08 September 2006

Cooking Caveat/Stuffed Zucchini

Back in 1983 (or was it 1984?), when I was working in Oakland as the editor for a sports publishing company (and no, I’m not a sports fan), a guy named Greg had a little flower stand outside our office building. I used to hand him ten bucks, a smile, and my vase, and ask him to put together a flower arrangement for me to take home. One day he suggested I arrange the flowers myself. "But I don’t know anything about flower arranging!" I protested. "You can do it," he replied. "Just play with them until they look right."

What do you know, Greg was right. I could arrange flowers to my pleasing, relying on my intuitive sense of aesthetics. (Years later I took a class or two on floral arranging, and learned the rules that defined what I already knew.)

It may seem odd that a Virgo professional organizer relies so consistently on intuition, but that’s the way I am: an eternal balance of apparent opposites. (I joke that I am the perfect blend of both my parents: my father the math professor, my mother the English teacher. Leo and Virgo, Pitta and Kapha, extrovert and introvert, linear and intuitive, I’m always both.)

Anyway, my reason for telling you all this is to give you a head’s up about my recipes. I’m afraid I’m something of an intuitive cook, too. Except with baking (and even that’s not precise), I just throw things together until they seem right. And so I apologize to those of you who want clear direction and exact measurements. I’ll do my best to give rough estimates of quantities, but ultimately I encourage you to "play with it until is seems right." I know you can do it!

Claire’s Stuffed Zucchini
Quarter two large (NOT gargantuan monsters, just decent sized) zukes. Place them face down in a 9 x 13 Pyrex with a bit of water covering the bottom. Cover the top with foil and bake until the zucchini "meat" is tender. Remove and allow to cool enough to be handled without scalding your fingers.

While the zukes are baking, sautee
1 diced onion (medium, yellow or white)

When the onions are translucent, add
8 to 10 sliced mushrooms
3 to 4 chopped garlic cloves (good sized; if the cloves are puny, use 8 to 10 of them)

Once the mushrooms have cooked, remove from heat and stir in
1 teaspoon to 1 Tablespoon of yellow curry powder (to taste)
1 to 2 teaspoons of dry thyme
2 to 3 Tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce

Use a spoon to remove the zucchini "meat" from it’s shell, and add the "meat" into the onions/mushrooms/garlic. (Leave the shells, face up like little empty row boats, in the Pyrex and remove the extra water.) Use the spoon to mash the zucchini so that it doesn’t have any lumps and is blended in with the onions, etc.

You will have extra liquid in the mixture at this point, thanks to the zukes. (Note: this is not the liquid you removed from the Pyrex. That was to be discarded, or reserved for a veggie broth, or something.) Add enough bread crumbs to sop up the liquid, making the veggies a solid – but not dry – consistency.

Mix in about 1 cup of grated sharp cheddar cheese.

Spoon the mixture back into the zucchini shells (they’ll be heaping once filled).

Bake, uncovered, at 350 until nicely browned, about 20 to 30 minutes.

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