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Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Keeping the Farmers in Business

Oh mama. Wednesday is Farmer's Market day at City Hall. It might have been 33 degrees outside today but it was worth the walk over there. While hungry office workers lined up for peameal bacon sandwiches, I made my way to the tents at the far end of the Square. I didn't know where to start - everywhere I looked, there were juicy bing cherries, ripe strawberries, and peaches farther than the eye could see... what to buy, what to buy.

I strolled around, taking mental note of all the possibilities... There was a crush of people at one of the tents and I went in for a closer look. Heavens! Zucchini blossoms!! Lots of them. How could a girl resist?

I left the market with a bagful of fragrant basil leaves, gorgeous zucchini blossoms, heirloom baby tomatoes and baby zucchini. The smell of the basil wafted through my office this afternoon and certainly attracted some attention. I could hardly wait to get home and whip up something summery. I had forgotten that I liked tomatoes. Most of the time, the stores are filled with pastey, pale sour tomatoes, but at the height of summer, the most beautiful jewels make their appearance. Juicy, sweet, plump - heirloom tomatoes are the farmer's gifts to us city folk.

I hope you like...

Deep-Fried Zucchini Blossoms
I had planned to stuff these bad boys (they are the male flowers) but I could bare to - and so I decided to enjoy them in their simple splendour by dipping them in a thin eggy batter and straight into the hot oil.

2 Dozen zucchini blossoms (you're gonna want this many!)
1 egg
2 tbsp flours
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 pinch of salt
2 grinds of black pepper

I washed the blossoms in cold water & drained them. Be gentle. Meanwhile, I mixed two 2 tbsp of flour, with lemon juice, 1 egg and enough water to make a thin batter. Less water if you want a thicker batter.

Heat enough canola oil to fry the blossoms if you don't have a deep fryer. In order to test the oil to ensure that the oil is hot enough - let one drop of batter fall into the oil. If it sizzles and rises to the surface - it's ready to go. Watch the temperature don't let the oil get too hot.

Dip the zucchini into the batter and then straight into the oil. Watch carefully... Flip over after about a minute or two when they are golden brown. Place a paper towel over a plate & as the blossoms cook, remove the blossoms to let drain on the plate. Salt immediately.

In 2002, Martha Stewart published a summer recipe for a pasta salad called "minestrone salad." I thought about making this recipe all summer, but I am watching my carbs so no pasta for me. I have adapted it for my own use, I hope you like it.

Minestrone Salad
1 pint of heirloom tomatoes - split in half lengthwise
1 handful of basil leaves - torn or sliced into a chiffonade
1 can of corn, drained (I am not proud of it - but fresh is not always possible)
1 can of white cannelli beans, drained & rinsed.
1 dozen baby zucchini
1 splash of good olive oil
1 tbsp of chianti vinegar (use what you have at home)
salt and pepper to taste

Blanch the baby zukes for about 5 minutes. Drain and plunge in cold water immediately. When cool enough to handle, slice the zucchinis in half lengthwise and then in half again. (I only sliced them once and found them way too difficult to toss in the salad with all of the other delicate items.) Drain and rinse out the white cannelli beans. Add beans, corn, tomatoes and basil together in a large bowl. Add salt and pepper as well as the vinegar and olive oil. Toss gently until mixed well - don't crush the beans.

It's that easy.

Bon Appetit


Calista said...

Gooood! Sounds really good. Interesting food selection, Hungry Gal. And the way u describe it...mmmm I wish I was there.
Not to mention I'm hungry at the moment.

Keep it up!

Calista said...

Hey Gal, don't let me wait too long your next entry!


Ralph said...

You make it sound so easy, even I might be able to pull some of those dishes off... great blog!

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