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Avoiding pancakes sticking to the pan; grilling watermelon to perfection

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Posted: Friday, August 23, 2013 8:41 am

Dear Barbara: I occasionally make zucchini pancakes. My last recipe is delicious, but stuck to the pan like crazy. I tried two different non-stick pans and plenty of oil and waited for the oil to get plenty hot. I did not disturb them until they were very brown. What are your suggestions? Does using egg substitute matter? Does that stick more? — Kate from Lodi

Dear Kate: Zucchini pancakes sound very interesting. I looked around a bit because I wasn’t familiar with them, but there are quite a few recipes. It reminds me of latkes, only with zucchini.

With all the reviews that I read, no one seemed to have a problem with them sticking. You want the oil to cover the bottom evenly. A non-stick pan will not give the cakes the crispness that they need. Also, you mentioned that your oil was “plenty hot.” You want it hot, but not smoking hot, which may have been the problem.

Also, you need to have taken most of the moisture out of the zucchini before using it. I haven’t made the pancakes, but grating the zucchini and draining it is the same as you do for making zucchini bread, which I make every year. You can wrap the zucchini in a clean towel and squeeze out the moisture. I like to use a potato ricer. I find it is less messy and gets more of the liquid out. A seasoned cast iron skillet would be perfect for frying the pancakes. If you are overwhelmed with too many zucchini, you can grate the zucchini and pre-measure it into freezer bags to use at a later date. It makes it very convenient if it is all ready to go when you are ready to make the pancakes.

To answer your question about egg substitute, you should be able to use the substitute the same as using whole eggs. The label tells you what the conversion is. I use it frequently and have never had a problem with it.

Dear Barbara: I have seen some beautiful magazine pictures of grilled watermelon. I have no idea of the right way to do that without it just falling apart into the charcoal. Can you give me the trick of successfully grilling watermelon? — Jennel from Lodi

Dear Jennel: Grilled watermelon cut into triangles is a very pretty presentation and easy to do. You want a clean grate and a hot grill. Rub the grate with a little olive oil or vegetable oil.

You aren’t really cooking the watermelon; you just want the marks of the grate on them. It also adds a bit of smokiness to the melon that is very nice.

Once your fire is hot enough, lay the watermelon cut side down on the grate and watch it very carefully because it only takes a minute or two. You can do just one side or both, but if you are going to do both sides, let the melon cool before doing the opposite side.

Drizzle the melon with just a tiny bit of olive oil before you put them on the grill and it will help to make the marks a little quicker and prevent the melon from sticking.

Barbara Spitzer is a Lodi home cook who also develops recipes for specific consumer products. Do you have a cooking question? Send it to Barbara Spitzer at bdspitzer@comcast.net. Please include your first name and city.

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