If you didn’t already know, zucchini flowers come in male and female versions. Most recipes recommend using the male ones because they don’t come with the baby zucchini attached. We prefer the females because why wouldn’t you want to eat a small deep fried zucchini too?
The ricotta is cold smoked for this using the polyscience smoking gun, which is a really easy way to add flavour to small portions quickly. Smoking enthusiasts will probably turn their noses up at this because it won’t give you the same result as the proper (and longer and much more expensive) cold smoke set ups. But it works. And it’s tasty.
(enough for eight pieces)
8 zucchini flowers
50g crumbly goat’s cheese
1⁄4 cup currants
1⁄4 cup pine nuts
bottle of beer
2 tablespoons plain flour
sprig of rosemary
sprig of fresh thyme
oil (for deep frying)
Start by smoking the ricotta. Dry some rosemary leaves in the sun for an hour or so. When they are dry enough to burn, follow the instructions on the smoking gun using the rosemary leaves instead of smoking chips. Leave the smoke resting on the ricotta while you get everything else ready (this allows the flavour to penetrate and will soften some of the acrid smokiness).
Remove the stamens (if you are using male flowers) and pistils (if using females) from inside the flowers, taking care not to tear the petals. Just stick your finger in there and push gently at the base of the stamens until you feel a little click, then shake them out.
Toast the pine nuts and mix with the goat’s cheese, ricotta, lemon zest and currants. Season to taste. Pipe the mixture into the flowers, but don’t be tempted to overfill them (a ziplock bag with the corner cut off works pretty well for this). Twist the top of the petals together to seal the mixture in and refrigerate.
When you are ready to serve, heat enough oil in a saucepan to entirely cover the zucchini flowers. While the oil is heating, make a batter by mixing a small amount of the beer with about half a cup of flour until you get a smooth, runny consistency. When the oil is hot enough, individually drag the zucchini flowers through the batter and gently place in the oil without overcrowding the pan. Fry for a few minutes until crispy and golden. Drain some of the oil off before sprinkling with sea salt and thyme to serve.