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Cook-Off 63: Summer Squash

Vegetarian Cookoff

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#1 David Ross

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Posted 03 August 2013 - 05:19 PM

Hello friends and welcome back to a time-honored tradition--the popular eG Cook-Off Series. We're in the heat of summer right now and our gardens are literally blooming with all manner of peak of the season ripe fruits and succulent vegetables. And there's no better time of year to honor a vegetable that is often maligned as not being as colorful or trendy as the chi-chi breakfast radish or the multi-hued rainbow chard.
 
In addition to not always being recognized for it's looks, every August and September it becomes the butt of jokes at State Fair competitions across the country. If you can get past the embarassment of seeing the poor devils dressed up and carved into silly, cartoon-like farm figures or pumped-up with organic steroids, you'll find a delicious, low-calorie vegetable packed with potassium and vitamin A. Yes friends, your dreams have come true for today we kick-off eG Cook-Off #62, "Summer Squash."
(Click here http://forums.egulle...cook-off-index/ for the complete eG Cook-Off Index).

According to the University of Illinois Extension Office, summer squash, (also known in some circles as Italian marrow), are tender, warm-season vegetables that can be grown anytime during the warm, frost-free season. Summer squash differs from fall and winter squash, (like pumpkins, acorn and butternut squash), because it is harvested before the outer rind hardens. Some of the most popular summer squash are the Green and Yellow Zucchini, Scallop, Patty Pan, Globe, Butter Blossom and Yellow Crookneck.

My personal favorite summer squash is the versatile zucchini. Slow-cooked with sliced onion and ham hock, zucchini is perfectly comfortable nestled on a plate next to juicy, fried pork chops and creamy macaroni and cheese. But the chi-chi haute crowd isn't forgotten when it comes to zucchini, or, as the sniffy French call it, the "courgette." Tiny, spring courgette blossoms stuffed with herbs and ricotta cheese then dipped in tempura batter and gently fried are a delicacy found on Michelin-Star menus across the globe.

Won't you please join me in crafting some delicious masterpieces that showcase the culinary possibilities of delicious summer squash.


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#2 BeeZee

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Posted 03 August 2013 - 06:23 PM

I'm expecting some "gifts" from a co-worker shortly, good timing. I actually like a simple prep, shred humble zukes in the food processor and sauté with olive oil/butter plus a little garlic until just tender. Have also sliced them very thin and baked on non-stick pans until I got crispy "chips" (works better with the thinner, less seedy ones).


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#3 Syzygies

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Posted 03 August 2013 - 09:35 PM

zucchini
olive oil
 
red onion
garlic
pancetta
black pepper
Maras red pepper
olive oil
 
tomatoes
capers
marjoram
 
polenta
Pecorino Romano
mozzarella
 
 
Slice zucchini, toss with oil, bake 30 minutes or more on jelly roll pan.
 
Sauté onion mixture. Add tomato mixture and simmer; taste for salt.
 
Make stiff polenta, fold in grated Pecorino Romano. Layer polenta, zucchini, sauce, and mozzarella in casserole. Bake 30 minutes or more at 350 F.
 
(We use partially dried tomatoes.)

Per la strada incontro un passero che disse "Fratello cane, perche sei cosi triste?"
Ripose il cane: "Ho fame e non ho nulla da mangiare."

#4 David Ross

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Posted 04 August 2013 - 04:02 AM

I found some interesting patty pan squash at the farmer's market yesterday.  I'm thinking I'll be doing a stuffed squash dish with some sort of sauce.



#5 SylviaLovegren

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Posted 04 August 2013 - 05:12 AM

We had oven fried zucchini the other day. Cut zukes in thinnish fingers, tossed in olive oil with salt, pepper, oregano and red pepper flakes, then tossed again with some seasoned bread crumbs. Spread out on a baking tray and baked at 350 for 1/2 hour, turning occasionally. They came out deeply sweet and tender with crunchy crust. I was pleased.

Another favorite is from Huntly Dent. Grate zucchini and a bit of carrot. Saute in oil just until softened with a bit of chopped green onion. Season with salt and pepper. Just before serving, stir in a bit of thick cream, crema or sour cream.
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#6 rotuts

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Posted 04 August 2013 - 06:05 AM

I dont care much for cooked summer squash.  moosh to me.

