A Flavor of June: Marbled Chocolate & Vanilla Zucchini Bread

IMG 3929 Edited A Flavor of June: Marbled Chocolate & Vanilla Zucchini Bread

On June 1, I never would have guessed my Flavor of the Month would be zucchini or summer squash, but that’s what it is shaping up to me. I know, I know, zucchini isn’t so much a flavor as it is an ingredient, but like many things in life, this feature is a work in progress. There are simply some good looking zucchini and summer squash recipes I really want to try, and since both are readily available to me now, why not try them? I simply must learn to stop resisting what stares me directly in the face.

I marked this recipe in Hannah Kaminsky’s Vegan Desserts: Sumptuous Sweets for Every Season A Flavor of June: Marbled Chocolate & Vanilla Zucchini Bread. Incidentally, this is one of my new favorite cookbooks. The recipes are unique yet not outlandish, the photography is simple yet eye-catching, and I have bookmarked more recipes to try than those not to try.

IMG 3916 Edited A Flavor of June: Marbled Chocolate & Vanilla Zucchini Bread

I very much enjoy the conveniences of living in a city (like walking to restaurants…oh, who am I kidding, walking to bars), but I fully appreciate growing up in the country. My dad planted a garden that always included tomato plants and zucchini vines every summer. There was so much zucchini that Mom could cook it for dinner nearly every night, and we still had plenty left to bake with. I tried zucchini cookies a few times, but my standard was zucchini bread.

Marbled chocolate zucchini bread is a twist on a classic zucchini bread flavored with cinnamon and vanilla, with a double-dose of chocolate from cocoa powder and chocolate chips. I just ate a piece still warm from the oven and couldn’t  be happier with the way it turned out. Enjoy a slice of marbled chocolate zucchini bread plain or topped with a dollop of butter or cream cheese, and you’ll be happy too.

Not into zucchini but like the idea of a marbled chocolate and vanilla quick bread? Click here for an alternate recipe on Love & Flour .

IMG 3926 Edited A Flavor of June: Marbled Chocolate & Vanilla Zucchini Bread

Marbled Chocolate Zucchini Bread
 
Author:
Recipe type: Quick Bread
Ingredients
  • 6 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1⅔ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • ¾ cup (non-dairy) milk
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • ½ cup mini-chocolate chips or chocolate, chopped fine
Instructions
  1. In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter/margarine and the sugars.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and baking powder.
  3. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl and mix until the ingredients form a fine crumb.
  4. Lightly press the shredded zucchini between paper towels to remove some excess moisture, then add to the mixing bowl.
  5. Pour in the milk, vinegar, and vanilla and mix until combined.
  6. Split the batter between two bowls (about 1½ cups batter per bowl).
  7. To the batter in one bowl, add the cocoa powder and chocolate and mix until well incorporated.
  8. Spoon dollops of the vanilla and the chocolate batters into a greased 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Alternate the dollops until all batter is in the pan.
  9. Slowly move (swirl) a spatula through the batter in the loaf pan to marble the two batters together.
  10. Bake at 350 degrees F for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.
  11. Allow the bread to cool in the loaf pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
Notes
A vegan cook book is obviously going to call for margarine in place of butter. I mean no offense by writing the recipe in my own words to call for butter in place of margarine. The same goes for the milk. Typically, I bake with whole milk. In this recipe, I used plain soy milk.
 

Thirsty Thursday: Two Breweries, A Bar & A Pizza Place

Sat Edited Thirsty Thursday: Two Breweries, A Bar & A Pizza Place

Today’s Thirsty Thursday post was created out of a Super Saturday. Charlotte NC Tours recently ran a Microbrewery Bike Tour promotion, and seeing as how I dream of  pedaling around on a cruiser and sipping frosty beers on a near-daily basis, I purchased the tour in two seconds flat.

Last Saturday, a group of microbrewery tourists met in uptown Charlotte to bike about three miles east to NoDa (for those of you not familiar with Charlotte, NoDa is short for North Davidson). I started to wonder what I had gotten myself into when shortly before we left the group included a dozen boys and a lone female (me). I commented on how surprised I was that the tour was not more popular with the ladies. The response I received seemed tinged with sarcasm: “You’re surprised girls don’t want to ride bikes and get sweaty and drink beer?”

Yes, I was surprised.  What could be better than riding bikes and drinking beer on a beautiful summer day? Only skateboarding and shooting vodka, I think.* Fortunately, a second girl showed up to join the tour, and off we went.

Tour 028 Thirsty Thursday: Two Breweries, A Bar & A Pizza Place

Our first stop was Growler’s Pourhouse where I desperately wanted an Ommegang Witte. Turns out I was in good company because there was none left. Forced to look to the remaining 16 taps, I chose a seasonal Old Hickory Ruby Lager brewed in nearby Hickory, North Carolina.

My review of the beer: it was good. I have no idea how describe a beer other than it tasted good or it tasted bad. That will soon change after I attend Summer School at World of Beer. Yes, that’s right, I am going to summer school to learn all there is to know about beer. I may have died and gone to heaven…

We left Growlers to bike to NoDa Brewing Company. Here I enjoyed a flight of NoDajito (in NoDa Brewing Company’s own words, a “Belgian Wit infused with mint leaves and lime zest”), Ghost Hop (White IPA), NoDaRyeZ’d (Double Rye IPA), and Monk’s Trunks (Belgian Pale Ale).

