Fried crab and ricotta cheese stuffed zucchini blossoms

Thursday, September 17, 2015

A few years ago, my husband surprised me with an anniversary dinner at my favorite Italian restaurant, Cucina Urbana. The most memorable dish we had that night was the fried zucchini blossoms, stuffed with ricotta cheese and served with a dollop of basil pesto and lemon aioli. We were taken by surprise at how a delicate flower when paired with ricotta cheese, pesto, and lemon would bring such depth of flavor. Ever since, I have been recreating this delightful anti-pasti whenever summer comes around and zucchini blossoms start appearing at the farmers market. 

I played around with different ingredients and found that crab and ricotta make the perfect filling. Instead of basil pesto and lemon aioli, I kept things simple and drizzled a little bit of black truffle oil on the fried zucchini blossoms. The stuffed zucchini flowers when fried are slightly crunchy on the exterior but literally melt in your mouth and the truffle oil creates an exquisite taste.  

Zucchini blossoms won't be appearing at the farmers market for very long so grab them while you can!

Fried crab and ricotta stuffed zucchini blossoms
12-15 zucchini flowers
1/3 cup of ricotta cheese
1/3 cup of crab meat
1 tbsp of mozzarella cheese, grated
1 tbsp of lemon zest
Vegetable oil for deep frying
2 tbsps of black truffle oil

Tempura batter
2/3 cup of cornstarch
2/3 cup of potato starch
2/3 cup of club soda, chilled
1 egg
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt

1. To make the tempura batter, whisk cornstarch, potato starch, club soda, egg, baking powder, and salt until just combined. Don’t worry if the batter has a few lumps.
2. Combine ricotta cheese, mozzarella, crab meat, and lemon zest in a small bowl.
3. Gently open the zucchini blossoms, taking care not to tear the petals, remove and discard the yellow stamen inside.
4. Fill with the ricotta mixture, about ½ to 1 tablespoon, then twist the tips of the petals gently to enclose the filling.
5. Heat a large saucepan on medium-high heat with about 2 inches of oil.
6. In batches, dip zucchini blossoms in the batter, shaking off excess batter.
7. Deep fry the blossoms until light golden brown and crisp, about 2 minutes. Drain on paper towel.8. When ready to serve, place the drained zucchini blossoms on a plate and drizzle with truffle oil.

Cookbook Review: The New Sugar and Spice A Recipe for Bolder Baking

Thursday, September 10, 2015!important;%20margin:0px%20!important;%22%20/%3E

I’ve been a follower of Samantha Seneviratne’s blog for a while and couldn’t be more excited to try the recipes from The New Sugar and Spice cookbook.  I like her approach to using less sugar and making spices and herbs the star ingredients in her recipes.  Broken into seven chapters, the New Sugar and Spice cookbook focuses on Peppercorn & Chile, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Clove & Cardamom, Vanilla, Ginger, and Savory Herbs & Spices and how to incorporate them into classic desserts like brownies, pie, cobbler, tart, bread, pudding, cakes, and frozen desserts.

The apricot and raspberry cobbler and pavlova with lime custard and basil pineapple turned out amazing!  The apricot was substituted for peach since apricot was out of season and it tasted delicious.  I wouldn’t have known the difference and love how substitution can be made with any seasonal fruits but the recipes would still work.  Samantha’s judicious use of spices really enhanced the flavor of these desserts.  I’m looking forward to trying the crepe cake with pistachio cream, gingered strawberry rhubarb pie when rhubarb and strawberry seasons start next year, and tea creme brulee.

The gorgeous photography by Erin Kunkel makes you want to run to the closest grocery store to get all the ingredients and whip up these delicious looking treats.  This book will teach you to how to use spices and herbs and bring your dessert game to a new level.  I found so much inspiration from this book and have already started experimenting with herb in my dessert.  If you follow me on IG, you probably saw the use of rosemary in my blackberry crumble.  The New Sugar and Spice cookbook is definitely my new favorite baking book featuring spices and herbs!     

*I received this book to review complementary of the publisher

Strawberry Basil Cheesecake

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Strawberry is my all time favorite summer fruit. I’m not talking about the typical big, flavorless strawberries that you find at the supermarkets but the wild French strawberries, known by their romantic name, Fraises des Bois. My husband’s aunt first introduced me to these strawberries when we visited her in Seattle many summers ago. They grew wild in her garden and seemed to thrive in the Pacific Northwest climate. These strawberries are tiny and delicate but exquisitely sweet. Ever since, I look for them around June to July at the farmers market. I usually eat them fresh or use them in one of my favorite desserts, strawberry and basil cheesecake. 

The best thing about this cheesecake is how little work you put in for the delicious result that awaits you. The texture is light, almost like a mousse and the addition of the basil leaves creates a tsunami of flavor.

As much as I love a peach cobbler, plum galette, or apricot crumble, this cheesecake is hands down one of my favorite summer desserts. Near the end of strawberry season, I will make an extra cheesecake and keep it in the freezer for up to two months for when the craving hits hard. 

Strawberry and Basil Cheesecake
1 pint of strawberries, hulled and cut in half
2 tbsps of powdered sugar
½ cup of granulated sugar
2 tsps gelatin, unflavored
2 tbsps of water
⅓ cup of milk
⅓ cup of heavy cream
4 oz of cream cheese
4 oz of mascarpone cheese
¼ cup of sour cream
1 tbsp lemon zest
2 tbsp micro basil leaves

Cheesecake Crust
1 cup Graham crackers, grounded
¼ cup of granulated sugar
4 tbsps butter, melted

Basil infused strawberries
1 pint of strawberries, hulled and halved if too big
1 tbsp of water
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsps strawberry jam
1 tbsp lemon juice
8 large basil leaves, about ¼ cup

1. Add 1 pint of strawberries with 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar and let macerate for 15 minutes. Process the macerated strawberries in a food processor until smooth.
2. In a medium saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of water on low heat. Add the gelatin and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly until the gelatin is dissolved.
3. Add the milk, heavy cream, cream cheese, mascarpone cheese, sour cream and granulated sugar to the saucepan and whisk on low heat until smooth.
4. Remove the mixture from heat and add the strawberry puree and lemon zest. Puree the mixture with a hand-held blender and strain with a sieve to ensure a smooth texture. Let it cool completely.
5. In a large bowl, combine the grounded Graham crackers, sugar, and butter and stir until well blended. The mixture should stick together when squeezed firmly in your hand.
6. Transfer the Graham-cracker mixture to a 8-inch springform pan and press the mixture firmly onto the bottom of the pan. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Bake until golden brown at 350 degrees F for about 10-12 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it cool completely.
7. Pour the chilled filling into the crust and refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight.
8. To make the basil infused strawberries, stir water, sugar, strawberry jam, lemon juice, and basil leaves in a small saucepan over low heat until the jam melts. Bring the mixture to a boil for 2 minutes and remove from heat. Stir in the strawberries. Discard the basil leaves.
9. When ready to serve, unmold the cheesecake, top with the basil infused strawberries, and scatter the micro basil leaves on top.