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Pine River Library to host Zucchini Extravaganza

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Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2018 2:10 PM
Costumed zucchinis at the 2017 Zucchini Extravaganza. The fourth annual event will take place this Saturday at the Pine River Library after the Tour de Farms. In addition to zucchini-based dishes, the event will feature games and contests for children.

If you’ve got a hankering for courgettes, then Bayfield is the place to be this weekend. In addition to the 2018 Tour de Farms, the town is hosting the fourth annual Zucchini Extravaganza.

At the community-wide, potluck-style event, residents bring their favorite zucchini (or other squash) dishes to share, along with their most impressive zucchinis. Hosted by the Pine River Garden Club and the Pine River Library, the extravaganza will also have free hot dogs with zucchini relish.

Andrew Trujillo, a board member with the garden club, has a backyard garden stop on the Tour de Farms and is also helping coordinate the Zucchini Extravaganza.

“It’s an event where we are celebrating the harvest with squash and zucchini, and the community just gets together and we have a big celebration,” he said.

More than 200 people attended the event last year, he said.

Why zucchini?

“When you plant zucchini or squash, you have an abundance because it’s really prolific ... so this is just a way to celebrate it,” Trujillo said.

The zucchini-based revelry is not limited to its culinary uses. Children can also compete in zucchini-carving contests and the Zucchini Olympics.

The organizers encourage participants to bring extra non-perishable food items to donate for a food drive for Pine River Shares.

People interested in seeing some of the places where the zucchini is grown can attend the Tour de Farms before the festival. The van tour takes attendees through several local farms and gardens.

Brown Butter Zucchini Cupcakes
Courtesy of Andrew Trujillo

Brown Butter Zucchini Cupcakes

Servings: 24 mini cupcakes

Note: If you don’t want to make your own salted caramel, you can use store-bought caramel.

INGREDIENTS:For Brown Butter Zucchini Cupcakes:1 cup unsalted butter2½ cups all-purpose flour1 tsp baking powder½ tsp baking soda1½ tsp ground cinnamon½ tsp fine sea salt¾ cup granulated sugar¾ cup dark brown sugar, packed4 large eggs, room temperature 1 pound shredded zucchini, about 3 cups packedFor salted caramel:1 cup dark brown sugar, packed½ cup heavy whipping cream½ stick butter½ tsp fine sea salt1 tsp vanillaFor Carmel Cream Cheese Frosting:8 oz. cream cheese, room temp½ cup unsalted butter2 cups powdered sugarPinch of fine sea saltMethod:For Brown Butter Zucchini Cupcakes:

Place butter in sauce pan. Melt butter over medium heat. Once butter is melted, continue to cook over medium low heat until butter has browned and is fragrant.

During the cooking process, the butter will foam up. Swirl the pan occasionally to check for doneness. Carefully watch the butter because it can quickly burn and blacken. When it is done, it will smell nutty. Pour the brown butter into another container and allow it to cool. (If you want to speed up the process, let it chill in the freezer for 10 minutes.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place mini cupcake wrappers in pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream cooled brown butter with sugar and brown sugar. Mix until sugar is thoroughly moistened. Add eggs one at a time and continue to mix on low.

Add flour mixture and mix on low speed until combined. Scrape down sides as needed to ensure thorough mixing.

Add shredded zucchini and mix until evenly distributed. (Be sure to squeeze out as much moisture from zucchini as you can.)

Add batter to mini cupcake wrappers, ¾ of the way full. Bake for 30-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted in center of a cake comes out clean.

Once finished baking, let cool before adding frosting.

For salted caramel:

Mix all ingredients in a medium sauce pan.

Cook on medium low heat for 5-10 minutes or until sugar has dissolved and you have a caramel.

Add vanilla, mix.

Pour caramel into bowl of a stand mixture and whip on medium speed for 5-10 minutes until caramel has thickened.

Let cool.

Set aside ½ the caramel for drizzle on top of cupcakes.

For Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting:

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream together butter and cream cheese until smooth. Scrape down bowl as needed to ensure thorough mixing.

Add caramel and mix to combine. Add powdered sugar and salt, mix until smooth.

Once cupcakes have cooled, frost cupcakes with salted caramel and drizzle with remaining caramel. I like to use a piping bag to frost my cupcakes. You can also use a gallon zip-close bag with a small piece of the corner cut off if you don’t have a piping bag.

