Thursday, June 30, 2011

Fried Zucchini & Squash Blossoms

Hi! I have a confession.......

This summer I've been craving burgers and things fried in beer batter. Not only have I been craving these delicious fatty food stuffs but stuffing myself with them. Maybe its the 5 milers 4-5 times a week, all the fresh garden air or just a robust 30 year-old appetite, but I crave hardcore and once that taste settles into the giant part of my brain that's obsessed with food it does not leave until it's in my belly. On a personal food politic side note I have given up eating beef, I've gone back and forth with vegetarianism, veganism and back to all out carnivore, and oddly enough stopped consuming soymilk in exchange cow's milk or goat milk. In the end it came down to what it should have been in the beginning, cows are too damn cute and CAFOs are wrong. Now strangely enough I still think turkeys, lambs, goats, fish and chickens are cute but I still eat them...we'll tackle Swine on another day. Maybe that will change in a year or two or never, but I do know that my body needs animal protein to function properly. So when the urge strikes for it, I honor it, but I never let that big food part of my brain allow me to overdo it.
So! Back to vegetables. Last night I made the first fried young zucchini, with their blossoms as well as some young spaghetti squash with their blossoms. This year I planned on planting extra squashes exactly for the purpose to fry them. So happy I did! Seeing as I also planted a ton of basil this year I yummy would basil tops be fried? How good? Food orgasm good. It's a good thing I'm a runner...
You can fry just about any veggie, but there is something so enchanting about consuming a fleeting blossom in the middle of the summer picked moments ago from your garden. You can find blossoms at your local farmers market, get there early and plan to prepare them that day. You can also ask your favorite grower if they have any coming up and make a special request. Definitely ask for the young squashes, the size of your pointer finger, with the blossoms still intact, they taste like the most decadent vegetable entity on the planet.
Fried Zucchini and Spaghetti Squash Blossoms with Basil in Beer Batter
Gather enough small squashes and blossoms to allow for each guest to have 4 each (two small squashes with blossoms and two blossoms, OR if you have a ton make 'em all and have a party!)
You can use big basil leaves and basil tops to. The tops are the most tender properly pinch off a basil top you want to take just below the first set of leaves where you see the split for the second set. Pinch flush with the new set. Big leaves take from the middle of the plant and save and inch or two of the stem.
Beer Batter*

1 cup beer (I like to use National Bohemian, Pabst or Labatts)
1 egg
2 teaspoons salt*
3/4 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (or less or none depending on your personal relationship with heat)
1 cup floor
1 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
Peanut oil or canola oil for frying

In a medium size bowl whisk the egg really well. Add the seasoning, whisk. Measure and incorporate your flour and baking powder together in a separate bowl.
Gently rinse your squash and blossoms, set aside in a colander.
Heat up a 1/4 inch of oil in a large skillet. While the oil is heating up pre-heat your oven to the warm setting, place a baking sheet in the oven, paper towels are optional (no towels will keep the fried deletables crispy). Arrange your batter and blossoms close to the fry pan. Tongs prepared. Kitchen fans on, windows open...
Ready? Now incorporate your flour/baking powder mixture with the beer, whisk well until smooth. Using a basil leaf as your tester dip it into the batter like you would a floppy paint brush, let the excess drip off and lay it in the pan. It should sizzle, once sizzlin' repeat the process with the rest of your blossoms and basil.
Done-ness: Like pancakes the pieces will puff up, the blossoms will expand like balloons, flip, when you have reached side two they are done when they can be pushed around. Transfer to the sheet in the oven. Repeat until all are done OR serve immediately to your drooling friends. Making sure to save some for yourself. Drink with the beer you made the batter with.
Dips: yogurt, mayo or nothing. They are that good.
*you can use half of the salt if your watching your sodium intake, but then again why are you making this if your "watching" anything?

Welcome to the dark side....