Photo courtesy of CinCin Ristorante.

Fried Zucchini Blossoms from one of B.C.’s Top Chef Canada Contestants

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Chef Andrea Alridge knows spring has arrived when diners start requesting the fried zucchini blossoms. Like clockwork, the seasonal favourite returns to CinCin’s menu year after year, much to its fans’ delight.

“Springtime is my favourite season of the year,” the chef de cuisine at Vancouver’s award-winning CinCin Ristorante + Bar says. “I love breathing the beautiful fresh air and creating with the season’s farm-fresh vegetables.”

This spring will also mark a step of a different sort for Alridge as she competes against 10 other up-and-coming chefs from across the country for the title of Canada’s Top Chef on the Food Network program that returns this month.

After eight years cooking Italian food at something of an institution in Vancouver, she’s ready to showcase some of the other cuisines that also inspire her.

“Food was a huge part of my upbringing,” she says in behind-the-scenes footage from the upcoming season of Top Chef. “Pretty much the second that I could speak and use my hands, I was cooking. Being from a Filipino and a Jamaican background, it was always like a huge spread at all times. You never went to bed hungry, that’s for sure.”

The ninth season of Top Chef Canada premieres April 19. Whet your appetite with Alridge’s recipe for fried zucchini blossoms.

Chef Andrea Alridge Top Chef Canada

Chef Andrea Alridge. Image courtesy of Food Network Canada.

Chef Andrea Alridge’s Fried Zucchini Blossoms

Serves 4

Ingredients

For the fried zucchini blossoms

Canola oil, for deep-frying

1¾ cups tempura flour

8 zucchini blossoms (male or female)

Three-cheese stuffing (see below)

4 handfuls arugula

Classic vinaigrette (see below)

4 Cherriette (or any red-skinned) radishes

Good-quality olive oil, for finishing

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the three-cheese stuffing:

1 medium Yukon Gold potato

Salt (preferably rock salt or kosher salt), for baking the potato

4 ounces firm goat cheese

2 ounces grated Montasio or cheddar cheese

1¾ ounces grated Parmesan

1 egg

2 tablespoons chopped chives

2 tablespoons chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the classic vinaigrette (makes 1¾ cups):

1¼ cups extra-virgin olive oil

½ cup champagne or whitewine vinegar

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Fried zucchini blossoms

Photo courtesy of CinCin Ristorante.

Method

To make the three-cheese stuffing:

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).

Fill a small ovenproof frying pan or baking sheet with salt to a depth of a ½ inch.

Prick the potato all around using a sharp knife and lay it on the bed of salt. Bake until it’s completely tender, about 1 hour. (The salt seasons the potato as well as keeps it dry while it bakes.)

While still warm, cut in half and scoop out the flesh. (Reserve the skin for another use, or compost.) Pass the flesh through a food mill or potato ricer, or push it through a coarse sieve, and set aside to cool.

When cool, add the cheeses, egg, herbs and salt and pepper, and beat together until fully combined.

Set aside.

To make the classic vinaigrette:

Whisk the oil and vinegar together. Season with salt and pepper.

To make the fried zucchini flowers:

Preheat canola oil in a deep fryer to 360°F.

Prepare a tempura batter following the manufacturer’s guidelines for the ratio of ice water to flour.

Dust and clean the zucchini blossoms of any soil.

Place the cheese stuffing in a piping bag and pipe into the heart of each blossom. Use enough of the cheese mixture to fit into the base of the flower bud without spilling out through the leaves. Fold the petals around the mixture.

Dredge the blossoms in the tempura batter and shake off any excess.

Have ready a large plate or tray lined with paper towels. Without overcrowding the fryer, drop the blossoms into the hot oil and cook until they float and just start to turn brown. Drain on the paper towels and keep warm while the remaining blossoms are cooked.

Dress the arugula with the vinaigrette. Using a mandolin or sharp knife, thinly slice the radishes.

Divide the arugula between 4 plates, place 2 zucchini blossoms on each plate and sprinkle the radish slices over the top. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.


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Post Date:

April 19, 2021