Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Stuffed Squash Flowers

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My wife and I are re-inspired to eat more locally grown food. We saw this documentary on Instant Netflix called Ingredients. It's about farms in the Seattle area that provide for local restaurants with their healthy veggies, fruits and meats. The restaurants now realize it's worth it to buy local ingredients and support the farm-to-table movement. So as inspired as we were, we went to the La Jolla Farmer's Market on Sunday and did a little "grocery shopping". We had such a great time and found some amazing food. Some stuff we've never seen before like Seaweed Salad or a Banksia flower from Australia. We got a hodge podge of local fruits, veggies, olive oil, and meat.

From Farm to Table, literally! Our loot from the Farmer's Market: Veggies, Fruits, Olive Oil, Bread, Grass-fed Beef & our new Banksia flower!

We came across some Squash Flowers, which I had never seen, but my wife was excited to find. The woman selling them recommended we stuff them with cheese and fry them, like a Chile Relleno. So we bought four to experiment with, here's how they turned out...

Fresh Squash Flowers at Farmer's Market

We only bought four, so this recipe will be for that amount. Two per person is a decent appetizer, four to six is recommended for a main course served with a side of rice and beans along with avocado.

-You want to prep your Squash Flowers. You definitely want to cook them the day you buy them because they wilt quickly. The should be picked while open, then naturally slowly close as the day goes on. First thing's first, that's to remove the pistil in the center of pedals. Some people say it's not good to eat it, I just do it to make more room for stuffing and get rid of pollen. I leave the stem on, it tastes good fried, kind of like asparagus. Now you want to ideally soak them for an hour, if you have the time, to get dirt, pollen & any bugs out. I don't do this. I just rinse them under faucet right side up and fill the pedals with water then dump out water. Now you want to thoroughly dry them since you'll be putting them in hot oil. You can pat them dry or let them air dry for about an hour, I pat them dry. Now you have clean, prepped Squash Flowers ready for cooking!

-Heat pot or a pan with cooking oil to 375 degrees, about medium heat on stove.You need at least and inch of oil to get half of each flour at a time in a pan. If you're using a pot, a couple inches of oil should do to fully submerge the flowers.

-Take 3/4 cup of flour and mix in a teaspoon each of salt and pepper on a plate for dredging the flowers.

-Crack an egg into a bowl and beat it.

-Take any cheese of your choice, preferably a soft one like goat cheese or a faux cheese, as I used. I used an almond pepper jack cheese. You can go spicy like this if you'd like, it makes the finished product taste like a chile relleno. Or you can go sweet like a honey goat cheese, Trader Joe's has an amazing one! You just want to gently stuff each flower with enough cheese to fill it, yet still close. Because then you're going to pin the top close with two perpendicular toothpicks to keep pedals from opening during dredging or cooking.

-Time to dredge. Just dip each stuffed flower into egg first, then the flour mixture, coating it well. Now here's the trick, repeat! Dip in egg again and through flour again for a nice double coat that will protect flower petals from oil heat.

Frying away

-Now you can dip the flowers in the oil carefully with tongs. You just need to brown them to your desire. A golden brown is perfect. The cheese will be melty and you have a nice crust around the flower. As you can see I fried mine in a pan, so I just cooked them on each side for a few minutes, that's all it takes! Now all that's left to do is eat them!

So good!

Below are some more pictures from our Farmer's Market. Hope you will be inspired to support you local farmers more and enjoy how food should really taste!

cornucopia of locally grown food!

Now that's an onion! Organic, giant and only $1.50! Organic doesn't have to break the bank...

A giant head of lettuce

Fiery Squash Flower

The 88 year old man that makes this olive oil told me in my ear as I bought it "be careful, this is better than viagra!" I said, "really?" and he said, "yeah I should know I'm 88 years old!" hahaha. One of the pluses of a farmer's market is the characters you get to meet.

Delicious Japanese grapes. Taste like tiny plums!

The Banksia Flower. Woman dries, dyes and preserves them so they don't need water or ever go bad!

1 comment:

  1. Great write up, Levon! I've always noticed these blossoms at the market but didn't know what to do with them - now I will have to give it a try!
    -Bee (beeacooker)

    ps - I like your fiery squash flower photo - should put it on pb!