Wednesday, July 14, 2010

98. Zucchini Squares, Starts With a Z

One of the things I love about zuccinini is that it can be added to hundreds of recipes and not overpower the other flavors while lending its interesting green color and nutrients. I also love the fact that the vegetable's name starts with a Z...harldy any words in our daily vocabulary begin with that letter; it certainly is fun to say...zucchini...instead of just plain, old squash.

Zucchini, most likely, has its ancestry in the Americas. However, many recipes using zucchini were developed in Italy, long  after its introduction in the Americas. Those recipes helped it become the popular American vegetable it is today. I guess the saying, what goes around, comes around, applies here, too.

In most markets, a zucchini is treated as a vegetable, however, botanically the zucchini is an immature fruit from the female flower. The female flower is is the golden blossom on the end of each beginning zucchini. The male flower grows on a stem of the zucchini plant on a long stalk, and is slightly smaller than the female flower. Both flowers are edible.

As mentioned in another post, zucchini is one of the easiest garden vegetables to grow. One way to not be overwhelmed with production is to harvest the flowers...think of them as an expensive deilicacy; the flowers do not store well and must be used immediately.

While easy to grow, all zucchini, require bees for pollination. If you live in an area where bees have declined,  you might experience a problem where the fruit begins to grow, then dries or rots because not enough pollen grains have been transferred to the female flower. Hand pollination is one way to correct this problem.

Zucchini is used in today's post dessert. The recipe makes delightful squares that are full of flavor and texture. You will notice that the recipe calls for freshly grated the nutmeg. While pre-ground nutmeg may be substituted, it will not be the same. (I have included a picture of whole, nutmeg nuts and my little hand grater). I would also recommend grinding the almonds used in this recipe in a blender to give them an even consistency. The almond flavoring in the frosting is a welcome change from the often overused, vanilla.

Zucchini Coconut-Almond Squares

¾ C butter or margarine                                            1 C firmly packed brown sugar
¼ C granulated sugar                                                2 eggs
1 ½ tsp vanilla                                                          1 ¾ C flour
2 tsp baking powder                                                 1 C shredded coconut
2 C shredded unpared, small zucchini                      1 C finely chopped almonds


1 ½ C powdered sugar                                             2 T milk
¼ C margarine, softened                                          1/2 tsp almond extract
 ¼ tsp freshly ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a med. Bowl, beat margarine and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Add vanilla; stir in flour and baking powder. Stir in zucchini, coconut and almonds.

Grease and flour a 15x10 inch baking pan. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake 35 minutes until the top is golden and springs back when pressed lightly. Set pan on wire rack to cool.

Combine glazing ingredients in order given and mix until smooth. Spread over cooled cake. Makes about 35, 2-inch squares

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