Grilled Sausage-Stuffed Zucchini Boats
Courtesy of Chris O’Shea Heydinger

Grilled Sausage-Stuffed Zucchini BoatsIngredients:4 medium zucchini2 tbsp olive oil1 pound Italian sausage (sweet or hot, your choice)2 cloves garlic, minced1 onion, chopped1 ear sweet corn kernels2 medium tomatoes, choppedKosher salt & freshly ground pepper½ cup Parmesan, grated½ cup mozzarella, shaved¼ cup Panko breadcrumbs2 tbsp chopped fresh parsleyMethod:

Cut zucchini in half lengthwise. With a teaspoon, scoop out the flesh of the zucchini so they resemble boats. Place zucchini on a cutting board or platter. Chop zucchini flesh and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook, breaking up into crumbles, 8 minutes. Lower the heat to medium. Add the zucchini flesh, garlic, onion, corn and tomatoes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook until vegetables are soft and the onion translucent, about 10 minutes.

In a medium bowl, mix together the Parmesan, mozzarella, Panko and parsley.

Spoon the sausage mixture into the zucchini boats. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture on top.

Heat your gas grill to medium high. Place an oiled, 15-inch piece of aluminum foil on the grill grate. Lay zucchini boats on the foil and close the grill. Cook until golden on top, about 20 minutes.

Note: You can also cook the boats in a 400 degree oven, but who wants to turn the oven on?

Source: Chris O’Shea Heydinger

Not Your Everyday Zucchini
Courtesy of Peggy Morris

Not Your Everyday ZucchiniIngredients:3-4 zucchini medium-sized, about 8 inches long, consistent in size8 ounces cream cheese¼-½ teaspoon garlic powder3-4 tablespoons finely minced onionSeeds from center of simmered zucchini Salt to tasteMethod:Simmer (do not boil) whole zucchini for 8-10 minutes.

Cool, then cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out inner seeds leaving the meat of the zucchini intact. Turn the zucchini upside down on a paper towel to help remove excess moisture.

Finely chop the inner zucchini seeds that were removed, and squeeze any excess water from the seeds.

In a separate bowl, soften cream cheese. Add the chopped seeds and seasonings: garlic, minced onion and salt to taste.

Mix well until the flavors are incorporated. Drop the mixture by spoonfuls into each open zucchini boat until full.

Heat uncovered in a 350-degree oven about 15 minutes or until warm to serve. Enjoy as a side dish.

Source: Pine River Garden Club member Peggy Morris

Zucchini a la Pasta
Courtesy of Rivian Bell

Zucchini a la Pasta

Servings: 4

Ingredients:4-5 medium zucchini¼-½ cups good olive oilSpaghetti or angel hair pasta for 4 (per package instructions)Fresh ground pepper1 bunch fresh basil Grated or shredded Romano or Parmesan cheese

Method:

Rinse and dry each zucchini and cut off both ends. Slice about 1/8 inch thin. Using a 12-inch skillet, heat the oil over medium heat – you want approximately ½ inch oil in the pan. When the oil is hot and shimmery, begin dropping zucchini slices into the pan. Salt lightly and brown in batches. Make sure both sides are golden brown before removing to do next batch. This will take a little time, but it’s worth it to obtain that wonderful texture. Add oil if needed.

While the zucchini are frying, heat 3-4 quarts of salted water in a pot for the spaghetti (see package instructions for specific needs). Time the spaghetti so that it’s ready when your last batch of zucchini is completed. It’s better to have the pot simmering for a while so that it’s ready when you need it.

Put all of the golden zucchini disks in a bowl, and pour the now-green zucchini oil in the pan over the top of the zucchini. Place a serving of spaghetti in each dish, and place plenty of zucchini and oil over the pasta. Grind fresh pepper over the top. Tear basil leaves and distribute liberally over the dish, and finish with Romano or Parmesan cheese. Buon appetito!

Source: Recipe by Renato Caltabiano of Bayfield

If you go

The Zucchini Extravaganza will take place from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Pine River Library, 395 Bayfield Center Drive, in Bayfield.
The Tour de Farms will be held from 8 a.m. to noon, with a 7:30 a.m. check-in at the Pine River Library.
To register for the Tour de Farms, visit https://bit.ly/2M4Qnkv. The price of the tour is $25.
The Zucchini Extravaganza is a free event.

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