What's Cooking? Pete Marczyk conquers zucchini

Pete Marczyk and Barbara Macfarlane do not leave their work behind when they leave Marczyk Fine Foods and head for their great old Denver house with the big, new kitchen. They usually bring a selection of some of their market's choicest ingredients home with them, and cook up a feast fit for kings ... or at least, patrons of Marczyk.

Every week, Pete and Barbara serve up recipes on the Cafe Society blog. This week, just in time for the late-summer harvest, they're all about zucchini.

"Here's a guide to how you know a guy doesn't have any friends," Pete Marczyk says. "He's in our market buying zucchini in August." By now, most home gardeners -- and their friends -- are buried in zucchini. But man doesn't live by zucchini bread alone, as Pete and Barbara remind us with the two easy, down-home recipes that follow.

Barbara's Zucchini and Feta Quiche

It's not all fussed up," Barbara advises. "It's really a savory custard," Pete says. The recipe is for one, "but it's just as easy to make two," he add. "Give one to someone or freeze it."

1 to 2 cups zucchini, shredded 3 eggs 1 1/2 cups heavy cream (Barbara recommends Morningfresh Dairy) 4 shallots 1/4 pound of feta, cut into little cubes 1/2 cup roasted, crushed walnuts dill fronds salt, pepper, fresh nutmeg Pre-made pie crust (non-transfat)

1) Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. "Dock that dough," Pete says (pierce the pie crust with a fork five-to-seven times on the bottom), and "pinch the pie so it doesn't look store-bought." (This also makes for nice, crunchy edges.) Then partially bake the crust.

2) Put the zucchini in a colander, salt it and let it bleed. "If you season it perfectly, you don't need to rinse," Pete advises.

3) Cut the shallots -- "French-style," Pete says -- and then soften them in butter, because "we don't want the flavor of raw shallots to assault us."

4) Whisk the eggs in a bowl, add the cream and shallots, taste for seasoning. "Layer your flavors," Pete says.

5) Put a layer of nuts on the piecrust.

6) Take four golfball-sized wads of zuchini, squeeze them really well to get out any excess water, and then spread the zucchini on top of the nuts (any extra zucchini can be frozen). Top with the feta cubes. "The feta part I take very seriously," Pete says. "I'm a huge proponent of really good Greek feta."

7) Pour the egg/cream mixture into the pie crust, top with dill fronds.

8) Cook at 325 for about 45 minutes, because you should "treat eggs gently," Pete notes.

Zucchini and Corn Latke

"This is a delicious and savory pancake that takes advantage of two common summer leftovers," says Pete.

2 eggs 1 cup zucchini, shredded corn, kernels from one ear, cooked chopped chives 2 tbsp diced onion 3 tbsp flour 1/2 cup breadcrumbs (panko)

1) Mix eggs, breadcrumbs and flour with zucchini and corn. Check for consistency (flour should absorb most of the liquid), salt and pepper to taste.

2) Heat a combination of olive oil ("olive oil and squash are like Rogers and Astaire," Pete says) and grapeseed oil ("higher smoke point," he notes), then take a handful of the mix and and press it down with a fork in the oil until it's about a half inch thick, the size of a small pancake. Cook until brown, turning it once.

For more from Pete, Barbara and Marczyk Fine Foods, visit the market website here.

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun