SIMPLEST CLASSIC ZUCCHINI FLOWERS

Serves 4 to 6 as a starter, side dish or snack.

Note: Serve these as you make them.

• 24 zucchini flowers (the smaller the better)

• 2 eggs

• 2 egg whites

• 1/4 tsp. salt

• 1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

• 4 c. fresh bread crumbs (country-style white bread crumbled in a food processor)

• About 2 c. extra-virgin olive oil (for frying)

• Salt as needed

Directions

Gently rinse flowers and drain upside down. Do not remove pistils. In a shallow bowl, beat whole eggs and whites to thoroughly blend. In a shallow pie plate, combine salt, pepper and bread crumbs. Spread several thicknesses of paper towel on a cookie sheet.

You need about 1/2-inch olive oil in a 12-inch skillet. Heat over medium-high to 375 degrees. When a piece of bread takes one full minute to turn a rich, golden brown, the oil is hot enough. You could check the temperature with an instant-reading candy/frying thermometer.

Dip 5 flowers in egg so it coats them inside (if petals are open) and out. Hold by the stem over the egg bowl to let excess egg drain off.

Then gently roll them in the crumbs. Slip into the hot oil, adjusting heat so it stays at about 375 degrees. Fry flowers until golden brown on one side. Turn with tongs and take to golden brown on the second side. Drain on paper towels and salt.

SIMPLE SYRUP

Makes about 11/4 cups.

Note: Use for sweetening cold drinks, making sorbet or pouring over fruits. The recipe can be increased easily. This will hold, covered in the refrigerator, for a month.

• 1 c. sugar

• 1 c. water

• Grated zest of 1/2 lemon, lime or orange, optional

Directions

Combine everything in a 1-quart saucepan and set over medium-high heat. Heat about 5 minutes, or until the sugar is melted and the syrup is clear. Cool to room temperature and then refrigerate in a sealed container.

To use, pour into a pitcher and set out with iced drinks.