Sunday, August 9, 2009
Honor the Green Garden Goddess of Mid-Summer
Graceful, long, slender
Ripening into curvaceous.
Full and sometimes boldly striped.
Celebrate zucchini. Celebrate the abundance. There is no escaping it. In fact, in some parts of America I’ve read that August plays host to a “Sneak Some Zucchini on Your Neighbor’s Porch Night.”
Zucchini is a truly good sport and will play along with you in the kitchen with whatever you have in mind. Some of the best apple pie I ever ate was not (don’t tell the kids) apple. The important thing to remember is that for as long as zucchini has been growing, people of all cultures have also endured weeks of zucchini abundance, so take heart! If you are running low on ideas Wikipedia breaks down zucchini and culture thusly:
In Italy, zucchini are served in a variety of ways, especially breaded and pan-fried. Some restaurants in Rome specialize in deep-frying the flowers, known as fiori di zucca.
In France zucchini is a key ingredient in ratatouille, a stew of summer vegetables prepared in olive oil and cooked for an extended time over low heat. The dish, originating near present-day Nice, is served as a side dish or on its own at lunch with bread.
In Turkish cuisine, zucchini is the main ingredient in the popular dish mücver , or "zucchini pancakes", made from shredded zucchini, flour and eggs, lightly fried in olive oil and eaten with yogurt.
In Lebanon, zucchini is stuffed with minced meat and rice plus herbs and spices and steamed. It is also used in various kinds of stew.
In Greece, zucchini is usually fried or boiled with other vegetables. It is served as an hors d'œuvre. During fasting seasons it may be served as a main dish. In several parts of Greece, the flowers of the plant are stuffed with white cheese, usually feta or mizithra cheese, or with a mixture of rice and herbs. Then they are deep-fried or, less often, baked with tomato sauce in the oven.
In Bulgaria, zucchini are fried and then served with a dip, made from yoghurt, garlic and dill. Another popular dish is oven-baked zucchini—sliced or grated—covered with a mixture of eggs, yoghurt, flour and dill.
In Egypt, zucchini are cooked with tomato sauce, garlic & onions.
What do they do in Columbus, Ohio?
Quesadillas De Flor De Calabaza
From the Masa Assasin masaassasin.blogspot.com
1 1/4 pounds Squash Flowers, cleaned and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or unsalted butter
3 tablespoons finely chopped white onion
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
Sea salt to taste
2 pablano chilies, charred, peeled, and cut into strips
1 tablespoon roughly chopped epazote
This is a fairly simple recipe; most of the work is in the prep. It was a fun day making these; my brother and I were prepping the flowers while the wife worked the grill and the masa. This Recipe is adapted from Diana Kennedys "From My Mexican Kitchen Techniques and Ingredients."
Rinse and briefly shake excess water off the flowers. Remove stringy green sepals around the base of each flower. If the flowers are large leave about a half inch of the stalk on. Roughly chop the flowers, calyx and stamen included.
Prepare chiles by placing over open flame , turning them from time to time until skin is blistered and lightly charred. Place them inside a plastic bag and set aside to steam for 10 about minutes; this process will loosen the skin. Then remove the skin by running your hands or a spoon down the chile. Cut into vertical strips.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add the onion garlic, and a little salt, and fry gently without browning until translucent, about 1 minute. Add the chili strips and cook stirring from time to time, for another two minutes.
Add the flowers and salt to taste, cover the pan, and cook over low heat until the round calyx is tender, not soft, about 10 minutes. Add epazote after 5 minutes.
The mixture should be moist not juicy.
Prepare some corn tortillas on the comal with some Oaxaca cheese and flor de calabaza mixture. Enjoy!
This is enough for about 15 quesadillas (which was a bit much) I will most likely split the recipe in half next time.