I went to the bountiful and delightful farmers market at 3rd and Curry streets on Saturday on a mission to find squash blossoms.
I wanted to make a favorite appetizer by stuffing the blossoms with finely-shredded cheese and tomatillo sauce, coating them with tempura batter, and deep-frying them.
I look forward to these delectable treats every year; in the moment of the first bite, I think they're the best things I've ever eaten.
However, this time I didn't succeed in finding them - probably will in a week or two - but I was tempted by the baby beets and carrots that were available at the market to create a vegetable tempura instead.
I even went so far as to buy a small deep fryer. It was $25 and saved any worry about splattering oil. When the squash blossoms are available, it will make gratification that much quicker.
This tempura is gluten-free, of course, and very light. It is a different and fun way to enjoy the veggies that abound in the summer - or winter.
Gluten-free tempura batter
Gluten-free baking items can be bought at DuBois Health Foods, Raley's, or Whole Foods.
1⁄2 cup brown rice flour
1⁄4 cup corn flour
1⁄4 cup corn starch
1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 teaspoon Xanthan gum
1 egg, beaten
1 cup gluten-free beer such as Bard or Redbridge (Raley's and Whole Foods)
Stir all the dry ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl. Stir in the beaten egg and the beer. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Be sure to use gluten-free tamari or soy sauce. These sauces are often made with wheat.
This should be prepared ahead of the vegetables, since you will want to serve those as hot as possible.
1 cup heated dashi stock (fish bouillon)
1⁄3 cup gluten-free tamari or soy sauce
1⁄3 cup mirin (sweet rice wine), or; 1⁄3 cup sake combined with 1 teaspoon agave nectar
Sliced pickled ginger
Combine the first three ingredients and serve in small bowls.
There are so many choices of vegetables for tempura.
Here, is what I used:
1 sweet potato, peeled and sliced about 1⁄2" thick
20 or so green beans, trimmed at the ends
12 baby beets, washed and trimmed
12 baby carrots, washed and trimmed
Place the above items in a large pan of cold water. Bring the water to a boil. Boil 1 minute, then rinse the vegetables twice in cold water. Remove from the pan and drain on a towel. The tempura batter won't stick if the veggies are wet.
2 yellow summer squash, sliced
12 whole cloves garlic, peeled and trimmed
Place 1 quart of canola oil in a pan or deep-fryer. Bring the oil to about 350 degrees, or until a little water splashed in the oil crackles.
In batches, dip the vegetables in the tempura batter and fry them in the oil until the batter turns a deep golden color. Remove them with a heat-resistant slotted spoon. Drain them and serve hot, with dipping sauce.
The vegetables can be kept warm in the oven at 170 degrees until all are ready to be served. Leftovers can be re-heated by running them under the broiler for a few minutes on each side.
Pass the ginger.
The next meeting of Carson City's Gluten-free discussion group will be at 7:30 p.m. Monday, July 9. Please email me if you would like more information.
• Susan Hart has been cooking gluten-free for 15 years. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.