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- Dish type
- Starters with cheese
- Goat's cheese starters
This courgette flower tempura with goat's cheese and tomato fondue makes for a rich and visually appealing vegetarian appetiser. Using the whole courgette including the flower adds an extra depth of texture with the tomato fondue packing a flavourful punch.
1 person made this
- 4 courgette flowers
- 200g soft goat's cheese
- 2 shallots, chopped
- 1/2 bunch chives, chopped
- 1/2 lemon, juiced and zested
- 50ml double cream
- salt and pepper to taste
- oil for deep frying
- Tempura batter
- 100g self-raising flour
- 1 tablespoon cornflour
- 1 pinch salt
- 1/2 pint soda water
- 4 ice cubes
- Tomato fondue
- 1 large white onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 tablespooons olive oil
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
- 300g chopped tomatoes
- 5 whole plum tomatoes
- 1 tablespooon tomato puree
- 1 tablespooon caster sugar
MethodPrep:30min ›Cook:1hr ›Ready in:1hr30min
- Add the onion and garlic to a saucepan with a drizzle of olive oil. Sweat down along with the chopped thyme for 2 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes and tomato puree, bring to the boil and add in the sugar. Turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for 1 hour until thick. Remember to stir every 5 minutes. Once this has cooked down blitz in a food processor, leave slightly chunky.
- Put the self-raising flour in to a mixing bowl, add in the corn flour, salt and soda water, whisk all the ingredients together until you have a batter like consistency, add the ice-cube and place in the fridge for 10 minutes.
- Open up the courgette flower and remove the pip. In a bowl, mash the goat's cheese to the consistency of breadcrumbs, add in the chopped shallot, chive and lemon juice. Mix together well and add the double cream until you have a smooth paste and add salt and pepper to taste.
- Spoon the mixture into a piping bag and fill the flowers 3/4 of the way.
- Heat oil in a deep saucepan for deep frying over medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, dip the courgette flower in to the tempura batter and deep fry for 90 seconds (make sure you don't leave it too long as it will explode).
- To serve, warm through the tomato fondue and serve with a petit herb salad.
See it on my blog
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Stuffed courgette flowers
To make the batter, whisk the egg, flour and bicarb together in a wide bowl. Gradually pour in the iced water, whisking continuously, until you have a smooth batter the consistency of double cream. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, beat all the filling ingredients together with some seasoning until well mixed. To make the dressing, mix all the ingredients in a third bowl with some seasoning and set aside.
Gently open up each flower and remove the stamen if there is one. Place spoonfuls of filling inside. Close the flower, twisting the ends of the petals to seal. Heat a deep-fryer to 180C. (If you don’t have a deep-fryer, see right.) Working in batches so you don’t overcrowd the pan, dip the flowers in the batter and fry for 2 mins, then use a slotted spoon to carefully flip them and fry for another 2 mins until crisp. Drain on kitchen paper and leave in a warm place while you fry the rest. Sprinkle with a little salt and serve 2 flowers on each plate with a circle of dressing around the outside of the plate.
What a brilliant invention of someone to think of using this humble little flower as a vessel for greatness. Tess makes a delightful decadent starter while on holiday, but it would brighten up your days at home too.
I honestly wish I could say the idea of stuffing courgette flowers was mine, but alas it was not.
As if the creamy filling, crunchy coating wasn’t exciting enough, they are so damn pretty on the plate. You can completely forget that they are deep fried and look at them as something wholly more virtuous. Just serve them with a few flecks of parsley for colour, topped with toasted hazelnuts and honey drizzle and you’ve got yourself one hell of a starter.
I first stumbled across the goats cheese and honey and hazelnut combo last summer at a charming agriturismo in Lake Como. The genius chef had the brilliant idea of serving us fresh farm-made goats cheese served with a toasted hazelnut powder and local honey for dipping. Nothing complicated, just a plate of cheese and a few bowls, purely about the flavours. For the last year it has been a trio of ingredients I have longed to play around with. So since I am in Italy, at the end of the gulf of poets, on holiday with my dad and brother and doing little other then reading and faffing, I thought now would be the time… The courgette flowers are out in abundance and I have my two guinea pig/ critics at the ready.
You ask if they were good?! Not a crumb was left on the plate. Success I’d say!
8 Fun Things to Fry on National Tempura Day
At this point, almost every day of the year is a national some-food day, from Coconut Torte (March 13) to Tapioca Pudding (July 15). They're all on our National Food Day Calendar (which you can download here) and most of them are worth ignoring, but today is National Tempura Day, and you know what? Tempura's actually pretty great, especially since it's one of the few fry-up varieties that goes heavy on the veggies (and works well with pretty much anything).
Tempura took root in Japan in the 16th century, after Portuguese traders introduced the deep-frying technique from their homeland (where you can still find similar fried seafood). The earliest records of tempura describe fried balls made of "a paste of thrush meat, shrimp and ground walnuts" with no batter in sight, according to the food historian
Takashi Morieda. But by the 18th century, tempura had flowered into the the crispily battered form we know today, with Edo street stalls serving up "fish dusted with flour or root vegetables like burdock, lotus and taro dipped in a thin mixture of flour, soy sauce and water."
