Serves: Makes 6 servings
- 18 large zucchini blossoms
- 1 package (5 ounces) Boursin cheese (pepper or garlic and herb flavor)
- 4 ounces herb- or pepper-seasoned goat cheese
- ½ cup mascarpone
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh herbs (basil, thyme, and/or tarragon)
- 1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- Tempura Batter:
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 egg yolk
- 1¼ cups ice water
Procedures:"We have a sizeable garden that produces dozens of different vegetables, fruits, and herbs from late spring into the fall. When the first zucchini and other squash blossoms begin appearing in early summer, this wonderful, delicate hors d’oeuvre always leaps to mind. If you don’t have zucchini blossoms in your own garden, they are often available at farmers’ markets and well-stocked produce sections. Choose blossoms that are of similar size, with tender bright blooms that are not torn or bruised. You may sometimes find them with the baby zucchini still attached, which is a bonus! All I do to clean them is to shake the blossoms, to remove any stray debris or the occasional ladybug.
The basic batter used here is the same as that used for classic Japanese tempura. It has a thin consistency that offers light, crisp results with most any fresh vegetable or shrimp.
- Shake and/or gently brush the blossoms if needed; I often find they're perfectly tidy to use as is.
- Combine the Boursin and goat cheeses in a medium bowl and use a fork to mash and soften them. Add the mascarpone, herbs, and garlic and stir until evenly blended and smooth.
- Carefully open one of the zucchini blossoms and use a small spoon to fill the blossom with about 1½ tablespoons of the cheese mixture. Twist the tips of the blossom to fully enclose the filling. Continue with the remaining blossoms and filling.
- Pour about 2 inches of oil in a deep fryer or in a large, deep pot, such as a Dutch oven (it's important the oil comes no more than halfway up the sides of the pan for safety). Heat the oil over medium heat to 375°F.
- While the oil is heating, make the batter. Place the flour in a medium bowl and make a well in the center. Beat the egg yolk with a fork in a small bowl, then stir in the ice water. Add this to the flour and quickly stir with the fork to blend. Avoid overmixing; the batter may be a bit lumpy.
- When the oil is preheated, dip a few of the blossoms in the batter, allowing the excess to drip off, and carefully slide into the oil. Fry for 1 to 2 minutes, until browned and crisp. Use a large slotted spoon or tongs to gently transfer the fried blossoms to paper towels to drain, sprinkling them with salt. Continue with the remaining blossoms, allowing the oil to reheat between batches as needed.
- Serve the stuffed zucchini blossoms while warm, on individual plates as a seated first course or on a large platter to pass as an appetizer.