First harvest 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

7.31.14 Eat Your Vegetables

It's the last day of July. Summer is peaking! And I'm about to bid you farewell as we drift into the dog days of August. It's been strangely cool in these parts and the nights have been downright chilly, which makes for some powerfully good sleeping under a fluffy duvet. But the garden needs a lot of heat right now to keep producing—those tomatoes especially!—so I'm hoping it's just a blip. Speaking of the garden, ours is featured on Gardenista today; come for a visit here. Even if you don't have a vegetable-producing garden of your own, summer produce is abundant at farms and farmers markets. I stopped in at the Union Square market last week and came away with a big bag of red okra (I love it sliced and pan-fried, sprinkled with salt and cayenne pepper), another of English peas and 6 ears of sweet corn. These tastes really define the season for me and I can't seem to get enough of them!
Fried zucchini blossom2 790 xxx
photos by george billard and gluttonforlife

9.27.11 Flower Child

Squash blossoms are delicate and ethereal, yet somehow sturdy enough to  stand up to a good frying. They're delicious other ways, too, as in this fresh vegetable stew from Mexico, full of flores de calabaza, chiles and herbs. You'll find them fried all over Italy where they're known as fiori di zucca, always battered and sometimes stuffed. One classic version calls for a stuffing of anchovy filets and mozzarella, but mine—herb-flecked goat cheese—is lighter and feels a bit more in tune with these days of Indian summer. Like most fried foods, they're best served fresh from the oil, so they're really not the thing for a big party. But it's lots of fun to fry up a dozen or two for a group of friends gathered in the kitchen, sipping prosecco or rosé and singing the chef's praises. I can't remember where I learned to use masa harina for these, but I'm always on the lookout for gluten-free substitutes for wheat flour. As with my fried calamari, rice flour would probably work well, though the understated corn flavor of the masa harina really does seem to complement the subtle, sweetly vegetal note of the squash blossoms. By the way, zucchini flowers are said to be better than those of yellow squash, which can get slightly bitter. Choose the freshest, perkiest ones you can find. They need to be slightly open. Too tight and the fragile petals will tear as you attempt to pipe in the filling. Ain't that always the way?
Zucchini blossoms 790 xxx
some from the farmers market, and a couple of big ones from our garden