Roman Squash Blossoms
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sparkling water (San Pellegrino)
1/4 lb. mild firm cheese like Gouda, cut to fit inside the flowers
16 large squash blossoms, washed (male: with no attached squash)
Vegetable oil for frying
1. Prepare the batter first. Sift together dry ingredients, then whisk in cold water until smooth. Cover and set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Leftover batter can be stored for up to two days. If it is too thick after refrigeration, add a few drops of water to return to original consistency.
2. Meanwhile, prepare the squash blossoms. Open the blossoms, remove the stamens, and place the pieces of cheese inside. Twist the top of each blossom together to close. Place on a baking sheet and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
3. Pour the oil into a skillet to a depth of 1/2 inch. Heat over high heat until a small cube of bread dropped into the oil turns golden brown within seconds.
4. Briefly dip each stuffed blossom into the batter, then carefully slip into the hot oil. Cook until golden on all sides, about three minutes total cooking time. Add only as many blossoms at a time as will fit comfortably in the skillet. Transfer with a slotted utensil to paper towels to drain briefly.
5. Sprinkle with salt, if desired and serve immediately.