"Food is essential to Life; therefore make it good."- S Truett Cathy

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fried Flowers!

This week at the farmers market a lovely box of squash blossoms caught my eye. I was feeling adventurous and so I decided to pick them up and have a go. As I was leaving the market I got soaked by a pretty strong downpour, so as I sat in the car waiting for it to pass I used the epicurious app on my iphone to find a recipe for what to do with them. Seems like the popular way to cook them is stuffed with cheese and fried.  Many of the notes said make sure you eat them the same day you buy them because they go bad very quickly. I had all intention of making them last night but by the time I got home the enthusiasm had passed.I went to the kitchn blog for some inspiration and decided to make them tonight as part of an all veggie night. Made some eggplant parmesan and a skillet of sauteed summer squash and tomatoes to go with them.

First challenge, removing the stamens. Not easy without damaging the petals. After ripping the first few I went and found some nail scissors and used them to reach down in the blossom and clip them off. I imagine it's a little easier to get to them when they are first picked, it would be super cool if the farmer would just de-stamen at harvest. I'd pay extra for that as this was not fun.  I stuffed them with a mixture of ricotta and asiago cheese seasoned with fresh basil, lemon zest and a few other things.

Aren't they pretty? This is stuffed waiting to be battered and fried. The batter called for 1 cup flour and 1 cup seltzer water. I had bought some seltzer water but somehow it disappeared between the store and home. I'm sure I'll find it in the back of some cupboard in a few days. I used ginger ale because that's all I had that was carbonated. I figured it'd do. I didn't notice any off taste so I guess it was ok.

Fried Flowers
1 bunch male squash blossoms (10-12)
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated asiago or parm
zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1-2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried oregano
handful fresh basil chopped fine
salt/pepper to taste

for the batter
1 cup flour
tsp salt
1 cup carbonated water, beer or ginger ale!

oil for frying

Remove the stamens and outer pointed parts of stem on squash blossoms. Rinse gently to remove any debris. Allow to dry on paper towels.

Mix up cheese mixture and put it into a plastic bag, cut off a corner for easier filling.
Fill up the centers and twist the tops of the flowers.

Heat oil for frying - about 1 inch thick in a deep skillet or in your fryer if you have one.

Mix up batter, dip and fry until lightly colored on both sides (it goes quick)  in batches until all are done. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with a little kosher salt and serve with lemon wedges. They were pretty good but not sure worth all that effort. I could have just as easily put that same cheese mixture into some peppers and broiled them and would have been just as good. While I was googling for these I saw some squash blossom enchiladas and quesadillas that sounded good. Maybe I'll try them again someday.

Here's how the plate looked. The eggplant was actually not bad. I followed a cooksillustrated.com recipe. Sauteed zucchini and yellow squash with tomatos is a no brainer.  Decent veggie dinner.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Spicy Garlicky Greens

It's been a long hot summer and the last few weeks have been a bit crazy with school starting again and a huge project at work taking up much of my time. I've been cooking here and there but nothing really remarkable. I had missed a couple of weeks of my CSA and finally renewed this week. Today I went to pick up my box even though we are leaving tomorrow for a weekend vacation.

Oh my! Bok Choy is back!! And arugula. Details of what's in the box here. I have come to really love bok choy and we haven't had fresh greens in awhile due to it being 100+ most of the last month. My daughter has become the resident family spaghetti cook and wanted to make that for dinner, it's become our Wed ritual. Usually I have the stuff on hand and she starts dinner after school and it's ready when I get home from the market. Tonight she was at the market with me. We decided to just get the ingredients there rather than stop at the grocery on the way home.

In our box we had onions and some tomatos and fresh basil so that was covered. We needed pasta and sauce and meat. Picked up some grass fed ground beef from Richardson Farms stand and then headed over to Mandola's Italian Market for pasta, sauce and fresh mozzarella. Brooke decided she wanted caprese salad but mini instead of in layers like I usually do it. We considered putting them on skewers but discovered we were fresh out of sticks when we got home. A bowl works just as well.

So I looked at all this bounty from the market and stressed a little about how to use up the stuff that would go bad before we got back on Tuesday. Then I thought, lets just use as much as we can tonight and decided to serve the greens as a side to the spaghetti and caprese. Good idea!! Google brought me a basic recipe by Jamie Oliver and I made a few tweaks to fit what I had on hand and our tastes. A little crushed red pepper is a must as we like our greens with a little kick. I had no fresh oregano so I subbed in some dried. I also added in the arugula from our box and a few garlic scapes or scallions, I'm not really sure which they were. I just chopped and dropped. Turned out delish and eating greens always makes me feel a little healthier :)

Spicy Garlicky Greens
- adapted from Jamie Oliver

A large glug of olive oil, 4-5 tbsp
1 tbsp butter
3-4 cloves garlic chopped fine
Crushed red pepper flakes to taste (a couple of shakes for me)
2-3 chopped scallions or garlic scapes (optional)
1 sm red onion chopped fine
1 large bok choy
2 big handfulls arugula
large handful fresh basil
dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Melt the butter into the olive oil and add the garlic, scapes/scallions and onion. After 2-3 minutes when the onions are getting softened add in the crushed red pepper. Add in half the basil chopped. While these are working chop the bok choy, dice the stems and cut the leaves into ribbons. Stem and chop the arugula. Add the bok choy stems and allow them to cook down a bit. Add the leaves and arugula and stir well to coat in the oil/juices. Continue to saute about 5-7 minutes until the greens are as soft as you like them. Add the rest of the basil, some oregano and salt and pepper to taste.

It would have been even better with a little parmesan or romano cheese grated in but I actually forgot that at the market (cardinal sin, I know!!) Dinner was served.

Eat some greens! It'll make you feel better.