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Last year Andy took the girls out for a long 12 hour adventure so I could have an uninterrupted day to plan for the coming school year. This year he was going to take them camping so I could have TWO days and TWO nights to myself. That was the plan. Until he decided he didn’t want to.

“I’d really rather keep the girls here at home,” he said to a wife who was listening warily. “We may still go out and do things but it’s too stressful to not have the option of bringing them home. Particularly with an over-tired Lillybug.”

He was right. We’ve had a lot of late nights and out-of-schedule weeks. Lilly doesn’t fare well under those circumstances. I tried to hide the crushing disappointment I felt. Until….

“What if you stayed in a hotel for a couple of nights and had some alone time to get all your planning done that way?”

It didn’t take long for what he was saying to sink in. “UmsureIthinkthatcouldworkoutreallywellifyou’resureyou’reokaywithit,” I blurted out all in one breath, lest he change his mind. I was sure to use casual language though…so he wouldn’t think I was TOO eager to get away. 😉

That’s how my 2nd annual curriculum mapping weekend turned into an honest to goodness Home-School Planning Retreat. I spent two nights in downtown Salt Lake. You’d think with no kids around to wake me up I would have slept in but I awoke the first morning at 5:20, my head swimming with things I need to get written down. By 5:45 I had a cup of coffee in hand, was logged into the internet for access to online resources and was feverishly laying out the coming year’s studies. This year I was even armed with colored pens for cross-referencing subject overlap. I’m a nerd, I know. You can take the teacher out of the classroom but you can’t take the classroom out of the teacher. I just moved it home. 😀

All work and no play makes Jane a burned out girl. Andy insisted this be equal parts work and time to enjoy myself. I had a final grown-up-girl’s dinner with my dear friend Jenny before she moves far far away next week. 😦 I discovered an awesome new wine bar…where perhaps we’ll have our farewell party when we move someday. This morning I happened upon an amazing Farmer’s Market. Everywhere I turned I saw vibrant, fresh, locally grown produce from family farms and backyard gardens. There were all kinds of other things too but it’s the produce that gets me. Several purchases already in hand, I glanced to my right as I walked up the center aisle. And there they were.

“Would you like to try my apricots?” the elderly gentleman asked in an unmistakably Italian accent. “They’re excellent. I pick them when they’re ripe. Not like in the stores.”

“Actually, I was eyeing your squash blossoms,” I replied. DSC_0007

His face lit up. “They’re really wonderful. In my country we fill them with a mixture of ricotta, parmesan, and little bits of prosciutto, some herbs if you want, like basil, or whatever you have, then we fry them. You should try it!”

Sold. Never mind that I virtually never fry food. He was so adorable I wanted to take him home with me. Then he could tell me stories about his childhood in Italy while we devoured some fried squash blossoms. As I paid he excitedly gave me more detailed cooking instructions. Then he leaned closer and lowered his voice as if he were divulging a state secret, “For the batter…tempura. Tempura.” He gave a head nod and small shake of his fist with that last ‘tempura.”

That’s how I came to be making Ricotta Stuffed Squash Blossoms this afternoon. I don’t think I’ve blogged a recipe in six months. I haven’t had the time or energy to worry about taking and staging pictures while I cook. Today I vowed to keep it simple. Snap a few photos, no worries over how they’re staged. This was just too fun not to document.

I completely forgot to pick up prosciutto but these were incredible, even without it. The light and crispy shell gives way to that creamy ricotta filling and after my first bite all I could think was, “Oh my gosh. I’m so glad the girls didn’t want any of these so there are more for me!” Andy and I enjoyed them with my all-time favorite tomato sauce, found here: https://sarahsjoys.com/2011/10/22/mozzarella-stuffed-turkey-burgers/  I put that stuff on everything. I liked it so much both with and without the sauce that I settled on an “every other bite” pattern. With school planning done, I could truly sit back and enjoy these with a glass of summer wine and nary a care in the world. At least for one night.

Ingredients

  • 12 Squash blossoms
  • Ricotta cheese – about one cup
  • grated parmesan – about half a cup – I used a large handful
  • 1 egg yolk
  • good pinch of salt and pinch of pepper
  • chopped fresh basil – whatever looks good to you. I probably had a couple of tablespoons.
  • prosciutto, chopped  – Like I said above, I forgot it. Next time I’ll try a slice or two chopped very small
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 Tbsp corn starch
  • 3/4 cup club soda, Pellegrino, or any non-flavored soda water
  • Oil for frying (Canola, Vegetable, or Avocado)

Mix together ricotta, parmesan, egg yolk, a pinch of salt and pepper, and chopped basil. You can use a spoon to spoon it into the flowers but the gentleman I was talking with recommended piping it and it was super easy. I didn’t even put a pastry tip in the bag. I just snipped the end off and used it directly. If you don’t have a piping bag just use a zip lock bag and snip off a corner.DSC_0009

Pipe about a tablespoon of the cheese mixture into each flower. If you fill them too much they’ll ooze when you fry them. Twist the tops to close them up around the filling. DSC_0013

Mix together flour, cornstarch, a pinch of salt and pepper, and soda water to make the batter.

Pour oil into a large saute pan until it is about 1/2 inch deep. Heat the oil to about 375 degrees F for frying.

Dip the squash blossoms in the batter, allow some excess batter to drip off, then place them into the oil. Don’t crowd them too much. I did four at a time. Fry until golden, then flip over with a tongs to cook the other side. Remove to a plate with a paper towel to allow excess oil to be absorbed. Sprinkle with salt and serve. DSC_0017 DSC_0018

I’m ready to drive an hour to Salt Lake next week just to buy some more of these beauties. 🙂

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