Thursday, August 26, 2010

Fried Zucchini Blossoms

One of the things I look forward to the most in the summer is fresh vegetables from the garden. On the top of my list is zucchini blossoms. For me they are a fried item that I cannot live without. Sure there are other ways of preparing and eating them but when you want the real flavor to shine I believe frying  them is the best way. Since I do not grow zucchini I go to my parents for this special treat and I am lucky to get it once or twice during the summer since I now live further away. Maybe someday my own garden will be able to accommodate zucchini; however I’d probably eat all of the blossoms and my garden would not be able to yield the vegetable.
Pick your blossoms first thing in the morning when they are fully open, buy them from a local farmer/farmers market, or order them online. If you are picking them you are supposed to just use the males (which are identified by pistons), because the female flowers are what produce the fruit. However, we tried both males and females last year and they taste the same. So if you are like my parents and have an abundance of zucchini every year feel free to use both male and female flowers.
18 zucchini blossoms (if you have more or less just adjust the amount of batter)
A pint whole milk, or a mixture of milk and cream
3 heaping tablespoons flour
An egg, lightly beaten
Evoo, Vegetable oil, or Canola oil for frying

Remove the pistils, wash the blossoms gently and pat them dry just as gently. When you are ready to fry trim stems of the zucchini blossoms, but be sure to keep a good part of the stem on so you can turn them in the frying pan.
Prepare the batter by combining the milk, flour and egg. This batter will be thinner than a pancake batter.
Heat the oil.
Fry on both sides until golden brown. It will only take about 2 minutes on each side.
Once they come out of the hot oil dry them and sprinkle with locatelli cheese (you may substitute parmesan).  Then enjoy! My father eats his on a sandwich with Italian bread and tomatoes; however my mother and I prefer to eat them like French fries and by popping them into our mouths one by one.
If you ever have the opportunity to eat zucchini blossoms in any shape or form go for it and you will not be disappointed. There are so many options with eating them too. You can stuff them, add to pasta, risotto, muffins, anything you’d like it just depends on how may blossoms are available to you. If you can only get a few, I still suggest frying them because it is my favorite way to eat them.

Fresh Picked Zucchini Blossoms

Battered Zucchini Blossom

Perfectly Fried Zucchini Blossoms

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Vegan Blueberry Lemon pancakes

Blueberries in batter on left, blueberry's on top right

1 cup of unbleached flour
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp sea salt
1/8 cup of flax seed
Zest from ½ of a lemon
1 tbs of melted non-hydrogenated margarine
1 cup of almond milk (note: I needed some extra but it depends how your batter is acting that day. I probably added an extra 1/8 cup.)
As many blueberries as you would like I would guess I used ½ a cup maybe more

Mix together the dry ingredients and then mix in the zest and wet ingredients. Put a pan, I used a flat plan, on medium heat and brush lightly with non-hydrogenated margarine.

Now this is where I experimented for the first batch I used a ladle and put 4 pancakes on the pan and then dropped the blueberries on them. Once the batter on top begins to bubble you know it is time to flip the pancake. Cook on both sides until lightly browned. Then top with anything, powdered sugar, more “butter” or maple syrup. I used real organic maple syrup and more earth balance spread.

For the second half I added the blueberries directly to the mix and lightly stirred. Then turned the pan to low and cooked the pancakes. Now these will take longer because they are thicker with the berries in them.

The reason I did this experiment? Well my mom always added the blueberries to the mix at the end, but lately on cooking shows I’ve seen them put them on in the cooking process. My personal opinion: The blueberries that were added after the pancakes were on the pan were quicker and easier and looked nicer, but you cannot beat the flavor of the pancakes with the blueberries throughout! I guess mom really does know best!

Now for the other part of the experiment, I fed them to my dad as blueberry lemon pancakes and he loved them. He is a vegan-phobic and he had no idea that there weren’t any animal products in them. Not to toot my own horn, but they were probably the best pancakes I've had!

Score 1 for Mom and Jen, Score 0 for Chef’s and Dad.

This will serve 3-4 people!

Vegan Peanut Butter Banana Bread

Wow, it’s been awhile since I’ve blogged, but sometimes life gets in the way. Anyway I’m back with a new creation. I hope you like it, good thing I wrote the blog when I made the bread or I wouldn’t have remembered the ingredients!
So I had 3 over-ripe bananas and I hate wasting food so I figured I would make Banana Bread, but not just any Banana Bread would do, it had to be Peanut Butter Banana Bread. After scouring the internet, I realized that there wasn’t a recipe that would suite my ingredients so I made up my own.
½ cup of vegan butter
1 cup of sugar
2 eggs worth of vegan eggs (Once again I used flax, because it is so healthy. 1tbs of flax plus 3 tbs of warm water = 1 egg)
3 over-ripe bananas (mashed)
½ cup of PB
2 tsp vanilla
2 ½ cups of flour
1 tsp of baking soda
Preheat your oven to 325 and grease a 5x9 inch loaf pan. In a large bowl, cream the “butter” and sugar. Add your egg sub and beat well. Then add, PB, Banana mash, vanilla flour (I would start with 2 ¼ cups of flour and then if your batter is still wet (ie bigger bananas, add the other ¼ cup), and baking soda. Mix until blended. If you wish you could add nuts or chocolate chips. I wish I would have added chocolate chips but I know it wouldn’t be as healthy and I made my vegan brownies this weekend too so I figured I would just stick to PB banana bread. Bake at 325 for about 80-90 mins or until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean. My center was not cooking so I took a piece of foil and cut out the center so the edges of the bread would be covered by the foil but the center could still brown and it worked perfectly!  Cool on a wire rack. Serve plain, with vegan butter, or even more PB. Rigley even likes this bread. I actually caught him going into my husband’s brief case and eating a piece of the slice I cut for my husband to take to work! That little stinker! Anyway, it’s safe for dogs and healthy so if you feel like sharing with Fido go ahead.