In my “real life” endeavors, I get to do a lot of reading about the 19th century, and often, that involves food. Recipes that use one ingredient as a substitute for another (such as zucchini for apples) are common all through history as a way to perk up a flagging appetite with tasty things when the Preferred Ingredient may not be attainable, for whatever reason.
Some of those Mock options don’t work well. “Krab” with a K is not the same as Crab, and is, along with honey ham, a Minor Abomination in my eyes.
Some of the Mock options do work. This is one of them. Had I not been served by an extremely honest host, I would never have suspected this recipe was not apples. It’s freaky. Needing to try the recipe myself led me to do something no one ever does: ask other people for zucchini. Who does that? Usually, people are dropping it off on doorsteps in the dark of night, and leaving bags of it in cars at other people’s churches during their Sunday services.
Ask, and you shall receive: I was blessed with One Enormous Mutant Zucchini, courtesy of my dear friend C. She says she found it menacing the children outside, and figured it was best to donate it to the cause. Because I cannot help myself, I messed with the recipe a titch, and here’s the very tasty result:
Really Convincing Mock Apple Crisp Bar Things
- 8-10 cups seeded, peeled, and thin-sliced zucchini. (This was half of the mutant zuke I was given. It was prodigious.)
- 2/3 cup lemon juice (I used bottled.)
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 small pinch ground cloves
- dash of vanilla extract
Pre-heat the oven to 375*. Mix all of the above together in a good-sized pot, and bring it to a boil, then simmer until the zucchini is getting a bit translucent. Go ahead–sneak a taste. The slices will be crisp, tart, and seasoned, and very, very confusing… zucchini is not meant to be so delightful.
While this simmers for 8 minutes or so, make the brown sugar pate brisee… or, a shortbread crumb mixture:
- 4 cups flour
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon (or nutmeg)
- 1/2 tsp salt (or skip it if you use salted butter)
- 1-1/2 cups cold butter (this is three 1/2 cup sticks)
Rub or cut the butter into the flour/sugar mixture, until it’s in small crumbs.
Pat half the mixture firmly into a lightly-greased 13 x9″ pan. Toss that into the oven for 10 minutes or so.
To the remaining half of the crumb mixture, add:
- about 1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
- a good handful of chopped walnuts if desired.
Remove the zucchini slices from the pot, and reduce the liquid a bit further (by about half.) Zucchini is juicy stuff, but don’t worry: the syrup tastes like apple-spiced goodness, not zucchini.
Sprinkle about 1/4 cup flour over the cooling zucchini slices. When you add the reduced syrup back to the slices, this will make a goopy sauce that firms up in the oven.
When the buzzer goes off for the bottom crust, remove it, top with the sauced zucchini slices, and the pat on a nice thick layer of the reserved brown sugar-oat-nut mixture.
Return it to the oven for about 30 minutes, until the top crust is getting nice and golden brown.
Remove, cool a bit, and serve. It’s deadly good with a bit of whipped cream, or vanilla ice cream! Tremendous thanks to the Lynch family, who introduced me to a really effective Mock dish!