Saturday, July 4, 2009

chap door (leave your courgettes and) run

It's that time of year when BB asks, "what's for lunch?", followed tentatively by, "it's not courgettes again is it?". I swear if you look at a courgette plant for ten minutes you can practically see the fruit growing and it's a challenge to pick them before they measure less than 10 cm - turn your back and they're as big as seal pups.

At the height of summer you can't give them away and you often see little courgette stalls set up along the road-side with chicken scratched signs inviting - nae imploring - passers-by to help themselves. When that fails, some people resort to that adolescent game of Chap Door Run, where you dared your friend to ring a stranger's doorbell then run away. Only in the grown-up version, they ring the doorbell, leave courgettes on your doorstep then run like hell.

Last year, some of mine (actually a lot of mine) rotted on the plant because I couldn't be bothered to pick any more, self-seeded and are now taking over a considerable portion of the garden, John Wyndham style. This year I've promised myself I'm going to deal with the glut by harvesting them early and making soup (with mint - also in abundance in the garden) to freeze for the winter, and chutney.

One thing I'd never tried before was stuffed courgette flowers, which I did yesterday - and boy were they a hit. If you can get your hands on some courgette flowers I urge you to try this recipe. I'd expected the gossamer thin petals to be very fragile and to fall apart when I tried to open them but they were surprisingly elastic, like cling-film, and quickly returned to their original shape after stuffing.

After trawling the internet and perusing my cook books, I opted for this recipe (although there are many more I intend to try) by Lucas Hollweg from Timesonline.

Stuffed courgette flowers

Serves 4
For the stuffing
250 g ricotta
25 g grated parmesan
zest of half a lemon
12 mint leaves, shredded
salt and pepper

12 courgette flowers
vegetable oil
150 g self raising flour
260 ml fizzy water

1. Mix together the ingredients for the stuffing. Remove the stigma from the inside of the flowers and carefully fill with stuffing then twist closed.

2. Heat 2 cm of vegetable oil in a wok or frying pan.

3. Mix the self-raising flour and fizzy water to make a light batter. It should be the consistency of thin double cream. Dip the stuffed flowers in the batter, being careful that they remain closed, then fry in the hot oil, 3-4 at a time, depending on the size of your pan. Make sure that both sides cook, turning them if necessary. It should take 2-3 minutes for the batter to become crisp and the palest gold.

4. Drain on kitchen paper and season with sea salt and a squeeze of lemon before eating.

♫ Cook along to: JJ Cale After Midnight


Neil King and Carol Duncan said...

"... surprisingly elastic, like cling-film, and quickly returned to their original shape after stuffing ..." - I've had that experience in a different context.

Anonymous said...

Love this blog, can`t wait to hear what happens next!

Mélanie said...

I love to make beignets de courgettes !!!

USMC Sis said...

"Chap Door Run", huh? I'd never heard that name for it before. Here in the United States, we just call it "Ding-Dong Dash" :)