 

I pass it through the match-stick grater of the Cusinart along with carrot and zucchini at the last minute and make a type of slaw.  dont let it sit as it then gets runny.



#7 Jaymes

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Posted 04 August 2013 - 07:08 AM

We eat a lot of summer squash in our house, prepared a variety of ways.  Probably most often, we grill them outdoors.  We do a lot of outdoor grilling in the summer and almost always grill an assortment of vegetables, onion halves, bell peppers, mushrooms, squashes, etc., along with the meat. 

 

For zucchini and yellow squash, we cut them in half lengthwise, brush with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, or maybe a sprinkle of oregano or basil or "Italian Seasoning," or a seasoned salt, like Tex-Joy, Cavender's Greek Seasoning, Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning, or something similar, and then grill them on the barbie.  Best when they're removed from the grill while still a bit firm.

 

So seriously delicious that even the little kids eagerly eat them and pout when the serving dish goes empty.


Edited by Jaymes, 04 August 2013 - 07:13 AM.

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#8 Shelby

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Posted 04 August 2013 - 07:32 AM

This could NOT have come at a better time.  

 

We planted eight, yes, EIGHT squash plants.

 

 What were we thinking????

 

Varieties include yellow summer squash, zucchini and butterstick.

 

I have ten to fifteen pounds of squash (at least) sitting right next to me in the kitchen.

 

Along with simply sautéing in butter, I add it to spaghetti sauce (going to make a batch today, in fact, because I also have some eggplant ready to pick).  Also, I make fritters.  A couple of days ago I made a crustless quiche with lots of squash and ham. I haven't stuffed any, yet, because I'm trying to pick them all when they are small--but never fear, there will be a sneaky one that has grown to the size of a baseball bat lurking around at some point.

 

I'm looking forward to getting some new ideas and recipes from this thread.

 

Oh, and don't forget.  August 8th is National Sneak Some Squash Onto Your Neighbors Porch Day.........sigh, if I only had some neighbors......

 

http://www.wellcat.c...nto_your_ne.htm



#9 David Ross

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Posted 04 August 2013 - 08:17 AM

I personally have a long history with zucchini, and I don't mean just in the kitchen.  I harvested the buggars by hand when I was a teenager growing up in Salem, Oregon, back in the '70's. For nine months of the year I had to endure Mr. Carol Farmer's math class.  When he wasn't teaching junior high school math, Mr. Farmer was literally a farmer, cultivating a large field of zucchini on his Willamette Valley farm. My Mother wouldn't leave well enough alone and felt it would build my character if I worked for farmer Farmer during the summer.

 

I'm not familiar with how zucchini is harvested in 2013, but back in the 70's it was literally back-breaking work.  Back then there wasn't much focus on child labor laws, nor was there much oversight by the State Department of Labor and Industries.  I'm pretty sure we weren't paid a minimum wage, probably more like 90 cents an hour.

 

Mr. Farmer led the charge from his seat on top of the tractor, slowly pulling a contraption straddled along the back that held four huge wooden crates.  Bent over at the waist and with dull knife in hand, we trailed behind the "boxes" cutting the zucchini at the stem of the vine then tossing them up into the crates.  As long as your arm and feeling like they weighed 10 pounds, (but probably in the 3-5 pound range), I remember we called them "grade 3" or "commercial grade" zucchini. These huge specimens weren't meant to be displayed in a basket at the farmer's market, they were specifically grown to be gargantuan, resulting in a greater yield when they were cut and processed.

 

The zucchini was trucked to Stayton Canning Company, (another summer employer when I reached my elder teen years).  Because the zucchini had been cut and harvested by hand, we didn't let the odd rock, mouse or pheasant get into the crate and onto the sorting belt.  (The creatures we found on the broccoli belt were another story).  After a thorough washing the zucchini was cut into chunks then mixed with cauliflower, carrots and broccoli into a vegetable "medley" and packed into plastic-lined bins and wheeled off to the deep-freeze.  Days or weeks later the vegetable medley would be re-packed into small bags and shipped to grocery stores to be stocked in the frozen food section.   

 

For years I hated zucchini, all summer squash for that matter. It took me years to get over the memories of the painful, dirty work of cutting zuchinni.  But over time I realized that my time in farmer Farmer's fields helped paved my way to an education at Oregon State University. 

