The secret of my success

Summer squash: striped green romanesco zucchini and straightneck yellow squash, fill my garden.  I should be thinking zucchini fritters, but instead, I think sex.  Wall Street.  Bad movies.  I can still smell my mom's yellow squash, pungent with red wine vinegar and soggy with butter on my plate, and see me, a chunky pre-teen at the table, watching the clock tick endlessly, day dreaming in protest.  I was dreaming of Michael J. Fox in The Secret of My Success...and scheming about how to get a better image on the VCR as my best friend and I repeatedly ran through his nude pool dive in slow motion.  The secret, according to the adorable MJF, was sleeping our way to the top.  And this, as far as we could tell, involved some sort of wrestling match on a couch with the boss.  I wasn't sure about the details, but I knew I had to escape the dinner table (and the soggy squash) to get started. Fast forward 25 years; I feel differently about the squash family now, as well as sleeping my way to the top.  I have no expertise in the latter, aside from unconsummated fantasies from too many late nights spent delirious in the office.  I chuckled to discover that my old favorite film ranked at #7 in Bloomberg Businessweek's "Top 30 Must-See Movies for Business Students".  I wouldn't recommend spending quite so much time on the pool scene however...

As a corporate drop-out, I'm more intimate these days with the other stiff stuff-- zucchini.  And get this: zucchini is actually the swollen ovary of the female zucchini flower (yes, this from dirty girl).  It's not something I crave, but when everything else in the garden seems to go awry, zucchini comes to the rescue (this really isn't a metaphor for girl play - we do live in the sticks but I haven't seen one key party yet).  Put under a hot flame for a quick session, it becomes downright blissful (this is a metaphor).

But the best bites of bliss come from the tender blossoms -- those little flowers of foreplay that arrive before the fruit to whet the palate.  I'll eat the squash simply as a tribute to the satisfaction that preceded it.  This may sound familiar to my fellow female couch wrestlers.  I've learned a bit since my Michael J. Fox days.  The secret of my success -- is foreplay.  Take your time getting there.  Relax.  Eat squash blossoms.  Lots of them.  And be thankful.

All this sex talk makes me hungry.  Let's get cookin.

Dinner tonight !
Dinner tonight !

Sexy Stuffed Squash Blossoms with Marjoram

The delicate flavor of these beauties shines when stuffed with marjoram scented feta, doused in beer batter, and fried.  Or try them roughly chopped, sauteed with onions and folded into a quesadilla with a bit of goat cheese.  If you're feeling indulgent, top it with creme fraiche or full fat yogurt.

Ingredients

  • 1 bottle beer (pick your favorite)
  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 8 squash blossoms (check the insides for bugs, but no need to wash)
  • 2 oz feta cheese
  • 2 oz cream cheese
  • 1 tbsp. fresh marjoram leaves (if you don't have these, substitute with your favorite fresh herb, minced)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • squeeze of lemon
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Mix flour, beer, and a pinch of salt until just blended.  Set aside.  Mix feta and cream cheese until evenly blended.  Add garlic, lemon, marjoram, and salt and pepper to taste.  Gently open each blossom and stuff with about 3 teaspoons of the mixture.  Fold blossom tips over gently to close.  Heat several inches of safflower oil to medium (350 degrees) in a wide heavy bottomed pan.  Dip a stuffed blossom into the beer batter to cover, letting drips fall off before placing in the pan.  You can do a few at a time but don't overcrowd the pan so much that the blossoms are touching one another.  Fry on each side until just golden.  Place on paper towels or parchment paper when done.  Serve immediately.

Zucchini & Squash Love Pats with Carrot

Adapted from David Tanis, Heart of the Artichoke.  Thank you Lila for the idea.

Makes 8-10 small patties

Ingredients

  • 8 to 10 small zucchini and yellow squash(about 3 pounds total)
  • 1 cup grated carrot
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 bunch scallions, baby leeks, or chives , finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro or basil
  • 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • Olive oil for frying, as needed

Grate zucchini and squash on medium holes of a box grater or in a food processor. Toss with salt and drain in a colander for at least 20 minutes, and up to 1 hour.  Grate carrots and set aside.In a separate bowl, beat eggs, pepper, scallions, and select herbs. Add flour, then zucchini mixture, carrots, and cheese, and mix thoroughly.

Pour olive oil into a cast-iron skillet until it reaches a depth of 1/4 inch.  Heat to medium.  Carefully place spoonfuls of zucchini carrot mixture in pan, then flatten them to a diameter of about 2 inches. Make only a few pancakes at a time so you don't crowd them, and turn each one once, letting them cook for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until golden.  Serve immediately, or reheat on a skillet to enjoy the next day.

Preserved Zucchini (to make it last...)

These have been a revelation and welcome addition to my summertime fridge.  Use them to wrap fish for a quick meal or serve them chopped up on bruschetta and wrapped around mozzarella for an easy appetizer.  I used the recipe from Eugenia Bone's Well-Preserved, referenced in the attached link:

http://projects.washingtonpost.com/recipes/2009/07/08/preserved-zucchini/

Preserved Zucchini & Roasted Salmon

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1 lb salmon (please don't ever buy farmed salmon)
  • Sea salt & pepper
  • 1 lemon
  • About 5-6 strips of preserved zucchini

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place salmon, skin side down, in a roasting pan.  Squeeze juice from lemon evenly over fish.  Rub about 1 tspn sea salt into the flesh and a give it a grind of pepper.  Layer the strips of zucchini across the top of the fish, lightly overlapping until the top of the fish is completely covered.  Bake for about 20 minutes, or until salmon is no longer translucent in the middle.  The edges of the zucchini should be gently crisped and blackened.

This was delicious served with a homemade Tabouleh salad (bulgar wheat, tomatoes, cucumber, parsley, mint, cilantro, lots of lemon juice, ground toasted cumin seeds, seasoned with salt and pepper and a healthy glug of olive oil).