Happy Anniversary, to me! Can you believe it?! It’s been one year today since I first started blogging!!
Because it’s such a special day, I HAD to make something extra special for the event! I’d been wanting to make stuffed squash blossoms for a couple of years now, but just never got around to doing it. Most of you probably don’t know this, but I had been a certified nursing assistant for around 6 years before pursuing my dreams of becoming a chef. And, if you know anything about CNAs, you know that they don’t usually get a lot of free time… I can’t even tell you how many double shifts I worked over the years, or picked up extra hours in addition to my regular shift. Needless to say, this kind of work schedule is not exactly conducive to making yummy treats like stuffed squash blossoms! Or going to farmer’s markets to find said blossoms!
Well, now that I’m working in the food industry, I usually start work in the morning and then get done mid-afternoon, which works out perfectly for the farmer’s market on Wednesday evenings on Broadway in Green Bay. The market opens to the public at 4:00PM, and is two blocks long by two blocks wide with live entertainment and tons of vendors! Broadway is closed off for two blocks, and then a cross street (Hubbard) is closed off, so vendors line up facing the sidewalks (which are wide) and then patrons can walk around the entire radius to check out the goodies. It’s really a very nice setup… Especially considering they even have a wine and beer tent! This IS Wisconsin, after all!! Lol
So, last week Wednesday, my mama and I went to the farmer’s market and had a really nice time! We even found this new-ish, eclectic restaurant, called Three Three Five, that mostly does catering for private parties but is also open on Wednesdays during the market hours. I had the most amazingly refreshing lemonade I think I’ve ever had, a Basil Ginger Lemonade, and then we had an asparagus dish and also an heirloom tomato salad with…wait for it…cherry wood smoked bacon! The presentation was absolutely beautiful, and you could really see the love that went into Chef Chris’ work. I always enjoy admiring the work of fellow foodies! Not to mention, he was a total sweetheart and called his connection with one of the local markets and had them save the last of their heirloom tomatoes for me so that I could make my Heirloom Tomato Pie!! Thank you, again, Chris!
But, back to squash blossoms…
Until Wednesday, I had never even seen them at any of the markets I’ve gone to, so I was pretty stoked to find them when not even looking for them. And they were fairly inexpensive as well, which is always a bonus… So, as soon as I saw them, I scooped up a bunch of them and gave the lady my three dollars! I suppose I could always plant my own zucchini, but I’m not a very patient person. I have three tomato plants (one heirloom, one grape, and one beefsteak), all of which have fruit on them, but none of them have ripe fruit, and the anticipation could just about kill me! Every day, I go out to check on them, but have yet to see any redness going on. I think they’re doing it on purpose… ;-)
Needless to say, I’m not so sure that I could handle any other plants. Although, I would only need one zucchini plant (maybe) to pacify my new love for these little beauties! If you’ve never had a stuffed squash blossom, I would recommend trying it. What’s the worst that can happen?! The flowers themselves really don’t have very much flavor, so whatever you stuff inside them needs to have flavor. And the tempura is great, because it’s so light that it doesn’t overpower anything else and is perfectly crispy. I had intended to make my own tentsuyu, but ended up getting some from a local Japanese restaurant instead after having so much difficulty finding the dashi stock anywhere in Green Bay. If you can make it yourself, feel free to do so! If you can’t find the stuff for it, though, you can usually buy it from a Japanese restaurant, which is just fine. Either way, you should definitely try this!
I had guests from out of town for dinner, and they couldn’t believe how good these were. They live near San Francisco and had never had them either, so I’m glad that we were all able to share the experience!
½ lb. raw shrimp, shelled, deveined, and roughly chopped
½ tsp. sesame oil
½ tsp. salt
½ egg white
8 zucchini flowers
Tentsuyu (Tempura dipping sauce)
¾ c. all-purpose flour
½ c. rice flour
¼ c. cornstarch
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1½ c. cold club soda
To make the shrimp filling: Add the shrimp, sesame oil, salt and white pepper to a large bowl and stir to combine. Add the egg white and continue stirring until everything is thoroughly combined and the egg white is coating everything well. Set aside until needed.
Remove the stigma from the center of the zucchini flowers. Spoon the shrimp mixture into a piping bag and gently pipe the shrimp filling into the zucchini flowers; twist the petal tops to enclose the filling.
Prepare the tempura batter: To make a crisp and light tempura batter, make sure you use ice cold club soda. Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a bowl, then whisk in the club soda until the batter is smooth. (You may cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 1 hour.)
Heat oil in a deep fryer to 350°F. Lightly dip the zucchini flower in the tempura and deep fry in hot oil until the tempura is light golden and the shrimp filling is cooked through, turning occasionally. Keep warm and continue to deep fry the rest of the zucchini flowers. Serve immediately with tentsuyu.