Stuffed Squash Blossom Fritters

 

Zucchini season is here.  The blossoms are plentiful and I am expecting many zucchini this season.  I now make my stuffed blossoms with gf beer batter. I have made them gf before; this is a repeat post with some new information.  I used seltzer thinking it could function like the beer;none of that in the house. So I whipped up a batch for lunch today.

I usually use Monterrey Jack cheese to fill them but in a pinch some sharp cheddar worked excellently.  Or whatever cheese floats your boat; can use almost anything that is not too hard or is really runny before cooking. I used sharp cheddar this time; perfect.

My go to in past has been GF Redbridge beer. I left it rest once beaten, for about one hour.  UPDATE: I used seltzer water this time very successfully. Use a tad less than you would of beer; seems thinner than beer makes the batter. Even flavored seltzer works; not sweetened though.

No need to deep fry in a quart of oil, I fried mine in a non stick pan with a good coating of light olive oil.  I like to turn them twice; resulting in a sort of three sided fritter. They are best consumed right away the same day they are made, eaten warm with a sprinkle of salt and a squeeze of lemon juice.  My twenty something daughter loves them. My grandson at two and a half enjoyed one!  They have a mild squash taste but I think the crisp batter coating is the predominate flavor. My GF version is pretty much identical to the old wheat version: they taste fantastic! The cheese is melted and creamy, the fritter exterior is crisp yet tender. I ate half of them and had to restrain myself from any more….I sprinkled some fresh dill on the plate. Perfect.

 

 

Stuffed squash Fritters

Ingredients

7-12 fresh squash blossoms, remove stamen

1 medium egg

2/3 cup white rice flour or any gf flour blend

Sprinkle sea salt, a few grinds of fresh pepper

1 ½ tsp light olive oil plus more for frying

3 ounces GF beer; I measure it midway between ½ and 2/3 cup or about 1/2 cup seltzer water

Approx 1 inch chunk of cheddar cheese cut into small rectangles

¼ a fresh lemon or lime

DIRECTIONS: Separate the egg and put the yolk in a medium bowl, ditto for the white.  Add the oil, salt, pepper and white rice flour to the yolk.  Then add the beer.  Stir well, cover with plastic wrap and let stand an hour or two.  Even thirty minutes works. Beat that reserved egg white until fairly stiff. Add to the batter and stir gently but thoroughly. It will lose some loft but don’t over beat; should be thick and puffy in texture.

Slit open the side of each squash blossom and break off the pollen stamen.  Insert a 1 inch by ½ inch chunk of cheddar cheese.

Heat a 10 inch non-stick skillet; add about 2 or 3 tbsp light olive oil.  Take 3 blossoms and gently roll in the batter to coat; making sure the cheese doesn’t fall out.  Lightly lay them in the hot olive oil and fry until golden, carefully turn twice with spatula and fingers; about 5 or 6 minutes total. Do a few more if you have room or fry in two batches.  Do not keep turning; maximum of two turns.  Lay on a couple paper towels to absorb any excess oil if they are oily. Mine were really not at all oily this time.  Plate, sprinkle with coarse sea salt and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

They are a lovely appetizer. I made 7 this time of them; that was how many blossoms I had; the batter should do at least 12 of them.  Even the bit of stem will taste good so don’t worry if you have ½ inch or so of stem.  The blossoms are best if you pick them yourself that day. Some fancy farmer’s markets sell squash blossoms so they are the first place I suggest you look for some if you don’t have access to a few squash plants.  I have used pumpkin or butternut squash blossoms in the past; they taste fine.

squash blossoms on plate

I squeezed lime juice on these and sprinkled with fresh dill; perfection!

Do try them; a real conversation starter, not that hard to make and really delicious.

Original post in summer of  2015 or thereabouts. Minor text changes and recipe variations.

 

Rhubarb Peach Pie, Yeap…It’s Doable!

 

Generally, my rhubarb is done long before I see fresh peaches in my neck of the woods. Not that I actually live in the woods. Just happen to like that idiom and it fits.  I think the peaches I bought at Bechdolt’s Orchard were imported from the Carolinas and it is the end of picking my rhubarb but they came together beautifully in this lush pie.  I was kinda curious how these two fruits would taste in one pie: in one phrase: lush and delicate. It is a version of my rhubarb custard pie.

It goes together rather quickly especially if you have a stand mixer and had leftover crumbs in the fridge as I did. Suggest you use a  potato peeler to cut the skin off the peaches and sliced them on the thin side. Saves the effort of hot water bath poaching which is kinda hot; you will only need 3-4 peaches depending on their size.