These days, shrimp tempura is such an institution in Japan that there's an entire fast-food chain dedicated to rice bowls topped with ebi-ten, but the great thing about tempura is its versatility. You can dip pretty much anything in this easy-to-make batter, pop it in some oil, and know it'll taste awesome. It's hard to go wrong with the standard tempura lineup--carrots, sliced sweet potatoes, eggplant, shrimp, and the occasional shiitake--but we've come up with some of our favorite non-traditional tempurable foods, in honor of the National Day. Let us know how they work out!
First things first, though, here's how to make the BA test kitchen's bare-bones batter recipe. All you need is 1 cup of flour, 1 1/2 cups of cold seltzer, and a pinch of salt--mix the seltzer into the dry ingredients until it has the consistency of pancake batter, and you're ready to start frying!
As with any deep-frying, it's best to use an oil with a high smoke point, like canola, safflower, or grapeseed, and follow all of our general deep-frying pointers and precautions. Here's an extra one, though, that applies to deep-frying with any batter as thin as tempura: make sure to dip the battered item into the oil slowly, holding it for a second or two before letting it go if you drop it, the batter is likely to peel off on impact. To help the batter stick even better, you can sprinkle the item to be fried with a little bit of kosher salt before dredging it, too.
On to our non-obvious tempura ingredients.
Trendy Leafy Greens: Kale, beet greens, swiss chard--you name it, and you can turn it into a better, crispier version of itself.
Pickles: Deep-frying sour things is a good way to go--a whole Kosher dill might be a bit much for the batter to deal with though, so you're better off slicing it into coins, and battering them individually.
Pickled Oysters: Best of both words! Seafood is already a tempura standby, and fried pickles are always good. And yes, pickled oysters are a thing that humans eat.
Herbs: Tempura basil, sage, or rosemary might not be the best to munch on their own, but as a garnish on a pile of other tempuraɽ items (or on a dish that could use some spicy crunch), they're worth a try.
Cheese: Things get a little dicey when you introduce something as meltable as cheese to a deep-fryer, but with a keen eye and reasonable reflexes, you can get an airy little cheese puff out of the mix. Cheese with a mild tang (creamy goats, dull cheddars) will go best with the batter--just make sure to freeze your fromage first.
Flowers: Zucchini blossoms aren't all that strange to see deep-fried, but they aren't a big part of Japanese food, so we thought weɽ add them in for inspiration. We have a great recipe for fried blossoms that uses a tempura-esque batter, but theyɽ taste just as good with the real deal.
Beets: Make sure you have your fryable slices of beet patted dry before trying this (otherwise the batter will slide right off).
Hard-boiled Eggs: Why should the Scots get all the credit for this technique? With the lighter batter, you'll be better off halving or quartering the egg, but the puffy tempura coating will add a nice crunch to any eggy slice.
Once you've got those fried up, as any tempura head knows, there is a special sauce. You can buy a bottle of it at any supermarket with a reasonable international food aisle, but you can also make the slightly sweet soy mix at home: take 3 parts dashi (a subtle Japanese seaweed-fish broth), 1 part soy sauce, and 1 part mirin (sweetened rice wine vinegar), add some bonito flakes for good measure, and you're good to go. Feel free to improvise if your pantry's a little limited. Sake and sugar can approximate mirin, and plain old water can sub in for the dashi. As with any quick sauce like this, just try things out and see what tastes right.
My Zia Iolanda made fried zucchini blossoms when I was visiting her in Italy this past June. She deep fried them, which you can also do, but I just pan fry them. They’re like zucchini flower fritters, for lack of a better name.
Look at the size of these blossoms!!
Pat the anchovy fillets with kitchen paper to remove the excess (excessively fishy) oil. Chop them finely, then put them with the tablespoon of olive oil in a shallow pan over a moderate heat. As they cook, remove the needles from the rosemary (you need about 1 heaped tsp of them) and chop them finely. Add them to the pan with the anchovies.
Peel and slice the garlic and add it to the pan. Quarter the cherry tomatoes and stir them in, letting them cook for 5 minutes until soft and squashy. Pour in the 100ml of olive oil, season with black pepper but no salt, and leave to simmer for a further 10-15 minutes, until all is soft. Check the seasoning and serve with the fried courgettes. (You can keep this warm for a while, with a last-minute stir before serving.)
Make the batter. Sift the flour into a large basin then add the oil and water, beating slowly to a thick paste. Set aside for 30 minutes. Don't be tempted to skip the resting time – it is essential for a light batter. Just before you plan to fry the courgettes, beat the egg white until almost stiff and fold it gently into the batter.
Warm the oil in a deep pan. Wipe the courgettes. Cut them into 3cm lengths and then into halves.
