Monday, June 25, 2012

Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms and other Garden Goodies

First off, I wanted to say that I am sorry that it has been so long since my last post. The garden is really starting to explode with tasty, fresh veggies and between family parties and weddings things have been terribly busy at the Happy Husband Diner. I know that I have been posting a lot about meat but there really is a lot to be said for a yummy tapas style vegetarian dinner now and then. Each of the dishes in this post are meat free, delicious and contain at least one home grown ingredient.

When I first mentioned to the Happy Husband that we were going vegetarian for the night I got a bit of a strange look. But then... I told him I was going to make tempura fried, stuffed zucchini blossoms he became very interested. Normally I wouldn't be too excited about sacrificing 5 perfectly viable zucchini babies but one of my engineering classmates turned professional chefs suggested I try this method of preparation. Plus I have 4 zucchini plants and only two people to eat the bounty. (I'm sure there will be other zucchini posts to come.) So I did some reading on how to prep these little beauties. If you can buy them in the store, (I'm sure they will be over priced and not as fresh), then you don't have to worry about this step. If you are lucky enough to pick them within minutes of stuffing and serving, be sure to look out for ants hiding in the blossoms. They probably won't make you sick if you miss a couple but I don't think anyone is in that much need of protein. Once they are clean, stuff them with your stuffing of choice. Make sure the blossoms can pretty much close around the stuffing so that it doesn't melt out during the frying process.

For the stuffing this time, I went with goat cheese, quinoa and marinated artichoke hearts and seasoned the mixture with a bit of salt and pepper. You want to have enough goat cheese (sticky ingredient) that you can ball up the stuffing and it will stay in the shape you make. If you aren't using cheese you can always add a bit of egg to help coagulate the stuffing (make it stick together) during the cooking process. I used a simple tempura recipe from the Joy of Cooking cook book. The basic ingredients for tempura are cold beer/seltzer, flour and baking powder/leavening agent. You can find a recipe anywhere online too.

Dip the stuffed blossoms into the tempura batter and then fry to an even golden brown. I like to drop a little bit of batter directly into the hot oil to tell that it is hot enough/not too hot to cook the blossoms. Needless to say the Happy Husband and I were both pleasantly surprised at the outcome!! The blossoms came out a perfect golden brown and the stuffing was hot but not molten. Not molten is a good thing because the HH has no self preservation reflex. He would pop a still bubbling fried item right into that mouth of his if I weren't there to stop him.
Caprese Salad
The other goodies on our tapas buffet were home grown kale chips (I used garlic salt and pepper to season them), caprese salad (with home grown basil and home made mozz), and pickled home grown beets. Click on the dish names for directions on how to make those items. I have posted photos below of each of the dishes.
Kale Chips
Pickled Beets

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