After a few weeks of total germ-and-work-deadline-induced craziness, I am finally back with a new recipe. It is my mother in law's recipe to be honest, I just snapped pictures with my iphone while she was frying.
If you have been reading my blog long enough you already know it is impossible to get into my MIL's kitchen to cook and to tell you the truth, it was really nice to let someone pamper me for a change. She is queen of her kitchen and cooks up a feast when we are there. She is the kind of person that shows her love through her cooking and she clearly loves us very, very, very much if you ask me! Feel free to check out some of the other wonderful recipes she spoils us with when we are visiting. Ok, so the last link is for a restaurant, but if you ever go to Elba, you might want to check it out.
Anyhow, back to our vacation. We spent a lot of time at the beach, swimming, building sand castles and people watching. Here are a few considerations I came up with while minding everybody's business but my own.
1. Italy is known for its healthy Mediterranean diet. In Milan people are mostly in pretty good shape, so when I travel to other areas, especially southbound, I tend to forget how many are actually overweight in this country. I by no means have a waif-like figure, au contraire, but let me tell you, in that crowd I pulled out my bikinis and ditched the one piece. What really shocked me was the amount of heavily overweight children I saw. Apparently infantile obesity is becoming a huge issue here too. That's globalization for you. Mamma/nonna, why are you feeding your kid lasagna, insalata di riso, potato chips and foccaccia under the blazing midday sun?
2. Sun tents are all the rage now. Fair enough: they are practical, especially if you have little kids, and they protect you from the unhealthiest rays of the day. However, tent family, they do tend to be invasive and pretty ugly. So tent family, please pitch your condo more towards the back, not at the water's edge, where you are blocking the view of the sea for everybody behind you. Especially if you have one of those mega, whopping, family-sized pop-up sun tents. Oh, and by the way, that is my little toe you just knocked your damn peg into.
3. I get that you are on vacation and that you are in love, but please do not stand right in front of my kids making out and please ask your partner not to stroke your thong-clad 50+ year butt while doing this. It is difficult: a) to surpress their shrieking laughter; b) to ignore their pointing and insistent questions when you are two feet from us.
4. I have been married for more than ten years and I enjoy watching a good looking, tanned guy walk by with droplets of salt water running down his abs as much as the next gal. But why is every attractive man over the age of 20 wearing a slip instead of swim trunks? I like admiring your six pack dude, but not your family jewels.
5. And why is every girl under the age of ten wearing a bikini top (sweetie, whatever you are trying to cover is two inches below the triangle), while the large majority of pubescent girls with, ehm, blossoming buds are walking around carefree and topless, attracting the inappropriate gaze of several middle-aged men (shudder)?
6. And last but not least, why oh why, body-building couple, did you feel the need to bring your humongous Saint Bernard to the beach? Besides the fact every time he moves he hurtles half a sand dune, a quart of drool and a gallon of water our way... the poor sucker is really suffering.
What drives you crazy at the beach? Any funny anectdotes you want to share?
This recipe is typically Roman, but you can stuff zucchini blossoms in many ways. If you want a vegetarian version you can omit the anchovies or use just plain ricotta and Parmesan or flavor it in a variety of ways (pesto, saffron anyone?). Mozzarella and diced ham is also popular, although some people like them just as they are, with no stuffing at all.
If you want a lighter version you can make them in the oven, especially if you want to serve them at a seated dinner and be there to enjoy some too instead of standing in the kitchen sweating over a hot pan of splattering oil while your guests have all the fun. But dount count too much on the crunch factor, although you will definitely be eating a healthier, less caloric version of these.
Ingredients (16 zucchini blossoms)
400ml cold sparkling water
2tbsp olive oil
1 large or 2 small mozzarella cheeses (you will need 16 cubes)
8 anchovies cut in half (16 pieces)
a pinch of salt for the batter plus extra for seasoning
ice cubes (optional)
Wash the zucchini blossoms making sure not to break them and remove the stamins. Leave to dry on a dish towel.
In the meantime cut the mozzarella cheese into 16 cubes and cut the 8 anchovy filets into half.
Delicately open the petals of the blossoms and stuff each one with a cube of mozzarella and a piece of anchovy and gently twist closed (you can also stuff the blossom from the hole if you take off the stem).
To prepare the batter, energetically whisk together the flour, water, olive oil and salt. A cold batter and the carbonation from sparkling water will ensure a crunchy, less greasy result, so add in some ice cubes for best results.
Preheat some frying oil (sunflower, peanut etc.) in a large pan. Make sure it is hot enough by dipping the tip of a zucchini blossom or dropping a little batter in the oil: if the edges start bubbling you are set to go. When the oil isn't hot enough, whatever you are frying will absorb way too much oil and turn out soggy and greasy.
Dip the stuffed zucchini blossom in the batter, shake off the excess and then proceed to fry for a few minutes on each side, just until golden brown.
Sprinkle with some salt and serve immediately, while piping hot.