Every winter and spring I wait, and plan, and look forward to summer…”This summer I will…” and the list goes on and on, entertain more, run more, take day trips, swim the dog more, cook this and that, plant something, clean something, paint something, do nothing… And as the cooler night of fall set in, I sit here in my missed, cozy sweater and take stock… as usual; the summer flew by and was not as productive as I hoped. As if an old woman regretting all the “could have done” of her life, I am saddened for the missed opportunities each and every summer… There was always something I wanted to do but just didn’t get around to it
When I saw gorgeous fresh squash blossoms at the farm, I had just a glimpse of hope that it may not be too late to accomplish at least one cooking project I intended for the warm months. When zucchini blossoms start appearing at farmer’s markets around May, I always intent to make them, but never get the actual opportunity as these delicate flowers cannot be bought on a Tuesday or Wednesday and live to see me free to cook on the weekend. Flowers wilt, and quickly, just like summers…
Stuffing and frying flowers is not a big whoop, you just need a bit of patience and delicate hands. And I don’t like them heavily battered either. I lightly tempura them so that the fright batter is thin, crackly and translucent, almost like glass, preserving the flower’s color and shape. It is what I would like to do to summer, preserve it in a little, crisp, see through shell, to hold up to the light, to admire it’s beauty , to taste its ever so short life…
One last pretty bite and it is time to cozy up with a mug of something warm, breathe in the crisp autumn air and think of something to look forward to….Ah, yes, Thanksgiving!
Stuffed Squash Blossoms
Freshly cut blossoms of squash or zucchini (squash blossoms are actually easier to work with as they are larger. Buy them just cut, preferably the same day you plan to use them, but you can store them in a cool, dry place for one day, but unfortunately no longer)
2 tbs ricotta cheese drained
½ tbs grated parmesan cheese
½ tbs chopped fresh herbs (parsley, basil and mint work well alone or combined)
Salt and pepper
For the Tempura batter
1 cup all-purpose flour
A pinch of salt
1/3 to 2/3 cups of ice cold seltzer
Vegetable oil for frying
Whisk together the ricotta, parmesan cheese and herbs. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Gently open each flower and remove the pestle ( you can use your fingers for this or just snip it with scissors). Stuff each flower with the cheese mixture using either a piping bag or a very small spoon ( I knew the baby spoons would come in handy one day!). Gently close and slightly twist the petals around the stuffing.
In a deep skillet heat 1 ½ - 2 inches of vegetable oil to 300F – 325F. Prepare the tempura by whisking the four and salt and then seltzer. Do not over mix, stop as soon as no large clumps of flour are visible. The batter will be very runny. Dip each flower into the batter and gently shake off the excess. Fry 1 to 2 minutes turning carefully in the oil, until crisp and slightly browned. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately. You can finish them with a bit more salt as soon as they come out of the hot oil.