Rome-Florence-Prata-Bologna-Ravenna-Perugia-Rome. With lots of stops in-between. It's heady stuff and I am way behind my time. Clothes to sort, hair to dye, plays to edit, learn to speak Italian and lots of late summer vegetables to use up. I have Mister Meatballs's roasted-green-and-red tomato sauce recipe memorized. (Yes, you'd like it.) I suspect my 20-something children will not be gardening.
This slightly sweet, a wee bit savory zucchini snack cake from Mary Ann Esposito is the perfect recipe for using up late summer zucchini and pleasing the nibblers in the house. Called "Zucchini Cake Viareggio Style," by Ms. Esposito, she does mention that when you take it from the oven don't be surprised if you see that it is well-cooked, like a well-worn shoe. And indeed it is. It is also scrumptious enough that I had to keep it out of sight because I was in danger of nibbling it into extinction before anyone else could partake.
(From Tastes of Italia, August 2011)
butter and flour for pan
1 pound small zucchini
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Butter and flour a 9x12x2-1/2 or 7x11-inch baking dish and set aside.
- Cut zucchini into thin rounds. Layer them in a colander and sprinkle salt between each layer. Place a "weight" (I used cans) on the zucchini and let it sweat for 1 hour.
- Rinse and dry slices and proceed.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a large bowl whisk melted butter, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Stir in milk, salt and flour until a better forms. Fold in zucchini.
- Pour mixture into prepared baking dish. Drizzle top with olive oil.
- Bake for 40 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool a few minutes and cut into squares.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.
It has restorative powers. I was able to bake this while learning how to say "I don't speak Italian," do laundry, answer e-mails while prepping the roasted green tomato sauce.
My tomatoes are finally coming in. What date is today? My plants clearly have not read their gardening books. They just march or ripen to the beat of a different drummer.
End of season plum tomatoes? Hollow them out and stuff them with bread crumbs, pitted Kalamata olives, Parmesan,some tomato pulp and oregano mixed with a little olive oil. Salt and pepper top taste. Bake them in a 375-degree oven till softened and the stuffing bubbles (about 30-35 minutes). Make sure you use the Kalamata olives - they add tang and nuance to contrast the sweetness.
And my wonderful stand-by. Zucchini carpaccio. Best with small-medium zucchini. Save the big honkers for bread or soup.
I am printing all of your suggestions for Italy. Husband and I are wanderers so I may not make it to all the restaurants. If you know of certain foods in the different regions I must try - please let me know. (Tuscany, Emilia-Romagna, Umbria and Lazio).
I will try to visit you before I leave. Keep your forgiveness light open if I don't - I kept thinking I had all this time and I don't. Meanwhile, my 20-somethings have assured me that they will have a weekly kegger and the police will be called to our home once a week. Ciao for now. See you... in October.