Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Farmers Market Squash Blossoms

One of the great sadnesses of my working weekends is that I rarely make it out to the many local farmer's markets in the area. This last weekend I finally had a Sunday off and hit up the Campbell farmers market (organized by Urban Village) just a quick drive from my apartment. This is probably my most frequented of the farmers markets near by. They always have a great showing and I'm guaranteed to leave feeling satisfied. On my first pass through the market I have to admit I felt a little overwhelmed. I hadn't really come in with a plan of attack but more just wanted to go with what looked the freshest and most seasonal. The "problem" was that EVERYTHING looked great! (poor little California girl, so many fresh fruit and veggie options you can't choose, must be a hard life) With 6+ fruit stands and just as many (if not more) veggie stands narrowing down what I wanted to take home felt impossible. They all had a lot of the same things, they all looked great, and the price points were all within 50 cents. It took delving a little deeper to find something special. Just as I was getting close to finishing the lap around the street I hit a veggie stand with something to offer that no one else had. Something I had been wanting for a looooong time but never see at super markets- Squash Blossoms. Really- it's the simple things. This literally made my day. I bought 5 for $1 along with some great looking yellow squash and from there I was one fire. Cute little individual looking cantaloupes? Be mine! Gorgeous lavender/yellow dahlia's? Come to Mama! Handmade personal spinach and salmon quiche? Don't mind if I do! I loaded up my cloth bag like a pro and headed home feeling successful without even spending my whole trip budget!

As soon as I got home I put my blossoms in a little bit of water (the stems were wet when I purchased them from the stand so I figured this would help sustain them till I was ready to use them later that afternoon) and began searching epicurious for the basics on stuffing squash blossoms. From them I borrowed some basics, the batter (a/p flour, Parmesan, & club soda) and filling (ricotta, Parmesan, & egg) and added my own flair (sweet corn, bacon, & green onion, all things I happened to have in house). I also decided that I needed a dipping sauce and was inspired while at Trader Joe's to whip up a basil cream sauce (this inspiration would have been nice while I was still at the Farmer's market where I could have bought the basil cheap but cest la vie). After gathering all my ingredients I took a little break to catch up on about 5 episodes of True Blood.... cause what better way to spend a Sunday than watching gore and sex scenes with vampires & werewolves.... don't judge me....

As the afternoon wore on my curiosity got the best of me and I took a break from my TV Marathon to whip up my Squash blossoms. They had shriveled some but with a gentle hand I was able to spread the petals enough that they would be able to wrap around ample filling. As I inspected them I noticed the pistil still in the center. I have no clue about the edible nature of this part of the flower so it seemed like the best choice to just remove it. After that I stuffed each with just over 2 Tablespoons of the filling (pretty much all with my fingers to be as delicate with the fragile petals as possible) and twisted the top together as the epicurious directions suggested.

The batter was very simple to prepare: just whisk together 1/2 Cup all purpose flour, 1/3 cup Parmesan, & 3/4 cup seltzer water. dip the blossoms into the batter and fry at 375 degrees in about 3 cups vegetable oil. I don't have a thermometer so I went with just over medium and they seemed to fry well warming the inside with a  nice crisp outside. Turn them over just once with a set of tongs (by far my favorite basic kitchen tool) after 1- 2 minutes (when you can see that the edges of the batter are starting to turn golden. Let them dry for a moment on some paper towels to absorb the extra oil. I made a nice basil mustard cream sauce to go with these that I found on epicurious as well you can follow the link here: Mustard Cream Sauce (with Basil) .

This was such a yummy and surprisingly easy experiment I was really pleased. I will definitely be hitting up my local farmers market for more squash blossoms soon so I can experiment with my fillings and batters!

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