Marriage has sure kept me busy. I've had so little time after work to post recipes and honestly, I was in a bit of a rut.
However today my luck has changed! I made the most awesome fried, stuffed zucchini flowers!
They are edible zucchini blossoms. See the Wikipedia entry:
They are most commonly prepared dipped in batter, deep fried and with a sprinkle of salt. That's how my Grandmother, Nonna Rosina made them.
They have a delicate flavour that goes well with just about anything. I've even heard of them served as a dessert, sprinkled with sugar instead of salt.
Blossoms are prepared in the summer, for the brief and precious time when they are in bloom. Lucky for me, growing up in St-Leonard, my grandmother lived just downstairs from us! So, it was a real treat whenever I stumbled upon them while raiding her fridge. Jaaackpot.
She simply fried them after having dipped them into a thick batter which puffed up during the frying process. What causes the dough to puff up? Well, her batter had "Magic" in it.
Nooo, not like Harry Potter magic.. Its a common brand of baking powder.
She always called it "u magic" (pronounced "ou magic-e")
They were great hot or cold, straight from the fridge.
You can sometimes find blossoms at a market such as the Marche Jean-Talon. There are lots of Italians there :) so they may be easier to come by. I have "special ordered" them from Marche de L'Ouest but they were pricey. There's no demand in the West Island so you gotta pay to get 'em!
This year I finally planted zucchini in my garden and although I love zucchini, my real motive was to obtain the flowers…these soon to be, lovely fried blossoms from heaven.
The benefit of growing your own:
-The flowers and the leaves are beautiful.
-They are very easy to grow and take care of.
-One plant produces quite a few flowers.
I bought the seeds at Reno-Depot believe it or not!
I recommend that you plant several, if you want to make batches of 12 flowers at a time.
Not all of the flowers from one plant bloom at the same time so you'll have more blooming week after week!
They are great plain - no doubt, but I wanted to try something a little different this time. I have a few Italian Food Network chefs which I look to for inspiration in times like these.
In this case, it was David Rocco who was going to guide me.
Check out his website http://www.davidrocco.com/ ..BUT NOT RIGHT NOW - read my post first! David Rocco is living my dream! He's from Canada and now lives in Florence, cooking away, seemingly loving his Florentine lifestyle… ah well....
Anyway, I used my recipe for the batter & David's for the stuffing.
He stuffs his flowers with a piece of mozzarella cheese and an anchovy filet.
DON'T run for the hills people!! I know that when you read "anchovy" you nearly shut down your computer right there….You don't have to use the anchovy but let me explain why I loved this idea before you say no. I like a little anchovy here and there but I can't say I love it.
However, I know that when you pair the salty anchovy with the mild tasting mozzarella, they compliment each other so well. Then put those in a little fried package and WOW! How can you go wrong? My husband was opposed to this idea but as expected , he loved them! Yeah, he did! When asked about the Anchovy he said reluctantly, "ok, well I like them like THIS"
I'm breaking him down-slowly.
Ok enough anchovy persuasion….You can opt to stuff them with Feta cheese like local chef Franca Mazza does. Feta is salty enough on its own. (use only the good quality greek Feta please), You can also just use plain mozzarella.
Simply blend the following ingredients until smooth :
2 large eggs
1 cup of flour
1 cup of water
1 tsp of salt
1 tsp of baking powder "nu' poco di Magic"
12 zucchini flowers
1 large mozzarella ball, cut into narrow strips
12 anchovy filets
**Note: I use half a filet per flower for a more subtle taste. I cut them in half , lengthwise.
Salt to season
Use either Peanut, Vegetable or extra virgin olive oil for frying
|Instructions: (After reading, make sure to check out my pics & tips below)|
Tips & Pictures:
Freshly picked in the morning, when the blossoms open. I had to fight off many , many bees to bring you this recipe...
Stamen removed, gently. Make sure not to hurt the flower :) Its hard to see but there's no stamen in there.
Remove the sharp little things at the base of the flower. Its easy just break them off with your fingers. Sorry, don't know what they're called.
I placed one strip of mozzarella, and my half anchovy filet. (You can also use fresh mozzarella but make sure you remove excess liquid with a paper towel.)
I found it helpful to coat my stuffed flower using a spoon. In this pic, I'm turning the flower in the batter by it's stem, using the spoon as a support so the filling doesn't fall out into the batter. Then, using that same spoon, I lowered the flower into the hot oil.
The oil must be hot, so be careful. I have a gas stove top and I heated my oil on med-high but then lowered it to med when I thought the oil was getting too volatile. Usually the oil starts to , as I say, get too excited after about the 4th - 5th flower so I lowered the heat slightly.
On the other hand, when frying, if your oil is not hot enough, your food will absorb too much of the oil making it heavy and obviously, too oily. Gross!
I like using a medium sized pot rather than a frying pan. There is less splatter. The high sides of the pot protect you somewhat. Also, I didn't have to use as much oil this way.
If using a pot like mine, do not fry more than 3 flowers at a time as to not overcrowd and lower the temperature of the oil.
Using a slotted spoon, I removed them from the oil when they were golden in colour and put them onto a paper towel to drain.
Yeah, I know…looks amazing, eh? It was! I assure you. Just look at that gooey cheese and the beautiful golden exterior. It was warm, crispy and super tasty!
I hope you get to try these soon!