Buttered Up: Chocolate and zucchini

7 Min Read

Politics is everywhere. A few years ago, Jessica Seinfeld, wife of Jerry Seinfeld, wanted to stop her kids from whining about eating their vegetables, so she decided to convince them that they won the battle and don’t have to eat their vegetables in their accepted forms anymore.

She took it upon herself to sneak vegetables into all her kids’ favorite foods — in purée form — and simultaneously write a cookbook that takes Oprah’s audience by storm; and we all know what happens when that happens. We choose, as a unified predominantly female Oprah-watching audience, that it is the right thing to do; that we too, shall adopt Jessica’s deceptive ways of injecting our families with nutrients they often don’t want to know about or waste their energy chewing on. After all, Oprah’s audience approved and so did Oprah.

But I’d like someone to explain to me why it’s considered a good idea to sneak nutritious ingredients into traditionally kid-friendly food? Is this the new thing we’re electing to follow blindly? Since we’re being democratic as of late and have chosen to debate, then I stand firmly with the side that says, “No!”

First, we began by dumbing down our language. Many of our children don’t speak it well and in the sake of honesty, neither do many of us Egyptian adults. Now it’s starting to look like we’re dumbing down our food because we can’t control children who don’t want to eat what we put on the plate, or maybe it’s that we can’t be bothered and it has nothing to do with control at all. Either way, we are cultivating a palate that dotes on fast food and resorts to easy fixes to avoid the finicky eating issues grinding daily on our nerves.

I understand fully that it is easier to trick ourselves and children into eating something that looks greasy and good while secretly hiding veggies, that calls out to the glutton in us, instead of allowing our food preferences to mature through regular exposure to new ingredients. So why can’t we introduce those healthier ingredients in new ways instead of concealing them behind breadcrumbs and cheese? Let’s consider how we can do that instead of wondering and pondering over the whys.

Zucchini is a vegetable not particularly embraced by many I’ve spoken with. We generally tend to stick to a limited number of zucchini dishes in our Egyptian homes. My assumption, correct me if I’m wrong, is that we opt for zucchini with béchamel sauce because it’s the easier “different” option when compared to it being soaked in tomato sauce and because for years, we haven’t been able to come up with much else. The fancy ones I know sauté it but that’s about how creative we get on a regular basis.

Next time someone, whether child or adult, scorns the bland zucchini and claims that it is a useless watery vegetable that dinner hosts force upon us for the sake of variety, teach them a new way to prepare it. Don’t call them stupid and accuse them of being ignorant. It didn’t work for the referendum and it won’t work with food. Warm their soul with a Zucchini Soup infused with herbs. Bread it like the Italians, stew it in a Ratatouille like the French, or woo them and bake a cake to show them how beautifully moist it becomes when zucchini is incorporated. Learn from everyone’s history then invent your own.

I’ve only recently overcome my own “yucky zucchini” phase and have successfully cured my husband of his ailment as well. So instead of wishing upon a star that your family stops eating the same food over and over again, take initiative and maybe you’ll be introducing a new and happy zucchini and chocolate cake to your people, undisguised, coming clean and feeling good.

Chocolate & Zucchini Cake
You’ll need:
½ cup of unsalted butter
½ cup of vegetable oil
1 of caster sugar
¾ cups of brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon of baking powder
½ teaspoon of salt
2 large eggs
½ cup of yogurt
2 ¼ cup of all-purpose flour
¾ cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons of espresso powder
2 cups of shredded zucchini
½ cup of bittersweet chocolate chips
For the ganache:
1 cup of heavy cream
1 ½ cup of chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Grease your baking pan. Cream together the butter, oil, sugar, vanilla, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Beat in the eggs one at a time until well combined. Stir in the yogurt alternately with the flour. Then add the cocoa and espresso powder, mixing until smooth. Finally, fold in the zucchini and 1/2 cup of chocolate chips. Spoon the batter into your prepared pan. Bake the cake for 35-40 minutes or until a wooden skewer or thin knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and cool on a rack. To prepare the ganache, heat the heavy cream in a saucepan over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and pour in the chocolate chips. Stir until completely combined and glossy. Allow the ganache to cool before pouring over cake.



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