07 Sep Batter up for deep-fried deliciousness
The Big Sky Little Leaguers sure hit the big time this summer. What fun it was to open the sports page and read of yet another win from those Montana sluggers as they maintained their winning streak on the road to the World Series in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania last month. It was the talk of the town, make that the state, for weeks, and how proud the team made everyone who had a chance to catch a game on television or read of their results in the paper.
The whole experience made me smile and left me with baseball on the brain. Batter up, is right! I thought, and headed to the kitchen to experiment with beer-battered vegetable appetizer recipes of my own.
That is not to say my first time up to bat was altogether successful. Having found some shiny red jalapeno peppers, I raced home to take a swing at making homemade jalapeno poppers. In my haste to pop them in the oil, I neglected to thoroughly dry the peppers, and the batter literally slid right off. Don’t make the same mistake I did. Dry your peppers thoroughly before stuffing them with cheese, dredging them and frying them.
The intensity of the heat in the jalapeno is determined by the seeds, so leaving them in before filling and cooking them will result in a very spicy popper while removing them before stuffing and frying will give you a very mild tasting treat. You make the call.
If you’re lucky enough to have squash blossoms in your garden, it’s fun to pick and eat the male blossoms that will not mature into a squash anyway. Check to make sure you’re harvesting the male blossoms that grow directly on the stem of the plant. Female flowers will be growing off the end of an emerging squash.
Prepare male squash blossoms by trimming stems, opening flowers, removing stamen, gently rinsing and drying thoroughly. Filling them with herbed ricotta and lightly battering them in beer batter makes an appealing appetizer, especially when served with a bottle of bubbly.
Beer-battered zucchini coins are definitely the most forgiving in the lineup, no gender selection or pruning necessary, and the most readily available, so if you’re a rookie battered vegetable fryer, you may want to go with the zukes. Baby zucchini are a long-season staple in the produce department of most grocery stores. Pairing them with the fresh marinara dipping sauce makes for a winning combination, to be sure.
Hit a home run of your own in honor of the Big Sky Little Leagers with this week’s Special of the day: Batter up! and recipes for Ricotta-stuffed Fried Squash Blossoms, Fried Zucchini Coins with Fresh Marinara Sauce and Jalapeno Poppers.
Ricotta-Basil Stuffed Fried Squash Blossoms
Makes 12 appetizersMake the filling: ¼ cup ricotta cheese ¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper ¼ teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons (packed) fresh basil leaves, minced Combine all filling ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir to combine thoroughly. Stuff the squash blossoms: 12 squash blossoms, buds or slightly opened blossoms Wash and thoroughly dry squash blossoms. Open up blossoms and remove stamen. Stuff a small amount of filling inside, pressing to enclose. Fry the blossoms: ½ cup flour, for dredging Dip stuffed squash blossoms in flour to coat. Heat 2 inches of oil in saucepan over medium high heat until hot. Make the beer batter: ½ cup flour 1 egg ½ teaspoon baking powder Dash of salt ½ cup beer Whisk all beer batter ingredients together until smooth. When oil is hot, dip dredged stuffed squash blossoms in batter to coat. Fry in hot oil until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Enjoy!
Serves 4Make the fresh marinara sauce: 2 tablespoons olive oil 2 cloves garlic, minced 3 scallions, chopped 2 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped 2 tablespoons (packed) fresh basil, minced ½ teaspoon sugar, or more to taste Salt to taste Heat olive oil in medium sauce pan over medium high heat until hot. Add garlic and scallions and cook until softened. Add tomatoes and simmer gently until broken down. Add remaining ingredients. Serve as a dipping sauce for fried zucchini coins. Make the fried zucchini coins: 2 small zucchini, sliced into ½ inch thick coins ½ cup flour, for dredging Dip zucchini coins in flour to coat. Heat 2 inches of oil in saucepan over medium high heat until hot. Make the beer batter: ½ cup flour 1 egg ½ teaspoon baking powder Dash of salt ½ cup beer Whisk all beer batter ingredients together until smooth. When oil is hot, dip dredged zucchini coins in batter to coat. Fry in hot oil until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve with fresh marinara sauce for dipping. Enjoy!
Makes 12 appetizers12 small green or red jalapeno peppers 12 small slices pepper jack cheese, cut to fit inside peppers Cut a slit along the length of each pepper, leaving the top and bottom of the pepper intact. Remove seeds if desired. Slide cheese slice into pepper to fill. ½ cup flour for dredging Make the beer batter: ½ cup flour 1 egg ½ teaspoon baking powder Dash of salt ½ cup beer ¼ teaspoon chili powder Whisk all beer batter ingredients together until smooth. Heat 2 inches of oil in saucepan over medium high heat until hot. Dredge cheese-stuffed peppers in flour to coat, then dip in beer batter. Fry in hot oil until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Enjoy!
Sydne George is a food journalist specializing in recipe development, food writing and food photography. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .