Tag Archives: garden

Pane di zucchine

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As the courgettes keep on growing and the weather begins to turn, it was time to think of more substantial uses for them and their flowers. I was reminded of a bread I once had in Rome that used elderflowers and decided that grated courgettes could take their place. They sit happily between the saltiness of some cured ham and the freshness of ricotta and basil. The result is somewhere between a bread and a savoury cake – fairly dense but happy sitting on a table amongst salads or as a side to soup. It also looks pretty great, I think.

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Pane di Zucchine

Makes one loaf in a 23cm cake tin or large loaf tin

250g plain flour

100g corn flour

5g dried yeast

3 tablespoons grated parmesan/pecorino

100g cured ham such as speck cut into small pieces (optional)

500g grated courgette

80ml good quality olive oil

3 tablespoons ricotta (optional)

230ml milk

handful chopped basil

generous pinch of salt

courgette flowers (optional)

Mix the grated courgette with a pinch of salt and leave for 10 minutes before wringing out moisture with a clean tea towel.

Combine well all of the ingredients in a large bowl except the salt and courgette flowers, if using. It should be of a cake mix consistency – add a little more milk if it isn’t. Add the salt and stir in before placing in a greased non-stick cake or loaf tin. Add the flowers on top. Leave to rise slightly in a warm place for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180C.

Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden on top and a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool on a rack before removing from tin.

This is a soft bread so keep it in the fridge. Also great toasted.

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Stuffed Courgette Flowers / Fiori di Zucchini Ripieni

Zucchini Flowers-MW-Kitchen-8I defy anyone to find a better way of eating these flowers. A shell of light, crisp batter protects a delicately perfumed flower petal, leading to an explosion of freshness from the light cheese and herbs inside. So when these big blossoms started sprouting in huge numbers in my garden, it was time to fry.

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If for some reason you’re trying to watch your deep fried food consumption, then slicing them raw into salads, oven baking or even shallow frying will produce great tasting and probably healthier results. It also saves the hassle of trying to remove the pistil or stamen without tearing the petals so that your flowers do not leak water into the oil causing a volcanic bubbling of oil. I found the best way to remove these was to pick the flower in the morning when it was still open and cleaning then, before filling later.

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Some great combinations to go inside your flowers:

  • Seasoned ricotta and basil (+ finely diced salami if feeling indulgent) – my favourite.
  • Mozzarella and speck
  • Mozzarella and anchovies

The petals will have a natural twist when closed so they should be easy to reseal when you have spooned a teaspoon or so of your preferred filling into the flower.

Recipe for the batter from Jacob Kenedy’s cookbook ‘Bocca’ which has a whole chapter devoted to fritti if you should need further reason to invest.

Batter

100g plain flour

50g cornflour

20ml extra virgin olive oil

10g dried yeast

250ml tepid water

Combine the flours, olive oil and yeast in a bowl. Stir in a little water and combine to form a thick paste without lumps. Add the remaining water until you arrive at a nice single cream texture.

Leave to rise covered for one hour or up to 5 hours at room temperature.

Frying

Heat a saucepan with 4cm of your preferred frying oil to 190C.

Sort your workstation out around your hob. A plate lined with plenty of kitchen towel on one side, the batter on the other with the stuffed flowers.

Hold the flowers by the stem and twist in the batter to keep shape and seal any holes. Hold the flower above the batter for around 10 seconds allowing most of it to drip off – this is Kenedy’s trick for a lighter batter.

Then carefully place the flower into the heated oil, dipping the head in first to seal the head and then releasing it away from you – do not drop from a height!

Fry for 1-2 minutes, turning once when the underside is taking on a golden hue.

Remove carefully using tongs, allowing as much oil to drip off as possible before draining on the kitchen towel. Try and do in batches but do not overcrowd the pan, you have about 4 minutes until they are perfect temperature to eat, and 7 minutes until the batter becomes soggy!

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