Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Summertime Eats - Stuffed Zucchini Flowers

I used to see the bright orange flowers growing on any kind of squash family plants in various gardens growing up. I never thought you could actually eat them and never realized how delicious they really were.


We have 4 plants in our little garden and the sun has been out a lot lately to help them along. A little rain here and there doesn't hurt either. It didn't rain for around 3 weeks in our neck of the woods, only in other parts of the city. One poor fellow actually died of a heart attack after being swept underneath his van and was trapped there by a rush of water which came flowing down the street during a torrential downpour. And we never saw a drop here. Amazing.

These are a great little treat which you can only get for a little while during the year. Don't be afraid of them as they aren't that hard to deal with. You just have to be careful while handling them, that's all. You can put various things inside for stuffing, such as fresh mozzarella and an anchovy fillet (from David Rocco), smoked mozzarella and salsa, ricotta, the list goes on and on. If you are using something with a little liquid in it, be careful when you bite into them as the liquid will be very hot and can burn your mouth. Letting them sit for a short time after cooking isn't a bad idea, but not for long. They are fried so don't make a habit of eating them like this. I will post other recipes for them soon.

Ingredients

12 zucchini flowers
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup soda water or white wine
1/2 cup ricotta
juice of half a lemon
sea salt and fresh ground pepper
EVOO, Grapeseed or Canola oil, for frying

Directions

1) Carefully dust off the flowers with a dry cloth or use a pastry brush. Do NOT rinse them off as they are very delicate.


Take a look inside of them to make sure they are clean in there as well and to make sure you don't have any freeloaders, like a bug. While I was picking these, a hornet flew out of one and I just about shit my pants. Pinch the stamen and remove it as it has a bitter taste.
2) Make your batter by mixing the flour and liquid together using a fork. Mix well and make sure there aren't any lumps. Add the egg and mix it in.
3) Mix the ricotta up with the lemon juice, salt and pepper. Put it in a piping bag (if you want, it's a lot easier if your using a mixture like this, if not just pull the flower apart a little to expose the inside and spoon the ricotta in) and start filling up the flowers. Don't fill them up too much. You just need a little bit. Just squeeze in enough to cover the bottom of the inside of the flower.
4) In a frying pan, pour in enough oil to give you about 1-1.5". Make sure the oil is very hot. If it isn't, the flowers won't crisp up and will absorb the oil. If you have a candy thermometer, heat the oil to about 360F, or just use a deep fryer.
5) Dip the flowers in the batter and roll them around in it so you coat the entire flower.


Let the excess drip off a little before gently lowering them into the hot oil. Make sure they are cooked on all sides and are nice and golden. When done (it should only take about 15 seconds per side), take them out of the oil and place them on a plate with a paper towel on it to soak up any excess oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and serve.
Yield: Serves 4


As I mentioned earlier, these are a treat so frying them up only happens once in a while. You could also make risotto with them, or even put them in a tortilla like my Mexican neighbor Maria. There are lot's of different ways to utilize them other than frying.

On another note, our tomato plants are coming along nicely. Hopefully we will be eating more of them soon. I look forward to using those San Marzano's real soon.


I have already used some of the grape tomatoes which are ripening up on the vines. Of course with all of the zucchini flowers there is always zucchini's. Looks like we will have a better year than last year as they are coming out in big numbers now. We really like our zucchini's here, so they will always be welcome and will find a good home.... in my belly.


Out And About Having A Beer And A Bite...

I met my buddy Colin for a beer last week at Double Zero Pizza in the downtown core just off of Stephen Avenue. He ordered some of their meatballs, which were served alone with sauce and some Parmesan sprinkled over top. This is the way meatballs should be eaten, on their own without the pasta. Awesome! I only had a couple of bites but were they ever good. I will definitely be going back there and having an order of those very soon and I'll make sure I check out the rest of the menu as well. Everyone keeps saying how good the food is, so now I have some motivation to get my butt in gear and stop in there more often. Nice place too, down below the City Centre Mall.

Little O's Menu

She did try the zucchini flowers and actually liked them. If they weren't deep fried we would have given her more, but we don't eat much deep fried foods so why should we feed it to her and her little growing body? Lately she has been on a raisin craze. Raisin's, raisin's, raisin's. It's all about the raisin's right now. Raisin's on their own, in the trail mix, coated in yogurt, she just can't get enough. I like feeding these to her as they are a good source of iron and also help keep her teeth clean. She'll eat about 30-40 a day, at least. We have even been throwing them into her oatmeal with some amount of success. Hey, whatever works to get her to eat decently healthy, I'll do it.

Quote Of The Day:

"Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon."

~ Doug Larson (1926 - present) American journalist who wrote a daily column for the Green Bay Press-Gazette


Until next time, good eating everyone.

Mark