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Stuffed Squash Blossom Tempura

Squash blossom season is just about as short as strawberry season, so when you see them, grab them up and cook them. Delicate and sweet, you will love them and look forward to each season they bloom.

Ingredients
8 large zucchini blossoms, rinsed, patted dry
extra virgin olive oil
2-3 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
sea salt
generous pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup cooked short grain brown rice
tempura batter
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
pinch sea salt
1 tablespoon kuzu, dissolved in a small bit of cold water
3/4-1 cup dark beer or sparkling water
avocado oil, for frying
3-4 sprigs fresh basil, leaves removed, finely shredded

Directions 
Clean the zucchini blossoms and then carefully remove the stamens. Try not to open the blossom too much. Wrap in a damp kitchen towel and set aside. Place a small amount of oil, garlic and onion in a skillet and turn heat to medium. When the onions begin to sizzle, add a pinch of salt and red pepper flakes and saute for 1-2 minutes. 

Stir in cooked rice and season lightly with salt. Saute just until onions are well incorporated into the rice. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Make the tempura batter by combining flour and salt in a bowl. Stir in dissolved kuzu and slowly add beer to create a thick batter (a bit thicker than pancake batter). Set aside for 15 minutes.

When the rice has cooled a bit, stuff each blossom, taking care to stuff abundantly, but keeping the blossom as tightly closed as possible. Place 3-4 inches oil in a deep pot and place over medium-low heat. Check tempura batter for thickness; if it thickens while it rests, simply whisk in a small amount of water. When the oil is hot, dip each stuffed squash blossom in tempura batter covering completely, but not too thickly. 

Fry each blossom until golden brown and crispy. Transfer to paper to drain and them place fried blossoms on a baking sheet in a warm oven until all are ready. Arrange fried squash blossoms on a platter and serve immediately, garnished with shredded basil. 

Makes 4-8 servings.

Note: Zucchini blossoms are only available during summer and very early autumn, so get them while you can.

Note: You can tell that deep-frying oil is hot and ready for frying by using one of these little tricks. Submerge the end of the handle of a wooden cooking spoon in the oil. If the handle creates lots of bubbles, the oil is ready. You may also splash a tiny bit of water into the oil. If it rises to the top and bursts, the oil is ready. Finally, you can drop a small bit of the food you will be frying into the oil. If it rises quickly to the top and browns, the oil is ready. 


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