Monday 26 November 2012

Zucchini Flowers with Mozzarella and Eggplant

When in Rome recently I attended a cookery class. It was quite different, to say the least. There were fourteen of us all told, comprised of 2 Australians, 2 Malaysians, 7 Americans 1 Hungarian and the Italian chef and his assistant. We had our lessons in a kitchen that seemed to be no bigger than the one I have at home which feels crowded when it has two people in it. So we were all crushed in this space trying to have lessons and to cook.

The chef, as he taught, gave different people different tasks to do. We did not all do the same things together. Consequently, while you were carrying out your allocated task you missed out on other instructions. I came away with a hazy idea of how to make the four-course meal though I was quite strong on slicing and grilling zucchinis (my task).

Despite my reserve about the lessons and the cramped kitchen the day was quite a lot of fun with a generally friendly and accommodating group of people. We ended with a big lunch of all that we had cooked.

So back home it was time now, I felt, to try out what I had learned. We had been emailed the instructions so I thought it would be easy enough to fill in on what I had missed.

We had used large pumpkin flowers rather than zucchini in our lessons and while I enjoyed the dipping sauce and the crunch of the batter there was a tang to them that was for me a bit harsh in the flowers themselves. I was hoping that the zucchini flowers would prove to be better.

The first task was the dipping sauce. We made it with cherry tomatoes but I had plain tomatoes in the kitchen so I substituted. It was a matter of placing in the blender all of the ingredients and giving them a burst until they were ready. The recipe did not supply quantities so I guessed and added tomatoes, walnuts (we had used them in the class but the recipe stated almonds), garlic, salt, olive oil and basil leaves. I managed to get a reasonable dipping sauce though it didn’t seem to be quite like we had in class.

The zucchini had their pistils removed and a slice of eggplant and a slice of mozzarella added and they were ready for the batter.

The batter was made by mixing a cup of plain flour with chilled beer. When this was smooth some chilled sparkling mineral water was added with a teaspoon of olive oil and a teaspoon of salt. The zucchini were dipped and deep-fried until crisp.

The resulting crunchy flowers were fun to eat even though I still get a slightly odd tang from them. It’s not something I would make often though they do make a different start to a meal.

Taste: ✔✔✔
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔

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