Tuesday of my vacation week was my first chance to see some of surrounding El Dorado County. Marilyn had lots of great places in store for us. And I had a great time in the kitchen that night - finally making stuffed squash blossoms for the first time!
On our way “out” of the loop from High Hill, Marilyn wanted to take us past Madrona Vineyards and, well, it was such a lovely sight that we decided to go on in for their wine tasting at 11:00 a.m.
Afterward we stopped at several more Apple Hill orchards before deciding we were ready for our picnic. Again, Marilyn knew the perfect spot – Boeger Winery, with more great wines, beautiful landscaping, and lovely picnic tables. Plus they sold figs and other produce grown on the estate. Too bad we’d already bought figs at Ferry Plaza. But we enjoyed our picnic. While walking the grounds and seeing figs hanging from the trees, we Midwesterners put 2 and 2 together and suddenly understood where fig leafs come from.
Back at Marilyn’s house later that afternoon, I had in mind to serve a platter of grilled veggies from our Ferry Plaza purchases, as well as the abundant squash in Marilyn’s garden. While the grill was hot, it made sense to go ahead and cook the beets for an appetizer I wanted to make later in the week, along with the salmon I planned for an easy salad supper the next night after our day trip to Tahoe. We had plenty of salmon, so I decided to use it to augment what otherwise would have been an all veggie meal, unsure whether it would have been considered “enough” by everyone at the dinner table, including Marilyn’s husband.
Blogger friend Chef Dennis of More Than a Mount Full has been making me crazy for months with his tantalizing photos and recipes for stuffed squash blossoms. I hadn’t had any luck finding squash blossoms to stuff myself all season, until I took a closer look at Marilyn’s vegetable garden. When I asked if I could use the blossoms, I think she thought I was crazy.
I was able to delicately remove about five blossoms – far fewer than Chef Dennis’s “standing weekly order” at his farmers market for five bunches. I wouldn’t have the opportunity to test out all his variations (including this dessert version, squash blossoms filled with cannoli cream!). But I would do my best to make these five little blossoms worth the effort.
These are delicate things to work with, at least my specimens. So I gently washed them and patted them dry with paper towel. Thanks to Dennis's post about "zucchini pops," I felt empowered to keep the blossoms attached to the baby squash, to the extent I could.
here, adjusting for quantity (since - did I mention? - I only had five), and adding a healthy dose of fresh basil, rosemary, and thyme from Marilyn's garden to his suggested cheese mixture of ricotta, mozzarella, and romano, working with cheeses I had available.
Using a ziplock bag with the corner snipped off, I piped the cheese-herb filling into my little blossoms as best I could. This is a job where you need two hands, if not more - holding the blossom open, and keeping the cheese mixture pressed into the tip of the plastic bag while you do your utmost not to tear or overfill the blossoms. Which means you have no extra hands available to photograph your efforts. However, Marilyn was kind enough to snap this one as I worked.
Not that I let my dining companions go hungry, of course. Here's what else was on the dinner table that night - grilled veg platter and salmon topped with tomatoes and basil.