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Zucchini is the surprise ingredient in 'crab' cakes

Thursday, August 16, 2001

By Nancy Anderson, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

It takes guts or imagination (or maybe bad eyesight) to substitute zucchini for crab meat in a crab cake recipe, but that's what Kurt Karafinski did one night when he didn't have any crab.

 

"I figured the worst thing that could happen would be I'd end up with fried zucchini patties flavored with Old Bay seasoning," he said.

But the best -- not the worst --thing happened. Kurt invented a moist, flavorful ersatz crab entree that drew raves from the five skeptical tasters at our table.

"What is this thing?".

"A Mock Crab Cake."

"What's the Mock in it?"

"Zucchini."

"No kidding. It's delicious!"

Kurt experimented three times before the recipe met his satisfaction.

"I played around with the amount of Old Bay seasoning to get it just right," the Glenshaw resident said. "My wife doesn't like spicy things."

Kurt refers to his concoction as "a great summer recipe for all the fresh zucchini out there."

"You'll have a difficult time believing there is no crab in these 'crab' cakes," said the veteran Countdown to Dinner contributor for Pepperoni Sandwiches. He likes to serve them with Lipton's Garlic Parmesan Rice, which he calls "quick and tasty."

A senior systems analyst for Eckerd Health Services in O'Hara, Kurt does the bulk of the cooking for his family, which includes wife Debby, who also works at Eckerd, and son Christopher, 3 1/2.

But he may be getting some assistance in the kitchen soon.

"Christopher found a cooking mitt in the garage," Dad said. "He put it on and said, 'Me help Daddy cook now.' "

Do you have an entree, salad or vegetable side dish recipe (no desserts, please!) that can be made in 30 minutes or less from six ingredients or fewer (not counting water, salt and pepper)? Share it with Countdown to Dinner.

The PG tests all recipes and if we select your recipe for publication, you'll receive a free selection from our cookbook grab bag of current releases.

Send your recipe to Countdown to Dinner, Post-Gazette Food, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222, or fax to 412-263-1313. Please include your name, neighborhood and daytime phone number. Or e-mail to: nanderson@post-gazette.com. Questions? Call 412-263-1760.

MOCK CRAB CAKES

2 cups coarsely grated zuc- chini, unpeeled (about 1 medium)
1 cup Italian bread crumbs
1 onion, finely chopped (we grated it also)
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
1 egg, beaten

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl (we grated the zucchini and onion into a colander so some of the liquid could drain out). The texture can be adjusted -- if it's too dry, add another egg; if too wet, add more bread crumbs (we had to add a couple of tablespoons).

Heat some oil in a skillet. Form mixture into patties and fry over medium heat until golden brown on both sides, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Makes 4 big or 6 medium cakes.

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