 

It would take a famous French Chef to open my tastebuds to the flavors of summer squash.  I'll be sharing a few photos of how Alain Ducasse inspired me to treat summer squash in ways I never would have imagined. 


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#10 David Ross

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Posted 04 August 2013 - 08:28 AM

zucchini
olive oil
 
red onion
garlic
pancetta
black pepper
Maras red pepper
olive oil
 
tomatoes
capers
marjoram
 
polenta
Pecorino Romano
mozzarella
 
 
Slice zucchini, toss with oil, bake 30 minutes or more on jelly roll pan.
 
Sauté onion mixture. Add tomato mixture and simmer; taste for salt.
 
Make stiff polenta, fold in grated Pecorino Romano. Layer polenta, zucchini, sauce, and mozzarella in casserole. Bake 30 minutes or more at 350 F.
 
(We use partially dried tomatoes.)

That sounds delicious, almost like a zucchini lasagne.



#11 Okanagancook

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Posted 04 August 2013 - 08:44 AM

Last week I found a large zucchini that was hiding down in amongst the leaves. Found a veggie lasagna recipe on page 125 of the original Moosewood Cookbook. It's a variation using zucchini and/or eggplant instead of noodles. I had an excess of eggplant also so made it with both veggies. I baked the vegetables rather than breading and frying because there is enough richness from all the mozza used. It turned out very well.

Most of the time I pick the zucchini when about the size of hotdog and use them raw in salads. I have three plants so I get about 2 or three little beauties a day!
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#12 Jaymes

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Posted 04 August 2013 - 08:51 AM

This could NOT have come at a better time.  

 

We planted eight, yes, EIGHT squash plants.

 

 What were we thinking????

 

Varieties include yellow summer squash, zucchini and butterstick.

 

I have ten to fifteen pounds of squash (at least) sitting right next to me in the kitchen.

 

...

 

Oh, and don't forget.  August 8th is National Sneak Some Squash Onto Your Neighbors Porch Day.........sigh, if I only had some neighbors......

 

http://www.wellcat.c...nto_your_ne.htm

 

Well, as I always say, rather than cultivating a garden, I'd much rather cultivate a gardener.


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#13 Shelby

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Posted 04 August 2013 - 09:39 AM

Here's what I have now....I haven't picked yet today......

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#14 David Ross

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Posted 04 August 2013 - 09:50 AM

That is a wonderful photo.  You've got my head buzzing with all sorts of squash ideas.


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#15 Shelby

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Posted 04 August 2013 - 09:54 AM

David, I enjoyed reading about your harvest job.  

 

Truly backbreaking work!  

 

Interesting to learn that the squash were frozen amongst the other mixed veggies.  I don't frequent the frozen veggie section of the supermarket often, but I don't think I've ever seen frozen squash offered.



#16 FauxPas

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Posted 04 August 2013 - 10:01 AM

Here's what I have now....I haven't picked yet today......

Shelby, maybe you could grate up some of that squash and mix it in with the cat food. Your kitty certainly looks like he would give it a go!
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#17 David Ross

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Posted 04 August 2013 - 10:06 AM

We packaged zucchini in both bags and small cardboard boxes.  In addition to the vegetable medley, we also packed zucchini with yellow squash and some packages of just zucchini.  I remember it was cut in both chunks and slices.  We were soley a frozen food packaging plant, but Stayton Canning Company also canned zucchini.  Today the company is now known as Norpac Foods and is the largest fruit and vegetable processor in the state of Oregon.  It's a cooperative made up of over 27 different farmer-owned crops.  They label a number of brands, but one of the most recognizable is the Santiam brand of vegetables.  I found Santiam brand canned green beans in Walmart just two days ago. 



#18 msfurious1

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Posted 04 August 2013 - 11:24 AM

I love to stuff those small zucchini in Shelby's picture.  Slice in half and scoop out the middle.  Line a sheet pan with the halves and then make the filling.  I usually just go simple with the stuffing.  Saute garlic and onions and then add the scooped and chopped zuc insides with maybe a few extra chopped or grated.  Add cheese and breadcrumbs and bake until the squash are browned and soft.  My kids would fight over them and the whole sheet pan of 10 or 12 zucchini would be  gone quickly.  Stuff them with any favorite stuffing - mushroom, meat, etc. added.

