Summer is a time of intense flavors. There’s nothing quite like the bursting flavor of corn kernels, cherry tomatoes, or berries, delivering a rush of sweetness to your taste buds. Here, the classic flavors of corn, tomatoes, and basil are combined in a homemade sweet corn ravioli. Squash blossoms, the beautiful blossoms of the male zucchini, are the perfect appetite teaser. They are stuffed and fried and served as an appetizer. Their sweetness pairs wonderfully with the crispy and light-as-a-feather breading enveloping the cheesy stuffing. They’re a summer classic, best nibbled on with good friends in the kitchen with a glass of wine while you prepare the rest of dinner. Dessert was also a hit—the warm and comforting flavor of summer berries with perfectly ripened Pennsylvania peaches, topped with a sabayon; so delicious yet simple it’s almost criminal. ~ Danielle
Fried Zucchini Blossoms—ultimate summer beauties and delicacy
For the Filling
• 8 zucchini blossoms
• 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
• ½ cup Melting cheese (mozzarella or provolone)
• 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan/pecorino (1/4 if not fresh)
• Handful of Chives
• Black pepper
For the Batter
• 1 egg
• 1 -1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
• 1 cup cold water (add a few ice cubes—keeping the liquid cool will prevent gluten development in the batter)
• Neutral Oil such as canola, for frying
• Coarse sea salt
• Juice from ½ lemon.
The fried blossoms are best served immediately, but can be kept in a 200F oven if necessary while finishing up the batch.
1. Prepare the blossoms. Rinse the zucchini flowers under cold water, and pat dry with a paper towel. Carefully remove the stamen. To do this, carefully pull open the blossom and pinch the stamen at the base and lifting it out of the flower. The blossoms are very delicate, so this task should be done very gently. Try not to tear the blossom, but it’s not the end of the world if this happens.
2. Make the filling. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. To fill the blossoms with the filling, it is easiest to do so with a pastry-bag like device. I used the plastic ziplock bag trick, where I snipped the tip and use the plastic bag as a pastry bag. Delicately pipe the filling into the flowers, being very careful not to rip the blossoms or overfill. Leave enough room at the end to twist the flower closed. Steps 1 and 2 can be done in advance (up to a day).
3. Prepare the oil. Pour oil in a skillet so that it is about ¾” deep. Set the heat to medium high; the oil is ready when a dropped piece of batter in the oil immediately starts to fry, but don’t let the oil start to smoke as this is much too hot. The oil should be between 325F-400F. You don’t want the oil boiling, though, so if it is make sure to lower it.
4. Prepare the batter. This step should be done at the last minute, as the flowers will get soggy under the weight batter if not fried immediately. Mix the yolk with the ice cold water. (Using ice cold water will prevent gluten development.) Add 1 cup of the flour to the yolk-water mixture, being careful to not overmix. Overmixing will develop the glutens; pockets of flour are ok.
5. Fry the blossoms. Put the remaining ½ cup of flour in a flat dish, and cover each blossom with a light layer of flour. Then, dip and cover each flower with the batter, and immediately place carefully into the hot oil.The oil will splatter, so be very careful. Be careful not to overcrowd the stuffed blossoms, and cook in batches if necessary. Turn the blossoms over when they are a light crisp brown. The blossoms are ready when they are completely crisped. When ready, remove from the oil and place on the paper towels to drain the oil. Immediately sprinkle with some coarse sea salt and juice from half of a lemon.