Friday, August 28, 2015

A Whale of a Zucchini Bread!

Renee Erickson is one of my culinary heroes.  She is inspired by fresh, seasonal ingredients and treats those ingredients with utmost respect.  Renee's food is complicated in its simplicity and to me every bite is superb.  I used to live down the street from The Whale Wins and out of the dozens of times I have dined there I only had one plate I thought was just so-so.  The caveat is that she cooks the style of food I like to eat.  There are so many outstanding restaurants in Seattle but her style of cooking makes me a happier human being.

As you know, if you have read any of my posts, I have a sweet tooth.  However, I rarely order dessert when I am out for dinner because they always look better than they taste.  Two years ago, I was at The Whale Wins and after dinner the waitress came around with the dessert menu. I took a glance and was super happy that nothing struck my fancy - whew!  My friends ordered the Zucchini Bread - as dessert?  Who are these people?  That's not dessert!  When the warm slice of heaven arrived, my friend generously asked if I wanted a bite.  It smelled good.  It was warm - fresh out of the wood-fire oven.  It had fresh butter melting into it.  And if that wasn't convincing enough, the slice was finished with a dollop of creme fraiche and sprinkled with Jacobsen's sea salt. I didn't want to be rude... It was the most amazing earthy, fruity, lemony bite of HOLY COW! I order it each and every time I dine at The Whale Wins.  I dream about this Zucchini Bread - dream! 

When  A Boat, a Whale & a Walrus: Menus and Stories (Renee's cookbook) came out last fall I could hardly wait.  Hoping that the Zucchini Bread recipe was included and it was.  Happy Happy Joy Joy!  

Here is the recipe for this unbelievable Zucchini Bread.  Enjoy!

makes 1 9-by-5-inch loaf pan

3 cups grated zucchini (from 1 pound zucchini)
2 cups granulated sugar, divided
Unsalted butter, for the pan
2 cups (about 256 grams) all-purpose flour, sifted, plus more for the pan
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon finely grated nutmeg
3 large eggs
Grated zest from 2 large lemons
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons demerara sugar
for serving:
Unsalted butter
Créme fraiche
Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon or Jacobsen

Preheat the oven to 350•F.
For the cake: In a mixing bowl, blend the zucchini with 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar. Transfer the mixture to a fine-mesh strainer and set the strainer over the mixing bowl. Fill another bowl, this one just big enough to fit inside the strainer, about halfway with water and carefully set the water bowl directly on top of the zucchini. (This presses the water out of the zucchini.)
Butter and flour a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan, and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, ginger, baking powder, baking soda, and nutmeg.
In another bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar, eggs, lemon zest and vanilla until well blended. beat in the olive oil in three stages, whisking until it is thoroughly combined each time.
Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until no white spots remain. Working with a handful of zucchini at a time, use your hands to press and wring all excess moisture out of the zucchini. When all the zucchini has been pressed, add it to the batter, and stir it in gently until evenly distributed.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the top evenly with the demerara sugar. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 70 to 75 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.
Cool the bread in the pan for about 20 minutes, then turn it out onto a cooling rack and let it cool completely.
To serve:
Cut the bread into 1-inch-thick slabs. Melt about 3 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. (Use the same amount of butter for however many pieces of bread will fit into the skillet at once.) When the butter is melted and foamy, add a few slices, and cook for a few minutes on each side, until warm and toasted. Serve the bread over a smear of créme fraiche, sprinkled with sea salt. Repeat with the remaining bread.

All the pressed juice out of the zucchini!  What a color!

Beautiful lemon zest!

Tovolo Whip Whisk and our Stainless Steel Bowls - can't live without these bowls.

Look at the color that all the olive oil and lemon create not to mention the zucchini at the top!

Can you smell it?

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