Goats Cheese Courgette Flowers with Honey and Hazelnuts

I honestly wish I could say the invention of stuffing a courgette flower, frying and eating it was mine, but alas it was not.

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As if the creamy filling, crunchy coating wasn’t exciting enough, they are so damn pretty on the plate. You can completely forget that they are deep fried and look at them as something wholly more virtuous. Just serve them with a few flecks of parsley for colour, topped with toasted hazelnuts and honey drizzle and you’ve got yourself one hell of a starter.

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I first stumbled across the goats cheese and honey and hazelnut combo last summer at a charming agriturismo in Lake Como. The genius chef had the brilliant idea of serving us fresh farm-made goats cheese served with a toasted hazelnut powder and local honey for dipping. Nothing complicated, just a plate of cheese and a few bowls, purely about the flavours. For the last year it has been a trio of ingredients I have longed to play around with. So since I am in Italy, at the end of the gulf of poets, on holiday with my dad and brother and doing little other then reading and faffing, I thought now would be the time… The courgette flowers are out in abundance and I have my two guinea pig/ critics at the ready.

You ask if they were good?! Not a crumb was left on the plate. Success I’d say!

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The Filling

  • 8 Courgette Flowers
  • 200g Soft Stracciatella Goats Cheese, the most suitable cheese I hae found as a substitute is soft Goats Cheese.
  • 1/2 tsp Chilli Flakes
  • 2 tbsp chopped Parsley
  • 1/2 Lemon Zest

Dredging the Flowers

  • 100g Semolina and 1 tsp Salt (You could use plain flour or even Tempura Batter if you prefer)
  • 1 Egg
  • Sunflower Oil, for frying

To Garnish

  • 25g chopped, toasted Hazelnuts
  • Honey, for drizzling

Method

Remove the stamen from the inside of the flowers

Add the goats cheese, lemon zest, chilli flakes and parsley to a large bowl and mix well. Gently open each courgette flower and use a teaspoon to carefully stuff the flowers with the mixture. Seal the flowers by gently twisting the tops of the petals around the goats cheese. Make sure you seal them otherwise the mixture can leak out.

Heat the oil in a small saucepan. (I use a small pan to save wasting oil and cook them in batches)

Whilst the oil is heating, toast the hazelnuts in a dry pan over a medium heat for a minute or so, until they smell toasted. Be careful not to burn them.

Crack the egg into a bowl and briefly whisk, add the semolina and salt to another bowl.

Dredge the courgette flowers by dipping them in the egg mixture and then covering in the semolina. You want them to be nicely covered, so they get nice and crispy. Gently place the coated courgettes, in batches into the hot oil and allow them to cook for 4 minutes, turning halfway through the cooking time if necessary, until golden and crispy.

Use a slotted spoon to remove the courgette flowers from the pan and place them on a plate lined with kitchen paper to absorb the excess oil. Plate the courgette flowers with the toasted hazelnuts, a generous drizzle of honey and a little fresh parsley.

Bueno. Find this recipe on Great British Chefs website here.

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