Cheese

28th February
2011
written by Nibblish

Zucchini flowers stuffed with goat cheese are so delicious and easy to prepare, but can also look quite fancy as a gourmet starter! I personally prefer the batter to be super light using just sparkling water and a bit of flour but you can also make a traditional batter by adding an egg in the mix for a crispier result.

Ingredients: (4 people)

8 zucchini flowers
120g fresh goat cheese
80g Ricotta cheese
1/2 bunch of chives, finely chopped
1 handful flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/2 nutmeg, grated
Freshly ground pepper & salt
100g plain flour
200ml sparkling mineral water, very cold
30ml vegetable oil (for frying)

Instructions:

1. Gently open the zucchini flower, remove the stamen and make sure there are no insects inside.

2. Combine the goat cheese, ricotta, chives, parsley, nutmeg in a mixing bowl and season with salt & pepper. If you don’t have a piping bag, cut the corner from a plastic freezer bag, add the cheese mix to the bag.

3. Squeeze the mixture through the whole into the flowers, set aside and refrigerate for 30 minutes to avoid the mixture to leak straightaway as you start frying.

4. Prepare the batter by whisking the cold sparkling water in the flour. Don’t worry if it’s not perfectly smooth when combined.

5. Pre-heat the vegetable oil in a large non stick frying pan. Dip the flowers in the batter and fry on high heat for 30- 60 seconds on each side until golden in color. Remove with the wire strainer, let drain, transfer to a plate lined with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

I like serve to it on a bed of green leaf salad topped with caramelised figs! It also works really well with a few pieces of crispy shredded Parma ham on top!

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1st January
2011
written by Nibblish
This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series Tapas Dinner

I prepared the croquettes as one of the dishes for a tapas dinner party. It can be little bit fiddly to make because the cheesy mixture will always try to misbehave and leak when being coated and fried, but if you follow the tips & techniques carefully you should be all good! Having said that, I really think it’s well worth the effort…you simply can’t beat a creamy and cheesy white sauce in a crispy crust! Mmmm…


Ingredients (for 10 croquettes):

50g butter
70g plain flour
300 ml milk
1/2 nutmeg, grated
70g cheddar cheese, grated
2 slices Prosciutto ham, chopped
1 egg
60g flour (coating)
100g breadcrumbs
Sea Salt and freshly ground pepper
300ml vegetable oil


Instructions

1. First let’s get started with the cheesy b├ęchamel sauce, which is the really easy part. Melt the butter on medium heat in a non stick pan, add the flour slowly and whisk it until it forms a thick and smooth paste. Add the milk slowly, again splash by splash, and whisking continuously until nice and smooth. Season with the grated nutmeg, salt and pepper. Add the grated cheese and continue stirring it well until your happy with the mixture. It should be thick and creamy. Let it cool down. Add the chopped prosciutto and refrigerate for a good hour.


2. Now let’s form the croquettes, which is the trickier bit. Take the cold mixture out of the fridge, put flour on your dry hands and start forming little sausage shaped portions, roll it in more flour and put it onto a floured plate. If it doesn’t stick together nicely, put it back in the fridge for a little bit longer. For this step to be successful, it is all about working quickly with a cold mixture and a lot of flour. Place the formed croquettes back in the fridge for another 15 mins. 


3. Now it’s time to fry those little babies. Bring the vegetable oil to boil into a large frying pan. Take the cold floured portions out of the fridge and very quickly coat them one by one into the whisked egg, bread crumbs and then into the hot oil. If the mixture melts into the pan before the coating has time to cook, then the mixture is not cold enough and you will need to place the plate with the remaining portions in the freezer for a few minutes to cool it down further. Cook on each side for 2 minutes until golden brown and place it on some kitchen paper to absorb the excess fat. Once all the croquettes are cooked, place them into a small oven tray to keep it warm in the oven until you’re ready to serve!

Serve it with a green salad, a good Spanish red wine and play some chill out Latino music in the background (Eg. Rythm del mundo: Cuba compilation) and you’ll be laughing!! You may also want to take a look at my other tapas recipes to make it a full dinner!

By the way, this recipe is quite versatile too and you can swap the prosciutto for any other charcuterie (eg. cooked ham, salami etc), add other small bits (eg. mushrooms, fresh herbs or chili!) or change the cheddar for any other hard cheese (gruyere, parmesan etc)


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