January 26th, 2023
Happy new year to you all! Gosh, I think this is the longest I have gone between newsletters in years. There was a deep need to recharge after the busyness of releasing my new cookbook last October. Also, the realisation that my children are growing up so I have been relishing this holiday time together while they still want to spend time with us (the parents).
Instead of camping or heading away, we had a staycation, which for this homebody is truthfully my favourite kind of holiday. I know some people find it difficult to relax when at home, but pottering in the kitchen and garden brings me a deep sense of satisfaction. When cooking is your job (which essentially it is for me, just not in the usual hospitality sense), when I get to cook just for the enjoyment it feeds me on so many levels. Maybe you can relate? When you take away the day-to-day routine to get a meal on the table and have the time to plan and cook something new or special it is just so good for the soul.
Maybe some of the recipes below will be the inspiration you need.
Is it a zucchini or a courgette? One is the Italian name, the other French, both are correct and tend to be used interchangeably depending on your location and preference. I find myself defaulting to zucchini, likely due to my childhood memories of spending time with my school friend and her Italian family. They lived in the inner Nelson suburb of The Wood, which at the time (mid-eighties) was largely populated by long rows or commercial glasshouses, where tomatoes and other heat-loving produce were grown en masse.
Little did I know this was my first introduction to simple Italian fare. I recall the tomato passata-making days, churning juicy tomatoes to fill endless jars with sauce. There was often a pot of tomato sauce bubbling on the stovetop to serve with large bowls of pasta. I don’t recall zucchini as such, but I am sure it was there too, along with eggplants and peppers, basil and oregano. Stalwart ingredients of Italian cuisine.
More Zucchini Recipes:
- Slow-Roasted Pasta Sauce
- Oat & Zucchini Pantry Cookies
- Real Fruit Ice Cream with Frozen Zucchini!
- Zucchini & Mozzerella Bake
Stuffed Zucchini Flowers
- 10-12 zucchini flowers
- 150 g ricotta or soft goat cheese
- 3 tbsp finely grated parmesan
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tsp dried oregano or marjoram
- cracked pepper
- salt to taste
- 1 small egg
- ½ cup 75g standard flour (can use gluten-free flour)
- ¼ cup 30g corn flour or tapioca flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- pinch of salt
- ½ cup soda water
- olive oil or rice bran oil for cooking
- Gently plunge the zucchini flowers into a bowl of cold water to allow any garden critters to swim away. Lay the flowers on a clean tea towel to dry.
- Make the filling. In a bowl, combine the ricotta, parmesan, lemon zest, oregano and cracked pepper. Add salt to taste - if using goat cheese it may not be required.
- Stuff the flowers. One flower at a time, gently pry the petals open and fill with a heaped teaspoon of the filling. Lightly twist the petals to close and set aside on a plate. Repeat with the remaining flowers and filling.
- Make the batter. Break the egg into a bowl and whisk until frothy. Add the flours, baking powder and salt and pour in ½ cup soda water. Whisk into a thin batter.
- Using a heavy-based frying pan, pour in enough oil to come about 1 cm up the side of the pan (about 200ml depending on the width of your pan). Heat the oil over a moderate heat until a small amount of batter immediately sizzles when dropped in the pan.
- Cook 3-4 stuffed flowers at a time. Dip in the batter, allow excess to drip off then carefully place in the hot oil, leaving space between each flower. Cook on both sides for 1-2 minutes until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon onto a paper towel lined plate. Repeat with the remaining flowers. Scatter with salt and serve immediately.
Spiced Zucchini & Carrot Fritters
- 1 medium zucchini about 200g, coarsely grated
- 1 carrot 200g, coarsely grated
- ½ red onion 100g, thinly sliced
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp coriander seeds or use ground spices
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- ½ cup chickpea flour see recipe headnote
- salt and pepper
- 1 egg
- olive oil for frying
- Sour cream to serve
- In a bowl, combine the grated zucchini and carrot, and sliced onion. Add the salt and toss to combine. Set aside for 10 minutes for the salt to draw out excess moisture.
- If using whole spices, toast them now in an unoiled frying pan until fragrant and beginning to pop. Tip into a mortar and pestle and pound into a powder (or use an electric spice mill)
- In a mixing bowl combine the spices and flour along with a generous pinch of salt and grind of black pepper. Add the egg and mix into a thick paste.
- Tip the salted vegetables into a sieve and press and squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Add the vegetable to the batter and fold together.
- Heat a heavy-based frying pan over a moderate heat. Drizzle in 1-2 tablespoons of oil to cover the base of the pan with a thin layer.
- Cooking in batches, spoon tablespoon amounts of the batter into the pan. Cook for 2 minutes then flip and cook until the fritters are golden on both sides. Add extra oil to the pan between batches.
- Serve with sour cream on the side. To make a meal, serve with hot smoked salmon and a garden salad.
My new cookbook The Homemade Table is now available at bookstores around Aotearoa NZ, plus order signed copies HERE.
(Note: I am not sending to Australia or overseas at this time – books can be ordered HERE).