Monday, September 12, 2011

End of Summer Small Bites

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.

 Zucchini Snack Cake Ingredients - serves 8
(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

  1. Butter and flour a 9x12x2-1/2 or 7x11-inch baking dish and set aside. 
  2. 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. 
  3. Rinse and dry slices and proceed.
  4.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
  5. 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. 
  6. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish. Drizzle top with olive oil. 
  7. Bake for 40 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool a few minutes and cut into squares. 
  8. 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.

Thinly slice your zucchini (important). Make a simple vinaigrette with lemon and olive oil or some champagne vinegar and olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste. Toss zucchini with your vinaigrette. Shave some Pecorino cheese over it. I did have more blossoms - so I sliced them thinly and tossed with the zucchini. You can also add thinly sliced leeks, red onions or shallots for some pungency.

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.


Kim said...

Claudia- I hope you and your husband have the most wonderful time on your trip. It sounds like your're going to be able to see so many places.

All of your small bites look so appealing. I definitely have an eye for the tasty zucchini cake.

Can't wait for you to share your trip with us when you get back. Stay safe!

Jeannie said...

I am so envying you! Have a good trip:) Love your zucchini bites.

Unknown said...

I wish I could trade places with my sis and take care of your garden for you! Look at those tomatoes. Our have been gone for a month or so.

I love the look of those zucchini bites. It looks so flaky. I wish I could convince Dudette to like this vegetable. I really, really do.

Have a fantastic time in Italy. I've been to every one of those cities and am incredibly jealous.

That Girl said...

Definitely interested in that tomato sauce recipe!

Hutchinsons said...

Have a fantastic trip! It should be beautiful there right now.
Love Mary Ann and her food. Might just go make the zucchini now. :)
We will forgive your absence, as long as you provide lots of pics when you get back.
Buon viaggio!

Ellie said...

Wonderful veggie ideas. My tomatoes are just turning red also??? Very strange :) Have a great trip, eat and eat and eat!!

Liz That Skinny Chick Can Bake said...

Don't you love when kids tease you??? Mine would say the same thing :) Have a FABULOUS trip!!!! We expect lots of wonderful Italian inspired dishes when you return...but will savor the two lovelies you've shared with us until then~xo

Angie's Recipes said...

Those filled tomatoes look so FRESH and appetizing!
Love those zucchini bites too.
Claudia, I wish you a wonderful trip!

Yesim said...

i loved the especially zuchini bread. have great trip

Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love. said...

That little zucchini cake sounds fabulous as do your stuffed tomatoes! A great way to use fresh produce! Hope you have fun on your trip!

Anne said...

Have a wonderful trip!
Happy eating!

The Food Hunter said...

Just found your blog...loving what I see.

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

Love your zucchini bites and those luscious tomatoes.

Hope you have a wonderful time on your trip, but of course you will. Silly me. Remember you don't go on a vacation to lose weight. Enjoy every delicious bite.

Susan Lindquist said...

Traveling mercies to you! have fun, and eat like there is no diet ... sample the best!

We are down to the tail end of the garden too ... rather, the hard squash will be coming on, but they're not ready yet. So, any and all ideas for cukes, tomatoes, and zuke are welcome!

Reeni said...

Ohmygoodness that old leather shoe is getting made in my house tomorrow! I've never seen an old shoe looking so good. I have about 100 tomatoes that are still green - I don't know what's going to happen to the poor babies if they don't turn red soon. I nominated you for the 7 link project - don't feel obligated - I see you are very busy. xoxo

Ciao Chow Linda said...

You're right - it does look like an old shoe, but I'll bet it tastes great. Did you get a new camera? Your photos are looking terrific. Have a great time in Italy - I know you will. Bologna is known for its pasta, especially the pumpkin-filled tortelloni so you have to try those.

cookingvarieties said...

hi claudia, have a nice break, great trip and wonderful holiday.. see you again in october..
nice recipes you left behind for us to try them..mmm

hey, you are back already, when you read this..welcome back :)

Chiara "Kika" Assi said...

When are you going to come on this side of the Ocean?

MadAboutMacarons said...

Enjoy a fantastic trip and what a send-off with such summery flavours. Love the look of the texture of that zucchini cake with such a beautiful presentation. I'd certainly join you for eating it to extinction! Lol. Jill

FOODESSA said...

Time for your trip time flys.

September has always remained one of my favourit times to visit Italy.
Claudia, I really hope this trip meets your expectations and beyond.

Thanks for your parting summer bites. Looking forward to your future October posts.

Buon viaggio!
Warm wishes,

Juliana said...

Claudia, everything looks so the zucchini treats :-)
Enjoy your trip and be safe!

Island Vittles said...

What an original cake -- so different looking from your average snacking cake,but the pieces of zucchini in it are calling to me (and I don't even like zucchini ;))


Monet said...

What a wonderful way to celebrate the bounty of the season! This looks delicious, my friend, but with you...I'm not surprised! Thank you for sharing another delicious eat. I hope you have a blessed Saturday. I'm off to celebrate my grandparent's 60th! Much love.

Gina said...

Have a wonderful trip, so much to wander and take in, I can only imagine. The tomatoes were late here too. Eat a little extra for me.

gaga said...

Looks delicious. Have a great trip!

Beth said...

Nibbled into extinction -- what a great phrase!
Have a wonderful holiday.

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

I know you must be having a wonderful time in Italy right this very minute, Claudia! I can't wait to see what you ate and where you went,etc. Miss you!

Barbara GF said...

Have a wonderful trip, Claudia! I look forward to reading about it; meanwhile, that zucchini snack cake is calling me.

Katherine Roberts Aucoin said...

Can't wait to read about your trip!

Whats Cookin Italian Style Cuisine said...

great roundup hope you are having the time of your life and everything you ever dreamed about!

My Little Space said...

Claudia, hope you'll have a fabulous time. Take care & enjoy.
Btw, can you leave behind all these food! haha....
Best wishes,

Mari Nuñez said...

Claudia, these Zucchini Snack Cake look delicious. I love the fact that it is a different way of eating Zucchini.I have to try this. Thanks :)

Unknown said...

Hope your having a great trip! Sounds amazing! I love Mary Ann Espesito--haven't seen her in a while though. Those zucchini cakes look so light and fluffy. Sounds like the perfect snack to me!

chow and chatter said...

amazing food looking forward to reading about your trip

Sookie said...

I love that you created such beautiful dishes using fresh ingredients! Mouthwatering!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

What lovely bites! A great way of bidding farewell to summer...