change from the usual cats that pitch ideas for cash, in walks a guitar playing rastafarian. If I remember correctly he was singing, "Put some music in your mouth. It tastes so nice we had to name it twice... hot reggae reggae sauce." Needless to say he won the panel and the public over. If you turned on the radio you'd hear him signing a cheesy jingle that always managed to stick in your head. Always a pushover for a product with a built in theme song, I noticed Reggae Reggae Sauce when I popped into Sainsbury's earlier today (it was also launch day I learned when I turned on the Ten O'Clock news).

Out came the stovetop grill. On went the chicken breasts.

The verdict? It has a sweeter, smokier flavour than I expected. It does have a slight kick from the scotch bonnet peppers but I wonder if it's been toned down to appeal to a wider audience. What I was hoping for was the kick in the ass I get from the sauce on the Jerk Chicken Wings at Mr. Jerk (now known as Jerk City- but it will always be Mr. Jerk in my heart). The label says Jerk/BBQ sauce and it's just that. Would I get it again? Sure. I would pick it over every other nasty commercially produced sugary sweet BBQ sauce that it sits on the shelf with if I need a quick marinade for a barbecue. I hope the product sells well since Levi Roots seems like a genuine, likeable guy who's happy to be bottling his grandma's recipe.

My plan for the rest of my bottle? BBQ ribs. I can't wait.