Test the oil to make sure it is hot enough – it should send a cube of bread golden in a few seconds – then dip the courgettes into the batter and lower them a few at a time into the hot oil. Hold them under the oil by pushing down with a spatula. Fry for 3 or 4 minutes until the batter is pale gold and crisp then lift out and briefly place on a piece of kitchen paper to drain. Eat the fritters while they are hot and crisp with the dressing.
Making the Batter
If you make battered fried food often enough, you are aware there are good recipes and methods and there are others that end with heavy, oily results. So when it comes to tempura, following a few tricks when making the batter will ensure success. First, make sure you use cold or ice water this is important to prevent the batter from absorbing too much oil. You also want to use cake flour instead of all-purpose flour the lower content of protein helps minimize the formation of gluten in the batter which prevents a bready crust.
When combining the ingredients, do not over mix the batter you actually want it to be somewhat lumpy. Using a few chopsticks in a kind of stabbing motion will help combine the ingredients without mixing them too much. Definitely, do not use a whisk this will activate the glutens and create a chewy coating. And do not prepare the batter ahead of time—it is better to make the batter right before frying tempura.
Lightly coat the seafood or vegetable in the cake flour before dredging in the batter. This allows the batter to adhere better. Another tip to keep in mind is to be somewhat minimal when coating the ingredients with batter. If there is too much batter, the outside might be crispy but the inside could be mushy.
Squash Blossoms, Fior di Zucchini
For a short period of time, when the harvest of the summer and winter squashes is at its peak, squash blossoms are available in great quantities.
Fiori di zucca are a delicacy offered and cooked in every part of the world: the Greeks fill the blossoms with feta cheese and cook them in tomato sauce the Chinese deep fry them and serve with a fish sauce in Japan, squash blossom are fried in a tempura batter and served with their traditional dipping sauce in Mexicola sopa or la quesadillas de flor de calabaza are very popular dishes every country has its own way of serving and preparing these delicious squash blossoms!
In Sicily and the rest of Italy, squash blossoms are offered in all vegetable markets, and housewives cook them in various ways. In season, they are part of every restaurant menu as an appetizer, as a condiment for pasta or made into a frittata as a nourishing entrée or side dish. The most popular way to prepare the squash blossoms is to fry them, stuffed or plain, and coated with flour and eggs or a light batter. In Palermo, the ciuri i cucuzza, in most cases, are simply stuffed with a piece of young cheese and fried after being dipped in eggs or batter.
1 ) Tempura Courgette with Goats Cheese with Honey
4 C (1 litre) vegetable oil for frying
110 g flour
pinch of baking powder
½ C (125 ml) sparkling water
3 courgettes, ends trimmed, sliced in half lengthways
6 slices of fresh baguette
100 g Chevin (goat’s cheese)
2 Tbsp (30 ml) honey
2) White Sardines, Tomato Jam and Salsa
Click here for the Tomato Jam recipe
¼ green pepper, very finely chopped
½ red onion, very finely chopped
3 tomatoes, blanched, skins removed, deseeded and very finely chopped
2 Tbsp (30 ml) red wine vinegar
2 tsp (10 ml) castor sugar
2 Tbsp (30 ml) flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
6 slices of fresh baguette
2-3 Tbsp (30-45 ml) tomato jam (shop bought will also work)
freshly ground black pepper
3) Pickled Herring with Boiled Egg and Green Olives
3 whole garlic bulbs, roasted in the skins
3 eggs, 1 whole and 2 egg yolks
1 Tbsp (15 ml) fresh lemon juice
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 C (250 ml) olive oil
pinch of paprika
6 slices of fresh baguette
2 Tbsp (30 ml) Aïoli
2 baby cucumbers, thinly sliced
2 eggs, sliced
2 pickled herrings
6 pimento stuffed green olives
4) Anchovies, Red Onion and Caperberries
½ red onion, very finely sliced
1 tsp (5 ml) fine salt
6 slices of fresh baguette
10 chives, chopped
Courgette flower tempura with goat's cheese and tomato fondue recipe - Recipes
This is another Cretan vegetarian recipe, which is filling and warming - great for the winter months ahead. It does take a long time to cook, so I would suggest making two and freezing one for another meal.
Traditionally, boureki is made with mizithra cheese which is difficult to find in the UK, so I've used feta instead.
- 2lb/900g (unpeeled weight) baking potatoes
- 1lb/450g courgettes/zucchini
- 2 tbsp fresh chopped mint or 2 tsp dried mint
- 1 tbsp fresh chopped dill leaves or 1 tsp dried dill
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 8oz/200g pack of feta
- black pepper, to taste
- ½ pt/280ml hot vegetable stock (made with a stock cube)
Yum, I needed some veggie inspiration this week so thank you.
Thanks Sam. I hope you enjoy it!
The courgettes are certainly beginning to come and always looking for something different to do with them. thanks for sharing. Hope your well too Lisa,