Y'all...cooking and food is one of my obsessions, a close second behind my love for all things pretty, but I am a foul cook. My kitchen is chaotic, I make a big mess and 50% of the time I overcook/undercook/burn/over salt/under salt my food. I know when to bow out and let the experts do their thang.
And lucky for me, my dear friend Jennie, who also happens to be an American expat living in Bogotá, is one of those types of cooks that makes everything look soo easy and 100% of the things that come out of her kitchen turn out incredible. She is professionally trained, has been a private chef in Aspen, started a catering company in Paris and now operates in Bogotá as both a private chef and caterer.
She's been here on Azulina before, via our post on Chusco Pop-Up Dinners. And she'll be around these parts a lot more in the future.
Today she shares her recipe for Spiced Zucchini Nut Bread, for high altitude cooks (we live at 8,000 feet, people!):
Cooking is one of my most favorite things in life – the sizzling and popping, the vibrant colors, the contrast of textures, the bold flavors and subtle scents: it’s a symphony of sensual delights. Baking, on the other hand, has never been my cup of tea. It’s precise, calculated, scientific and never as freewheeling as I'd like it to be. Once that bun is in the oven, you’ve lost control and you just have to pray that it comes out alright.
And just when you think the process couldn’t get more complicated, toss a pinch of high altitude into the mix! Because of the low air pressure, high altitude throws a huge kink into the carefully crafted recipes that you find in most cookbooks. Among other things, liquid boils at a lower temperature and causes many cakes to rise prematurely and fall right into a big hot mess.
Adapting recipes to high altitude is tricky and takes a lot of trial and error, so it better be something that you really love and are willing to taste ten times before you get it right. Here in Bogotá, at 8,660 feet in the middle of the Andes mountain range, I often find myself craving dishes aren’t easy to find at the local bakery. Despite being a baked good, this zucchini bread is packed with Mediterranean flavors and worth its weight in (culinary) gold: moist and soft with hints of nutty crunch, teeming with spices, and savory-sweet with a faint, lingering bitterness that awakens the palette and leaves you wanting more.
Like any good recipe, it’s also very versatile. You can use any nut that your heart desires, replace the vanilla with bourbon if you’re feeling scandalous, or substitute half of the oil with Greek yoghurt if you want to lighten it up a bit. It’s perfect with hot black coffee or whiskey or both!
*For more information on high altitude adjustments, refer to the table from the helpful people at King Arthur flour.
Spicy Zucchini Nut Bread
- 2 cups plus 8 tbsp flour
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp allspice
- 1 tsp salt
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- 1/8 tsp baking powder
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- 1 ½ + 3 tbsp cups vegetable (or olive) oil
- 4 large eggs
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp grated lemon (or lime) peel
- 2 ½ cups roughly grated zucchini
- 1 cup toasted walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts or macadamia nuts (roughly chopped)
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Butter and flour two medium-sized loaf pans.
- Whisk together dry ingredients (flour, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, allspice and baking powder) in medium bowl.
- Whisk together sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla and lemon peel in large bowl until well combined.
- Gradually whisk flour mixture into wet mixture, one half-cupful at a time.
- Gently fold in zucchini and nuts.
- Pour batter into prepared pans and bake until wooden tester comes out clean (about 1 hour).
- Let stand 10 minutes and then turn breads out onto rack to cool completely.
*To store, wrap in tin foil and store at room temperature.
If you want to see more of what Jennie is up to in her kitchen I encourage you to follow her Insta, chuscopopup. I'm a big fan! Chusco Pop-Up Insta
Until next time!
Con Mucho Amor,
Founder, Azulina Ceramics