By Liz Bares
My garden looks worn out, the last tomatoes still proudly hanging onto the sagging vines. The zucchini plant is slowly producing one fruit at a time. The cornstalks are dry; the pumpkins are orange and ready to be harvested. It was a tough summer for gardens, little to no water for days, sometimes weeks, and seemingly endless heat. Somehow, my garden produced a bounty enough for my small family of four and our two piglets.
September fills my counters with produce, so much that I cannot find enough ways to prepare it before it becomes overripe and the piglets are given a nice juicy treat. Most of the foods I prepare are kid friendly/approved.
I made zucchini “fries” the other night and with some ketchup, the kids gobbled them up. The “fries” are baked and use panko breadcrumbs, which are a Japanese-style breadcrumb used for deep fat frying. Panko breadcrumbs are made from bread without crusts. They are coarsely ground and larger than a traditional breadcrumb. I like using them because they give you a satisfying crunch when you bite into them and they do not absorb as much grease.
Here’s a rough recipe. You can add seasonings, cook them longer … whatever you prefer. For example, my family loves garlic, so I added more garlic powder than what I have written down. If you don’t like ketchup, like me, a ranch or blue cheese dippin’ sauce would taste delightful. Enjoy!
¼ cup whole wheat flour
2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 lb. zucchini, cut into fairly thick sticks (they do not have to be perfect or even)
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or tin foil.
Place flour in a large zip-lock bag.
Whisk eggs with 2 tablespoons of water and place in bowl or deep plate
Place panko, salt, pepper, garlic powder and cayenne in a shallow dish and combine.
Put zucchini in the bag and toss them around to get them coated with flour.
Next, take a few “fries” and place them in the egg and water mixture. Coat them as well as you can.
Then roll them around in the panko mixture and place on the pan.
Bake about 20 minutes, until the breadcrumbs become golden brown.
Let them cool and enjoy with your favorite dipping sauce.
About the columnist:
Hello, I’m Liz Bares and I live in Ellicottville with my two kids and my husband, Charlie.
I graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1997 with grand plans of being the next Julia Child. However, the restaurant business is pretty intense. Those “best chef” reality shows, I can’t watch them. They remind me too much of my time cooking in big city restaurants. Anyone who can carve out a decent living as a chef in a high volume restaurant is my hero.
After a stint as a personal chef, I worked at my mother’s restaurant in Allegany, the New Moon Cafe. In 2010, my good friends Garrett and Megan Taylor helped me produce the Corn Moon Dinner at Sojourner Farms.
I’m a bit of a food snob but that’s ok – looking for delicious food is a challenge that I like. I feel it’s important to utilize local foods whenever you can. The food is always good. When picked at its peak, the food is bursting with nutrients and flavor.
Currently I just make sure my kids and husband eat well. I find it especially important my kids TRY a new dish or food item. Sometimes it doesn’t go so well, sometimes it does.
My rule of thumb is: “If an item has a long shelf life, it will shorten your life.” Simple. Fresh ingredients prepared simply will net rave reviews, almost making you feel guilty about how easy the dish was to prepare – almost.