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Posts tagged ‘squash blossoms’

Stuffed Squash Blossoms with Shaved Baby Zucchini & Toasted Pepitas


When someone utters the words “…this is the best thing we’ve made…ever!”  ’nuff said.

Squash blossoms are available for only a short period of time in the summer and are the epitome of ‘seasonal’.  They are typically picked in the morning and brought to the farmer’s market that day and are best used within a couple of hours.  This dish is perfectly simple and refreshingly light without being short on flavor.

I spotted the original recipe on epicurious as we were walking through the farmer’s market trying to solidify our dinner plans.  Our modified recipe is shown below.

Besides squash blossoms, in looking for shallots, we stumbled upon green shallots, which I don’t believe I’ve used before.  I am positive the dish would have been delightful with regular, good ‘ole shallots…but I believe the green shallots made it just a touch more special!

Let’s talk tomatoes!  Tomatoes in the summer are serious business.  It is not summer without tomatoes that need nothing other than to be plucked from the vine and tossed in one’s mouth and with a tiny squeeze of the jaw burst forth with flavor and juice.  These miniature (sometimes referred to as Sweet 100’s) citrusy orange delights would have been so offended had we tried to cook them…they would have sprouted legs and walked right out of the kitchen (original recipe called for roasting the tomatoes).

I am often made fun of for appreciating things that come in small proportions (read: I love anything that is small or comes in a miniature size).  Prime examples of such behavior: I refuse to use anything other than the mini-taster spoons when eating ice cream from a shop; we shouldn’t even talk about the number of small bowls that crowd my cupboards; and I am addicted to small notepads and mini-books and have recently discovered some half-size mechanical pencils; so my love for baby vegetables should not surprise anyone!

How can you resist these little guys!?!

Make sure to roast the pepitas, the nuttiness and the crunch are very important for the final dish!

For squash blossoms

2 teaspoons olive oil
1-2 oz mild fresh goat cheese (6 tablespoons) at room temperature
1 tablespoon heavy cream
2 tablespoons chopped green (hulled) pumpkin seeds (pepitas), toasted until they puff
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
6 male squash blossoms with stems (not with baby zucchini), stems trimmed to 1 inch

Filling:

Stir together goat cheese, cream, pumpkin seeds, basil, salt, and pepper in a bowl and set aside.

Pipe filling into each blossom and twist ends of petals gently to close.  We used a ziplock bag and cut off the tip to pipe the filling into the squash blossoms.  Chill them covered, until ready to fry.

*We realized that we should have made the mixture immediately upon returning from the farmer’s market and filled the blossoms as soon as possible as the flowers were open when we bought them and closed up tighter and tighter as the day went on making it more difficult to fill them later on without ripping the delicate petals.

For vinaigrette and shaved squash

1 tablespoon rice vinegar (not seasoned)
1 tablespoon minced green shallots
2 tablespoons mild extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3-4 baby zucchini, rinsed and stems discarded

Purée vinegar, shallot, oil, pepper, and salt in a blender until smooth and emulsified.

Slice squash paper-thin (lengthwise) using a mandoline, then overlap squash slices decoratively on 2 plates.  Do this shortly before frying the blossoms and plating the dish, otherwise the slices will dry out.

For tempura batter and frying

6 cups vegetable oil (preferably canola or grapeseed)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup chilled sparkling water

Make tempura batter and fry blossoms:
Heat 2 inches of oil in a 3-quart saucepan to 350°F on thermometer.

Set a bowl in a larger bowl of ice and cold water, then whisk together flour and salt in smaller bowl. Then whisk in sparkling water until combined well.

Working in batches of 2 or 3, coat blossoms in batter, lifting each out by its stem and letting excess drip off, then fry, turning, until batter is crisp (it will not brown), 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Transfer blossoms as fried with a slotted spoon to paper towels, drain, then season with salt.

For topping

2 tablespoons green (hulled) pumpkin seeds, toasted until they puff
Handful of small basil leaves (preferably Thai) or sliced larger leaves
1 cup small cherry tomatoes (sweeter the better), halved lengthwise or served whole 

Assemble plates:

Drizzle vinaigrette over squash slices, then arrange 3 fried blossoms in middle of each plate. Sprinkle remaining oven-dried tomatoes, pumpkin seeds, and basil around blossoms and season with salt and pepper.

Serve immediately and enjoy with a glass of white wine – we went with a 2008 Russian River Chardonnay.

The crisp raw zucchini where perfect paired with the crunch of the tempura and the richness of the goat cheese…add in the juicy tomatoes and the acid from the vinaigrette…and it was perfection!  Seriously…perfection!

We are dying to make this again…but just might have to wait until squash blossoms are back in season next summer!

What are your favorite completely seasonal dishes for summer?

 

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3 Words: Duck. Confit. Pizza.


Let’s be honest…words are really not necessary here.  So I’ll keep it short.  I love pizza.  I feel childish, immature, and a bit like a sheltered and naive teen saying this…as if I was not aware of the culinary adventures that exist out in the big wide world.  But I love pizza.  I’m not even that discriminating.  But the pizza that follows takes it to a ‘whole, ‘nother, level.’  (I’ll be impressed if you caught the MadTV reference!)

Dough recipe is courtesy of my brother…it’s super simple, does not take very long to prepare…and always results in extra thin and crispy pizzas.

Duck confit just waiting to be unearthed from its tomb of fat.  It’s a little buried treasure.

It took some restraint to not eat all the tasty morsels right as I shredded them.

We found some squash blossoms at the farmer’s market the day before, and decided they also belonged on pizza.

Mise en place.  Wild mushrooms – check.  Purple potato – check.  Petite zucchini + blossom – check.  Fresh tomato – check.

If I’ve learned one thing in pizza making…you should always start with a basic pizza.  You can make sure the pizza stone is hot enough, the dough is rolled thin enough…and it makes everybody drool for more.

Yep – there she is.  Duck. Confit. Pizza.

Complete with thinly sliced potato, red onion, wild mushrooms, fresh mozzarella, and topped with lightly dressed spinach.  It was all that we hoped it would be.  The high heat of the oven crisped every confit piece perfectly…reminiscent of bacon!

On to the next one.  Squash + blossom pizza.

Another Duck. Confit. Pizza.

And again…

The crispy crust, and rich duck contrasted nicely with the bite of onion and mellow flavor of the zucchini.

Yep, you guessed right…another duck confit pizza.

This was the last one.  Didn’t think Woody and I would eat 6 pizzas…but when there is duck confit involved…what are you going to do?  Seriously.

Good to the last bite.

*UPDATE*

In the words of my brother…the recipe is as follows:

Thin & Crispy Pizza Dough
2.25 c flour
.5 c water
1 t salt
2 packages yeast
1 egg
.5 t sugar

dissolve sugar in water & add yeast
mix flour, salt & egg in cuisinart, then add water through pouring hole
mix until sticky
put in oiled bowl and let rise at least 2 hours
makes 10-16 pizzas – depending on the size you need.
cook on pizza stone in 450 degree oven

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