three years ago, my husband and i took a trip to europe. yes, we also took a trip to europe this year. we are a lucky pair. (i’ve also resigned myself to the fact that we *won’t* be going anywhere overseas this year or next. unless we win the lottery).
among the things that made the trip memorable, besides the 26-hour delay, was the food. italy? paris? you *can* go wrong, but it’s awfully difficult to, especially if you stick to the basics. in fact, in italy, i’m pretty we subsisted off of pizza and gelato.
and these. we had been wandering in rome for what felt like hours. who am i kidding? it probably was hours. i dragged andrew through an antique market to look at typewriters for a friend, who was living in chile at the time.*
from the antiques market, we strolled to a nearby restaurant, the name of which has since left me. this restaurant wasn’t anything special, besides having an italian food shop attached to it; not uncommon in these parts. but, it was here that i had my first zucca di fiore.
translation: zucchini flower. a conduit for deliciousness. i couldn’t tell you what these ones were stuffed with, but they were creamy, and the breading was light and flaky. i dared share with my partner.
on friday, my husband was at a loss for dinner ideas. hell, so was i. but, i mentioned zucchini flowers on a whim, not knowing if they were available, not knowing what i would stuff them with. he was intrigued. hell, so was i.
i jaunted down to the byward market, after my amazing boss told me i could leave early to do so. (yup, love my job!). i got the last dozen. i know, you’re thinking “a dozen? for the two of you?”. but, they are small.
if i may impose a suggestion. tweezers are excellent prep tools in the kitchen. zucchini flowers have the pistil (read: sex organ) still attached. it’s bitter. it’s not very tasty. tweezers will help, without tearing the petals too much.
they are best stuffed with something creamy and savoury: either seafood or cheese act as a good base. and, no, you don’t *need* a deep fryer. but, if you are looking for a way to convince your partner that you should buy one, this might do it.**
zucca di fiore
makes a dozen
12 zucchini flowers, pistils removed
3 oz. goat cheese, separated into 1 1/2 oz. pieces
2 pepperocini (italian hot peppers)
2 sundried tomatoes
6 leaves basil
6 marinated mushrooms
hot sauce to taste
remove the pistils of the flowers. really, i mean it.
in one small bowl, mix 1 1/2 oz. goat cheese, the pepperocini, tomato and basil. add salt and pepper to taste and mash up.
in another small bowl, mix the mushrooms and hot sauce. add salt to taste and mash up.
fill six of the flowers with one mixture and six with the other.
fill a deep skillet about 3-4 inches high with vegetable oil. gag a little bit at the sight of said oil. proceed.
1 cup beer (we went with beau’s.)
1 cup flour
whisk together the beer and the flour until a sticky batter forms. you might need a bit more batter than this.
heat the oil to 350F. run a test with the batter, dropping a small spoonful in. this will tell you the following:
a) if you batter is thick enough (it forms a ball)
b) if your oil is hot enough (the batter rises fairly quickly).
proceed to batter and then fry the stuffed zucchini flowers.
*there were none to be had for less than 100 eur. luckily, we found one in germany, for 25. bargaining. it helps to know the language.
**not that we do. and yes, my hips are better for not.