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Thursday 26 August 2021

TREVOR HUDSON'S LEGACY - A Meal for Michael Learned


Zelda has been happy to do some more test cooking for the Murder, She Cooked project, by Jenny at Silver Screen Suppers, this time with a recipe courtesy of Michael Learned.

(Miss) Michael Learned will always be remembered for her role as Olivia (Ma) in The Waltons, but she had a cameo role in Season 5 of Murder, She Wrote

I guess she was kept very busy with her acting. At some point, she came up with this idea for cooking zucchini (courgettes), but, unfortunately, she forgot to check for clarity, so it's hard to know what she intended it to look like.

I've had a few attempts and ended up with three very different dishes. 

Version 1
For my first dish, I used a white onion and a tin of chopped tomatoes.

1 brown onion, chopped

2 medium courgettes, sliced
1 tin chopped tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1tbsp olive oil
25g butter
salt and black pepper

Heat the oil and butter in a pan.
Add the onions and cook over a low heat for about 5 minutes.
Add the courgette and garlic and cook for a few more minutes until everything has just started to soften.
Pour in the chopped tomatoes and season. 
Stir well, then cover and simmer gently for about 20 minutes to thicken.
Makes a fairly good side dish.
The finished dish looked OK and a good scoop of it could be a side to accompany another meal. It was, though, a bit bland, a little bitter and more 'sloppy' than I would like. 
Dave said that he would eat it 'to be polite' if he was served it at a friend's house but, if I didn't mind, he would prefer some extra potatoes instead. 

Version 2
The second time, I used red onion and added a little sugar to be sure that it wasn't bitter. We also had some new tomatoes ready in the greenhouse, so I used some of them instead of the tinned ones. I halved the size of the courgette pieces. Some basil seemed a good addition, too, to 'up' the Mediterranean vibe.

1 red onion, chopped
2 medium courgettes, sliced and cut in half
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1tbsp olive oil
25g butter
salt and black pepper
pinch of sugar
1tbsp chopped basil leaves

Heat the oil and butter in a shallow pan. 
Cook the onions very gently until just starting to change colour.
Add the garlic, sugar, tomatoes and courgettes.
Cook for a few minutes until it all starts to soften. 
Season and add the chopped basil and stir all together, over a moderate heat, until the tomatoes begin to break down and the juice comes out.
Cover and simmer for a further 20 minutes.
Place in a bowl and, if desired, serve with some extra basil leaves. 
The verdict this time: much better! This is the one I would be happy to serve. Again, it would need a sympathetic main meal to accompany, but it really was quite yummy. 

Version 3
I thought, as Michael had given us the option of making this a main meal, it would only be fair to try that, too. As a vegetarian, I used cooked veggie burgers but it would be just as easy to use the hamburgers suggested.
Michael was as vague about the cheese as she was with most of the other ingredients, so I used grated cheddar. 

This will serve 2, but I would add something else such as side salad or some peas. The ingredients are exactly as Version 2, with the exception of the additional basil leaves. You will also need 2 burgers and a large handful of grated cheese.

Follow instructions for Version 2. Meanwhile, cook the burgers and cut them into chunks. 
Add them to the pan with the courgettes and stir all together.
Transfer to a heat-proof bowl and cover liberally with the grated cheese.
Place under a grill for about 5 minutes until the cheese bubbles. 

So there we have it - Michael Learned's Zucchini three ways. 
Version 3 was fine; it would be good for one of those meals where you have things to use up or when you are pushed for time, but it's not a show-stopper (not even on Walton's Mountain). 
Version 2 is definitely the one to go for if you fancy making this. 

Other test recipes for Murder, She Cooked include:

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