Transformations

Zukes can be all things to all eaters

Which farmer's market vegetable can be made into chocolate cake, muffins or pickles and tastes good with eggs, on pizza or in tacos? The zucchini! Its versatility makes it an easy vegetable to add to your family's summer meals. The flavor of zucchini is mild enough to incorporate into cuisines as varied as Thai, Mexican and French.

Since zucchini is eaten at all stages, from blossom to ruler-length, it might be fun to find some extremely small or large zucchini to interest your kids. Small zucchini taste good in any recipe, while the larger ones (10"-12") are better for stuffing or baking. As they get larger, zucchini become fibrous and bitter. Likely, nobody took a bite out of the Guinness World Record holder - a 7'2" zucchini grown in Germany. The edible blossoms are pretty on a plate and are commonly stuffed, battered and fried.

Zucchini, also called summer squash, grow in bushes and love warm temperatures. In the middle of summer, it takes only 4-7 days for a blossom to turn into a vegetable. Non-vegetable lovers may be equally impressed to see a green vegetable turn into a sweet treat, and below is a transforming muffin recipe. As a final plus, zucchini comes in both green and yellow, so it will appeal to the little Packers fan in your life. KGB kabobs, anyone?

Zucchini Raisin Bran Muffins

Makes 12

Gourmet, August 1993

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

2/3 cup whole-wheat flour

2/3 cup bran

2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened

2/3 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

2 cups coarsely grated zucchini

Preheat the oven to 375F. In a bowl whisk together the flours, bran, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and cloves. In a large bowl with an electric mixer cream butter and sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy; add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, and beat in vanilla. Beat the flour mixture into the butter mixture, beat in the milk, and stir in raisins, walnuts and zucchini. Divide the batter among 12 well-buttered or paper-lined 1/2-cup muffin tins, and bake the muffins in the middle of the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Turn the muffins out onto a rack and let them cool.

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