One of the great things about working at a really good restaurant is watching great food get made. One of the frustrating parts of working at a great restaurant is being around food for eight or nine long hours and never getting to eat.
The following dish is one of the signature appetizers of the restaurant I work at. Whenever an extra dish is “fired” (cooked) or doesn’t meet the chef’s standards, there’s a chance that the dish will be apprehended by a scavaging staff member ready to snag a quick bite, before the dish’s contents gets tossed.
There are two forms of squash blossoms available at local farmer’s markets from . When at the market look for squash blossoms that are either “unattached” (the male flowers) or the small blossom attached to a baby squash (the female flower). Either kind of blossom will require the removal of their internal “organs” (the pistil or the stamen) before they can be stuffed. The flowers are delicate and quick to go bad, so be sure to use the flowers right away.
I made this dish with fresh Buffala ricotta, which can be found at Bubalus Bubalis’s , the Hollywood Farmers market and a number of other cheese stores across the country. The taste and texture of this cheese is amazing but a fresh cow’s ricotta cheese will do.
For the blossoms
1 ½ cups of fresh buffalo ricotta or cow’s milk ricotta
pinch of salt
Freshly grated nutmeg (to taste)
Six (or more) squash blossoms
For the batter
1 cup panko (Asian breadcrumbs)
1 egg, beaten
olive oil (enough to cover the bottom of a small frying pan with a thin layer)
pinch of maldon sea salt
squeeze of lemon
Inspect the inside of the blossoms for insects and remove the inside flower “organs”.
In a small bowl mix together ricotta, salt and freshly grated nutmeg to taste. With either a small spoon or you fingers, stuff the cleaned blossoms with the ricotta mixture. Don’t over stuff, be sure to put in just enough to fill the flower’s belly with ricotta. Twist the ends of the squash flowers to close.
Pour the panko onto a plate. Dip the stuffed squash blossom into the beaten egg (let drip for a second) and then roll onto the breadcrumbs.
After you have breaded your squash blossoms, heat a small frying pan over medium to high heat. Add the oil and let it get hot.
Gently add one squash blossom onto the bed of the pan. Make sure the oil is hot enough to make the flower and breading sizzle. Add just enough squash blossoms to cook them but not overcrowd the pan. Turn the blossoms with tongs when golden on one side—about 4 minutes. Turn until the blossoms are completely golden. Put on a paper napkin to drain of oil.
Put on plate, finish with a squeeze of lemon and a quick pinch of Maldon sea salt. Serve immediately.