As summer's end draws nigh, I feel frenzied in my attempt to grasp the ends of the seasonal produce before autumn's bounty takes over. One of my favorite culinary "delicacies" is the oh-so-simple squash blossom that is perfect for the end of the summer. I have never seen them at my grocery store but have once or twice at the Farmer's Market. This time I was shopping at a local farm stand (Carpinito Brothers for locals) and saw an entire bag for only $1.25. I grabbed the bag and quietly yelped to myself because I knew I could turn these beauties into a delicious treat.
When I was 18-20, my best friend was the hostess at one of the best restaurants in Sonoma County, CA. She was so sophisticated, she wore beautiful, fancy dresses to work, knew all about fine wines (not uncommon for children raised in Sonoma County, but still!), and ate things like fried pork belly, caviar, foie gras, and cheese courses. I felt more sophisticated by just being her friend! I really cherish our time spent together over those years and reminisce fondly about our adventures together.
One day, my friend decided that we should experience the "Grand Dame" menu together. The "Grande Dame" is the chef's tasting menu which comes with about a dozen courses. Since my friend has worked there since high school, we got a real VIP treatment. It is still one of the best meals I have ever had and I will never forget the experience.
One of the standouts from the meal was fried squash blossoms. They were so light and delicate yet rich with melty, gooey, brie cheese. I have never seen fried squash blossoms stuffed with brie on a menu since usually they are stuffed with ricotta or goat cheese. If I had, I would have ordered them! So, after all these years, it was time for me to recreate this delicious dish, about 800 miles away from the first and most special place where I discovered them.
Fried Squash Blossoms
stuffed with brie
12-18 squash blossoms, gently washed and dried
1 small wheel brie cheese
2 cups sparkling water
2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
vegetable oil, for frying
Remove the stamen from the squash blossoms by removing the green part of the stem from the bottom of the blossom. You will be able to pull the stamen out from the hole from cutting off the green. Cut the brie into small squares that will fit into the opening of your blossoms. I removed the rind and I suggest you do too. Carefully place a piece of brie into the opening of the blossom and twist the ends together to close the blossom. Set aside as you stuff all blossoms.
Heat the oil in a fryer or in a deep, heavy pot on your stove. If you are using a pot on the stove, fill with about 3 inches of oil and heat until temperature reaches 375°F. If using a fryer, follow the manufacturer's directions.
Prepare the batter by combining the flour and salt. Add the sparkling water and gently whisk together until well combined. Dip each filled blossom into the batter, make sure to cover completely. Place into the hot oil (carefully) and let fry until golden brown, turning as necessary. About 3-5 minutes. Let drain on a rack over a paper towel and salt to taste. Enjoy!