Food Friday: (Squash) Blossoming into the Weekend
Now is the time of year when all the work we have put in on our gardens starts to bear some fruit! The first two things that I got to pick, cook and eat from my garden are some squash blossoms and a couple tomatoes.
The squash blossoms are from a Pattypan squash plant, which will likely produce some actual squash in a couple of weeks. However, in the meantime, I picked a few of the blossoms off the plant to serve up for you guys this week. I'm pretty sure that squash blossoms would fall into the delicacy category. Although you may find these on occasion at the farmers market, you will almost never see them at a grocery store. I was happy my plant gave me some good blossoms to play with, so let's get to it.
Although there are various ways to prepare these, the most traditional (and the best way, as far as I'm concerned) is to stuff them, lightly batter them and then pan fry them up. Cheese is a great candidate for stuffing here, although I've stuffed them with ratatouille, ground beef or sausage in the past as well.
Today, I mixed up some burrata cheese, goat cheese, basil oil and salt and pepper for my stuffing. When you do a cheese stuffing, it's important that the mixture isn't too "loose", or it will drip out when frying. That's why I like to use goat cheese as my base, as it's pretty dense.
Once you put together a stuffing, actually getting it in the flowers is not for the impatient or shaky-handed, as they’re pretty small and delicate. I usually just lightly rip one incision down to the base, and stuff a little of my cheese mixture in the flower using a tiny spoon. If your mixture is sticky enough, as mine was, it's pretty easy to rewrap the flower around your stuffing. It's a good idea to do a little twist tie action with the top of the flower after your stuffing is in and you have reassembled it.
Now, the next tricky part is choosing the right recipe for a batter. You want to use a light batter that’s thick enough to stick to the flower, but as it's a pretty delicate flavor we’re working with, you don't want a heavy beer batter or something like that to drown out the shape and flavor of the blossoms.
Here's how I put together the batter for these guys: I took about a half a cup of flour, and about a half a teaspoon of baking powder, and slowly added some club soda while stirring until I had the consistency of pancake batter. Then, I shaved in some fresh parmesan cheese.
Once I set up my fry station (a small pan filled halfway with oil) I brought my flowers over, along with the batter. Delicately coat the stuffed flowers with the batter and fry away. Ideally you're looking for an oil temp of around 325 F. I just go with my gut as opposed to using a thermometer, but you can see from the videos what the bubble action should look like. I fried these guys for about 2 minutes or so, flipping them once at the midway point. A little salt and pepper after they get out of the oil is a good idea, too.
As for serving, these go great with some raw, mixed summer greens, or maybe some pan fried green tomatoes, I pulled a couple tomatoes from the garden and gave them a quick marinade in some extra-virgin olive oil, vinegar and sea salt.
All in all, although a little tricky to work with, these are a fun ingredient to play with in the kitchen, I highly recommend that you seek some out and give the method above a whirl.
Cheers and Happy Food Friday! ~Kevin