Saturday, July 5, 2014

Stuffed Pumpkin Blossoms

Squash blossoms of all types are edible, but most of the recipes you find are breakfast items because they bloom in the morning and are too difficult to handle once they close.  The petals stick together.  This isn't a problem if you want to chop or tear them for salads, but you can't stuff them easily.  If you don't have your own zucchini, pumpkin, or other squash plants, farmer's markets carry them once pollination season passes.

I decided to stuff my flowers when the time came, and found this recipe from Giada.  It's a basic Italian flavoring that goes well with marinara or a similar sauce.

I waited until I had a few days between pollinating female flowers, so the male buds I left on the vines would have a chance to mature in time.  My vines are almost done putting out female flowers and the pumpkins that pollinated in the first couple of weeks are ripening.  This whole project will probably be done in about six weeks.  So much for a Halloween patch.  I snipped off every open bud, leaving about half an inch of stem.  I did wear gardening gloves, both because pumpkin plants are almost as prickly as cactus and I was competing with bees.  This recipe says eight, but I ended up with nine buds of various sizes.  As long as the amount of filling works, I'm fine with you dividing it any way you want.

I've never made tempura batter before.  It's much easier than I realized.  The secret is carbonation.  You can use any carbonated beverage, and beer is traditional.  I would stick to something less sweet, but some of Giada's comments include sweetened soda as the liquid.  I just used an unflavored sparkling water.

As for the taste of the flowers, I mostly tasted the cheese.  Supposedly, there's some faint kind of pumpkin flavor to them, but I didn't taste it.  So use a cheese you like.

1/2 C flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 C sparkling water
2 oz goat cheese, room temperature
*2 Tb cream cheese, room temperature
1 Tb heavy cream
*1 tsp Italian seasoning mix
dash black pepper
8 pumpkin blossoms, stamens removed
oil for frying

1.  In a small bowl, stir together flour and salt.  Add sparkling water a little at a time.  It fizzes up like a science experiment.  In the end, you should have a very thin batter, like crepe batter.

2.  In another small bowl, beat together goat cheese, cream cheese, cream, Italian seasoning, and pepper.  Start heating 1/2" of oil in a saucepan or skillet.

3.  Place cheese mixture in a pastry bag or a ziplock with a corner snipped off.  The latter makes for easier clean-up.  Carefully pipe about 1-1/2 tsp of mixture into the base of each blossom, then twist petals together to seal.  At this point, prepared blossoms may be stored in the refrigerator until later in the day.
4.  Once the oil it heated to about 350º, dip blossoms in batter.  Coat well.  Place in oil and allow to cook until crispy, about 3 minutes.  To turn, gently use tongs on petal end, so the filling doesn't squirt out.  Figuring this out took me quite a few blossoms.  I was grabbing them by the stem end, figuring it was tougher and less likely to tear.  Everything came out the petal side.  Cook another 2 minutes, then drain on paper towels.  Continue with remaining blossoms.

5.  Serve immediately as a side dish with sauce, or just a light sprinkling of salt and herbs.

Difficulty rating :)

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