Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Courgette Flowers Stuffed with Mozzarella, Mint and Lemon


So I was busy, then ill, then busy again and then, whoops, ill again (turns out R&R isn't such a waste of time). But let's come to the real reason why I haven't said anything here for over a week - the Five Ring Circus. 


Who saw that coming? Not me, for one. I'm famously non-sporty, not interested, never have been, never will be. Never before have I knowingly watched shooting, diving, running, jumping or swimming - at least, not by choice. But I have been totally and utterly engrossed. Any moment that I had free from being ill and busy and ill blah blah, I have been glued to a screen, genuinely excited and moved by what I saw. I even wish I had tickets to something, just so I could see inside the park! I don't know what's come over me either. 


I think it all started when the Queen became a Bond girl, aka the best moment of the whole opening ceremony. Do you think she just thought, "it's my Jubilee, I'm 86 years old, why not?" Well, I quite agree. Huzzah for her Maj! Maybe she has a soft spot for Daniel Craig. Maybe she has just always wanted to see her stunt double jump out of a helicopter with a Union Jack parachute, handbag clasped firmly in hand. 


But my enthusiasm snowballed when Team GB just kept winning. Gold after gold after gold! Inspiring stories flying at you thick and fast, from collapsed lung to alopecia to dead mum to broken neck to 56 years old to missed out on gold four times to only started doing sport four years ago to just 20 years old and 2 gold medals. I can't believe that Britain is third - THIRD - on the medal table. Is this real? Aren't we too small, too unsporty, too good at not quite being good enough? Did you see that Brit winning a final at Wimbledon, defeating Roger Federer in straight sets? Did you know that Yorkshire alone would outrank Australia in the official medals table? These Olympics are blowing my mind.


So even though we made these deep fried courgette flowers well over a week ago, it's taken me this long to write them up. Far too long considering how delicious they were, and how incredibly, specifically seasonal. And far longer than they lasted on our plates.



But don't worry, I understand. No matter what I say about them, you're not going to go out and stuff courgette flowers any time soon, are you? You're too busy watching the Olympics, like me. Getting hooked on the golds, defending the bronzes, debating the outfits (I'm pro), and deploring the tacky bouquets. 



So when it's all over - when we wake up and realise that actually, we don't know the rules of dressage, nor understand why the gymnasts wear such ghastly makeup - this recipe will be waiting. It's not difficult, but it's fiddly, perilous (anything with deep-frying makes me nervous) and a bit time-consuming. But you know what trumps that? Delicious. These are delicious. Take a Gold flower, fry until Gold, and eat. I can't promise that it will give you abs like Jessica Ennis - well, that's the understatement of the year - but I guarantee it'll be tasty. 


Courgette Flowers Stuffed with Mozzarella, Mint and Lemon
Adapted from Jamie Oliver's Jamie at Home (recipe available here)

- 4 courgette flowers, really well-rinsed. I mean really - I found 4 ants after I thought I'd rinsed them the first time.

For the filling
- 100g buffalo mozzarella (or ricotta, if you can find it in your local shop - unlike me)
- a handful of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
- half a red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
- a good grating of parmesan
- salt and pepper
- zest of half a lemon
- a pinch of nutmeg, if you want to - I didn't.

For the batter
- 70g self raising flour
- pinch of salt
- 150ml sparkling water (or white wine, but why waste white wine?)

- cooking oil

In a small bowl, mix up all the filling ingredients until well combined. Whisk together the batter ingredeints until smooth and thick, adding more flour or more liquid until dipping in a finger leaves it well coated.

Carefully open up the courgette flowers and snip out the central stamen with scissors, then rinse again (just to be sure there are no lurking creepycrawlies). Fill the flower with the cheese mixture, then try to furl up the flower again, squeezing it gently together. 

Heat up the cooking oil in a medium saucepan until a bit of potato or bread sizzles and turns golden. If you've got a fancy thermometer, he says 180C - but we just guessed. One by one, dip the flowers in the batter and carefully add to the oil, lying them in away from you so that the oil doesn't splash. Fry until golden and crispy all over, then remove with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with kitchen towel. Scatter some sea salt over the top, and serve with lemon wedges to squeeze over. A sunny day is optional, but preferred. 

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