Economical Zucchini pie is $40,000 winner

By , Food editor of The Christian Science Monitor

Italian Zucchini Crescent Pie, a meatless main dish was the $40,000 grand prize winner at the 29th annual Bake-Off at the Fontainebleu Hilton Hotel. It was baked by Mrs. Millicent Caplan of Tamarac, Fla., who might use the prize money for a trip to Paris and a course at the Cordon Bleu Cooking School.

Seasoned with herbs, the economical recipe that won thousands serves six and costs less than 70 cents a serving.

One hundred finalists competed with Mrs. Caplan cooking in an allotted space complete with electric range, work counter, and all ingredients and utensils necessary for their recipes.

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From 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. they chatted as they cooked, admiring one another's cake or bread or casserole. The huge hotel ballroom was one big shiny kitchen. The aromas were wonderful.

Each cook was allowed to repeat a recipe three times, choosing the best of the three to send to the judges.

This was a good rule for several cooks. Gene Swiderski of Bloomington, Minn. , took advantage of another try. She forgot to grease the pan the first time she made her Polish Poppy Swirl Loaf. Her second and third loaves were fine.

One contestant from Washington said her Reuben Sandwich Ring in a tube pan wasn't baking into the right shape so she made a second and a third to get it right.

One of my favorites that didn't win was Margaret Carlson's special Swedish Rye Bread with molasses, carrots, orange peel, and ginger. It was the only recipe Mrs. Carlson entered.

David Cato, San Antonio, Texas, a 15-year-old contestant, said he's been cooking for three years. His lemon light drop cookies didn't win but looked very expert and tasted delicious.

Anne Marie Davis of Fair Oaks, Calif., said she'd won 72 ribbons in the California State Fair last year. She and her husband are both engineers, and since his hobby is computers they have a home computer system and printer in which she keeps over a hundred recipes. She entered 20 in the bake-off and was baking one called Pineapple Party Treats.

The $15,000 prizes went to Mrs. Mary Simpson of Rock Hill, S.C., with Hot Roll Moravian Sugar Cake, and ethnic recipe, and to Mrs. Debbie Porteur, Hollister, Calif., with Streusel Pecan Pie Squares, an easy version of pecan pie.

The nine $2,000 winners:

Flour category -- special occasion: Mrs. Maureen Theroux of Ellenton, Fla., French Walnut Torte; ethnic: Mrs. Evelyn White of Elkhart, Ind., Danish Sesame Bran Bread; economy: Mrs. Mildred Hagg of Rochester, Pa., Glazed Apple Coffee Crown.

Package mix category -- special occasion: Mrs. Adelaide Shaw of Scarsdale, N.Y., Chocolate Almond Frozen Mousse; ethnic: Mrs. Marcia Gallner of Omaha, Neb. , Mushroom Piroshkie Appetizers; economy: Mrs. Judy Moon of Jacksonville Beach, Fla., Easy As Pie Almond Fingers.

Refrigerated dough category -- special occasion: Mrs. Ellen Kohrman of Cincinnati, Ohio, Coconut Crescent Ring; ethnic: Mrs. Helen Novak of Fontana, Calif., Puffy Chile Rellenos; economy: Miss Gloria Shamanoff of Fort Wayne, Ind. , Crescent Meringue Chocolate Chip Bars.

Here is the top prize-winning recipe. Italian Zucchini Crescent Pie 4 cups zucchini, unpeeled and thinly sliced 1 cup onion, coarsely chopped 1/2 cup margarine or butter 1/2 cup parsley, chopped or 2 tablespoons dried parsley 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder 1/4 teaspoon sweet basil leaves 1/4 teaspoon oregano leaves 2 eggs, well beaten 2 cups meunster or mozzarella cheese, shredded 8-ounce can Pillsbury Refrigerated Quick Crescent Dinner Rolls 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Heat oven to 375 degrees F. In 10-inch skillet, cook zucchini and onion in margarine until tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in parsley and seasonings. In large bowl, blend eggs and cheese. Stir in vegetable mixture.

Separate dough into 8 triangles. Place in ungreased 11-inch quiche pan, 10 -inch pie pan, or 12 by 8 inch baking dish; press over bottom and up sides to form crust. Spread crust with mustard. Pour vegetable mixture evenly into crust.

Bake at 375 degrees F. 18 to 20 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. If crust becomes too brown, cover with foil during last 10 minutes of baking. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Cut into wedges to serve; serve hot. Serves 6.

Here is Mrs. Porteur's $15,000 prize-winning recipe. Streusel Pecan Pie Squares Crust 3 cups all purpose, unbleached, or self-rising flour 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar 1 1/2 cups margarine or butter, chilled Filling 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar 1 1/2 cups corn syrup of maple-flavored syrup 1 cup milk 1/3 cup margarine or butter, melted 1/Teaspoon vanilla 4 eggs 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup; level off. In large bowl, combine all crust ingredients; blend until crumbly. Reserve 2 cups crumbs for filling and topping. Press remaining crumbs in bottom and 3/4 inch up sides of ungreased 15 by 10 inch jelly roll pan. Bake at 400 degrees F. 10 minutes.

In large bowl, combine 1/4 cup reserved crumbs and all filling ingredients except pecans; mix well. Stir in pecans. Pour over prebaked crust; bake additional 10 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Sprinkle remaining 1 3/4 cups reserved crumbs over filling; bake at 350 degrees F. 20 to 25 minutes or until filling is set and crumbs are golden brown. If desired, serve with whipped cream or ice cream. Makes 15 servings.

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