This pie is for all the pie lovers who love a fat slice of juicy homemade pie!

Rhubarb Peach Custard Pie

Crust:

1 c plus 2 Tbsp. brown rice flour mix (at bottom of recipe)

2 Tbsp. sweet rice flour

1 Tbsp. granulated sugar

½ tsp xanthan gum

¼ tsp salt

6 Tbsp. cold butter cut into 6 chunks

1 lg egg

2 tsp fresh orange or lemon juice

Directions:

Mix dry crust ingredients in bowl of stand electric mixer.  Add butter and mix until crumbly and resembling coarse meal.  Add egg and lemon juice.  Mix briefly until it comes together into big chunks.  Shape into a ball with your hands. Put it on a crust sized piece of wax paper (14 x 14 inches more or less), flatten the crust ball some; put on top of it another piece of wax paper and chill it all in your fridge 15-20 minutes.  Then roll out and put on the parchment lined pan; put back in the fridge while you prepare the filling.

Filling:

4 cups chopped rhubarb (use 3 if your pan is 9 inch)

2 cups fresh peaches, sliced and sprinkled with 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

2/3 cup sugar

¼ cup tapioca flour

¼ tsp. cinnamon

Sprinkle nutmeg

Zest of ½ a lemon, optional

Mix all dry ingredients; pour over fruit and stir up and pour carefully into crust that you rolled out and placed into a 9 or 10 inch pie pan.   Top with the following custard mixture you beat in a small mixing bowl:

2 eggs. 1/3 cup whole milk, ¼ tsp. almond extract.

Then top with crumbs:

In stand mixer: ¾ cup brown rice flour mix, ½ cup sugar, ½ tsp. xanthan gum and 1/3 cup cold butter cut into six chunks. Mix until the butter is in fine crumbs well blended with the dry ingredients. I use about half a batch of crumbs on top of my crumb pies; you can use as much or as little as you like. Don’t press on them; just lightly sprinkle over top of fruit mixture.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 55 to 60 minutes; should be bubbling and lightly browned. Let cool and set for at least 2 hours before cutting.

rhubarb peach pie just out of oven

rhubarb peach pie sliceBrown Rice Flour Mix (same as King Arthur basic gf blend you can buy at Giant)

2 c brown rice flour

2/3 c potato starch – not potato flour!

1/3 c tapioca flour

The crust recipe is from Annalise Roberts great cookbook, GF Baking Classics, Second Edition.

Frozen Strawberries and Chocolate Delight!

Summer is the best time for enjoying ice cream bars. Aldi’s may be the best place to buy them! I got a four pack of strawberry ice cream bars there last week. They are fruity, creamy and covered with dark chocolate; a triple play of yumminess! Two are gone…the other two will be devoured soon enough. They also come in coconut; not tried it yet; soon….

strrawberry fruit bar

Nutritional report: only 180 calories; not bad for a sweet treat. 18 grams sugar; not quite so good and 20 of sodium; minimal. A few grams of fat. Overall; for a somewhat processed ice cream bar: pretty okay on the nutritional scale of things.

On the flavor scale; about a 9.5; darn yummy. About $3 for four of them; darn cheap. Hardest part is planning so I am able to go right home from Aldi’s before these beauties melt even a tiny bit in the insulated bag they are packed in for travel. Go gettem!

Pavlova: A Symphony of Delish!

My sister Elaine makes this dessert all the time. It is a specialty of hers. I think it is her go to company dessert when nothing else comes to mind. When she first described it I was not impressed. I wasn’t even looking forward to it at our family dinner party she throws every summer when I come up to visit. So I was surprised when I bit into my slice of it. Clearly this is a case of the results being far more than a simple sum of the ingredients. It is light, sweet, airy, fruity and basically melted in my mouth. I have had it at her house many times and have made it a few times myself. It is easy to construct and it can be varied in the fruit topping.

The old school classic topping is fresh passion fruit. Elaine mostly serves it with sliced fresh strawberries, perfection! It is decent with blueberries too. I once used a mixture of ripe summer fruits; peach, nectarine, blueberries, mango and kiwi. That was really memorable. Ripe local strawberries would be super tasty too. Go with what is ripe and flavorful when you are shopping for fruit. I used blueberries and raspberries for this latest version but you decide what works for you. No canned fruit though, only fresh will do.

My sister got the recipe from Food network – a 1999 recipe. It is naturally GF so no one will ask where the wheat is! Don’t leave out the red wine vinegar; totally necessary.

