Archive for June, 2012

It’s Pie o’Clock! Cherries Going Fast

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

It may sound strange, but the mild winter we had actually was not a good thing for our region’s fruit farmers. Cherries in particular have had a hard time, between blossoming too early and heavy rains during harvest.

sour cherries at market

From Kuhn Orchards:

Mother Nature was not kind this year, but we made the most of it.  During evenings that reached freezing temperatures, we sprayed water on our cherry trees to insulate the blossoms with the frozen water to try to save the crop. After the blossoms were pollinated and the fruit set, the cherries were very small and eventually aborted and fell off the tree. …

Cherries, in fact, can absorb water through their skin – again, causing them to crack.  So, Mother Nature’s Power of rain in regard to cherries is two-fold.

After light showers, Rusty, our farm manager, will use the air blast sprayer to blow air through the cherry trees and try to blow off any excess moisture so it won’t be absorbed through the cherry’s skin.

We take great measures even to just harvest a little crop.

– from Kuhn Orchards newsletter

So if you spot sour cherries at market this weekend, snap them up — and thank your farmer!

(You can find Kuhn at the Vienna, Fairfax, 14th & U, Lorton and Palisades Farmers Markets this weekend. Toigo may have sour cherries as well — and look for gooseberries from Black Rock. And if you need some pie inspiration, check out the world wide #PieParty2012 on Facebook — or my bourbon cherry cobbler recipe.)

At Market: How to Fry Squash Blossoms

Monday, June 11th, 2012

This past weekend, the husband and tot hit up the new Westover Farmers Market in Arlington. It was near the end of the market so I didn’t have high hopes for too many goodies, but was pleasantly surprised when they brought home a basket of squash blossoms and sour cherries. Edible flowers are always fun to share with kids, but flowers that you stuff with cheese and fry? Talk about hitting the jackpot. The foodie tot had a lot of fun “helping” me prep them for frying. Of course, she was booted from the kitchen for the actual cooking.

foodie tot loves squash blossoms

Squash blossoms are best eaten the day you buy them. After your toddler holds up each one for its photo opp (or maybe that’s just mine…), gently pry open the petals, check for intruders,* and reach inside and pinch the base of the stamen to remove it. (*I’m no fan of insects on my supper, but this is a good time to mention to the kids that we buy organic foods that aren’t sprayed with bug-killing chemicals. You can’t blame a bug for being drawn to the same pretty, fragrant flowers that we are!)

how to fry squash blossoms

I mixed fresh Blue Ridge Dairy ricotta with a little nutmeg, salt and black pepper. You can use some finely chopped fresh herbs, like parsley or oregano, if you have them but I like to keep it simple. The batter is simply flour, milk and another pinch of salt. After gently spooning the filling into each flower, give the end a gentle twist to hold in the good stuff.

Frying them takes just a few minutes — then let them cool a little on a paper-towel lined plate to absorb the excess oil. Be sure to eat while still warm!

fried ricotta squash blossoms

Recipe: Fried Squash Blossoms
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 12 squash blossoms
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • kosher salt
  • pepper

Instructions:

  1. Fill high-walled frying pan with 1/4-inch of oil. Heat over medium high heat (to 350 degrees if you have a thermometer).
  2. Pick over and remove stamens from blossoms. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, combine ricotta, nutmeg, and a pinch each of salt and pepper.
  4. In a larger bowl, whisk together flour, milk and another pinch of salt until smooth.
  5. Holding blossom by the stem end, gently fill with a teaspoon full of ricotta mixture. Give the petal ends a gentle twist to hold in the filling. Repeat until all are filled.
  6. Quickly swirl the stuffed blossoms through the batter and gently transfer to pan. Fry, turning occasionally, until golden brown — about 3-5 minutes, total. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate. Let cool slightly before serving.

~

What’d the kids think? The boy took a bite, then paused to ask, “Did this use to be a plant?” The tot ate the middle section of hers. Have you ever eaten squash blossoms with your kids?

Aside from frying, you can also use squash blossoms in soup or my squash blossom succotash, or bake them for a healthier take. And if you’re in the Northeast, check out Narrangasett Creamery ricottas, reviewed over on Cheese and Champagne today.