 

Yellow squash isn't a favorite.  I find the skin can be tough.  I asked the farmer at the farmstand how he ate them.  He told me to saute some onions and the squash and scramble some eggs in.  I do enjoy that with some buttered toast for breakfast.  Both yellow squash and zucchini are also good stewed with tomatoes garlic and onions as talked about the green bean idea thread.

Those buttersicks are interesting.  I'll have to look for them.

 

Batali has a zucchini and pasta recipe that is simple and good.  He slices the veg 1/2 moons and sautes with garlic.  I prefer to grate the zucchini and saute with the onions and garlic until the liquid is gone.  Then add back some salty, starchy pasta water to make a saucey sauce along with grated cheese.  I've always used more zucchini than the recipe calls for.  Pounds and pounds.  Probably near 4 or 5 lbs.  It cooks down to nothing.  Another recipe that my kids love that uses a lot of the veg.  You can top or stir in ricotta, too.


Edited by msfurious1, 04 August 2013 - 11:28 AM.

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#19 dcarch

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Posted 04 August 2013 - 11:51 AM

Great idea of a thread! There will be an over supply of squash, we need an over supply of ideas!

 

Farmers market Zucchini made into frittata di zucchini.

 

dcarch

 

zucchinipancakes.jpg

 

zucchinipancakes2.jpg 


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#20 David Ross

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Posted 04 August 2013 - 12:02 PM

Now that is a photo of squash beauty.



#21 heidih

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Posted 04 August 2013 - 12:54 PM

I have always enjoyed the zucchini in a frittata dcarch and yours looks delectable. I particularly like getting the squash a bit browned before the eggs are added. Are those cucumber flowers?

#22 dcarch

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Posted 04 August 2013 - 01:11 PM

I have always enjoyed the zucchini in a frittata dcarch and yours looks delectable. I particularly like getting the squash a bit browned before the eggs are added. Are those cucumber flowers?

 

Thanks. Yes, I couldn't find zuc flowers that day, and I have Cucumber flowers. The green strings are zuc skin shredded because they take longer to cook. The green sprinkles are powdered wasabi peas.

 

Now that is a photo of squash beauty.

 

Thanks. Fairly simple minded dish. Quick and easy.

 

dcarch



#23 Jaymes

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Posted 04 August 2013 - 01:13 PM

The number one way my family (Dad, who was the cook in our family; and his mother, who owned a Southern home-cooking restaurant) prepared summer squash:

 

In a saucepan with a tightly-fitting lid, put about a tablespoon of butter, and one yellow onion, sliced, or very coarsely chopped.  Saute the onion briefly, until it's limp, being very careful not to let the onion or butter brown.  Add 1 smashed & minced garlic clove.  Add a couple of cups of summer squash, large dice.  Sprinkle with a little salt.  Give the whole thing a stir.  Add no water.  Put on the lid and put the fire on low. 

 

(Note:  With yellow squash, peel it before chopping it into large dice.  That takes care of the "tough skin" thing.  With zucchini, I don't bother.  We often make this with a mix of summer squashes.) 

 

Keep checking your squash and stirring to be sure it's cooking evenly.  There is enough water in squash that a liquid will begin to form. 

 

In a cup or small bowl, beat one or two eggs (depending upon how much squash you have).  You don't have to work really hard at it, just kind of stir them up. 

 

When the squash is almost, but not quite, tender, take the lid off so that some of the liquid can evaporate.  Then turn the fire up a bit and pour in your beaten eggs.  Stir rapidly so that the egg coats the squash.  You're not going for a "scrambled eggs with squash" effect; you're going for great squash that tastes terrific and nobody can really even detect the eggs.  When the eggs are cooked and the squash is tender, add a generous dollop of sour cream, or some grated cheese (I love to add Laughing Cow), and put the lid back on and let it sit.  After a few minutes, give it another stir and serve immediately.

 

This is how my grandmother fixed the squash she served at her restaurant for many, many years.


Edited by Jaymes, 04 August 2013 - 01:15 PM.

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#24 Jaymes

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Posted 04 August 2013 - 02:17 PM

Oh my goodness...I forgot.  Always add a pinch of sugar.

 

That's so ubiquitous that it's just a habit.  Not something we really think about.  So I keep forgetting to mention it.

 

As I said elsewhere, a pinch of sugar helps mitigate whatever bitterness there might be.  And sometimes squash is definitely bitter.  So don't forget that pinch of sugar.