20180708_133046

Slice today; sorry it is on a paper plate but it  was luscious!

Pavlova

Ingredients:

1/2 cup egg whites at room temp (about 4-5 eggs)

1/8 tsp. cream of tartar

1/8 tsp. salt

1 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch

1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups heavy cream

2 T light brown sugar packed or white sugar

1 pt. fresh strawberries for top, sliced and 1 cup fresh blueberries

or 3-4 oz fresh raspberries and half a pint of blueberries

or 2 sliced ripe peaches and some raspberries or blueberries

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment whip the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt in a clean, dry bowl until foamy. Add the granulated sugar, cornstarch, vinegar and vanilla and continue whipping until stiff, smooth and glossy, about 7-8 minutes more.

On a sheet of parchment paper cut to fit a sheet pan, use a pencil to draw or trace a 9 inch circle in diameter. Line the sheet pan with the parchment, pencil side down (you should be able to see the circle). Spoon the egg whites in the circle, using the back of the spoon to smooth the top and sides of the disk. Make it high rather than wide; it will settle after baking. Bake in the center of the oven for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 300 degrees and bake until the meringue has puffed up and slightly cracked on the top and the surface is highly browned to the color of a latte coffee, about 45 minutes more. Turn off the oven, prop open the oven door, and let it cool in the oven at least 30 minutes, to room temperature. This ensures a gradual cooling, which protects the delicate meringue.

Whip the cream and brown sugar (sometimes I use white sugar) until stiff. spoon it in the center of the cooled pavlova and spread out to within 1/2 inch of the edge, arrange the slices of strawberry in the middle. Sprinkle the blueberries around the edge of the strawberries. To serve, slice into wedges with a serrated knife.

So make a pavlova and make everyone happy; it is beautiful to look at and even better to eat. Enjoy!

Originally published July 2014. Recipe slightly changed, minor editing to text.

Lovely Meals in Gorgeous Cape May!

Just back from a fabulous weekend in Cape May, New Jersey with my guy.  Stayed at a cute little B&B about 8 blocks from the beach; The Inn at the Park on Madison St. Our room was on the third floor; a mini suite with a fridge, double shower, huge bed, armoire instead of a closet and a sweet day bed. Plus adorable crystal glasses for late night thirsty moments and the usual amenities like WiFi, a flat screen TV, air conditioning.  They made acceptable accommodations for my gf needs for the two breakfasts; scrambled eggs, smoothies, an omelet, all good and all safe.  inn at the park

mad batter

That corner table is where we sat!

But even better yet were the three meals we had out; our first night we went to the Mad Hatter in downtown CM.We had a little corner table with benches and fluffy cushions: wall carvings of whimsical fish and other old timey decorations: so cute! The menu had several gf choices. I went with some specials which were naturally gf. My waiter said he would alert the kitchen as to careful as to cross contamination. I had a great seafood risotto but my favorite flavors were in my starter: the watermelon, blueberry and strawberry salad with feta cheese. So bright and refreshing. I enjoyed some delish wine, great company; got stuffed to the gills and no glutening! watermelon salad

seafood risotto.jpg

The next night we went to a classic big seafood place right along the bay; Lucky Bones Back Wash. We went a tad early; at 6 pm: no wait for a table.  Place was hopping, ordered drinks and enjoyed the organized chaos. We were near the pizza oven and the bar so it was super busy but fun to watch. We totally enjoyed some shared apps; fire roasted shrimp with lots of fresh garlic and so buttery; they were perfectly cooked; fat and moist. And a large plate of hot steamed mussels in red sauce with lots of fresh basil and gf toasted rolls for mopping up the sauce. Mmmmmmm.  For my entree out came a big platter with two crab cakes on top of herbed polenta and a lemony sauce with tiny green beans: all gluten free and all crazy delish. FYI: polenta is like creamy cornmeal mush made with coarse corn meal. I did have some of his wahoo; firm white fish; tasty. Such a classic place and they do brick oven pizza. Again…too full for dessert…alas as they had gf choices….

                        

 

Our final meal in carefree Cape May was a delightful lunch at a hip eatery in North Cape May; Bella Vida Garden Restaurant on North Broadway. They have a number of gf choices even buttermilk pancakes! So maybe breakfast next time… Anyway,  I choose a fresh salad composed of a healthy layer of tiny greens, grape tomato halves, cucumber slices and half an avocado. On top of that was a big pile of shrimp and crab salad. I chose the ginger sesame salad dressing which give it a quirky but wonderful spin. So fresh, flavorful and tasty. And again…too full for dessert!

