THE CHEF: TIFFANY DERRY
Her Restaurants: Roots Chicken Shak, in Dallas and Austin, Texas; Roots Southern Table, outside Dallas
What She’s Known For: Serving the Southern food she grew up eating alongside new dishes she has created. Showcasing the seasonality and nuance in Southern food.
Chef Tiffany Derry is known for her Southern cooking, but before rising to acclaim, she spent years studying a range of international cuisines, Japanese and Italian among them.
In her third Slow Food Fast recipe—an inspired mashup of tempura-fried zucchini blossoms finished with a creamy herb dressing—we taste the clever collision of those influences.
A trick that Ms. Derry picked up from a Japanese chef sets the recipe apart. “He told me that vodka keeps tempura from turning soggy,” she said. “And he was right!” It also cuts the richness of the other elements.
Because these are best eaten hot, Ms. Derry said timing is key. Before frying, have the dressing ready, the flowers stuffed, the batter mixed and the oil hot. After that, she added, a simple salad is all it takes to round out the meal.
Because these are best eaten hot, chef Tiffany Derry said timing is key. Before frying, have the dressing ready, the flowers stuffed, the batter mixed and the oil hot. After that, she added, a simple salad is all it takes to round out the meal.
- ½ pound fresh mozzarella, diced small
- 3 anchovies, minced
- 3 basil leaves, minced
- Zest and juice of ½ lemon
- Kosher salt, for seasoning, plus 1 tablespoon
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 16 large zucchini blossoms
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup cornstarch, plus extra for dusting
- ½ teaspoon Creole seasoning
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 18 ounces light beer
- 2 ounces vodka
- 1¼ cup mayonnaise
- ½ cup buttermilk
- 1 garlic clove, finely grated
- ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
- ¼ tablespoon red wine vinegar
- ½ habanero chile, seeded and minced
- 1½ green onions, thinly sliced
- ½ bunch parsley, minced
- 10 mint leaves, minced
- ¼ cup dill, minced
- Olive oil, for frying
- In a large bowl, toss mozzarella, anchovies, basil and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper.
- Open the zucchini blossoms and remove the stamens. Fill each blossom with about 1 tablespoon of mozzarella mix, then seal by gently twisting the petals.
- Make the tempura batter: In a medium bowl, whisk flour, cornstarch, 1 tablespoon salt, Creole seasoning and baking powder. Stir in beer and vodka.
- Make the dressing: In a medium bowl, whisk mayonnaise, buttermilk, garlic, coriander, red wine vinegar, chile, green onion, fresh herbs and lemon juice. Season with salt.
- Fill a large plate with a generous layer of cornstarch. Roll stuffed blossoms in cornstarch to lightly coat.
- Fill a large, wide pan with 2 inches of olive oil. Set over medium-high heat and bring oil to 350 degrees. Working one at a time, dip the blossoms into the batter, then carefully lower into the hot oil. Fry until puffed and golden, about 3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a paper towel-lined tray. Season with salt. Repeat with remaining blossoms.
- Serve hot with dressing on the side.
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