Tuesday, July 31, 2007

One sweet and one savory recipe to use up those bountiful fresh summer veggies...

We were the lucky recipients of a basket full of fresh zucchini from a friend this weekend - you know, put in a couple plants thinking it would be just enough for you and then they flourish and you can't give them away fast enough! I've already shredded some to freeze, but I thought we could work some into the Weekly Wednesday Treat Day this week.

While my first inkling was to make a quick bread, we decided to make them a little more individual and make a few cupcakes instead! These Zucchini Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting had so much going for them when I glanced over the recipe that I knew this was the one recipe I had to try. There are a few steps that need to be done before the batter can be made - first, a generous amount of walnuts have to be chopped and toasted. As you wait for the nuts to finish, chewy golden raisins are heated with brandy to give them a chance to plump up.

Zucchini Cupcakes with Cream Cheese FrostingFor a sweet and slightly spicy bite, cinnamon and fresh ground pepper season the combination of all-purpose and whole wheat pastry flour. To ensure these are sweet and moist enough to be labeled a cupcake, rich dark brown sugar and pure maple syrup are whisked together with neutral canola oil, vanilla and a couple eggs to form the base of the liquid ingredients. To keep the zucchini from making the muffins gummy or too moist, the four cups of shredded vegetable are squeezed in a towel so it can release some of its excess liquid. The last ingredient to take these cupcakes up another level is the addition of sweet crystallized ginger. Once baked and fully cooled, a luscious combination of cream cheese, softened butter, powdery confectioners' sugar is whipped together with pure vanilla, a dash of cinnamon and just enough fresh grated orange zest to brighten the flavor and to create a light speckled frosting to slather over the tops. You could make 18 large cupcakes, but we opted to make 12 large and a mess of small mini ones so we had enough to go around (or if by chance the the zucchini scared them and they just wanted to try a bite!).

Zucchini Cupcakes with Cream Cheese FrostingAnd yes, those are Scooby Doo and Spongebob cupcake liners... I didn't realize that I had no plain ones in the cupboard! Jeff bought them awhile ago and was certainly excited to see them finally come out and play!

Fresh sweet corn is still in abundance out here, so we took full advantage of a few ears to make this Fresh Corn Tart with Chipotle Cream for our dinner tonight. There is an interesting component to this dish - it called for a meatless product called Soyrizo. It has a slightly spicy background, but is not "in your face" and more earthy than anything. While the flavor was in the realm of real chorizo, the texture was not - it never really got dry enough to crisp up and it never really crumbled. It did disperse just fine into the ingredients, but it was more pasty than crumbly - however, we thought that texture was actually desirable in this recipe as it helped to hold things together. The Soyrizo is sautéed with onions and poblano chilies, with a few cups of fresh corn kernels added at the end to warm through. The recipe calls for a 10" cast iron skillet to cook this mixture - ours was extremely full and difficult to stir once everything was in the pan , so you may want to opt for a slightly larger one to avoid any spillovers onto the stove.

Fresh Corn Tart with Chipotle CreamOnce the corn mixture is ready, a scant cup of dry polenta is cooked for a few minutes until it has a chance to thicken up. Just under half of the corn mixture is then combined with the creamy polenta to form a base "crust" for this savory tart in the same cast iron skillet you originally started out with. A layer of mozzarella cheese is scattered over the top, followed by the remaining corn mixture. Just a little more cheese on is placed on top and the skillet goes into the oven to finish cooking the polenta, allowing it to firm up enough to easily hold together and thoroughly heat the corn mixture back up. To serve, a slightly spicy, yet creamy and cool mixture of tangy sour cream, tart lime juice and smoky chipotle chile is combined and dolloped on each wedge. Jeff and I both thought that this was a fantastic way to showcase fresh local sweet corn in an unusual and very tasty manner.

Fresh Corn Tart with Chipotle CreamNow I just need to figure out what to do with the other half of that Soyrizo... I wonder if it would be good worked into a frittata or maybe just added to some scrambled eggs for breakfast!


  1. Those zucchini cupcakes look soo delicious. I wish I could just grab one from my screen!

  2. Ohh, those cupcakes look great! Delicious!

  3. The Soyrizo looks soylicious.

    I know how you feel about the cupcake liners. That's something that I always forget to buy. I used up my Christmas ones recently.

  4. I'm not sure which I'd like to try most! they both look delicious :)

  5. I like all the additions to the zucchini and I have got to look for soyrizo, i wonder if the extra can go into a vegetarian chili relleno?

  6. Christine - I wish I could have sent you one!

    Kirsten - Thanks!

    Emilie - it was surprising good, a decent meat alternative.

    Kelly-Jane - Too bad you weren't closer to help taste test!

    Callipygia - Hmm.. quite possibly!

  7. Hello, I am new to Minneapolis and am looking for a place that sells Soyrizo. Where do you purchase yours?


  8. Nancy,

    Have you checked out the local Natural Food Co-Ops in our area?