I'm home at last and I can't think of a nicer way to be welcomed back than a plastic bag full of courgette flowers left on the doorstep. Unfortunately they don't stay looking this good for long so I had to drag myself out of bed and get cooking. Usually the flowers are stuffed with savoury rice, dipped in egg and flour and then deep fried but I fancied something a bit lighter so decided to bake them with a cheese filling. For a plateful of flowers take one red onion and 4 cloves of garlic and chop as finely as you can. Mix with a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of sugar and then leave for at least an hour to "cook". This process softens the onion and draws out the bitter juice, leaving you with onion that doesn't need frying. After the hour is up, rub the onions with your fingers to soften them a bit more, then empty into a sieve and rinse with fresh water, shaking to remove as much moisture as possible. Blitz one slice of bread into crumbs, chop a handful of basil and crumble 100g of white cheese into a bowl, add the onion mixture and 1 dessertspoon of olive oil. Mix it all together and check for seasoning. The cheese is quite salty so I didn't need to add any more salt. If I'd had some pine nuts I would have toasted these and thrown them in too, or a handful of walnuts.
Next comes the fiddly bit. Open each flower and shake upside down to get rid of any insects (washing ruins the flowers). I started using a teaspoon to fill the cavity but after a few, found it was easier to roll the filling into a little ball and then push it in. Fold the petals over the top to seal.
Lightly oil a clay dish and arrange all the flowers in a single layer. Brush each with olive oil, gently pour half a cup of boiling water into the dish to provide steam and cover tightly with foil and bake in a preheated 170 C oven for 30 to 40 minutes, taking the foil off for the last 10 minutes.
They hold their shape well and would make a pretty addition to a canapé tray but we had ours with a dollop of yogurt and some stuffed peppers.
It's obvious I've been cooking fancy food for the past couple of months isn't it. I'll be back to the homely favourites and one-dish wonders as soon as I've unpacked my suitcase and settled back into village life.