Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Eat Seasonal Foods - Zucchini Flowers

Some kinda random, somewhat unrelated thoughts. Sorry for the poor quality of the pictures I posted yesterday; between the two computers I use (sometimes three), I have about seven photo software programs. I use none of them very well. I realized recently, that I could change the size of the photos, and I figured I needed to do that because of the mondo pics I mostly litter this site with. In the software I used yesterday, I used the default size for web/blog, but it seems that the default is way to small and also seems to have awfully distorted the pics. To make amends, I went to take pictures of last night's fleur de calabaza, only to find the camera without battery power--this new Nikon seems to go through battery quickly. And the whole point of the zucchini flours is to talk again, as I have, about the need to develop relationships with farmers to enhance the locavore experience. After all, how many of you were allowed to grab about 50 zucchini flowers this weekend just for the asking? Anyways, on to the recipe.

OK, back to whining about the camera. I really wish I had pics here as I am really proud of this dish. Home frying is not the easiest of tasks. There is a certain amount of anachronism to local. One must become an Italian grandmother. That's where my older daughter and I thought we were going, as we had to get in the mental zone to patiently pull the stamens from all those flowers. But of course, we also imagined that Italian grandmothers could fry up zucchini blossoms with one hand tied behind their back. These came out as good.

OK, no one I do not think could do this with one hand tied behind their back. It is really a three handed process at least, which is where daughter really helped. Still, before her help, the help that really mattered came from another woman in the house, my wife. You see, last year when I fried up zucchini flowers, I did the batter the way I do most things in the kitchen. I winged it. That's what an Italian grandmother would do, no? When I asked my wife to help by making a batter, she did what she tends to do when cooking. Not wing it. She consulted several books. Of course about the first five recipes she found all call for letting the batter rest for a while, and we were getting to hungry to wait. She finally finds our friend Bittman who's been doing us good generally this year. The batter really made the dish happen. It was entirely greaseless in its eating.

Fried zucchini flowers as adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman and cooked with three hands.

A lot of zucchini flowers - stamens and stems removed
1 cup all purpose flour plus 1 cup for dredging
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 large egg
3/4th cup of beer
Good shake of cayenne pepper

Lightly mix all the batter ingredients--Bittman notes that it's OK to have some lumps in the batter. Ideally, a batter should rest, but what the hey.

Turn your oven on to 200.

Fill a large skillet with about an inch of pure olive oil, heat to 350 or to when a sprinkle of flour gets to sizzling.

With one hand, dredge some flowers in flower, shake off the excess.

With another hand, dip in batter, because the batter is thick, not too much should drip. Carefully drop the battered flowers in the oil.

With a clean hand on tongs, turn the flowers after about 3 minutes. Take out when lightly golden.

Season with salt.

Fry in batches, keeping them warm in the oven.

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