Saturday, 19 April 2014

Stuffed Zucchini Flowers with a French Twist

So I'm still in Cannes visiting John's parents (and enjoying the good weather down here at the same time) which is why my blog posts have been a little sporadic lately, sorry!

This morning we went to Marché Forville and picked up some beautifully fresh zucchini flowers! I got so excited at their price of 10 for 2.50€ (with the zucchini still attached) and 10 for only 1.50€ (!!!) (without the zucchini attached!). 

John had to literally tell me to calm down, Nhan calme-toi! because I was trying to tell him too many things at the same time while looking around and running off in different directions in my hyperactive farmers' market state. I always get overstimulated at farmers' markets, especially the ones in Italy and France. I don't know if it's the colours, the smells, the language being spoken or just the general European market atmosphere but I'm like a (hyperactive) kid in a candy store. 

Oh so beautiful!

At the zucchini flower stand, I explained to the lady at the stall how much I loved zucchini flowers stuffed with mozzarella and lightly beer battered (how I had eaten them in Italy and Australia and then how I learnt to cook them during my time in Rome in 2013 at Andrea Consoli's Cooking Classes!). The stall lady told me there was a simpler French recipe from Nice that didn't involve any stuffing. Just your normal French crêpe batter but with beer/sparkling water and some chopped garlic and parsley.

My mouth was watering as we discussed how to best cook the zucchini flowers. Imagine adding garlic in the batter and how it would just take things to another level..

I bought 20 fleurs de courgettes (for only 3€!) and then she threw in a small bunch of parsley for free for our batter! I seriously love French markets. Chatting to the grocers, exchanging cooking ideas and tips, having the amount to pay rounded down and having freebies like this thrown in at the end just makes the market experience incomparable. It's moments like these that make me think about what it would be like to retire in the south of France ;)

Anyway, so on the walk back to John's parents' place from the market I decided to fuse the Italian recipe I had learnt from my cooking class in Rome and French recipe of the market lady together. 

Why not, right? 

When I "lived" in Rome for 6 weeks in 2013, I attended this fantastic cooking class and the entrée I requested to be in the course were these stuffed zucchini flowers so I knew that this recipe would work again. Now my idea would be just to add the Niçoise touch to the plain batter.

Ok so here we go! 


20 zucchini flowers 
2 balls of mozzarella (try to get pizza mozzarella as other waterier types will splash back the oil!)
4 cloves of garlic 
Small handful of parsley 
200g flour 
1 extra cold beer (almost frozen from the freezer)
1 glass of cold sparkling water
1 teaspoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of salt
Frying oil (don't use olive oil as it doesn't work well at high temperatures, something like sunflower is better) 

1. Prepare your zucchini flowers by removing those spiky, prickly dark green pokey out bits and trimming the stalk.

2. This is probably the hardest step. 
You need to gently remove the pistil of the flower without tearing its petals. You'll need to get your thumb and index finger right in then gently but swiftly snip off the pistil with your nail against the other finger. 

3. It should look like this below when all removed. 
Carefully wash the flowers, avoiding any accidental tearing! Remember you need it to be in tact to properly hold the mozzarella otherwise it will slide out into the hot oil and 
a) splatter everywhere when the water from the mozzarella comes in contact with the hot oil and/or
b) melt in the hot oil!

4. Prepare the garlic and parsley

5. Stuff your zucchini flowers with the wedges of mozzarella. Don't add too much because you want the petal to cover the mozzarella so that the batter will hold the petal. 

Ready to go!

6. Prepare the batter by adding the cold beer to the 200g of flour until it forms an elastic and smooth thick batter. Add the glass of cold sparkling water, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Chef Andrea Consoli even recommends adding a few ice cubes if your beer and sparkling water aren't cold enough in order to make the batter even crunchier.

7. Now for the French twist, add the chopped garlic and parsley to the batter mixture! 

8. Ok now this is the dangerous part. 
Dip the stuffed zucchini flower into the batter mixture completely covering it. Gently slide it into the hot oil from the side of the pot (step away in case the hot oil splashes from the water of the mozzarella). Fry them on both sides and take them out as soon as they are golden (it should take a couple of minutes max). You want them to stay crispy on the outside but melty and gooey on the inside. Yummmm. 

Knife test 

9. Serve with a few fresh parsley sprigs and some salt and pepper on the top!

There you have it, lightly battered mozzarella stuffed zucchini flowers with a French twist. 

When your knife slices down, the crispy batter will crack and the soft mozzarella will start to ooze out. You pop the piece in your mouth, the sea salt and pepper tease your taste buds before you bite down into the crunchy batter with flecks of garlic and parsley hidden throughout. Little pockets of extra flavour burst in your mouth as you reach for a second one, then a third, then a fourth ;)
Buon appetito! 


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