Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms with Homemade Ricotta, Basil & Fleur de Sel

This is a wonderful seasonal recipe that is great for an appetizer. This is what Italian cooking is all about. Use the best quality ingredients to make something so simple, yet beautiful and extremely delicious. If you were to use commodity products for the rest of the dish, it just won't taste nearly as good. If you don't grow zucchini, you can find the blossoms at your local farmer's market and perhaps select grocery stores.

TT = to taste

Ricotta Cheese - Yield 4 cups
1) 1 Gallon Whole Milk
2) 1 quart Buttermilk
3) 1 pint Heavy Cream - Pasteurized as opposed to ultra-pasteurized
4) 1 teaspoon sea salt

1) Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan over med low heat and bring to a coil stirring occasionally. Not too hot or curds will burn!
2) Once boiling, remove from heat and let stand for 15-20 minutes.
3) Strain through cheesecloth lined strainer into bucket for about 10 minutes.
4) Transfer cheese to airtight container and add a little bit of the whey to the cheese in order to keep it moist and creamy.
5) The cheese is best eaten the day of, yet it will last for about a week in the refrigerator.
Note - One of my favorite ways to enjoy this delicacy is by scooping some of the warm strained cheese as soon as it is ready and drizzling it with some good extra virgin olive oil and fresh cracked black pepper.

Zucchini Blossoms:
1) 12 Large Zucchini Blossoms, about 4 inches in length, and stamen removed
2) 3 cups fresh ricotta cheese, chilled, and strained for half hour (recipe above)
3) 1/2 c. freshly grated parmiggiano reggiano
4) 1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
5) 1/3 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil, plus extra
6) 10 medium basil leaves, chiffonade(finely shredded)
7) Flour for dredging
8) Fleur de Sel (Good quality sea salt)

1) Combine drained ricotta, parmiggiano reggiano, black pepper, olive oil and half of the basil leaves in a mixing bowl.
2) Working carefully, stuff the mixture with spoon or piping bag into the flowers.
3) Close up flours
4) Dredge them in flour and place on sheet tray or plate.
5) Heat large saute pan over high heat until just smoking.
6) Add olive oil to pan to create a very thin film of oil in pan
7) Cook a few flowers at a time or they will be hard to manage since they are so delicate.
8) Cook flowers until golden brown on both sides. 1-2 minutes per side. If you have a fish spatula USE IT!!!
9) Transfer cooked flowers to a large platter. BE CAREFUL WHEN HANDLING THEM
10) Garnish the blossoms with a little sprinkle of fleur de sel on each, the rest of the shredded basil and a drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil.
11) Serve immediately

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