Squash blossoms, part 2: Squash blossom quesadilla



Squash Blossom quesadilla_6



After squash blossom experiment part 1, I had some unsused blossoms and thought I’d try Paula’s quesadilla idea. Here we go:

Squash Blossom, Onion and Orange Bell Pepper Quesadilla

You’ll need:

2 large tortillas

about 1 cup of mexican cheese (I buy the blended, packaged kind from the store)

6 or 7 squash blossoms

1/4 of 1 chopped yellow onion

1/2 of 1 chopped orange bell pepper (green or red would work fine also)

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil

First, cook your bell pepper, garlic and onion in olive oil until they are soft. This takes a while so I add water to keep them from burning and to speed up the cooking process. Just make sure to cook all the liquid out before putting them in the quesadilla.



Red pepper and onion



When the onions and peppers are almost done, thrown in the squash blossoms.



Squash Blossom



Cook until the squash blossoms are wilted. Remove the veggies from the skillet and set aside.



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Wipe out the skillet or grab another and let the vegetable oil heat up. I assemble the quesadilla by putting one tortilla down in the pan, adding cheese, then the veggies, a little more cheese and then the second tortilla. I know, it’s not rocket science.

Now just let the tortilla brown on both sides and make sure the cheese is all melted (medium to med-high is a good stove setting).



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No need for a fancy pan that makes those cool grill marks, but if you want it, here it is.

Squash blossoms, part 1: Fried squash blossoms



Fried Squash Blossoms



I decided on two recipe ideas for my squash blossoms. The general consensus seems to be that they’re perfect for deep frying. Paula from Pure Perfection Catering also suggested I try a squash blossom quesadilla. Anything fried or stuffed in between layers of melted cheese sounds good to me. First, the frying.

Battered and Deep-Fried Squash Blossoms

You’ll need:

1 cup flour

1 cup water

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

1 teaspoon salt

squash blossoms

vegetable oil for frying

Heat your vegetable oil to about 375 degrees. Mix the flour, water and spices. Dip each blossom in the batter when the oil is hot enough and lower them into the hot oil. If the batter is coming off in the oil, the oil isn’t hot enough.

Fry for a minute or two, or until they turn a golden brown color. Pull them out with a slotted spoon and let drain on a paper towel.



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While I was at it, I decided to fry up some onion rings too, using the same batter. The batter doesn’t stick as well to the onions, so I dipped them in egg, then in flour, then in the batter.



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I’ve also seen recipes where beer is used instead of water and many where the onion rings are soaked in buttermilk before being battered. There are also variations where the egg is incorporated in the batter. The ingredients are cheap enough to experiment with.

The spices in the batter add great flavor and heat, but as with any fried food, both the squash blossoms and onion rings are great positively addictive when dipped in ranch. Which is the precise reason I’ve not yet purchased one of these.

Guac it out



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We picked up some ridiculously low-priced produce at Stanley’s on Saturday. Dave even took some time to interview the owner about how the heck they do it, while I browsed the aisles in a wide-eyed fruit and veggie frenzy.



Stanley's 3



He found out some fun facts about the place:

  • It’s been family-owned since 1967
  • Peter, a co-owner says that Stanley’s main mission is to contribute to the community by providing quality, low-cost produce
  • The secret to their dirt-cheap prices is “buying right and selling right,” and knowing how to turn inventory quickly
  • Stanley’s was ahead of the curve when they began stocking organic produce in 1995—They now dedicate almost half the store to a wide-selection of organic-only produce

Among the cheapest of our haul were 98-cent cartons of raspberries, 44-cent cartons of strawberries, 39-cents-per-lb watermelon and good-sized spice jars for $1.49 each.

We also got some 48-cent avocados—the main ingredient in this post. So let’s get down to it.



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Guacamole

You’ll need

2 ripe avocados

1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped

1/4 cup chopped tomatoes (remove the seedy, gushy insides to avoid watery guac)

1 jalapeno, minced

1 teaspoon cumin

2-3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon chopped cilantro

cayenne or crushed red pepper to taste (if you like spicy)

Squeeze of lime juice (for flavor and to prevent oxidation–browning)

Mash your avocado and mix all ingredients together. That’s it.

Serve in the avocado shell if you want to be really fancy.



Guacamole



This guac may not be as good as Rick’s, but it’s definitely more wallet-friendly. And the fulfillment you’ll feel laying claim to it while mingling over party appetizers?? Priceless.

Purple Tomatillo Salsa



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I put my purple tomatillos to use and made some salsa.

Purple Tomatillo Salsa

You’ll need:

10-12 purple tomatillos

1 jalapeno

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

4-5 cloves garlic

1/2 chopped white or yellow onion

3 tablespoons cilantro

a squeeze of lime

First, husk and roast your tomatillos and jalapeno under a broiler until your pan starts to look like a gruesome crime scene.

Exhibit A:


Roasted Tomatillos_3



And Exhibit B:



Roasted Tomatillos_2



See what I mean? Poor little tomatillos.

Then throw all your ingredients into a blender, food processor, or, my personal recommendation, a Magic Bullet. No, I didn’t actually buy it. I stole it from my parents’ house.

Something funny happened with mine that I can’t really explain. When I squeezed in the lime juice, the tomatillo salsa turned from green to purple. Then I mixed it and it went back to green. Then after a night in the fridge it went back to purple. Funny little vegetables. Wait, no … fruits??



Purple Tomatillo Salsa_2



Before you taste it, be prepared for what to expect. This unconventional salsa is sweet when it first hits your tongue. Then comes the glorious heat and the bite from the onions and garlic. You also get some of the tangy lime and cilantro flavor in there, too.


A ridiculously easy appetizer


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Ok, so some may say that making bruschetta without basil and balsamic vinegar is sacrilegious, but trust me, in a pinch, this recipe is absolutely delicious and almost too easy. Just so as not to offend the traditionalists, we’ll call this “T.O.G.O. (tomato, onion, garlic, olive oil) Crostini.” It was a real crowd-pleaser at Dave’s birthday. Even the birthday boy himself, who usually won’t get near a tomato, loved it.

T.O.G.O. CROSTINI

You’ll need:

3 good sized beefsteak tomatoes

1 medium yellow onion

3 medium cloves of garlic

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

ground pepper and salt to taste

1 crusty french baguette, cut into slices about 3/4 inch thick

shredded parmesan, asiago or any other hard italian cheese

First, chop your tomatoes and mince the onion and garlic. I remove all the gooey, seedy insides because I like crisp, crusty bread and meaty chunks of tomato. Too much gunk and you’ve got soggy bread and mushy topping. Mix together in a bowl with your extra virgin olive oil.

When I use olive oil in “raw” recipes (where the olive oil won’t actually be cooked) I always use a good-quality extra virgin because the flavor is much better. I got the bottle on the left at a deep discount in the gourmet food section at TJ Maxx. Yes, TJ Maxx has a gourmet food section. Shhh, don’t tell.


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Set your T.O.G.O. topping aside (you can refrigerate it for later use, if you’d like). Right before you are going to serve the crostini, toast your bread slices on a sheet pan under the broiler until slightly toasted (I think the crostini taste better when the bread is crunchy on the outside, but still has a chewy, moist center).

Place a dollop 0f the topping on each crostini right out of the oven and sprinkle with grated cheese.


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Mmmm. Gotta love the contrast between the hot, chewy, flaky bread and the cool, tender, bursting-with-flavor topping. Semplicemente deliziosa.

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