Food is Love, Love is Food.

A blog devoted to the connection between meals, memories and the special moments in our lives.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Eating Flowers with Cookie

One of my favorite hobbies is dining at a wonderful restaurant and then trying to recreate a special dish at home.  One of the people with whom I love to dine is my dear friend, Courtney.  Courtney and I go way back.  We were randomly assigned as roommates our freshman year of college, and our friendship has spanned many of the most important events of our lives.  We have talked each other through breakups, deaths in our families, new jobs, and of course, changing hairstyles.  I think only our mothers were happier than we on the day we moved into our dorm room.  Somehow with that motherly instinct, they sniffed each other out, and knew we were a match.  Each returned to her home confident that her daughter had found someone with a similar background, interests, and values.  We both grew up in homes where we interacted with our grandparents on a daily basis (mine lived upstairs, hers, right next door, we are both half Irish and half Italian, and we both had large, close extended families.  We were 'simpatico' from day one. In addition to living together that first year, we also studied abroad together during our junior year.  Courtney's name was a difficult one to pronounce for many of the students at the Swiss college we attended, so her nickname that year became "Cookie."  It stuck, and I and many of her other friends still use it.

Twenty five years later, we get together at least once a year, as Courtney lives in the Midwest, and I live on the East coast, to reconnect.  We talk about our families, careers, travels and books we have read, and pretty much anything else that comes up.  Given our Italian background, our tradition in to have a great Italian dinner together.  Last week, I spent three days in New York City with Cookie, and we had several wonderful meals.  One of these meals was most memorable.  I don't know if it was the atmosphere, or the bottle of Proseco with which we started the meal, but I think this was our best Italian meal yet. 

One of the appetizers we had was zucchini blossoms stuffed with fresh ricotta cheese, and then fried, and they were amazing.  As I am a bit overwhelmed with zucchini right now, I decided to try to recreate the dish at home.  It served both as an excellent way to begin our meal the other night, but it also accomplished the secondary goal of cutting down the number of zucchini produced by the plants.  Brilliant!

For the stuffing:
1/3 cup of chevre goat cheese
1/3 cup of good quality ricotta
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
5 or 6 fresh basil leaves, julienned
1 garlic clove, minced almost to a paste
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

Mix all ingredients well in a bowl.

6-8 zucchini blossoms, trimmed and washed
1 egg, well beaten and placed in a shallow bowl
1 cup vegetable oil, for frying

3/4 cup of plain breadcrumbs
2 tbsp. grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. chopped parsley

Mix last 4 ingredients together in a shallow bowl

To assemble:

Gently open the zucchini flowers, one at a time, by pulling open one of the petals.  Take about 1 1/2-2 tablespoons of the cheese and place inside the blossom, folding the blossom closed.  Once all the blossoms are stuffed, dredge each blossom in the egg, then in the breadcrumb mixture.  Heat the oil in a small frying pan until very hot, and place 2-3 blossoms at a time in the oil, turning once when they are golden brown.  This should only take 45 - 60 seconds per side, so the whole blossom will be done in less than 2 minutes.  Drain on a plate lined with 2 layers of paper towels, and let cool for a few minutes.

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