I am a little bit in love with Stefano's new book Italian Food - it is a bible of his recipes and one dish that I had to cook immediately was this - deep fried cheesy filled zuchinni flowers. Piping hot and crisp, they really are the best way to eat zuchinni. If you haven’t eaten his food, you’ve heard of him. Stefano Manfredi is a chef whose reputation is often whispered about with an air of mystical awe. A stalwart on the Australian cooking scene and formidable culinary force in educating palates on all (edible) things Italian. His latest cookbook Italian Food is a worthy investment for your kitchen real estate. Stefano includes more than 500 recipes from across Italy’s 20 regions. While its difficult to decide what to cook, I couldn’t go past the cheese stuffed zuchinni flowers. If you ever wondered the difference in zuchinni flowers – the female flowers are the sturdier version – they come with the baby zuchinni attached while the male flowers have just a delicate stem. Either are great with this recipe although that zuchinni stem does make a nifty handle if you were serving as more of a finger food. I served these as part of a spread with some slow cooked lamb shoulder and fresh bity salads. They were heavenly, and what’s not to love about cheese wrapped in flowers like an edible present.
1 1/3 cups plain flour
2/3 cup ice cold waer
150g ricotta cheese
200g provola cheese, grated
150g mozzarella cheese, cubed
100g Grana Padano, grated
2 tbsp anchovy fillets, finely chopped
24 zuchinni flowers, stamen removed
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
To make the batter, use a fork to mix the flour and water to form a rough, lumpy, fairly runny mixture. Rest this while you are preparing the rest of the dish. Make the filing by combining the cheeses and the anchovies. Season. If you are using femaile flowers with baby zuchinni attached, trim the ends of the zuchinni. If you are using male flowers, trim the stems. Carefully open the flowers and spoon in a little of the filling. Gently close the flowers by lightly pressing the petals together. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan until it is about to smoke, then dip the filled zuchinni flowers in the batter and allow any excess to run off. Fry the flowers in the oil until golden. Remove from the pan and dry on paper towels, then season and serve.
By the by, it certainly helps that you can eat his food somewhere as beautiful as his restaurant and garden at Bells Killcare. One day, one day I am going to stay there for a week, eat, sunbake, walk on the beach and then attend one of Stefano's cooking classes - sounds like a dream doesn't it?