 

:smile:


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#25 Goatjunky

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Posted 04 August 2013 - 02:37 PM

My garden is crazy producing right now, so this is perfect. My favorite is tourloo (which my greek family called toodleoo. )

Here is a basic start, but it is completely interchangeable with what you have on hand. Eggplant, green beans, pattypan, etc

Lots of tomato, garlic, and olive oil are musts. And good crusty bread to soak it up. I will post pics as soon as i make it. Hopefully tomorrow

http://mamastaverna....ourlou-tourlou/

Edited by Goatjunky, 04 August 2013 - 02:38 PM.

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#26 Shelby

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Posted 04 August 2013 - 02:56 PM

Jaymes, I'm definitely making your dish tomorrow night!   I already have spaghetti sauce going or else I would have done it tonight.  Sounds sooooo good!

 

Thanks for the recipe :)



#27 Jaymes

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Posted 04 August 2013 - 03:07 PM

Jaymes, I'm definitely making your dish tomorrow night!   I already have spaghetti sauce going or else I would have done it tonight.  Sounds sooooo good!

 

Thanks for the recipe :)

 

I hope you like it, Shelby, although frankly it's hard to imagine you won't!  I mean, what's not to like?

 

I'll be checking back to see how it turned out.

 

One thing to remember, because you're cooking it very slowly, it takes a little bit longer.  So start it about 10 minutes earlier than you would if you were just boiling the squash in water.

 

:smile:

 

Oh, and don't forget that pinch of sugar!


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#28 David Ross

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Posted 04 August 2013 - 03:23 PM

I must say bravo to all of you and your unique treatments of squash.  We should call ourselves lucky for having so many new ideas to try in our home kitchens.

 

As I was studying the launch of this cook-off a few weeks back, a friend of mine unknowingly gave me an idea for a zucchini dish--a zucchini "boat" stuffed with chorizo.  That got me started on how I could make my own unique version of a stuffed zucchini.   I started forming my ideas and then another thought came back from memory--a dish I was served at a private lunch with Alain Ducasse.

 

Back in May 2010 while attending Vegas Uncork'd, (http://forums.egulle...s-uncorkd-2010/) I had the once-in-a-lifetime pleasure to have lunch with Chef Ducasse and eleven other lucky diners.  Rather than prepare an 18-course tasting menu of haute French cuisine and the service of restaurant Louis XV in Monte Carlo, Ducasse and staff served a menu reflecting his childhood roots growing up on a farm in Castel-Sarrazin in the Landes region of Aquitaine in Southwest France. The dishes were full of seasonal vegetables cooked in a manner evoking the flavors of the French-Mediterranean.

 

I seemed to remember some little stuffed vegetables that Ducasse served with the lamb course.  I just had this lingering memory of someting he did with a little summer squash.  And then I re-discovered this photo-

 

Rack of Colorado Lamb, Tomato, Zucchini, Onion and Baby Red Pepper "Petits Farcis"-

Ducasse.jpg

 

My notes reminded me that the baby onion had been stuffed with lamb sausage.  Then I remembered my beloved lamb sausage recipe and so the table was set, I'd attempt to do a summer squash stuffed with lamb sausage and served with a flavored oil and simple vinaigrette, maybe a few sprigs of the budding oregano blossoms from my garden.


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#29 Panaderia Canadiense

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Posted 04 August 2013 - 03:55 PM

It appears that so far I'm the only one who looks at a zucchini or yellow crookneck and thinks not of savour applications, but of sweets!  My hands-down favourite thing to do with a glut of zucchs is Death by Chocolate Zucchini Cake.  I'm also fond of a couple of types of bread that incorporate zucchs for colour and texture, although crooknecks give a better gold colour and more delicate flavour.

 

ChocoSquare.png


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#30 David Ross

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Posted 04 August 2013 - 04:18 PM

It appears that so far I'm the only one who looks at a zucchini or yellow crookneck and thinks not of savour applications, but of sweets!  My hands-down favourite thing to do with a glut of zucchs is Death by Chocolate Zucchini Cake.  I'm also fond of a couple of types of bread that incorporate zucchs for colour and texture, although crooknecks give a better gold colour and more delicate flavour.

 

ChocoSquare.png

Oh my! Now we're completing a summer squash tasting menu--including dessert.  Fabulous.







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