I’m no gardener. The gardening gene of both my parents passed me by, but I have always appreciated a garden even if not being very adept at looking after one. This means I am always disproportionately chuffed when I actually manage to harvest edibles or have flowers flourish!
Summer is pretty much over in the garden here; the last few ‘Octoberries’ are sparse now, the bedding plants need an autumn refresh, the tomatoes have been pulled up after a summer’s bounty and the courgettes have just had a last flurry of flowering. With frosts impending, I took the chance to pretend we’re still in summer and made our annual treat of stuffed courgette flower fritters.
I first made these on a holiday in Italy with friends, where the villa owners had kindly left the Elizabeth David batter recipe to hand! The local market had an abundance of flowers and my friends were willing guinea pigs.
Since then, I have sometimes grown courgettes (zucchini) as much for this little treat as the veg, though this year we have cropped well and with the supply chain issues (thank you, Brexit and Covid) the garden has handily supplemented a slightly erratic supply.
The recipe works well with a tempura-style batter too, but I do like to use the David one. 4 oz flour, 3 tbsp olive oil, salt, 3/4 tumbler (sic) of cold water and an egg white, whipped until stiff. She recommends stirring the oil into the flour & salt, making a thick paste, then adding the water slowly – add enough to make a thick creamy mix. Let stand for 3 hrs, then fold in the whipped egg white. If too thick, add a little cold water but you want a thickish coating mix.
I hadn’t planned this properly so didn’t have the more traditional ricotta for stuffing. I have simply put a chunk of good ‘melty’ hard cheese inside in the past when similarly unprepared, but it’s not that easy to seal the flowers!
Raiding the fridge gave me grated mature cheddar which I bound with a small pot of mild, soft, medium-fat goat’s cheese, adding a grating of Parmesan and a few shredded basil leaves. A scrape of nutmeg finished off the mix. I left this in the fridge until ready to cook.
After washing the flowers and taking out the central pistil I scooped in a heaped teaspoon of the now firm cheese mix, folding the petals to seal in the cheese. I kept the baby courgettes attached, though the odd one separated.
The final stage was to dip them in the batter and fry in small batches in a light oil, keeping the fritters warm in the oven after draining until all were ready. A final taste of summer!