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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Kansas State Fair Zucchini Bread

August 8 is National "Sneak Some Zucchini On Your Neighbor's Porch" Day, and in case you missed that perfect opportunity to share some of your crop, why not use your abundance of zucchini to whip up a few batches of moist, tasty zucchini bread?  This recipe came from the Kansas State Fair Cookbook and was submitted by Erma Stucky, Pretty Prairie, KS.  

Wednesday Morn Farmers Market at the State Capitol, Topeka, Ks
3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used toasted walnuts)
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup cooking oil
2 cups sugar
1 pkg. (3.4 oz) vanilla instant pudding
2 tsp. vanilla 
2 cups zucchini, ground (I pureed mine in the food processor)

Sift together the first 5 ingredients and set aside.  Mix eggs, oil, sugar, pudding mix and vanilla; beat well.  Add zucchini and nuts.  Mix in the dry ingredients.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.  Makes (2) 7 1/2 x 3 1/2 x 2 1/2 loaves.  Freezes well.  

Tips for Making Good Zucchini Bread:

  • Choose zucchini that are small to medium.  Those giant zucchini that people are always trying to give away tend to have flesh that's tough and dry. If you must use these "big boys", cut them in half lengthwise and scoop out all the seeds, grating or pureeing the remainder of the flesh for your recipe. 
  • Zucchini that are about the size of your forearm will yield about 3 cups of pureed zucchini.  
  • Don't over mix your ingredients.
  • Use a parchment "sling" for easy loaf removal from the pan.
  • As soon as your zucchini bread comes out of the oven, cover the pan with foil to trap the condensation- this makes for extra-moist zucchini bread once it cools.  
Now You're Cookin',
Chef Alli

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Pan-Seared Swai Fillets with Basil-Mint Cilantro

1 3/4 cups lightly packed fresh basil and mint leaves (I typically use 3 parts basil to 1 part mint)
1/4 cup plus 1 Tbs. good olive oil
3 Tbs. toasted chopped walnuts 
1 1/2 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 clove garlic
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2-3 Tbs. chicken broth
4 swai or other firm white fish fillets, approx. 4 oz. each
1-2 Tbs. unsalted butter

In the bowl of a food processor, place the basil and mint leaves, 1/4 cup olive oil, walnuts, lemon juice, garlic, 1/4 tsp. of salt, a few grinds of black pepper and 2-3 Tbs. chicken broth; process till smooth and set aside.

Pat fillet dry with a paper towel and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Heat the remaining 1 Tbs. of oil and 1 Tbs. of butter in a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium high heat until the butter melts; add two fillets and cook until nicely browned and just cooked through, turning once, approx. 4-5 minutes total.  Transfer to a platter and cover; keep warm.  Repeat with the remaining two fillets, adding remaining tablespoon of butter, if needed, lowering heat, if needed.  Serve swai garnished with pesto.  

Now You're Cookin',
Chef Alli

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Powdered Laundry Detergent

This recipe came from Julie Long, Enterprise, Alabama, who provided it for The Grace Place Cookbook. It was recommended to me to use powdered detergent in a front-load washer instead of the liquid types due to the animal fat (usually added to them for extra suds power) that can eventually cause front-loaders to have a funky odor. I love this simple detergent because it's just basic and very clean-smelling, AND it's straightened my front-load washer right out - no more funky-ness!  I usually buy 3-4 bars of soap and make a quadruple batch since the borax and washing soda come in pretty large boxes.

1 cup Borax
1 cup washing soda (NOT baking soda)
1 bar of Fels-Naptha soap

All of the above ingredients can typically be found in the laundry section of your local Wal-Mart store.  Grate the bar of soap as finely as possible.  (I shred my bars in the food processor using the grater, then pulverize the shreds a bit with the regular blade. This makes short, speedy work of making the quadruple batch.)

In a large mixing bowl, combine grated soap with borax and washing soda; mix well.  Pour detergent into an air-tight container and add a 1 Tbs. coffee scoop or measuring spoon.  Most loads of laundry will require 1 Tbs. of detergent, but heavily-soiled laundry loads may requite 2 Tbs.  Detergent seems to work best when added into the tub right along with the clothes, even when using a front-loading machine.  

** Please note:  Julie's recipe says not to use chlorine bleach with this detergent - I'm taking her word for it! 

Now You're Cookin',
Chef Alli