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

Tagged — zucchini blossoms
Beaver dam side view 790 xxx
photos by george billard

9.26.11 Impromptu Potluck

Imagine traipsing through the woods early of an autumnal eve and coming upon this sight. Can you imagine anything more inviting? I feel so lucky to spend time at Beaver Dam. (Especially when I'm not going out of my mind waiting for my bathroom to be repaired!) And to come together there with a circle of new friends I have been collecting upstate—people who love eating well, being in nature, just chilling—is such fun. A recent invitation for cocktails turned into a few hours of cooking, foraging and eating, with everyone contributing in a very serendipitous way. We brought squash blossoms and fresh Concord grape juice, and happened to stumble upon some more black trumpet mushrooms en route (!), and there were many more delicacies waiting for us when we arrived. "Peace" vodka from a nearby distillery to mix with the grape juice, a couple of flawlessly executed dishes made with locally foraged mushrooms and a gorgeous peach galette worthy of Alice Waters herself. The best part, though, were the enormous glass doors of Beaver Dam thrown open to the glorious view: the ferns bleaching to a golden crisp, the wheat-colored marsh grasses blushing from the glow of the setting sun, the dank woods smelling of mushrooms and wet leaves. Though it was not cold, we lit a fire as a tribute to the approaching fall.
Beaver dam chimney 790 xxx
the rooofline at beaver dam creates an imposing silhouette against the sky

Tagged — zucchini blossoms