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Happy-Gourmand

Gad-zukes!

by - Story: 33220


She says:

As I sat on the deck tonight savouring what could be the last hot evening of the year, I reflected on the high points of the summer and realized that this year was a bit more spotty to say the least in the usual spectacular heat we get in the Okanagan. It was not very consistent this year, and for a place where the norm is being spoiled, that means we feel we were gypped – doesn’t it?

I didn’t want to spend my time with you just griping, so I was trying to think of the positive things from a cooler summer, or those things that were consistent… then it occurred to me! The thing I could tell you performed according to all tradition and exceeded expectations as always was my zucchini patch! I have papaya squash the size of footballs and zucchinis that look more like baseball bats than squash. Apparently this is due to how much the bumble bees like my garden too, as huge production in every sense depends on them pollinating the female flowers. Aside from the compliment that the bees pay me, I am also grateful that the squash stay tender so we can still cook with them – all of them (well, the ones I don’t give away).

When the “squash fairy” is not visiting my co-workers by leaving a present on their office chairs, she is trying to come up with new ways to enjoy this garden bounty. After all, you can only eat so much zucchini cake and sautéed or grilled zucchini. Mind you, the average zucchini does contain 19% of the recommended daily intake of manganese, which helps activate fat-burning enzymes (according to Wikipedia) does that mean if you ate 5 zucchinis a day you could burn all the fat you ate??

Of all the recipes I can pass on, I think the one that is best suited to my usual style is one I got from my father after his once-in-a-lifetime trip to Italy. This recipe typifies a special traveling memory, and it also makes the most of the situation. The recipe I speak of is “Fiore di Zucca”.

You see, this recipe involves using the flowers of the zucchini plant – something you would only do with a plant that had prolific flowers, and I think only in a culture that has a reverence for food and its rituals. There are many ways to cook them, and according to my Dad they are all worth trying, especially if you can do it in a small trattoria in Florence or Rome. For those of us who can’t get there this week, perhaps this will help transport us in spirit…

12 to 15 zucchini blossoms (or as many as you can find!)
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Pinch of baking soda
½ cup olive oil for frying (grapeseed oil works well, too)
½ cup vegetable oil
1 – 12 ounce can of beer, preferably at room temperature (you can substitute water if you prefer – the beer makes a lighter, fluffier batter)
Optional: stuffing mixture of fresh ricotta cheese with freshly chopped herbs, or anchovy filets

Make the batter by beating the eggs and then stirring in the flour gradually. Add the beer to make a smooth batter and set aside.
Wash the blossoms well but carefully. Heat oil for frying and prepare paper to put the fried blossoms on after they are cooked. If you are stuffing the blossoms, place a spoonful or two of the mixture in the blossom. Then dip in the batter and fry until golden brown. Drain season with salt if desired and serve warm.

As the Italians say, “Salute!”

He says:

I have really appreciated the papaya squash this year. When we get a huge harvest, I am able to take some to almost all my clients without affecting our main stock. It is so nice grilled! The thing that blows my mind is the size of the plant it is humongous and still growing. Yes, we get lots of squash but man that plant is taking over the yard. Next year we will plant this as far away as possible, so as to give a chance to the other stuff in the garden.

In restaurants, often zucchini is used as a filler because of its low cost. Also it can be stuffed and baked, breaded and fried, chopped and sautéed, and also grated and baked into a great chocolate loaf cake!

If you went to the farmers’ market I bet you could find some cheap zukes and fill your family with a few of them. Kids should appreciate them if you throw in some balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.

Have fun this Labor Day weekend. As for us, we are heading to Calgary because I am doing a BBQ demo and also judging the 15th annual BBQ on the Bow competition.

Talk to you next week!


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About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."

 

E-mail Kristin at:  wowmentor[email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com

 



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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