So….Cape May is a great place for gf compared to the slim pickings in the Lehigh Valley where I live. Several places had full page gf menus or lots of notations on the regular menu as to safe choices for celiacs like me. So, I found the wait staff to be experienced at gluten free and it was easy to eat safely.   I even had some great coffee ice cream with big chunks of dark chocolate in a cup. Forget where; downtown, tiny shop. So delish! Can’t say enough good things about eating in Cape May, NJ. Enjoy!

Darn Good GF Pizza You can Bake at Home

Sometimes you just need a pizza! And there is time to make a crust or grate cheese or any of that. Just a decent gluten free pizza, that’s all I’m asking…but, not that easy unless you are willing to pay about $13-16 for the same or even a smaller size that is half the price for regular wheat flour-based pizza!  Major bummer. But, fret not, Aldi’s to the rescue; they had some by Mama Cozzie in the refrigerator case. I got a pepperoni and mott pizza to test it; $6…not a bad price!  Baked it two days later; put the cold pie directly on hot oven shelf as requested.  In 11-13 minutes it is done; let it cool 2-3 minutes! Otherwise, it is a wicked way to burn your mouth.

aldi pizza box

I should admit I doctored it up with some dried basil and oregano, garlic powder and store grated parmesan cheese. It was so good; thin crust. Great flavor from the pepperoni and the add-ons I sprinkled over it deepen ed the flavor significantly. So I am definitely getting it next time I see – the package says you can freeze it; so maybe buy a few and freeze all but one.

aldi pizza slice

So that’s a big yes to this Mama Cozzie pizza; about 15 inches in diameter unbaked. It says 4 servings but unless they are small kids it is really more like 3. Great quick lunch or worry-free Friday night meal. Add a salad and you are eating healthyish!

Strawberry Baked Alaska Pie

Remember baked Alaska? A fancy frozen dessert from the 70’s? Made out of a round layer of yellow cake topped with a mound of ice cream and then covered with a thick layer of meringue which was briefly baked in the oven to brown the meringue lightly. Well, this is 2018 and we have improved that to the Baked Alaska Pie! I posted a recipe for it in April using a gingersnap crust.  My family was crazy for it.

This time I am using a pre-made graham crust, strawberry ice cream and the traditional meringue topping. It’s a better balance of flavors than the old baked Alaska because the pie crust is ¼ the thickness of the layer of cake in a standard baked Alaska so it is just a touch of crust. The strawberry ice cream pairs with that more traditional graham cracker crust exceptionally well. My guy was pretty impressed with the look of it when I pulled it out of the freezer to serve dessert. I am betting chocolate ice cream would be crazy good too! Next version…

This is remarkably easy to do but you must have patience as there are several steps and a lot of chilling in the freezer. You will be rewarded with an impressive looking dessert although it can get kinda sloppy when you serve it especially if you didn’t chill it again after the meringue browning step. Which I kinda did when I made this pie; it was late and we couldn’t wait; only chilled it 10-13 minutes…..still delish!

Baked Alaska Pie, Strawberry version – serves 6-8

Ingredients

Pre-made gf graham cracker crust

Most of a standard big carton of strawberry ice cream

5 egg whites, room temp.

½ tsp. cream of tartar

Pinch of salt

1/3-1/2 cup granulated sugar

Directions:

Let the ice cream warm a few minutes so it isn’t rock hard and is easily scooped.  Fill the pie crust with the ice cream; spread it to cover evenly and mound it slightly.  Put in freezer for 2 to 3 hours.

Make the meringue: put the room temp egg whites in a mixing bowl, add the salt and the cream of tartar. Beat until it is in soft peaks. Add the sugar a spoonful at a time while it beats to the stiff peak stage. It should be glossy and hold a stiff peak of curled meringue. Get the pie out of the freezer and quickly mound the meringue over the pie making absolute sure you cover every bit of ice cream with lots of meringue which will act as insulation.  Chill for 2-4 hours in freezer. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Slide the frozen pie in for 6-8 minutes until lightly browned, return to freezer for 30-60 minutes. You can serve it immediately but it will be a bit squishy; best to chill it again. Cut into wedges with a sharp knife and dig in. Enjoy!

strawberry pie slice

A bit squishy as I only chilled for 10 minutes after browning; couldn’t wait to enjoy it!

 

strawberry pie cut

Messy but totally nummy good!