My mom went through a mischievous phase as a cook.
She would make delicious sweets and cakes and breads. You would admire the unusual richness of a cookie, the silky texture of a pudding. She’d wait for you to say: “This is sublime! What IS it?” Which, you would. Her treats were that astoundingly good.
Spritely, she would reply: “Sauerkraut Surprise!” Then you would realize that what you thought was coconut was, in fact, sour cabbage.
Her favorite sly recipe was her chocolate cake. This gateau was renowned the county over. It won local awards, it was frequently praised and often requested for gatherings. The family alone knew that there WAS indeed a secret ingredient that gave the cake its complex, unusual, almost nutty flavor. MAYONNAISE.
I wonder now if maybe her baking was a reaction to my picky eating habits. Now that I cook for, er, choosey eaters, she has my sympathy. Better late than never?
My favorite of all her roguish recipes was her zucchini bread. There were a lot of zucchinis at the market today, but the truth is I hate zucchinis in their usual guise. Still.
So I decided to recreate the classic in her honor: a sweet bread that, oddly, contains a vegetable.
Zucchini Bread, Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
1 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/4 cups grated zucchini
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 (or 375, if you have an old, decrepit oven like me)
Beat eggs, stir in oil. Stir in sugar, vanilla extract and zucchini.
Slowly sift in the flour.
Stir in cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Last, add the chocolate chips.
Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
Grease with butter (even if your pans are non-stick) two 8 x 4 loaf pans.
Cook for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean from the middle of the bread.
Did any of your family recipes growing up contain any unusual components? What were they? (If you are allowed to tell!)