Summer Treat: Stuffed and Fried Zucchini Flowers
I grew up in a small town in Upstate New York, with a significant Italian and Italian-American population. It wasn't until I was older that I realized many people don't consider a huge, steaming plate of linguine and white clam sauce a light snack on a hot summer day.
Photos: Christina Uticone & Joshua Payne
What I am trying to say is: the Italian kids ate a little differently, especially when we were in our grandmothers' kitchens. One of my favorite summer treats was -- and is -- fried zucchini blossoms; I particularly like them stuffed with herbed cheese. The blossoms have been readily available at the Saturday morning Urban Harvest Farmers' Market lately, and against my better judgment I'm going to share this recipe with you, even though I know it means I'm risking a blossom sell-out by the time I get to the market. These little appetizers are time-consuming, but well worth the effort.
You will need: Zucchini flowers (male--they have a stem but are not attached to a squash); AP flour; one egg; ice-cold water; salt; pepper; cream cheese or ricotta cheese; pecorino Romano; two-three cloves garlic, chopped; fresh, chopped herbs; frying oil.
Step 1: Prep the batter
Make a simple batter using all-purpose flour, ice water, one egg, and salt. I don't use exact measurements, I simply combine the egg, water, and flour until I get the mixture to the approximate consistency of whipping cream--about ½ cup flour to ¾ cup ice-cold water. I add a couple of pinches of salt, mix, and set aside to let the batter rest. Some people chill the batter but I leave it at room temperature because I like the batter to be as thin as possible.
Step 2: Prep the blossoms
Gently open each blossom and carefully remove the stamen. I find that a pair of manicure scissors works well in this situation. Try not to rip open the flower petals, as they will keep the cheese inside the flower during frying.