We really like the contrast of these squash blossoms: lightly crisp outside, warm and melting inside; comfort food and yet beautiful enough for a dinner party. The easiest squash blossoms to fill are the ones you pick yourself from your garden because just-picked blossoms are more pliable. If you buy them, make sure the petal part of the flower looks fresh and not limp. A pastry bag makes filling the blossoms easier, but you can use a spoon, too. Leave the trailing end at the tip of the bloom so the cheese stays inside. Because these are rich, one blossom per person is plenty.
Brothers Andy and Mateo Kehler of Jasper Hill Farm in Vermont make Bayley Hazen Blue, which is named after an old military road that was named after two Revolutionary War heroes. You can stuff a squash blossom with any blue cheese, but we like the drier, more crumbly blues for this recipe. Lemon zest is especially good because it mellows out the stronger flavors when cooking with blues. - Sue Conley & Peggy Smith (Cowgirl Creamery Co-Founders)
2 tablespoons Fromage Blanc
2 tablespoons blue cheese (preferably a dry, crumbly blue such as Bayley Hazen)
2 teaspoons hazelnuts, finely chopped
2 teaspoons black pepper, freshly ground
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest, freshly
1 teaspoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed (plus more if needed)
4 fresh squash blossoms
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon whole milk
2/3 cup coarsely ground cornmeal (plus more if needed)
peanut oil, for frying
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons high-quality olive oil
2 cups mizuna or mixed salad greens
4 slices dark levain, toasted (for accompaniment)
- To make the filling: In a bowl, blend both cheeses, the nuts, 1/4 tsp black pepper, and lemon zest. Squeeze on the lemon juice, taste, and add more juice if you like. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag, if using.
- Use your fingers to gently open the blossoms from the tip, taking care not to tear the petals. With the pastry bag, or using a spoon, full each blossom with the mixture. Don't overstuff them; they shouldn't expand like a balloon. Just put in enough cheese so they are filled from base to top. When each blossom is filled to the top, gently roll the blossom on a work surface to evenly distribute the cheese inside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and milk. Set aside. Pour the cornmeal onto a small plate and add a pinch of salt, mixing with a fork.
- Dredge a stuffed squash blossom in the egg wash and then in the cornmeal. Repeat with the remaining squash blossoms, adding more cornmeal to the plate if needed.
- Pour enough peanut oil into a 10-in/25-cm or larger skillet or saucepan so that you have about 1/2 in of oil. Heat the oil over medium-low heat until the oil registers 220 F on a deep-fat thermometer. (You don't want too high a flame, or the cheese will week and melt too quickly.) If you don't have thermometer, test if the oil is ready by tossing a few cornmeal grains into the pan. If the oil sizzles, it's hot enough.
- These cook quickly. Cook until the cornmeal becomes lightly crisp and golden, for no more than 30 seconds. Transfer to a plate to cool just for a few minutes while you dress the salad.
- In a small bowl, make a dressing by whisking together both vinegars, the olive oil, and 1/2 tsp salt. Season with pepper. Put the mizuna in a medium bowl. Lightly dress the greens and mound equal amounts on four plates. Add a squash blossom and a slice of levain toast to each plate, and serve immediately.