Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Squash Blossom Time

I mentioned the other day that I was seeing the ladies selling hands full of squash blossoms on the street so it is time to use them in my cooking. I stopped at Phil's house on the way home from the market yesterday and she saw squash blossoms in my sack. She wanted to know what I was going to do with them. She said that she and Joanie had been wondering how to use them in a recipe.

Well, as you know I don't always use recipes and I was planning to wing it last night too. I told her that I was going to do something with chicken in a cream sauce with the squash blossoms and serve it over rice. She told me to write it down as I prepared the dish. I didn't measure anything but I'll try to recreate what I did, more or less.

Creamy Squash Blossom Sauce with Breast of Chicken
2 servings

1 pound of chicken breast. I had chicken breast that were flattened and I cut them into one inch pieces but it would look better for a dinner party to have whole boned chicken breast-1/2 of the breast per person.
1/2 large onion chopped
2 large cloves of garlic chopped
1 bunch of squash blossoms about the size of a bunch of spinach...maybe a little larger. Break off the stems with the stamen and cut crosswise in 3/4 inch pieces.
1/2 to 3/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup crema (in the USA you would use whipping cream...not quite the same but it will do)
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons olive oil

Heat the butter and olive oil to hot and add chicken pieces with some salt and pepper. Saute quickly but don't over cook because they will be added back in at the end and finish cooking. Take the chicken out and set aside. Add the onion and saute until beginning to carmelize. Add garlic, cook for about one minute. Add the squash blossoms. They will wilt down like spinach. Add the chicken broth and cook for a few minutes....maybe 5 minutes. Stir in the crema and add the chicken back in. Cook for several minutes to reduce. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper. Serve over rice.

For a dinner party: Since I had small pieces of chicken I could make the dish very quickly but if you are using whole chicken breasts, start by lightly browning the breasts, remove. Saute the onion and garlic. Add the chicken broth and chicken, cover and cook until the chicken is almost done. Remove the chicken and broth and saute the squash blossoms, then return the broth and chicken and complete the dish. Also, if I were doing this for a party, I'd save a squash blossom as a garnish for the plate.

Quesadillas: Saute onion and garlic, add the squash blossoms, season. Put on tortilla, add Asadero cheese (actually I like to add a mix of cheeses to quesadillas....maybe asadero cheese, goat cheese and a bit of cheddar). Then add some oil to a pan, place quesadilla in pan and heat flipping until cheese melts. You could also add some shredded chicken to the quesadilla. Serve with guacamole and salsa.

For those who like some heat: Add 1/4 to 1/2 finely chopped serrano per person to the mixture.

Soup: Make basically the same as the original recipe above but if available add one chopped leek instead of the onion. You could use the boney pieces of the chicken. Put in the onion/leek, garlic, serrano, chicken and 4 cups of water. Season. Stew until the chicken is tender and falling off the bones. Remove the bones from the soup. Add some thin slices of carrots (1/2 - 3/4 cup of sliced carrots and/or add some diced zucchini). When the carrots are tender, add the squash blossoms. Cook until the squash blossoms are wilted but not until they are unrecognizable. If desired, add 1/2 cup crema to make a creamy soup. If you have leftover rice, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of cooked rice. Adjust seasonings.

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