There are some things you just can't find in the grocery store. This weekend was proof of that! Saturday morning John and I made our usual weekly trek to the Moss Street Market. And it really is a trek! It's a good 40 minute walk each way - hauling heavy ass bags of groceries up & down busy city streets and all the while trying to look good doin it! Actually, I don't care how I look - I'm usually in pajamas and have barely managed to brush my teeth pre-market excursion.
So anyhow, Saturday we went to the market as per usual. Unbeknownst to me - a culinary treasure was awaiting our arrival. Squash blossoms... Wait, maybe you didn't hear me. I said, Squash Blossoms!!! In case you aren't excited yet, let me explain...
Squash blossoms are a rare and delicate brilliant orange colored seasonal treat. There's no way you'll find them in your run of the mill grocery store - they're much too delicate both in terms of physical construction as well as longevity to be transported any major distance. Essentially, squash blossoms are just that - the flowers of squash (specifically, zucchini). They get picked, taken to market, sold (seriously, if you see some, grab em because if you think you're comin back after you wander around for a while, they'll be g-o-n-e. and then you'll be sad.), and then straight into my little tummy (more or less).
There are many things you can do with squash blossoms - sautee in a pan with butter, assemble into a pasta, stir into a soup, etc... - i chose to stuff and fry them because who doesn't love fried cheese?? Plus, as it turns out, the blossom gets crispy, savory, and gorgeously tender all at the same time.
These little babies cost me .50 cents per blossom and having never used them before I only grabbed 6. I should have taken the whole incredible bunch! When you get them home, make sure to carefully put them in a plastic bag and place in your veggie crisper to keep them safe until you prepare them later.
I stuffed them with local Salt Spring Flower Chevre - however, any soft goats cheese will do.
Fried Squash Blossoms with Chevre & Fresh Basil
6 Fresh Squash Blossoms.
1 Container Salt Spring Chevre (soft, creamy goat cheese).
Small Handful of Fresh Basil Leaves, roughly torn.
2 C All Purpose Flour.
1 Tsp Baking Powder.
1 Egg, lightly beaten.
3/4 C Cold Sparkling Water (or light beer).
1 Tsp Sea Salt & Fresh Cracked Black Pepper.
1 Tbsp Lemon Salt.
1 - 2 Tbsp Balsamic Reduction.
Fresh Lemon, cut into wedges.
1 C Canola or Other Vegetable Oil suitable for frying.
What to Do:
Before you can work with the flowers, you have to circumcise them. Yes, you read that right. In the center of each flower is the stamen (male flower's reproductive organ). To do this, carefully open the flower petals if not already open, reach in and simply snap off the pollen filled stamen. If you can't reach it (sometimes it can be difficult), use a pairing knife to gently, slowly, and carefully remove it.
Now, in a bowl, smash up the cheese, basil, and a bit of pepper. Divide the cheese mixture into 2 Tbsp (more or less) size portions and gently place inside the blossom. It should be snug but not too full or they will leach out during the cooking process. Bring the tips of the flower petals to a point and gently twist and pinch together to "seal".
Pre-heat your oil in a wok over medium-high heat. When a bit of the batter (or a piece of bread) gets dropped in and browns in 30 seconds, you're hot enough and ready to fry! If it browns faster than that, drop the temperature a bit. If it's slower, keep heating; pre-heat your oven to 250 degrees F.
Meanwhile, Put 1 C of the flower into a medium size bowl and gently dredge each blossom with the flour. Set aside.
In another bowl, mix together the other C of flower, baking powder, sea salt and a few grinds of the black pepper. Add the egg and sparkling water (or beer). Whisk well until combined.
When the oil is hot, take each blossom, lightly coat with the batter, and carefully place in the pan. Don't over crowd! Only fry 3 or 4 at a time. Fry until golden brown and crispy (only a couple minutes), and then turn to brown the other side. Drain on paper towel and place in the oven to keep warm until all your blossoms are finished.
Plate and sprinkle with the lemon salt, drizzle with the reduction, and serve with fresh lemon wedges.