Sunday, September 4, 2011

Crispy Spiced Fried Squash Blossoms for Weekend Herb Blogging #299

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For all the humorous whining we do each summer when faced with truckloads of zucchini and assorted other summer squash in our gardens, try, just try to get hold of the fragile, brilliantly colored blossoms that ephemerally appear right before the next cudgel. It's not that they aren't actually there, but we are so primed for the next wave of cucubits growing in real-time inches under mounds of vine, that we literally cannot see the flowers for the fruit. This is a shame, because not only would the beleaguered Sisyphus of a gardener lessen his or her literal load, but there are many delightful culinary tricks to dazzle the tastebuds with the bright, lily-like flowers.

My parents, much to my ambivalence, did not grow squash this year. I was not so much disappointed that I wouldn't be pulling a muscle or two reaching for a 4-inch marrow before it grew to a foot, but that the pilgrimages through the marketplace for the blossoms made me just as sore and stressed. I'd grabbed up a serendipitously found box of them several weeks ago, and decided, like most first timers, to prepare a fritto misto, rather than stuff and fuss and possibly ruin them.

Not fond of heavily fried batters, I opted for a very basic patch job of ideas gleaned from several sources with the goal of a lighter touch. The additions of herbes de Provence, za'atar, and ras el hanout, in separate batches were my ideas, but I'm sure they've been done before. How I wish I would have bought every last box. It took three weeks for them to appear on the produce shelves again. This time I bought the lot of them, for a chowder, but more specifically to fix them exactly as I did the first time. When a recipe just happens to luck out as perfect, it does bear repeating.

Fried Zucchini Blossoms


Crispy Spiced Fried Squash Blossoms - Recipe from various sources

Serves 4 as a generous starter

Ingredients

1 cup self-rising flour
1 generous tablespoon herb/spice mixture, such as herbes de Provence, za'atar, or ras el hanout (do not mix them per batch)
8 fresh squash blossoms
1 cup club soda
2 cups olive oil
1 tablespoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Method

In a large bowl, whisk the flour and herb/spice mixture together. Gently rinse each blossom, pat dry, then cut off stems. Remove and discard the interior reproductive structures (either threads or stumps) that were attached to the stem. Discard. Fill a small bowl with club soda. Drop each blossom in, one at a time, carefully agitating the blossom to encourage it to open with the help of the club soda. Remove and shake excess club soda off. Drop blossom in flour mixture, tossing to coat, then hold blossom by stem end to lightly swish the flower end into the mixture as if a broom. Shake off excess flour mixture. The blossom should not be fully covered. Place prepared blossoms on a paper towel.

Heat olive oil over medium heat until it thins and shimmers (about 6 seconds). Lower each blossom flat into the hot oil, taking care not to crowd them in skillet. Each subsequent blossom will lower the temperature of the oil, so care must be taken to adjust heat level. It must maintain an even, but not violent sizzle. Do not overly heat the oil to speed the process. Burning the blossoms can occur very quickly. Fry on each side for about 5 minutes until golden brown, using long metal tongs to turn them. Remove to fresh paper towels to drain. Scatter with sea salt and ground pepper. Serve immediately.

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This is my contribution to Weekend Herb Blogging #299, which I have the pleasure of hosting this week. Thanks to Haalo of Cook Almost Anything at Least Once, mistress of the event, for the opportunity to once again take the reigns for what is my tenth time. Thanks to all of you who have sent in your wonderful recipes. This week has been wildly busy for me. Please be assured that I have received all of your contributions and will visit your blogs later tonight to read each post and leave formal comments. The round-up will be online tomorrow night, New York time. Simona of Briciole is currently the host of WHB #300, and will be welcoming your creations until 3:00 P.M. Utah time, next Sunday, September 11.

15 comments:

  1. Looks wonderful! You are quite lucky to find squash blossoms as beautiful as yours!

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  2. Always exited when I see squash blossoms.That is such a simple and such delicious gift from the nature;))

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  3. I'm impressed! Every year I tell myself that I'll try cooking squash blossoms, but I never do it.

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  4. The blossoms are like gold and I just can't convince the farmers to bring them in. I am headed to Vancouver, perhaps I will see them then.

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  5. I've never had those, but would love to... Yummy!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  6. aaaaah, they simply are wonderful!
    I have never made them(I'm not very good at frying), but have friends making them for me
    :-)
    I love the last photo, Susan makes me want to bite the screen!
    :-D
    Baciusss
    brii

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  7. I should send you a photo I took at a market in Milan, three years ago. They were selling squash blossoms by the case and every single person coming out of the market had one. A few years ago, the only way to get blossoms was to grow zucchini. The fact that now you can find them at least some of the time in some market in an improvement. I think as more and more people ask for them, farmers will respond to the request by brining more to the market. Nice idea to add herbes de Provence and spices!

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  8. Gorgeous shots of those blossoms, and a very tempting recipe. I've told the sad story of my zucchini, planted mainly so I would be able to use the flowers, and the nasty snails, but have not given up.

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  9. Thanks, Lynne. I was lucky, but it did take some time and effort to hunt down more stock. I did not expect to like them so much.

    Hi, Dzoli - They certainly are lovely. They remind me a little of the lilies you see on the side of country roads, very delicate, they only last a day.

    Thanks, Kalyn. Who knows what next year will bring. ; )

    Val - They are like gold. I wonder if the farmers think they're too delicate if they have to truck them far from the field to market.

    Rosa - Thanks. Wish I could treat you to them.

    Brii - Of course an Italian would know immediately. : )

    Simona - The photos floored me, crate after crate. Such bounty. I'd be very glad for them to become more available here. I got mine in WFs, but when I went back three weeks in row, there were none. I finally got lucky on the fourth try. They get them from a farm on Long Island.

    Thanks, Claudia. The dangers of home gardening are the critters that want to share the goodies.

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  10. These squash blossoms are gorgeous! I still can't get over my fear of deep frying (I'm that klutzy) but when I do, I'm definitely going to give these a try.

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  11. this squash blossom recipe looks fabulous I haven't prepared like this

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  12. So pretty.
    Bet those disappeared mighty quickly.
    LL

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  13. These sound wonderful! I must admit, I've only recently gotten into edible flowers (though I've known about them since high school), so my experiences are pretty limited.

    Thus I don't know if I'd like them or not. Your recipe, however, does intrigue me and I may have to see where I can find blossoms near me. Or plant intending to harvest the flowers, rather than the fruit.

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  14. Hello Susan, I came here via flickr.But am woderfully surprised to learn that how people from entirely different world eat the same thing .I am from India. Thanks

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  15. Kyleen - Thanks. Deep frying does require a certain degree of attention and precision, but once you make the leap, you'll become a pro pretty quickly.

    Akheela - Thank you. : )

    LL - Thanks. Yes, they certainly did.

    Ruhama - Thanks. I didn't know if I'd like the blossoms, either. Everyone's different, but I'll definitely make them again next year. Definitely a savory, unlike most rose or violet recipes. The flavor is very mildly like squash, and the texture is as delicate as herbs. If you do plant next year, you will be guaranteed enough flowers *and* fruit. Promise.

    Anon - Thanks so much. Good to see you. Isn't culinary discovery a grand thing? : )

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