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Easter Lunch Menu from Provence – Stuffed Courgette Flowers

Last year, we hosted the Gemma Wade of “You Say Tomato Cooking” (meal planning, recipes, cooking classes and more) here in Cotignac. Gemma is a talented cook, turns fresh, basic ingredients into delicious dishes with ease. She was impressed by our Tuesday morning farmer’s market in Cotignac, one of five (5) reasons to visit our beautiful village.

Gemma filled her market basket and then spent two full days cooking in the Cronk’s kitchen. She created a delicious Easter Lunch Menu, which we paired with our Mirabeau rosé  – bien sûrThis menu works well for any spring gathering (Mother’s Day, Sunday Lunch or just because).

The recipe for stuffed courgette flowers follows below. Watch for the other recipes in the coming weeks.


Easter Lunch Menu from Provence

Lemon and cheese stuffed courgette flowers

Cod with tapenade crust and rosé braised fennel

Roast radish and asparagus with lemon and cheese crumbs

New potatoes and crusty bread with salsa verde butter

Orange, fennel, olive and caper salad

Roast strawberry galette with strawberry, honey and orange ripple cream


Easter Lunch Menu

Easter Lunch Menu Stuffed Courgette Flowers

Easter Lunch Menu from Provence

These zucchini flowers sound like a lot of work, but they are easy to make as long as you are organized. Your guests will love these pre-lunch or dinner snacks.
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Appetizer
Cuisine French
Servings 6 people

Ingredients
  

  • 200 ml Rapeseed Oil (Canola Oil) for frying
  • 12 Courgette Flowers or with a baby zucchini attached
  • 60 g (2 oz) Comte, Gruyere or Parmesan,
  • 140 g (5 oz) Soft Cheese such as Ricotta goats cheese or a full fat cream cheese
  • 30 g (1 oz) Basil Chives or Wild Garlic Leaves
  • 1 Lemon
  • 1/2 tsp Freshly ground black pepper

For the Batter:

  • 140 g (1 cup) Plain All-Purpose Flour
  • 250 ml (1 cup+) Very Cold Water just over 1 cup
  • 1/2 tsp Fine Grain Sea Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Lemon

To Serve:

  • Maldon Salt Flakes
  • 2 Lemons

Instructions
 

Prepare & Stuffing:

  • Make the stuffing by combining the finely grated hard cheese with the soft cheese.
  • Add the finely chopped herbs, pepper and the zest of a lemon. I usually mash mine together with a fork. This will be easier if your cheese is room temperature.
  • Make the batter by whisking together your flour, salt, pepper, lemon zest and the juice of the lemon.
  • Then slowly add the cold water, you may not need all of it, whisking until you have the texture of thick cream. The odd lump is fine and, weirdly, will help you get a nice crunchy batter.
  • Start warming the oil over medium-high heat. Use a wide, high sided pan. A high sided frying pan is good, a less wide saucepan will mean you can only cook a few in each batch as otherwise, they’ll stick together.
  • While your oil warms, start to stuff your flowers. You can be "cheffy" and tidy and use a piping bag but I’m never organised enough to use that. I just gently peel one of the flower petals, check for any tiny insects and if I find them, gently remove them. Then I use a teaspoon to squish around a tablespoon of the cheese mixture inside each flower. Then I squish the petals back together so that the cheese is enclosed. A little bit of seepage is fine. The cheese should help the petals stick together if they tear. The first one will feel tricky but you’ll quickly get into a routine. You can stuff the flowers and leave them in the fridge at this stage for a few hours.
  • Once you have stuffed all your flowers you can test that your oil is hot. I do this by dropping a cube of bread (or a dollop of the leftover batter) in, if it sizzles and starts to turn brown pretty quickly you are ready to fry. If not, leave the bread in and watch until it goes brown.

To Cook:

  • Set up a production line with a plate of paper towel next to to your pan of oil, a pair of tongs, a slotted spoon, your bowl of batter and the stuffed flowers.
  • Then, one by one, dip each flower in the batter until well coated and quickly, carefully place into the oil. I reckon on cooking 4-5 at a time in my pan. Too many and they’ll bring the temperature of the oil down and be soggy, or they’ll stick together.
  • Cook them on one side without moving them until they turn golden and crisp (around 3 minutes), then use your tongs and spoon to gently turn them over and cook them for another couple of minutes on the other side.
  • Set them onto the paper towel to remove excess oil while you cook the next batch.

To Serve:

  • Make sure your friends are ready with their wine poured and their pile of lemon wedges so that they can eat them while they are fresh and hot – with a squeeze of lemon and salt.
Keyword Cheese, Goat Cheese, Zucchini
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Mirabeau Wine

Mirabeau Wine

Stephen had been in the corporate world for 15 years and in August 2008 turned down a promotion that would have meant more money but also more stress, longer hours and less time with his young family. For many years the Cronks had been dreaming and talking about moving to France to make their own wine, but the moment never seemed quite right to make the big leap.

Soon after, a good redundancy offer seemed the perfect opportunity to turn the dream into reality and after selling their beloved house, they left the leafy suburbs of south-west London in August 2009. Their worldly possessions were packed up on the back of a truck and with barely a word of French between them, the family headed south to a small village called Cotignac, in the heart of Provence.

The Cronks spent a year getting their bearings, learning to live the provençal way, as Stephen was criss-crossing the country researching and finding the best vineyards to work with. The next step was setting up a small wine business with the principle objective of making a Provence rosé that would be regarded as one of the very best from the region, while building a brand that people would grow to love. In order to achieve this aim, they put together a highly experienced winemaking team and threw their heart and soul into the brand and innovative communications with their customers. Mirabeau is now being sold in more than 30 markets, has won medals and earned acclaim from some of the world’s toughest wine critics, but what really makes Stephen happiest is that their wines are an integral part of people having a great time together.

Read more about the Mirabeau Wine story here.

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