9.15.2011

The Power of Goat Cheese Stuffed Squash Blossoms

There is nothing rational regarding what I’m about to say.  But then again, there is nothing inherently rational about deep-frying the flower from a squash plant, now is there?  In fact, it’s probably best to disengage the thinking mind altogether on this one. 

Too ephemeral for any outside drama or noisy to-do lists, squash blossoms are best cooked the day they are picked.  So they force you to live in the moment.  Depending on your level of commitment, you may even find yourself thinking in hour long squash blossom increments.

And this makes them beyond beautiful.  If you struggle with living in the past or in the future, they can act like an instant, edible self-help book.  You know the kind.  The kind that urges you to behave in the present.  The kind with names like "The Power of Now" and “You Can Heal Your Life.”

So stop worrying about your ticking biological clock.  Or your irritable bowel syndrome.  Or what it means when someone calls you an alpha female.  Because the only thing that matters when in the presence of squash blossoms is that these little guys don’t wilt and die on you.  (That I’m recommending to deep-fry them likely helps with this in-the-moment living, too.) 

So when I happened upon them last weekend at the Siena Farms stand at the Copley farmers’ market, I scooped up every. last. one.  And then immediately started to panic.  My plans for the night had just changed. This may seem a tad extreme from a rational perspective, but I’d been on the hunt for squash blossoms since 2008: which was the last time I found them.  I did not have a squash blossom contingency plan in place.

Did I have canola oil at home?  (I did not.)  Did the Crystal Brook Farm goat cheese guy at the market have plain goat cheese left?  (He did not.)  So I was convinced by “goat cheese guy” to buy a version with specks of ginger in it and then hit Savenor’s on the way home for some grapeseed oil.  And—after some deep breathing—I was all the better for it. 

Which got me thinking.  I believe squash blossoms are made for those breezy, northern California Alice Waters types that I imagine stroll through farmers’ markets with big wicker baskets sniffing peaches.  They are not inherently made for neurotic North Easterners that scurry to the farmers’ market on their lunch breaks, ruminating about what to make for dinner and if they still have enough eggs left to procreate.

I suppose my greater point here: everyone benefits from the blossom.  And I imagine if they are fried, and come out of hot oil heading straight for your plate, that this only improves things.  Yes, this likely quiets the noise immediately.  Especially with the melty cheese involved.  So perhaps—on second thought—deep fried squash blossoms are made especially for us Woody Allen types.  And while we are too pragmatic (and cynical?) to let a squash blossom heal our lives, having some every now and then probably wouldn’t hurt. 



Goat Cheese Stuffed Fried Squash Blossoms

Ingredients:

Grapeseed or canola oil
A bubbly beverage, e.g. sparkling water, sparkling wine, beer (chilled)
Equal parts flour and rice flour 
Salt and pepper
Squash blossoms
Goat cheese, or cheese of your preference

Instructions:

Heat oil in a small saucepan on medium to medium-high heat; you'll want enough oil to sit 1-2 inches deep in the saucepan.  Meanwhile, place the sparkling beverage of your choice in a glass filled with ice cubes to chill the liquid further.  (This will ultimately help with the crispiness.) Then, combine flour and rice flour in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper. After this, add enough chilled liquid to the flour mixture (minus the ice cubes) until the batter becomes about the consistency of a crepe batter (more liquidy than a pancake batter). 

Remove the stamen from the inside of the squash blossom and stuff each blossom with 1/2-1 tsp goat cheese, depending on the size of the blossom.  

When the oil reaches about 350-375 degrees (or sizzles violently if you place part of a squash blossom in it) it is ready.  Quickly dip each squash blossom into the batter, shake off excess batter, and then place in the hot oil.  Cook until the blossom is golden brown, about 1 minute and then season with salt and dry on a paper towel.

Notes:
-The amount of ingredients needed for this recipe depends entirely on the amount of blossom(s) you are able to get your hands on.  It's also 100% low maintenance, so go with your gut and don't be afraid.

-If you don't have rice flour you can substitute cornstarch. 

-Grapeseed or canola oil are good to use because they are both neutral-tasting and let the flavor of the squash blossoms shine through.  They also have fairly high smoke points, which means your kitchen won't be filled with smoke at the end of this little food exercise.

12 comments:

  1. I have that same idea, of the Alice Waters peach-sniffing-all-the-time-in-the-world-types, when I think about squash blossoms as well. I've yet to break down and purchase some myself, which is silly, because I have only heard good things. And now, with the goat cheese? What am I waiting for? Ah well.

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  2. I'm laughing as I read this because this is what happens to me all the time at farm stands and farmers' markets! I love fried stuffed zucchini blossoms and these look great!

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  3. I am also an impulse buyer/panicker when it comes to unusual produce. The goat cheese with ginger is brilliant. I'll keep an eye out for squash blossoms, and I'll remember to breathe...

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  4. Those Alice Waters peach-sniffing types seem to also live inside fiction by Annie Lamott. She grew up in coastal California, and it shows in the characters she writes--easy, breezy, floating through life like driftwood.

    I'm glad you foraged a few zucchini blossoms before the frost sets in. Enjoy them while they last!

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  5. Yes, it's almost comical how well the ginger goat cheese ended up pairing with the blossoms. Sometimes you just have to roll with it.

    Glad to hear I'm not alone on the impulse buying that sets in at the farmers' market on occasion. ;)

    I love Anne Lamott, too, Kate!

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  6. What a great recipe. I am a huge goat cheese fan so I know I would love this

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  7. it seems odd to me to eat the squash blossom, or any blossom, for that matter. on the other hand, frying can make anything altogether more edible, as can involving cheese. :)

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  8. Anything with the words "goat cheese" that shows up in my Reader immediately gets a thumbs up. These look great.

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  9. Emily, I had these at a restaurant the other night in Salem...Adriatic (writing a review for today). Probably the best thing I've eaten since being in the area. I'd make the drive up there just for them.

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  10. I had my first squash blossom recently and absolutely fell in love with them. This one here looks like it wold not dissappoint.

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  11. Kevin, I'll have to look for your review asap! They sound amazing.

    Eliana, I'm so glad you got to try them!

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