Sunday, June 20, 2010

Deep fried zucchini flowers

One of my favourite things to order when I go out for dinner is deep fried zucchini flowers. Not a particularly healthy option, but delicious nevertheless. They do an amazing version at Cafe Sopra in Danks Street, Waterloo, stuffed with five Italian cheeses. It makes my mouth water just thinking about them.

In the past I have stuffed them and baked them in the oven, serving them as part of a tapas selection, and whilst they were nice, they weren't amazing. When Mr Kitty and I were at the Northside Produce Market yesterday, I found some splendid specimens and decided to give it another shot, this time forgoing the healthier oven baked option for a deep fried version.

This was a bit of an experiment as I am not a big fan of deep frying at home. In fact, I have never done it. Yes, really. I just don't see the need with most things - they usually taste just as good baked or pan fried as they do deep fried, most of the time better. Plus there is just a little piece of me that is afraid of getting burned, or setting the house on fire with a pan of hot oil on the hob.

Undeterred by these (somewhat irrational) fears, I set to work. I based my creation on a version seen in Andrew Blake's eponymous cookbook. The stuffing is different (Mr Kitty isn't a massive fan of goat's cheese so I substituted a mix of goat and fresh ricotta from the deli) and I used chopped olives and lemon zest instead of capers. The idea for me is to enhance the delicate flavour of the blossoms, not overwhelm it. This recipe makes enough for two people with three flowers each - it's a fairly large entree. The amounts can be scaled up with no problem if you are having more people.

Miss Kitty-Cat's deep fried zucchini flowers

100g light ricotta
50g soft goats cheese or chevre
50g kalamata olives, pitted and chopped finely into small dice
Zest of one lemon
1tblsp lemon juice
1 tblsp chopped mint
salt and pepper
6 zucchini flowers with zucchini still attached

125g plain flour
30g cornflour
150ml beer (I used Hahn Premium light)
150ml soda water

Mix ricotta, goats cheese, olives, lemon zest, lemon juice and mint in a bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add more goats cheese if you want a more piquant flavour.

Prepare the zucchini flowers by removing the stamens from inside the flower. Separate the petals without ripping them to from an opening at the top of the flower. Using a teaspoon, fill the flowers with stuffing and twist the tops of the petals to seal. Don't overfill the blooms or they might burst when cooking.

To make batter, combine flours in a bowl and whisk to mix. Add the beer and soda water and whisk vigorously to incorporate and remove any lumps. Allow to stand for 10 minutes and then whisk again for 30 seconds. If there are any lumps left in the batter, strain them out (my batter was fine). The batter will be crisper if no salt is added and it is not refrigerated.

Heat enough oil in a pot to come 1/3 to 1/2 way up the side of a pot (I used a medium sized saucepan with a heavy base - I don't have a deep fryer). When the oil is hot enough (test it by dropping a spot of batter in the oil - it is ready when it bubbles instantly), dust the flowers with a little plain flour, dip in the batter and quickly fry in oil. I did mine 2 at a time and they took 2-3 minutes each time. When golden and crisp, remove from the oil and drain on paper towel.

Season the flowers well with sea salt and serve immediately. I drizzled mine with a bit of caramelised balsamic vinegar, but you could also serve it with a home made tomato concasse or sauce, or as Andrew Blake recommends, with ratatouille.



Sydney Shop Girl said...

They look delicious, Kitty.

I've never deep fried either. You've inspired me.

SSG xxx

Not Quite Nigella said...

Wow you did a fantastic job! They look just like the ones you get at a restaurant! I'm too scared of deep frying to do it! :P