Wednesday, August 4, 2004

Zucchini possesses good table manners

The Saucy Cook

By Mary Jo Spiegel
Enquirer contributor

It's county fair season and I'm proud to say I have been a county fair exhibitor. Well, I would be proud to say that - except exhibiting my livestock - one beautiful (if neurotic) Silver Marten rabbit - didn't turn into the shining moment I had planned.

When I was in high school, participating in the early September Washington County Fair was an excused absence. So was deer hunting. If you were really lucky, you could even take part in "tractor day" where you slowly drove your giant farm tractor to high school for the admiration of your peers.

I didn't go deer hunting. And my ride was no tractor but a late '70s Chevy Caprice that no longer reliably reversed (though it did have AM radio).

But you bet I participated in the county fair. I had Toby the show bunny.

Too bad Toby wanted nothing to do with the glamorous world of fair exhibitions. You'd be surprised how hard a normally calm, almost comatose 9-pound rabbit can fight when his sole aim is to get away from the rabbit judge.

Toby was disqualified for "bad table manners," without so much as a special ribbon for feistiness. (Bad table manners nothing; the family I eventually gave Toby to assured me he tasted great.)

Today, the Hamilton County Fair opens. As much as I want to enter one of my monster zucchini to win first prize for "largest squash" or "oddities of nature," considering the past, my produce would probably spontaneously combust when the judges came near.

But at least I'm certain my zukes would have good table manners when cooked in this recipe adapted from Joy of Cooking (Scribner; $35).

Zucchini, Mint and Feta Cheese Pancakes

11/4 pounds zucchini, grated


2 eggs

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/2 cup breadcrumbs

1/4 cup flour

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 small onion, diced

4 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

2 tablespoons olive oil

Lightly sprinkle grated zucchini with salt, set aside. Make batter by stirring together eggs, cheese, breadcrumbs, flour, garlic, onion and mint. Rinse zucchini, squeeze or press zucchini dry, then stir zucchini into batter. Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. For each pancake, drop 1/4 cup of batter in skillet, flattening a bit with spatula. Fry four minutes on each side or until browned. Serve immediately. Makes 8 pancakes.


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