Deep fry anything for me and I'm pretty happy! It also happens to be a great way to handle delicate zucchini flowers because they cook quickly and the beignet batter protects their mild flavor without overpowering it. This is a nice accompaniment to cold zucchini soup or just as a starter.
Handling the flowers requires a little attention. Be careful not to leave them out in heat too much because they will turn brown. If the flowers are twisted closed at the top then carefully untwist and slice gently with a tip of a knife to the base. Peel the petal around the base so there is one long petal left. Throw away the yellow stamen inside. set aside in refrigerator until ready to deep fry.
When working with hot oil – especially if you don't have a deep fryer – a few cautions must be followed. Always use a pot that has high sides compared to the amount of oil used. You only need enough surface area to allow the food you are deep frying to float around comfortably and cover with oil by about three inches. Never turn the heat on to high. Start with medium heat and use a thermometer to test exact temperature or test with a small amount of batter before turning up the heat to medium high. Let oil cool thoroughly before throwing it away.
I normally use a neutral tasting peanut oil when deep frying because it has a high smoking point. It can take heat without catching on fire like other oil. In fact we use peanut in France in just about everything. You can use olive oil too (not extra virgin, but regular) or vegetable oil too, however the taste can be overpowering for the zucchini flower.
I love these salty crunchy little treats. slice them in thin strips to add a striking garnish to an entée or eat them hot out of the fryer with an ice cold beer.
Recipe to follow....
Fleur de Courgette Beignet
10- 12 zucchini flowers, opened with stamens removed
200 grams / 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
20 grams / 1 Tablespoon compressed yeast
1 small lager beer (non alcoholic is fine)
Water as necessary
4-5 cups peanut oil for deep frying
Salt to sprinkle over beignet
1. Make beignet batter by breaking compressed yeast into tiny pieces with finger tips over flour. Pour beer over and mix with a whisk until yeast and flour are smooth. Add water little by little as necessary. Consistency should be like thick pancake batter (think Bisquick pancake batter). Refrigerate until ready to use. Can be made a day before.
2. Remove petals of zucchini flower by gently slicing with tip of knife at base of flower to the top and peeling away petal around base in one go. Lie petals flat on a tray lined with paper towels. Refrigerate until ready to use (not more than a half hour)
3. Heat oil to 160˚C / 350˚ F in a large pot with high sides on medium heat. Check temperature with thermometer or drop a little bit of beignet batter in. If it sizzles and floats to the top quickly then it is ready.
4. Using two fingers take zucchini petals and dip flower into beignet batter. Use sides of bowl to wipe off extra batter of flower. Place gently in oil (careful of fingers). When beignet flowers float to top turn them over in oil. Flowers need to cook for about 1 1/2 minutes each side. They will be a light LIGHT golden color. Remove and let drain on paper towels. Sprinkle generously with salt while still hot. Continue until all flowers are deep fried!!!
5. Cut into long strips and serve along side cold zucchini soup or serve in big pieces along side an ice cold beer!