Cheesy Courgette Bread AKA Zucchini Bread

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This quick and delicious bread is about as easy as it gets.  No mixers, no kneading but here are a few little handy tips to ensure it turns out perfectly each time.

Firstly, you must squeeze all the water out of the grated courgette.  This is really important or your bread will not cook and will remain a sticky, dense mess stuck to the bottom of your pan.  Believe me, this happened to me the first time.  There is no need to peel the courgettes though. Use a box grater to grate the veggies then squeeze all the water out firstly with your hands then using a clean dish towel wrap the grated courgette in it and wring it out with all your might.  Now, measure that you have about 1 ½ cups, packed very tightly.

Regarding the cheese, use a strong cheese.  I used a vintage gouda or you could use an aged cantal or vintage cheddar, something with lots of flavour.
For the herbs, I used basil and chives from my garden but feel free to improvise and use what you have on hand.  If you do not have any fresh herbs handy, do not despair, a few teaspoons of dried herbs will do.

In this recipe I used milk and vinegar to basically make my own buttermilk as it is not always something I have around, especially in times of limited shopping and lockdown.  If you have buttermilk, use 1 cup of that and leave out the vinegar.  Otherwise making your own buttermilk is the easiest thing ever: for one cup of milk, (I used full fat but you may use low fat if you prefer), add 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar, mix and allow to sit for about 10 minutes. How easy was that?

For an extra cheesy version, sprinkle the top of the loaf with a few tablespoons of cheese and place under the grill for a few minutes.
Freezes beautifully too.

Yields: 1 loaf

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups grated courgette (2 medium)
1 ½ cups grated cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (basil & chives)
2 cups / 250g flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup / 250ml milk
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 egg
3 tablespoons melted butter

Method:

Preheat oven to 180°C / 350°F
Spray a 23cm X 13cm (9″ x 5″) bread tin with non-stick cooking spray
Mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl
In another bowl, mix the milk and vinegar and allow to sit for a few minutes (or use buttermilk)
Add to the milk, the egg and butter and stir
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients until just combined – do NOT overmix
Add the courgette, cheese and fresh herbs
Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean
Allow the bread to cool for 10 to 15 minutes in the tin
Remove from tin and place on a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes before slicing
Add lots of butter and serve
Bon Appétit!

Buttermilk Rusks

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For those who do not know, rusks are similar to Italian biscotti, and are a much loved South African treat.  Dipped into a cup of hot coffee they are a true delight, especially with that first cup of coffee in the morning.  Most South African homes are never without a tin of them in the cupboard.

Rusks date back to the Voortrekkers, the Afrikaners who trekked across South African with their ox wagons and were made out of the need to have foods that would keep for a very long time.

Makes about 20 pieces

Ingredients:

500g / 4 cups self raising flour (farine pour gateau)
1/2 teaspoon salt
250g / 2 sticks cold butter, cut into small cubes
200g / 1 cup white sugar
250ml / 1 cup buttermilk
1 egg

Method:

Preheat your oven to 180C / 360F
Butter and flour (or use non stick baking spray) a bread tin (21cm long, 11cm wide and 7cm high (8 x 4 x 3 inches approx))
Place the flour, salt and cold butter into a large bowl
Rub the butter into the flour using your fingers until it resembles fine breadcrumbs
Add the sugar and mix
Whisk the buttermilk and egg
Add to the flour mixture and mix well with a fork
Pour the dough into the baking tin
Bake for about 60 to 70 minutes
Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before removing from the tin and placing on a rack
Once cooled completely, cut the loaf into pieces and place on an ungreased baking sheet
Heat the oven to 100C / 200F
Place the sheet in the oven for at least 8 hours until completely dry, crunchy and brittle
Make yourself a large cup of coffee and dip your rusk to enjoy

Bon Appétit!

 

 

Melomakarona – Greek walnut, syrup cookies

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These sweet little Greek honey cookies are super quick to bake, so much fun to make and highly addictive! These cookies are incredibly soft, moist, flavorsome and soaked in a delicious honey syrup.

Melomakarona (μελομακάρονα) are traditional Greek Christmas cookies, that are served during Christmas time throughout Greece. The word “melomakarona” is a combination of the two words “meli”, which means honey and “makarona” that comes from the ancient word “makaria” and means blessed. Now, I do realise that we are only April and nowhere near Christmas yet but really…. does it matter? Who needs an excuse to make some delicious bites of goodness?

Serve them over a hot cup of coffee and you will have a match made in heaven!

note:To syrup the melomakarona, the syrup must be cold and the melomakarona hot. This will help the cookies to absorb the syrup and become moist on the inside. So, start by making the syrup first and then the dough. If you are in a hurry you can place the syrup in the refrigerator to cool down, while preparing the dough for the melomakarona.

Makes about 30

Ingredients:

Vegetable oil, 1 cup
Sugar, 1/2 cup
Oranges, 2 juiced
Lemon, 1 juiced
Egg yolk, 1
Ouzo liqueur, 1 tablespoon
Self raising flour, 3 cups
Cinnamon, ground 3/4 teaspoon
Walnuts, finely chopped, 1 1/3 cups
Syrup:
Sugar, 1 cup
Honey, 1/2 cup
Water, boiling, 1/2 cup
Cinnamon stick, 1
Cloves, whole, 4
Lemon, juice of 1/2

Method:

Preheat oven to 180°C/360°F
Line 2 baking trays with baking paper
Using an electric mixer, beat oil, sugar, 1/2 cup orange juice and 2 tablespoons lemon juice on high speed for 10 minutes or until thick and creamy (Start electric mixer on low speed and increase speed as mixture thickens)
Add egg yolk and ouzo Beat for 5 minutes
Sift flour and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon over oil mixture
Fold gently to combine (mixture should be a light, doughy texture)
Using hands, roll tablespoons mixture into oval shapes
Place on prepared trays
Bake for 25 minutes or until firm to touch
Allow to cool on trays

Make syrup
Combine ingredients in a saucepan over medium-high heat
Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until sugar has dissolved
Bring to the boil then reduce heat to medium-low
Simmer for 4 minutes or until syrup thickens slightly

Using a slotted spoon, dip cooled biscuits, 1 at a time, into hot syrup for about 30 seconds, turning over often until well coated
Return to trays
Combine walnuts and remaining ground cinnamon
Sprinkle over biscuits
Allow to cool before eating

Bon Appétit!