Ok, one more zucchini recipe. I’m not obsessed, I swear, we just have a lot of zucchini growing in the garden. Matt’s sister Hayli made this zucchini cake (AKA courgette cake) for us when we visited her in France (I know you’re feeling SO sorry for us right now) and it was fantastic. Very summery from the lemon curd and the zucchini keeps the cake extremely moist. I adapted it from Nigella Lawson’s How to be a Domestic Goddess. We usually make it with green zucchini which gives the cake delightful green flecks throughout, but we’re growing yellow zucchini so that’s what I’ve used.
A not-so-fringe benefit to growing squash is having access to the loveliest edible of the summer. Squash blossoms! So dang perty. They are usually stuffed with ricotta cheese and fried in batter which is (of course) delicious but we didn’t have a lot of them and didn’t want to do a whole fried bonanza so we just sautéed them in a bit of olive oil until they were wilty and brown and then frizzled some capers and garlic to go over them. It took about 5 minutes and ended up being really tasty. The fried zucchini blossoms become silky and translucent, almost like stained glass. Of course, they wilt down to nothing so don’t plan on this being dinner but if you grow squash, fried zucchini blossoms is a pretty good way to use the flowers without a lot of fuss.
We used the last of our green garlic (young, hard neck garlic from the farmers market) which is milder than regular grocery-store garlic. Either would work though so don’t sweat it.
I think zucchini get a bad rap. At our local farmers market, the corn and tomatoes are total attention whores and poor little zucchini are waiting in the background for someone to notice that they’re sweet too. If only they’d take their glasses off and let their hair down… Well the good tomatoes aren’t ready yet and a girl can’t live on corn alone, so zucchini, you’re coming home with me.
I had bought several before remembering that, when you grow something, you don’t really have to buy it anymore. So I realized I needed to find a recipe that uses quite a bit of it. The pale squash below are from our garden, and the darker ones are from the market. (If you’re growing your own, or even just picking from the market, it’s best to go for zucchini that are smaller. They tend to have less water and a firmer texture.)
Arya’s favorite food (other than dirty napkins stolen out of the garbage) is cucumbers. She goes bonkers for them. I mean she’ll eat pretty much anything that is, was or came near food, but she loves cucumbers. While I’m kind of horrified to think I may be culinarily influenced by my dog, lately I’ve really starting getting into them too.
Obviously they’re great just to munch on and in salad, but I also really like them in cocktails. If I’m really in the mood to…ahem… drink, I’ll have a Hendricks Cucumber Martini, but that mo-fo is strong. When a light, refreshing drink (with a lot less alcohol) is more my speed, I’ll (ask Matt to) make a Grapefruit, Cucumber Gin Fizz.
The same recipe also works well with Blood Orange Soda (like San Pellegrino Aranciata Rossa). If gin’s not your thing, use vodka instead. Of course you could always leave the spirits out all together. Whether it’s cucumber cocktails or cucumber mocktails, we’re fine with it, but just don’t leave out the cucumber.
I have a confession to make. I’m actually a little freaked out by “nature”. I mean, it’s beautiful and keeps us alive and I hate that we do terrible things to the Earth. And of course I love farmers markets and fresh, organic produce. That being said, I’m the person that steps off the pavement and immediately gets stung by a bee. Or trips on a tree stump. Or gets stuck in a bramble.
I’ve lived my whole life (until recently) in New York City and haven’t had a lot of experience with non-urban life but Matt really loves the country and I really love Matt so now we live in Beacon, NY. It’s not exactly the wilderness but it’s a pretty small town in the Hudson Valley, about an hour and 20 minutes from midtown Manhattan. We’ve been here almost a year now and I’m liking it much more than I anticipated but adjustments had to be made. There is almost NO restaurant delivery around here (which means we end up cooking a lot more which is good). Going out for dinner often means a 20 minute (or so) drive unless we just go into town. That also means I had to learn how to drive which is no small accomplishment for a city girl who’s never had a license. Now that I finally learned, I love driving everywhere. Even to the mall (I’m still tickled that we have to go to a mall sometimes).