One of the best things in life, in my opinion, is having a group of like-minded women to spend time with. About 8 years ago, I spent quite a lot of time knocking about Sydney with a bunch of excellent women that my now-husband affectionately referred to as the "Alco-tarts". We were all quite grown-up girls with fairly progressive social views who weren't particularly interested in clubbing but did like a bit of booze with some tasty snacks whilst we spent hours (and hours and hours) chatting and setting the world to rights.
Because of the varying dietary requirements of the Alco-tarts, we'd generally focus on some sort of vegetarian platter. There was one particularly good one, which featured little squishy-centred risotto cakes and deep-fried courgette flowers stuffed with cheese. I loved the courgette flowers! They were delicate and not at all greasy but abundantly filled with melted cheese.
When I saw that the people who supply my veg box were selling courgette flowers, I knew I had to try to replicate the ones I enjoyed all that time ago. The veg is delivered on a Monday, and because the flowers are so delicate I knew I'd have to cook them Monday night.
I scuttled into the kitchen as soon as I got home from work, and opened the veg box...
And discovered that the pretty little punnet contained just 4 courgette flowers. Totally scuttling my idea of eating just courgette flowers for dinner. Fortunately I'd also ordered some little peppers so I figured I'd stuff some of them to bulk out the meal. And discovered that there were only 4 of them as well.
I made a filling of 100g ricotta (leftover from another recipe), some garlic, some grated parmesan and a big bunch of chopped fresh basil, thyme and parsley.
Now, the theory with courgette flowers, as I understand it, is that you have to carefully unfurl the petals, take out the stamen and then stuff them. Well either I have ridiculously clumsy fingers (quite possible) or these flowers weren't in their absolute first freshness, but no matter how I tried the tips of the petals just sort of pureed in my fingers. I had to tear down them to get them open at all.
I stuffed them, folding the tears back up around the filling, and stuffed the little peppers. Then I dipped them in a light cornflour batter and shallow fried them for about 2 minutes a side, until they were all light and crisp, and drained them well on kitchen paper.
I served them on some chickpeas (canned), heated through in some home-made tomato sauce.
They were, actually, delicious. The flowers do taste delicately of courgette, and the filling was lovely, and the contrast of crisp outsides with melty, creamy middles was gorgeous. But given the fiddling, irritation and expense (did I mention that the punnet of 4 flowers cost £2.99?) they are definitely going to be something I leave to the professionals.