We served this summer-time indulgence to friends this weekend and they were gobbled up in a blink of an eye! Obviously frying them takes away from the delicate flavour so distinctive of these flowers, but as we all know frying is just like bacon, it just makes everything even tastier.
Sadly these beautiful golden blossoms do not stay fresh for too long after they are picked, and will wilt within a day. If eaten the day of the purchase it will be easy for you to stuff them, but if you wait any longer the flower petals will wilt and it will be difficult to open them to stuff the flowers. In this case you can just fry them without stuffing them, which is also very delicious.
However in this house, we prefer the fried stuffed version where mozzarella cheese oozes out of them!
The recipe below, which has been adapted from a William-Sonoma recipe, is based on the traditional Roman recipe, which recommends using mozzarella cheese to stuff the zucchini blossoms. However since the typical mozzarella found at the grocery store can sometimes lack in taste, we chose to stuff them with mozzarella de bufala instead, which is a little more creamier. The anchovies also add the characteristic saltiness to make it even more flavourful.
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt, plus more for taste
½ cup of cold sparkling mineral water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus oil for deep-frying
4 ounce ball of fresh mozzarella de bufala
5 anchovy fillets
20 zucchini blossoms
fried stuffed zucchini flowers
Before stuffing zucchini flowers you must remove the pistils or filaments which are found inside the flower However it’s a little tricky to remove the pistils without damaging the flower petals and therefore I recommend that you do this as soon as you get home with the zucchini flowers before the petals begin to wilt. If not the flower petals will stick together which will make it difficult to reach in the flower and pinch off the pistils.
Once the pistils are removed you can then stuff the blossoms shortly before you are ready to fry them.
To make the batter, mix the flour and the 1 teaspoon of salt in a small bowl. Add the eggs, sparking water and 1 tablespoon of oil to the flour mix and whisk until well blended.
Cut the mozzarella ball into sticks which are about 1 inch long and ½ wide. Pat the anchovies dry with paper towels and cut each fillet into fours.
You can fry the zucchini blossoms in a deep fat fryer if you have one or otherwise you can just as easily fry them in a heavy and high fry pan that is about 3 inches deep. In either case heat the oil to 375oF.
You will also need to heat oven to 175oF so you can keep the fried zucchini flowers warm as you fry the others.
While the oil is heating, gently spread open the petals of each flower and insert a piece of the cheese and a piece of anchovy into each flower and press the petals closed.
Once the flowers are stuffed, dip the flowers one at a time into the batter to coat the flower completely. Lift out and let the excess drip back into the bowl. As this can get quite messy it’s best to dip all the flowers and then fry them. I usually just place a sheet of parchment paper on the counter and lay the battered blossoms on the paper before I put them in the deep fryer or the frying pan.
Once the oil is heated through you can then slip the battered flowers into the hot oil and fry until golden brown on all sides for about 4 minutes. In the deep fat fryer turn them halfway through so they can brown on all sides. Afterwards use tongs or a slotted spoon to transfer them to a paper towel on top of a plate to drain. Season with fleur de sel and then place in the oven while you fry the remainder of the flowers.
Spring is a perfect time for freshness but also for a bit of heat. Here’s a great shrimp appetizer to serve to your guests that has a little bit of kick but is gently tempered by some refreshing guacamole. The secret to cooking this shrimp is the addition of a homemade sweet and spicy chill sauce.
There are three parts to preparing this appetizer, in addition to cooking the shrimp, you will have to make guacamole and prepare the sweet and spicy chili sauce. It does take a little work, but thankfully the sweet and spicy chili sauce and the guacamole can both be prepared in advance. You then just need to cook the shrimp before you’re ready to serve your guests. This is not a complicated recipe, it just involves a lot of chopping and mincing. However I guarantee that the efforts you put behind this will be worth it!
spicy shrimp and guacamole
sweet and spicy chili sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
½ cup ginger, finely chopped
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
2 tablespoons shallot, finely chopped
2 tablespoons hot red pepper, seeded and minced
½ cup sugar
¼ cup water
1 ½ teaspoon lemon rind, finely grated
1 tablespoon lime rind, finely grated
salt to taste
Add sesame oil to a pan over medium heat. Add ginger, garlic, shallots and hot red peppers and sauté until softened for about 2 minutes.
Add sugar and water to the pan and stir gently until sugar has dissolved.
Let sauce simmer gently for about 10 minutes, until sauce has slightly thickened and has slightly darkened in colour. No need to stir as the sugar could crystallize.
Transfer sauce to a bowl, and add lemon and lime rind.
Let it cool and season with salt to taste.
You will have enough of the sauce for another meal, as this makes about 3/4 cup, and you can keep this sauce in the refrigerator for about 5 days.
2 avocadoes, roughly chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
½ red pepper, seeded and minced
¼ cup cilantro leaves and stems, finely chopped
1 lemon, juiced
1 lime, juiced
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon sweet and spicy chili sauce as per recipe above
salt to taste
Combine all ingredients together in a medium bowl and roughly mash together.
Season with salt and refrigerate until needed. To keep in refrigerator cover the surface of guacamole very tightly with plastic wrap to ensure there is no air. This will allow you to keep the guacamole for up to a day in the refrigerator.
1 teaspoon sesame oil
8 large uncooked shrimps with tail, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons sweet and spicy chili sauce as per recipe above
cilantro, finely chopped for garnish
Heat a medium frying pan over high heat and add sesame oil to pan.
Then add shrimp and sauté with a little kosher salt. When shrimp is halfway cooked, after 1-2 minutes or so, add the 2 tablespoons of the sweet and spicy chili sauce and caramelize for about another minute. Remove from heat.
To serve place 2 tablespoons of guacamole on a small plate and top with two or three shrimps depending on the quantity of shrimp you have cooked. Garnish with cilantro and serve.
It’s quite pleasant with a glass of chilled white wine, my preference being a sancerre blanc!
I just love the concept of appetizers! The Spanish, with their tapas or the Greeks with the meze have it right when it comes to enjoying an entire meal savouring multiple small courses all night long. Tapas are great because it prolongs the time you spend around the table or, in our case, often around the kitchen island. What’s not to love when you get to taste a multitude of different courses instead of just the traditional three-course meal.
However serving tapas to your guests can result in a lot of work and stress if not planned properly. My husband and I have learned that the best way to serve tapas is to have on hand a combination of cold and hot tapas, which have been prepared in advance. All that needs to be done when the party comes around, is just some minimal assembly or reheating before they are served. This will ensure you can enjoy the party as much as your guests!
We’ve got a long list of favourite appetizers which I’m looking forward to posting on this blog, but as a start, I am sharing with you the easiest app you’ll ever make, my mom’s artichoke squares! It’s a little like a frittata because of the eggs, but don’t be fooled the taste is sophisticated enough for an appetizer.
This is a super easy recipe that requires minimal bowls and pans. You can make this one ahead, bake it and freeze it until you are ready to reheat and serve. Couldn’t be easier! And I can’t tell you how tasty and addictive these squares are, I guarantee that your guests won’t leave any behind.
mom’s artichoke squares
mom’s artichoke squares
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (398 ml or 1 1/2 cup) artichoke hearts, chopped
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups strong cheddar cheese, grated
¼ cup bread crumbs
1 ½ tablespoon greek oregano or regular oregano
2 dashes of tobasco
pinch of salt and pepper
Preheat oven at 350oF.
Transfer chopped onion into a large microwaveable bowl along with butter. Cook onions and butter in microwave for about 3 minutes until onions are softened and remove from microwave. As you know, handle bowl safely as it may be very hot.
Before chopping each artichoke, ensure to drain each heart of water by squeezing the water out of them.
Thoroughly combine remaining ingredients (garlic, artichokes, eggs, cheddar cheese, bread crumbs, oregano, tobacco, salt and pepper) in bowl with softened onions.
Spread artichoke mixture evenly into a 9″ square pan.
Bake at 350oF for 35 minutes.
Cool slightly and cut into squares and serve warm.
mom’s artichoke squares
If freezing before serving, cool completely after baking and cut into squares. Store squares in an airtight container with parchment paper separating layers of squares. You can therefore serve the quantity that you wish when needed and store the rest for up to 2 weeks in the freezer. Before serving reheat oven at 350oF and bake for 15-20 minutes.