When Beth, the intrepid leader of our local bookgroup, suggested that we bring edibles to the next meeting centering around a spring vegetable theme, I immediately thought: zucchini bread. Then I remembered that I’ve made this before, and it was, truthfully, only so-so. I wanted to change it up a bit. So I found this recipe online for a more savory version, including basil and parmesan.
I gathered together the ingredients:
I felt a bit giddy and filled with that weird anticipation that comes from trying a new recipe. Let’s just say I haven’t been creating much magic in the kitchen lately. In my fantasy, I’m cooking up a storm, I’m baking like there’s no tomorrow, and whipping up all kinds of culinary genius on a daily basis. But. That’s just a fantasy. And fantasies don’t factor in work, doc appointments and quality time spent at your mechanic’s. (Kudos to Ric, but really wasn’t expecting that latest visit.)
Fortunately, this bookgroup is turning out to be rather foodie-centric, thanks to Beth, who is an amazing cook and baker, and who manages to make it all healthy. Here is her blog: Nutritious to Delicious. This gets me motivated.
My mother attacked the parmesan cheese and zucchini like one-woman shredding machine. I did the mixing and measuring then poured the batter into the muffin tins, careful to only fill them about half full, as directed. Though I really wanted to put some cheese in the batter, I resisted and just put a sprinkling over the top, as the recipe recommended.
Next, I popped them in the oven, flipped on the oven light, and waited. (Play Jeopardy music.) This probably would have been a good time to clean up the kitchen. Maybe I could have swiffered the floors or scaled that mountain of mail, but, nope, I just watched them bake. And tried not to drown in my own salivation. This was a long 28 minutes.
They came out golden brown, with that toasted cheese all crusted over the top. They were shaped like little half-muffins, or more like scones or buns.
My mother and I both slathered some butter on them and chowed down, only incurring minor burns on our tongues. They. Were. Incredible. Wonderful flavors and nice smooshy consistency.
Sadly, I think the operative word is “were.” The recipe recommends eating them right away and now I do too. I warmed them up again that night right before our bookgroup meeting and they just weren’t the same. A bit hockey puck-ish, they still had an interesting flavor but had lost their mushy goodness.
I gave a few leftovers to my brother the next day then texted him for his thoughts afterwards. His response confirmed my own suspicions: A bit dry. Oh well!
At least I had this stylish new platter to serve them on…see the little pile of books in the corner?
It is made by Nora Fleming. My in-laws Sandy and Bob very kindly gave this to me for my birthday. It is ingenious – you can change out the decoration to match the occasion. Here are some of the other little ceramic doo-hickies, or “minis” they also chose for us:
How brilliant is this concept? I will be having way too much fun with this new mix and match serving system.
You might be wondering: do I recommend these muffins? Yes, but eat them as soon as they exit the oven, with excessive amounts of butter (that latter suggestion goes without saying.) Recipe below.
You might also be wondering: What did Beth make for our Spring Vegetable book group meeting? A delicious Wheatberry Salad with Cukes AND a chocolate cake that had carrots snuck into it! In fact, the whole collective spread was dee-lish, and included guacamole, baked zucchini rounds with dijon dipping sauce, hummus, marinated mushrooms, etc. I had every intention of snapping a photo, but was too distracted by my own gluttony to dig my camera out of my bag.
And finally, what book did we discuss while enjoying this fantastic spread? The Hunger Games. Ha!
Here is the recipe, taken from Just Hungry…
Zucchini Basil Muffins
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 1/2 cups white flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tsp. salt
- 1 Tbs. baking powder
- 2 cups grated zucchini (about 2 medium zucchini)
- 2 Tbs finely julienned fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Grana Padano (or similar hard grating) cheese
Preheat the oven to 200°C/425°F. Make ready the muffin tins, by buttering them if they are not non-stick. (The recipe makes about 24 regular size muffins, or 48 mini muffins.)
Combine the eggs, milk and oil in a large bowl. Combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in another bowl and add to the liquid mixture in batches, stirring to blend. Don’t overblend!
Add the zucchini and basil and stir to blend.
Fill each muffin cup about 1/2 full. Sprinkle the top with the cheese. Bake for about 20-25 minutes for regular size muffins, 15-20 minutes for the mini muffins, until the tops are golden brown and puffy.
Serve while still warm.