Tempura Fried Basil, Squash Blossoms or Nasturtium Flowers stuffed with Goat Cheese, Marcona Almonds and Jalapeno
The original recipe: Tempura Fried Squash Blossoms
Stuffed with Goat Cheese, Apricot and Jalapeno
The recipe that was invented when the squash blossoms weren't
delivered: Nasturtium Flowers Stuffed with the Goat Cheese filling
Roasting the Jalapeño
Apricots and Marcona Almonds
Goat Cheese, Marcona Almonds, Jalapeno and Apricot
Combine ingredients well.
The third Recipe: Tempura Fried Stuffed Basil Leaves
Put the cheese mixture in one side of the basil leaf
and seal it in half like a closed taco. Then dip them in the
Tempura Batter and drop them in the hot oil.
This post should really be titled "The Evolution of a Recipe" because it has changed numerous times usually because the ingredient we planned on was missing. The first time this was even invented was for Krista Ramonas and Gordon Rubenstein. I made it up that night from an idea I had. The first version used hazelnuts instead of marcona almonds.
I had intended to make the squash blossom again as a first course for Naomi and Jason Priestley's baby shower. But that morning my produce guy showed up without squash blossoms and I couldn't find them anywhere! I purposely have edible landscaping at my house and plant nasturtiums specifically to cook with or use as a garnish. In a panic I looked at the garden and said I'll just use Nasturtiums. These turned out to be a huge hit and were easier to eat because they were tray passed bites you could just pop in your mouth.
Fast forward to a cooking class I did in July at Valerie Rice's home and we have yet the third incarnation of this recipe. I had planned to use squash blossoms from her garden and when we went to her garden there were hardly any left. I quickly glanced over at her abundant basil plants and said "Why don't we try these." It turned out to be another happy accident because the basil leaves are my most favorite of all three versions. The flavor of the basil is intensified when fried and it goes so well with the cheese, fruit and spice. They are devoured before you can even get them out. Here is a video clip from Valerie's cooking class of us making both the squash blossoms and then inventing the basil bites.
I've been meaning to post the recipe since then but had never measured the filling ingredients. So now it is November and basil is dying in most gardens, but hopefully you can find some in the market. Or maybe there will be a fourth version of this recipe made with something in season now: maybe hollowed out brussels spouts or let your own creative juices decide....
TEMPURA BATTERED SQUASH BLOSSOMS, BASIL LEAVES AND NASTURTIUM FLOWERS
You will need canola oil or grapeseed oil to fry in. I always fry in a deep sided sauce pot so that oil doesn't splatter everywhere. Heat your oil to 350 degress. (and I'm only writing the oil temperature for those who care. I test the oil temperature by dropping something in and seeing if it cooks correctly. If it is too hot I turn the oil down, if it is too low and the food is soggy instead of crispy I turn up the heat. But for those who like to be precise the precise temperature to fry foods is 35o degrees F.
I also often use reduced balsamic vinegar to garnish the finished bites. They have a nice tangy sweetness that adds another dimension of flavor.
For the Filling:
1 cup (8 ounces) goat cheese (Silver Chevre is my favorite brand)
2 tablespoons chopped Marcona Almonds (or more if you like)
5-6 dried apricots, finely chopped
1 jalapeno, roasted, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
Mix the above ingredients together and stuff in either the basil leaves, the squash blossoms or Nasturtium flowers or whatever other yummy concoction you can think of.
for Tempura Batter:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup corn starch
1 teaspoon kosher salt or finely ground sea salt
1 cup of ice water with ice cubes in it.
I always combined the tempura batter with my hands but maybe that is because we often had to make Tempura on the fly at the restaurant for someone who was vegetarian and didn't eat fish. So we'd make this super quick and dip some veggies in and fry them and serve. (My favorite Tempura vegetable of all is sweet potato.)
Line a tray or plate with paper towels. Take your stuffed basil and dip it quickly in the tempura batter and then drop it in the hot oil. Remove with a spider or other strainer to the paper towels. Drizzle with balsamic if you wish. Serve pipping hot.
Maili's Notes: There are a hundred different variations of fillings. You could use the same mixture from the Prosciutto Bundles (a mixture of prosciutto, pine nuts and garlic goat cheese) that would be really yummy in the basil. experiment with different cheeses nuts and fillings. This is definitely a recipe to have fun with!