Kitchen adventures: squash and beets

I recently came into possession of a Very Large Squash (one of the zucchetta rampicante or tromboncino tribe, which get enormous but stay tender) and naturally decided that I was going to make ridiculous amounts of zucchini bread and freeze most of it.  It wasn’t until I’d filled up my largest mixing bowl with the quadrupled dry ingredients that I realized I still had to add a bunch more stuff and there wasn’t room.

After rejecting the idea of splitting everything in half and trying to get the same consistency of batter in two different bowls, because that never works, it occurred to me that I didn’t have to use a bowl at all, and so I ended up mixing the batter in my canning kettle.  Three loaves went into the freezer and we’re eating the fourth.  Since I altered the recipe to increase the amount of whole wheat flour and cut back on the sugar, and it still came out just fine, I’ll share what I did here.  (I have no pictures, but it’s zucchini bread, not visually exciting but still yummy.)

(adapted from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman, which is the standard text in our kitchen)

Makes one loaf.  (If you decide to quadruple it, get out the canning kettle.  You don’t need to quadruple the eggs; I used six and it came out fine.)

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup sugar (can be white or brown, more if you have a sweet tooth)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 pinch each nutmeg and cloves
2 eggs
1/4 cup melted butter, cooled
1 1/4 cups milk
1 cup shredded zucchini, thoroughly drained
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Butter a 9×5-inch loaf pan.

Combine all the dry ingredients.  Beat the eggs and mix with the butter and milk.  Add to the dry ingredients along with the zucchini and the nuts.  Mix quickly with a folding motion; do not beat and stop as soon as the dry ingredients are all moistened.

Pour into the prepared loaf pan; bake about an hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the loaf comes out dry.  Cool on a rack for 10 minutes before removing from the pan.

Another thing I like to do with zucchini is make “noodles” out of it, as shown here.  If you don’t have the handy julienne peeler, you can tediously cut the noodles by hand, or use a food processor.  I have a old Cusinart with a julienne blade that produced strips of decent length if I didn’t use the skinny food tube insert but rather put the squash pieces sideways directly onto the cutting blade inside the broader plastic tube, if that makes any sense at all (darn, should have snapped a photo.  The theme of my life).  I think I need a julienne peeler, though.

In other news, I harvested my remaining beets today.  Some were boiled and sliced for salad; here they are waiting to be cut:

Look at all the colors!  Some of these are Bull’s Blood and the others are from a mix.  Without really meaning to, I grew white beets for the first time; they taste… like beets, but like the golden ones they don’t stain everything they come in contact with, which can be useful.  These all got mixed together, though.

The other beets, which you can see looking pretty here:

were subjected to another recipe from Bittman’s book, which I also had to adapt halfway through.  I should know better than to attempt anything that involves trying to flip a large fried cake upside down onto a plate and then invert it back into the pan, because I can never do it even if I haven’t stupidly used a very heavy cast iron skillet, and since the recipe didn’t call for eggs the cake failed to cohere anyway.  But the hastily revamped recipe (resembling potato pancakes except red and beet-tasting, mm sweet) seems to have succeeded, so here you are:

Beet Roesti with Rosemary, the way I can make it without disaster

1-1 1/2 pounds beets
1 teaspoon coarsely chopped rosemary (or, you know, more)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup flour
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons butter

Trim and peel the beets, then grate them (food processor or by hand).  Preheat a large skillet (non-stick or be prepared to grease it well) over medium heat.

Toss the grated beets with the rosemary and salt, then add the flour and egg gradually while mixing thoroughly.

Melt the butter in the skillet.  Plop big spoonfuls of the beet mixture into the pan, flatten, and cook over medium-high heat until the bottom of the cakes is crisp and holds together, then flip and cook until the second side is browned.  You may have to add extra butter or oil for a second batch of cakes.

I’m looking forward to planting more beets for fall!  I’ve frozen a lot of steamed beet greens, too (or eaten them fresh).  A very good Year of Root Vegetables harvest.

4 Comments on “Kitchen adventures: squash and beets

  1. Erica,

    Have you ever tried roasting beets in the oven? Wrap them in foil and roast at 375 degrees until done. Medium size beets take from 30 to 45 minutes depending on size. Slice, drizzle with a good balsamic vinegar and crumble a little feta on them.

    In my opinion, roasted beets turn out sweeter that boiled beets, as a result taste better.


  2. Erica,

    The beets in your photo look peeled. Did you peel the beets before cooking or after?

    A friend of mine made waffles with Bitman's beet pancake recipe. I must have been good because her 18 month old daughter inhaled them!


  3. The beets in both photos are peeled. The first set (the beets destined for salad) were peeled after cooking; the second set were peeled before, which I'd only ever do in cases like this where they have to be grated. I saved the larger beets for that purpose because it's a little easier to hold onto them while you scrape.


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