I’ve been kind of melancholy – its partially the weather, it’s been overcast every day until at least noon here on the coast, its also because summer is drawing to a close, but I’m certain that most of it has to do with the beginning of school. Moms and dads everywhere are scurrying to complete their back-to-school to-do lists, as am I, but this year it means packing up and moving the Young Baker into a dorm room hundreds of miles away. Even though at home she’s holed up in her room most of the time, she comes out for an occasional hug, she eats dinner with us most evenings, and we see her coming and going with her friends and enjoy hearing bursts of riotous laughter escaping from the upstairs corner room.
But STOP, you’re not here for this! And I hate when I get so sentimental – even if it is the biggest change in my life since the day that tiny baby came screaming into my life – oh wait, that was me screaming 😉 Anyway, I’m going to miss her and this is my good bye to summer and all that this glorious season brings to the table.
Last Friday, I went to the farmers market with one of the fantastic people that I’ve met in the blogosphere. The Ardent Epicure and I share a fanaticism for food and cooking and had fun being the first to select from a flat of late summer zucchini blossoms, marveling over a gorgeous array of heirloom tomatoes, and chatting over lunch on the patio while musing about all the different ways we’ve seen zucchini blossoms on the countless cooking blogs we both visit.
Unbelievably, I have never cooked the blossoms – I always order them when I see them on a menu, but never undertook the task myself – even though there are many summers when I should have picked dozens of blossoms to save myself from trying to dream up yet another way to cook zucchini 😉 Preferring simple preparations, I chose to fry the blossoms in a light batter. Usually, I don’t fry anything, but for years, I’ve had a humorous article from Gourmet magazine clipped inside my summer collection of recipes and I decided to finally use it.
The article, by Kemp Minifie (Gourmet, 2000) said to select male flowers (because they don’t produce a squash) and most chefs insist on removing the stamen but they don’t bother. The blossoms that I bought were obviously female because a tiny zucchini was attached, which I thought would add interest to the dish but, according to the article, Italian and Mexican purists won’t stand for it. So much for purity. The main thing is to clean the blossoms by gently submerging them in cool water and swishing them around AND check for bugs inside the blossom or you might get a little surprise!
- ⅔ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup beer or club soda
- canola or vegetable oil for frying
- Heat 1 inch of canola or vegetable oil in a deep skillet to 375°.
- Clean the blossoms by gently submerging them in cool water and swishing them around AND check for bugs inside the blossom or you might get a little surprise! Place on paper towels to absorb the moisture.
- Dip the blossoms in the batter and fry, turning until golden, 1-2 minutes. Drain on paper towels and season with salt (if desired).
There were two reasons why I liked this recipe: 1. it was simple and 2. it was a good excuse to crack a beer – Sierra Nevada Pale Ale in this case. This was more than enough for six blossoms, which, served on top of a fresh red pepper and tomato puree along with herbed goat cheese rounds, made for a delightfully light summer supper accompanied by a Silverado Sauvignon Blanc.