My brother called me the other day, asking for my grandmother’s zucchini bread recipe. My grandmother doesn’t cook much, but she makes a mean zucchini bread.
But Josh didn’t want the zucchini bread, per se. He said he wanted to make zucchini-sweet potato bread.
I almost vomited into the phone. Zucchini and sweet potatoes?
But I listened. Who am I to judge?
He’d made it last year, from a hodgepodge of recipes, and was determined to recreate it and give it out as gifts.
Of course, when Josh calls me for recipes, he doesn’t say, I’m thinking about making zucchini-sweet potato bread tomorrow. Could you help me out? No. Planning ahead is not his strength in the kitchen. (Or, perhaps not planning ahead is his strength. Things usually come out well.)
No, Josh says, I’m standing in front of the mixer, making zuchinni-sweet potato bread. Right now. Could you help me out? All the recipes I can find have ingredients I don’t have.
(He learned from my mother that no one should have to shop for ingredients for a recipe. Every kitchen has something that will work instead of what the recipe actually calls for. Ingredient lists are just suggestions, especially when it comes to baking. When my mother tells me what she baked, the word I usually hear most frequently is “except.” I made it, except I . . . Yesterday she sent me an email touting the benefits of using marmalade as a substitute for honey. Again: Why not?)
Anyway, specifically, Josh wanted a definition of shortening. He’d never used it before. Good man. There are advantages to beginning a baking adventure in the 21st century.
But I didn’t have the recipe, and didn’t understand his vision. He rattled off his intentions, a garble of ingredients whose resemblance to a zucchini bread recipe seemed reasonable enough for me not to question him. Four eggs for two cups of flour? Pretty eggy, but why be the buzzkill? He started convincing me of the syllogistic properties of breakfast breads: zucchini-carrot bread sounds delicious, and carrots and sweet potatoes go together, therefore zucchini and sweet potatoes must work. Logical enough.
No nuts, though. He was adamant that nuts have no place in zucchini-sweet potato bread. This, from the man who doesn’t eat muffins because they have what he calls “the baked taste.” It has a possible correlation with cinnamon, which as a general rule, he dislikes.
Perhaps this zucchini-sweet potato bread of his is roasted.
When he sent me his final recipe, I was surprised to find explicit directions for cornmeal. Cornmeal gives zucchini-sweet potato bread the texture it needs, but you must use coarse cornmeal.
Okay. I buy the cornmeal. I’m still not sure I buy the zucchini-sweet potato thing, though. So I made something else, which he might not like, because it’s baked. I happen to love “baked taste.”
He also sent me a haiku:
A bag of walnuts
Sitting by the kitchen sink
Making fun of me
I love having a brother.
A New Morning Glory Muffin (PDF)
Recipe 353 of 365
Morning glory muffins are full of vegetables and flavor, but they’re most often heavy, and I detest – detest – any muffin that leaves an oily sheen on my fingers. I’m not big on raisins, either. Here’s a new morning glory muffin, which leans on carrots and parsnips for sweetness, and quinoa, millet, and cornmeal for crunch. They’re miraculously ungreasy, and the protein in the quinoa means they put fuel in the tank longer than your typical breakfast pastry.
TIME: 30 minutes
MAKES: This recipe makes enough batter for 12 unlined muffins tins, heaped full, or 12 lined muffins plus 12 lined mini-muffins.
Vegetable oil spray or muffin liners
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup raw millet
1/4 cup raw quinoa (red or regular)
1/4 cup coarse yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup flaxseed meal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (packed) brown sugar (or up to 3/4 cup, to taste)
3/4 cup plain yogurt (or sour cream)
1/2 cup milk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup grated carrots (from 3 medium carrots)
1 cup grated parsnips (from 3 large parsnips)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with the vegetable oil spray (or line a 12-cup tin and a 12-cup mini tin with cupcake liners), and set aside.
Stir the next ten ingredients (through brown sugar) together in a big bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk the yogurt, milk, eggs, and vanilla to blend. Stir in the melted butter.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir to blend. (The batter will be stiff.) Fold in the carrots and parsnips.
Divide the batter between the muffin cups – a heaping 1/4 cup for regular (lined) muffins, or heaping tablespoons for mini muffins. The batter won’t rise much, so don’t be shy. Bake 20 to 25 minutes for regular muffins, or 15 to 18 minutes for mini muffins, until the muffins are puffed and firm to the touch in the center. Cool 5 minutes in pans, and enjoy warm, if possible. Store any remaining (cooled) muffins in an airtight container at room temperature, up to three days.