Because of the diverse nature of the many different restaurants and chefs Brian Henry has worked under he is highly proficient at a wide range of cuisines.

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Gastronomically yours,

Vegetable Marrow

 

Squash originated in South and Central America over 10,000 years ago and were cultivated for their seeds which were usually roasted and ground into pastes that were used to flavor and thicken regional sauces’.  These early varieties of squash contained little flesh and were generally hollowed out and used as cooking utensils, musical instruments and beverage flasks once their seeds had been harvested.

 New World explorers appropriated numerous varieties of squash back to Europe where they were defined as fruits that are members of the gourd family which makes them close relatives of cucumbers and melons. As the plants became more popular and the cultivation of them spread, squash were further separated into either summer or winter squash varieties, which refers to how well the squash could be cellared.

 Italian farmers developed the courgette into what we know and refer to today as zucchini; the green or yellow cylindrical fruits that are about 15-20 cm in length which were brought to North America with Italian immigrants in the 1920s and has grown in popularity to rank as one of the top 10 selling Canadian vegetables.

 So if a zucchini is only 15-20 cm in length what is this monstrosity of a zucchini on my kitchen counter? It weighs in at about 3.5 kg and is half a meter in length. I’m sure you are familiar with what I’m speaking of as these zucchini’s are often given out as a gift by neighbor’s who have proudly grown what look like mutated freaks of nature. This style of gardening’s roots are of British origin where growing the biggest anything in your garden has motivated amateur gardeners to compete to created such things as the behemoth zucchini on my kitchen counter in an effort to win county fairs and notoriety.

 Zucchini of this size are no longer called zucchini as they are referred to as vegetable marrow. They no longer taste or have the texture of anything like a zucchini as the flesh has become overly engorged with water diluting its flavor and causing the flesh to rupture into fibrous bundles which also means that you cannot cook vegetable marrow as you would a zucchini.

 So what do you do when your neighbor hands you one of these over-sized, water-logged vegetables? You bake two cakes; one for yourself and one in appreciation of your neighbor.  Vegetable marrow is perfect for baking with as it adds moisture to breads, muffins and cakes as well as nutritional content. This week’s recipe is tried and true and worthy of any locally grown zucchini, courgette or vegetable marrow to be used in it.

 

Chocolate Veggi Marrow Cake

Ingredients:

2 cups grated unpeeled zucchini 

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

1 ¾ cups sugar

½ cup unsalted butter at room temperature

1/3 cup vegetable oil

3 medium eggs

1tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 cup buttermilk or milk

16oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped fine

½ cup chopped walnuts

 

Method: Preheat your oven to 325°F. Grease and flour a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt into medium sized mixing bowl and set aside. In a separate bowl combine all of the wet ingredients by creaming together the sugar, butter and oil until.  Add the eggs one at a time to the mixture, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract and buttermilk. Mix the grated zucchini into the flour mixture and then finally mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Pour the batter into the baking pan. Sprinkle the batter with chocolate and walnut pieces. 

Bake the cake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cake completely in the pan before turning it out onto a plate for icing.

 

 

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