Again, noting my lack of credentials, my reviews are brief. The NoDajito tasted faintly medicinal, the Ghost Hop was light and crisp, the NoDaRyeZ’d (pronounced No-duh-rised) was memorable only in name, and Monk’s Trunks was light yet flavorful. Monk’s Trunks was by far my favorite, and I learned why after reading more about it on NoDa Brewing Company’s website: “The Belgian yeast brings out flavors of apple, banana, vanilla and grapes naturally through its fermentation, and it’s accented with seeds of paradise.” I like fruity beer.

Beer Edited Thirsty Thursday: Two Breweries, A Bar & A Pizza Place

Clockwise from top: Beers at BirdSong, NoDa, and Growler’s Pourhouse.

Then across the street to BirdSong Brewing Company we went. Here I also enjoyed a flight, which was all I needed to tell the bartender because only four beers were available. Up On The Sun (Saison),  Higher Ground (West Coast IPA), Free Will (Pale Ale), and Lazy Bird (American Brown Ale). [Pictured left to right in the top row above].

Given my lack of ability to identify what makes a beer taste  good or bad, coupled with the fact BirdSong was our last stop, I’m not even going to pretend I can offer a legitimate review of these beers. What I can definitively say is I enjoyed the light Up On The Sun and Higher Ground. The Free Will was a very unpopular choice among all in the group. The dark Lazy Bird was my favorite beer of the day; it was flavorful but not at all heavy like some darker beers.

The tour ended back in uptown, so we meandered the city streets before heading over to Hawthorne’s on Seventh Street to eat dinner. I ate the best garlic knots in Charlotte (seriously, look at all that garlic and olive oil), a plate of tri-color tortellini with bacon and peas in cream sauce (so much for eating plant-based), and ordered the cannoli to go. The meal was wonderful, but the cannoli tasted as though it was filled with chalk whipped with flavorless cream. So sad.

Hawthorne Edited Thirsty Thursday: Two Breweries, A Bar & A Pizza Place

Unable to visit the breweries? Both NoDa Brewing Company’s and BirdSong Brewing Company’s beers can be ordered at many local restaurants (see the website for each – linked above – for details). Though it appears the Microbrewery Bike Tour was a special offer, I would recommend a Charlotte NC Tour whether you plan to visit Charlotte or if you are a Charlotte local in need of a staycation. Lastly, if any Charlotteans would like to start a bike gang to ride on our own accord to nearby watering holes, please leave a comment to express your interest.

*Updated to note: Upon further reflection, kite-boarding and piña coladas would also be enjoyable.

A Flavor of June: Simple Summer Squash

IMG 3825 Edited A Flavor of June: Simple Summer Squash

I have been dragging my feet on posting the past few days, and it has felt absolutely spectacular! After I met my one-year goal, I  completely checked out on posting to enjoy a weekend without baking and to do something I love to do – organize (recipes and ideas)! Now that I’m back in groove, I realize though I have posted recipes on a fairly recent basis, I have not posted a dessert for nearly three weeks. Oh, the horror!

In addition to a lack of desserts on what I claim is a baking blog, I have also yet to choose this month’s featured flavor. I started off thinking tea since June is National Iced Tea Month, then I considered booze because my first post was a Long Island Iced Tea Cake, but nothing gripped hold of me like I expected it to. I felt guilty about this for a few days, but then I decided if June’s featured flavor gets off to a late start, it is what it is. Or in the words of Kurt Vonnegut, so it goes.

IMG 3835 Edited A Flavor of June: Simple Summer Squash

What I do know about flavors is that of zucchini signals summer to me. Growing up in Ohio, we typically did not eat zucchini until summer was really in full swing. Here in North Carolina, the growing season gets off to a faster start, so I picked up some zucchini and yellow squash at a recent visit to the farmer’s market.

This recipe came my way courtesy of my friend Cindy. She made this dish for a get together once, and the circles of green zucchini and yellow squash looked so nice layered in a white baking dish that I never forgot about it. Though I wrote the recipe below, I can say with certainty I strayed from the measurements. I seasoned the vegetables with salt and pepper to taste, then topped the layers with a lot of Parmesan cheese. I also topped my dishes with the grated Parmesan rather than slices of mozzarella or fontina cheese. It’s a forgiving recipe, so feel free to make it your own and enjoy!

IMG 3841 Edited A Flavor of June: Simple Summer Squash

Baked Summer Squash
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • ½ pound zucchini, cut into ¼ inch slices
  • ½ pound yellow squash, cut ¼ inch slices
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 ounces sliced fontina or mozzarella cheese
  • parsley (optional)
Instructions
  1. Lightly coat a 13 x 9 baking dish (or cast iron skillet) with oil.
  2. Place a layer of vegetables across the dish, then sprinkle with salt, pepper, and grated Parmesan cheese.
  3. Continue layering until all of the vegetables are used.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes.
  5. Slide the dish out of the oven and place the remaining cheese slices over the vegetables.
  6. Bake for an additional 5-8 minutes.
  7. Garnish with chopped parsley if desired.