Sometimes, things aren't exactly as they seem. Simplicity under the guise of complexity can offer rewarding and surprisingly fulfilling experiences. In so many ways, we as people love mystery. In spite of our relentless pursuit of answers, we don’t really want to have all those answers all the time. I feel that way about food. Good cooks should always permit themselves to be quirky, risky, and above all curious.
I recently had a conversation with a good friend of mine in which he methodically broke down the frying process, spewing terms like optimum temperature, maintenance of internal moisture, delicate caramelization, and so on and so forth. It dawned on me, that any process, broken down to its fundamental principles can sound incredibly complex but does not need to be. That realization contributed to the creation of this dish in no small way. I had never worked with zucchini flowers, let alone quail’s eggs or purple potatoes. I challenged myself to trust my understanding of ingredients and to come up with something that while seemingly complex, was entirely simple and stood on the principle of balance. I encourage you to take a risk, be quirky, and trust your intuition.
INGREDIENTS (serves 4):
- 4 medium sized purple potatoes
- Milk (about 60 ml)
- 100g butter
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 sirloin steaks (about 250 g each)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp ground nut oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 20g butter
- 1 cup flour (leave extra to dust the flowers)
- 1 ½ cup water
- 1 tsp baking powder
- Sea salt
- 8 Zucchini blossoms
- Aged cheddar cheese (cut into small cubes)
- 1 lemon
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 4 quail’s eggs
- Baby arugula or other micro leaves
- Place the potatoes in a pot of boiling salted water for about ten minutes or until a knife can go cleanly through
- Peel the potatoes when still warm and pass through a potato ricer or alternatively use a masher
- Lower the heat on the pot to low, add a splash of warm milk, the butter, and salt to taste. Combine ingredients with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy. Leave the pot on lowest setting.
- Make the batter for the Zucchini blossoms by combining the flour, water, baking powder, and a sprinkle of sea salt. Stirring the batter through and set aside.
- Heat the ground nut oil in large non-stick frying pan until just smoking
- Season the steak with salt and pepper and add to the pan
- Let steaks fry for about 2½ minutes until golden brown and turn
- Add 2 crushed cloves of garlic to the pan
- Fry until for about 1 minute, add the butter, and spoon the melted butter over the steaks repeatedly
- Fry for about 1 more minute, when just lightly springy to the touch, remove the medium steaks from the pan and allow to rest
- Heat another non-stick frying pan with 2 tbsp olive oil until just smoking for the zucchini blossoms
- Carefully slice the zucchini flowers length-ways and remove the stamens.
- Insert a small piece of aged cheddar into each and twist the tops of the flowers to ensure the cheese stays in
- Run each flower through a little flour, then through the batter, before placing into the pan
- Fry each side until just golden brown, for about 1 minute each side, being extremely careful not to burn the delicate flowers
- Remove the flowers from the pan and set aside on some paper towels to remove excess oil
- Finally, prepare the quail’s eggs by frying lightly in a little olive oil in a non-stick pan. This step only takes about 30 seconds for the quail’s egg to cook through. Ensure the yolk remains intact and shiny to sight. Remove the quail’s eggs from the pan with a spatula and set aside on a warm plate
- Assemble each plate by placing ¼ of the purple potato mash, next to a few slices of the sirloin (each sirloin should be enough for two plates). Place 2 zucchini blossom blossoms on the place, and top each steak with a quail’s egg. Squeeze a little lemon juice over the zucchini flowers and garnish the plate with baby arugula or other micro leaves.