Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Nothing But Flowers

     My favorite Talking Heads song talks about what it would be like without Dairy Queens and 7-11's. We would be stuck with nothing but flowers. Well that's not so bad because, guess what? Not only are flowers pretty to look at, but you can eat them too. Oh no, Rumgirl is turning into a freakin flower eatin dirty hippie! Seriously! Yes, I have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of my zucchini in my lovely, lush, little garden and I was admiring the bright yellow-orange blossoms trumpeting out to catch some morning sun. "Can't you eat these things?" I asked my husband. Of course I ran like lightning into the house and Googled it. I was right. But there is a lot to know about these precious little blossoms. You don't just pop them off the vine and throw them in a pan. There's stuff you need to know, so pay attention!

     Zucchini blossoms have been a culinary staple for thousands of years. The Greeks like to stuff vegetables or domas with rice, herbs, and cheeses. One of the most popular Greek domas uses the blossom of the zucchini. These are very delicate and do not last long which is why you do not see zucchini blossoms at your local market. You can order them from florists or specialty food stores but it will cost you. Your best bet is to grow the damn zucchinis yourself.

     So if you are like me and get impatient waiting for your vegetables to ripen, know that you can pick and eat many of the squash blossoms before the your squash is ready to pick. Important fact numero uno:
ONLY EAT THE MALE BLOSSOMS. Don't worry, they don't have a penis, but you will know it is male if there is not a squash attached to it. The females bear the fruit (duh) and the males just sit and do nothing (surprised?). But alas, little male zucchini blossom, not to worry, we hear you taste mighty good so say goodbye to the wife and kids cuz we is gonna stuff and fry your ass!

     Cut off, don't rip off the blossom. Leave a little stem and do this carefully! These cute little guys are very fragile. The blossoms will be opened in the morning and by afternoon, they will have closed up and look a little shriveled at the ends. The bigger and fuller looking the better. Just like a boobie! If you see one that looks ready, pick it because he may not be any good tomorrow.  You will see the base of the blossom is hard with little pointy things. Carefully cut the base off and pull out the pistil. It's orange and fuzzy and looks like a penis. Yes, we are getting very perverted tonight but hey, it's a zucchini! Look at it!!!

     Well, ok maybe I have been reading too many Shades of Grey books but let's get back to that blossom! After you discard the phallic looking thing, gently rinse the blossom, inside and out. Lay on some paper towels to dry. Pat dry if you wish but try not to fondle it too much. You can stuff these blossoms with just about anything. Cheese, rice, diced chicken, sardines, herbs; I have surprisingly come across a huge variety of stuffings. Just remember these guys are small and delicate so choose your filling wisely.  I decided to stuff my blossom with a cheese filling. I used a mixture of cream cheese (room temperature) and Laughing Cow Light Garlic and Herb wedges. I added some more garlic and a little shredded Gruyere for texture. I think I will try some fresh herbs and goat cheese next time. I have heard that ricotta is a little too runny. I think almost any creamy cheese would suffice.

     Onto the batter. You can saute or roast the blossoms but most of the recipes suggest frying. I fried mine in canola oil. I read that pressed grape seed oil works well with this dish but I am not that fancy and do not have it on hand. A beer batter is perfect for the blossoms. Mix beer and flour with a fork until it looks like pancake mix. You want it thick, not runny. I used ginger beer. You can also use club soda.

     Using a pastry bag, carefully squeeze your stuffing into the blossoms. I went in from the side we cut and pressed it together with some cheese to close the hole. Some people leave the bottom on and go in from the blossom opening. Do whatever is easier for you. Heat oil in a nonstick pan and place the blossoms delicately into it when oil is hot. Don't burn yourself. Make sure you use one of those splatter guard thingies when frying. Fry 3 to 5 minutes per side. If the cheese comes out, you suck. When they are golden brown, remove and place on paper towels. I dusted mine with Parmesan cheese. Some people dip them in Greek yogurt. Marinara works but can be over powering. They are light, sweet, and slightly nutty. Kinda like ME!

                                           And who knew a flower would taste this good?! 

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