I flip when a fellow sends me flowers –
what can I say, I enjoy being a girl!
And I especially enjoy when those flowers are edible blossoms. Farmer Rick Steffen, of Rick Steffen Farm, found himself with a post-market unsold bouquet of bright yellow squash blossoms. “Here, I’m sure you can do something with these,” he stated, pushing the bunch of delicate flowers my way. “What a delectable gift!” I said, “Thanks!!” and scurried away to procure some cheese, knowing just what I’d do with my bequested bunch of blossoms.
Zucchini Blossoms Stuffed with Cheese & Anchovy,
Battered and Fried
Pastella is a fantastic batter for fritters or tempura-like vegetables. It is a thin paste that when fried, bubbles up around whatever it is clinging to, enveloping it in a thin, crisp veil. I’ve coated mushrooms, asparagus, green beans, onion rings, broccoli, zucchini slices & flowers. Lots of other vegetables work as well.
1 cup water
2/3 cup flour
salt to taste
1 dozen zucchini blossoms (Male zucchini blossoms, those that do not bear fruit, are most suitable, as they hold their shape and texture when fried – the female blossoms may become mushy and are much less flavorful. If you choose to fry the female blossoms with small zucchini attached, I suggest you do not stuff them.)
12 cubes of cheese – mozzarella, buffalo mozzarella, or other soft melting cheeses work well. I used a local cheese from Dee Creek Farm, called Capraphilly, a goat’s milk take on traditional Welsh caerphilly cheese.
vegetable oil for frying
Place the water in a bowl. Gradually sift in the flour, whisking to incorporate it into the water. Do not overmix. The batter should have the consistancy of melted ice cream. Season the batter with salt.
Carefully and gently pry off the pointy green spokes around the outside of the blossom. Then extra carefully and extra gently, pry open the blossom and remove the fuzzy yellow stamen from inside the flower. In its place, return a cube of cheese and an anchovy bit. Close the flower and delicately pinch or twist the top to keep the filling in.
Add the vegetable oil to a high-sided frying pan (called a sautoir) or to a deep fryer (the volume of oil should measure no more than a third of the way up the side of the pan). Heat the oil.
Dip the flower into the batter, then lift it to let excess batter run off. When the oil is hot (375 degrees Fahrenheit, or when a bit of batter dropped into the oil hits the bottom of the pan then immediately bounces back up to the surface), slip the battered stuffed blossoms into the hot oil. Add only as many as will fit loosely in the skillet. Fry them until golden brown, turning over as they crisp and color.
Zucchini Blossom Quesadilla
Zucchini and blossoms are used often in Mexican dishes, from soup to quesadillas. This quesadilla is not heavy, like the American version of quesadilla – less cheese is used, and the result is a crisp corn tortilla snack with fresh floral notes and a bit of spice.
cheese – jack or mozzarella cheese work well. I used a Farmstead Gouda that I found at the Farmers Market at the Willamette Valley Cheese Company booth. It is rich and full flavored, but not overpowering to the delicate blossom flavor, and it melts like a dream!
slices of chile (I used jalapeño)
Lay a tortilla on a hot comal or cast iron griddle (forgive my sauté pan substitute – these photographs date from the pre-comal era at my house and my cast iron pan was being used for pork chops. But rest assured – the situation has been amended, as I have been working hard to season my new comal with much use!).
Place slices of cheese on the tortilla, then chiles and blossoms. Top with a little more cheese (a little cheese goes a long way with this quesadilla – remember, you want the flower flavor to come through). Top with another tortilla and toast both sides over a medium to medium-high flame, allowing the cheese to ooze out and toast around the tortilla.
And here is a great article by Italian food authority Faith Willinger wherein she enthusiastically praises the merits of zucchini, both male and female.