Saturday, April 30, 2016

Stuffed Squash Blossoms

Guess what I found at the grocery store this weekend??  Squash blossoms!  I've wanted to play with these for the longest time, but it seems like I always miss the season.  Not this year!  And after playing around online looking up every squash blossom recipe known to man, I decided to just throw a bunch of yummy stuff together and see what happened.  What resulted was good, pretty tasty, but I just felt like the blossoms got lost.  The filling was good, and the batter was crispy, but it seemed a waste of such a fragile tidbit.  I think I may become a fan of raw stuffed squash blossoms.

Stuffed Squash Blossoms

8 ounces whole milk ricotta
½ cup grated Parmesan
1 large egg yolk
Grated rind of ½ lemon
2 cloves black garlic, mashed
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
12 squash blossoms, rinsed and stamen removed
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon paprika
1 cup club soda
Canola oil, for frying
Pesto or tomato sauce, for serving

Combine ricotta, Parmesan, egg yolk, lemon rind, garlic, basil, and salt and pepper in a medium bowl.  Spoon into a quart-size Ziploc bag, and cut a corner off of the bag.  Squeeze the filling down towards the cut corner and pipe the filling down into each blossom, leaving about an inch of petals exposed at the top.  Twist the exposed petals to close the blossoms.  Set aside.

Combine the flour, salt, and paprika.  Whisk in the club soda until a smooth batter forms.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with about an inch of oil in the bottom.  When oil is hot, dip each stuffed blossom down into the batter until completed covered, then lightly tap off excess.  Lay in the hot oil and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until light brown.  When the first side of the blossom has browned, flip it over to finish cooking on the other side, another 3 to 5 minutes.  Remove the browned blossoms from the pan and drain on a paper towel.  Serve with pesto or tomato sauce.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Friday, April 29, 2016

Bon Appétit: Tapioca Pearl Pudding

I think the only time I've ever tried tapioca pudding is one time at a Chinese buffet.  I'm not sure why we never ate it when I was a child, although I seem to remember my mother making yuck faces when my dad would order it out.  I think I just assumed it was some weird thing my dad ate and left it at that.  But then I saw a pretty picture of it in a magazine, and I started wondering exactly why I hadn't experimented with this sugary delight.  I managed to find a pack of tapioca pearls at the grocery store, so I whipped up a batch.  Guess what?  Nothing weird.  It tastes just like rice pudding.  Almost the same consistency, too.  Not sure what the all the yuck faces were for.  This is going in the rotation.

Tapioca Pearl Pudding
Adapted from Bon Appétit magazine, February 2015

2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon nonfat dry milk powder
⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
⅓ cup small pearl tapioca (not instant or quick-cooking)
⅓ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk, beaten to blend
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
Freshly grated nutmeg (for serving)

Whisk milk, cream, milk powder, and salt in a medium saucepan; add tapioca and let sit 30 minutes to hydrate.

Add sugar to tapioca mixture and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring often, until the consistency of a thick soup, 10 to 12 minutes. Whisk in egg yolk and cook, stirring occasionally, 2 minutes (it will thicken slightly). Let cool, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes.

Divide among small glasses. Chill pudding until cold (it will thicken), at least 2 hours.  Serve topped with nutmeg.

Makes 6 servings