In this two-part series, we connect with Top Chef Canada's newest local contestants and share their favourite recipes

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Season 9 of Top Chef Canada has just launched and the latest series promises to showcase the most diverse group of chefs in the show’s history. We caught up with CinCin’s chef de cuisine Andrea Alridge to chat about her favourite spring dish to cook, and what it means to be a part of the show this year.

See below for Andrea's fried zucchini blossoms recipe and watch Top Chef Canada on Mondays at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. on the Food Network...

 

BCL: What does competing on this season of Top Chef Canada mean to you?
AA: Competing on this season of Top Chef Canada means everything to me. I’ve never been on a cooking show before so having the chance to participate is huge. I have a lot to prove to everyone, including my colleagues, friends and family. I want them to all see just how serious I take my craft and how important food really is to me.

BCL: What is your favourite spring recipe to cook?
AA: I chose the CinCin fried zucchini blossoms as my favourite spring dish because it’s a classic. Each bite is a perfect blend of crunchy, light, rich, spring goodness. For me, once the zucchini blossoms are in season, it’s a tell-tale sign that spring has sprung and even more incredible produce is just around the corner.

 

Fried Zucchini Blossoms with Montasio, Goat Cheese and Parmesan, and Arugula and Red Radish Recipe

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

  • Three-cheese Stuffing (recipe below)
  • Canola oil, for deep-frying
  • 1¾ cups tempura flour
  • 8 zucchini blossoms, male or female
  • 4 handfuls arugula
  • Classic vinaigrette (recipe below)
  • 4 Cherriette (or any red-skinned) radishes
  • Good-quality olive oil, for finishing
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Prepare the three-cheese stuffing and set aside.
  2. Preheat canola oil in a deep-fryer to 360°F.
  3. Prepare a tempura batter following the manufacturer’s guidelines for the ratio of ice water to flour.
  4. Dust and clean the zucchini blossoms of any soil.
  5. Place the cheese stuffing in a piping bag, and pipe into the heart of each blossom. Use enough of the cheese mixture to fit into the base of the flower bud without spilling out through the leaves. Fold the petals around the mixture.
  6. Dredge the blossoms in the tempura batter, and shake off any excess.
  7. Have ready a large plate or tray lined with paper towels. Without overcrowding the fryer, drop the blossoms into the hot oil and cook until they float and just start to turn brown. Drain on the paper towels and keep warm while the remaining blossoms are cooked.
  8. Dress the arugula with the vinaigrette. Using a mandolin or sharp knife, thinly slice the radishes.
  9. Divide the arugula between four plates. Place two zucchini blossoms on each plate and sprinkle the radish slices over the top. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

THREE-CHEESE STUFFING INGREDIENTS

  • 1 medium Yukon gold potato
  • Salt (preferably rock salt or kosher salt), for baking the potato
  • ½ cup firm goat cheese
  • ½ cup grated Montasio or cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp chopped chives
  • 2 tbsp chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS 

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

  2. Fill a small oven-proof frying pan or baking sheet with salt to a depth of a half-inch. Prick the potato all around using a sharp knife and lay it on the bed of salt. Bake until it’s completely tender, about one hour. (The salt seasons the potato as well as keeps it dry while it bakes.)

  3. While still warm, cut in half and scoop out the flesh. (Reserve the skin for another use, or compost.) Pass the flesh through a food mill or potato ricer, or push it through a coarse sieve and set aside to cool

  4. When cool, add the cheeses, egg, herbs and salt and pepper and beat together until fully combined

CLASSIC VINAIGRETTE INGREDIENTS

Makes 1¾ cups 

  • 1¼ cups extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup champagne or white wine vinegar
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS 

  1. Whisk the oil and vinegar together. Season with salt and pepper

MEYER LEMON VINAIGRETTE INGREDIENTS

Makes 1½ cups

  • 1 Meyer lemon, cut into 8 wedges
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp champagne vinegar
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup grapeseed oil

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Put the lemon wedges (including the peel and seeds), honey vinegar and salt into a blender or food processor and purée until smooth.
  2. With the machine running, add the oil in a slow, steady stream, then blend for 1 minute.
  3. Strain through fine-meshed sieve.
  4. Add water, if necessary, to achieve a pouring consistency. Correct the seasoning with salt.
  5. Keep in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a month.

CHILI OIL INGREDIENTS

Makes 2 cups

  • 2 cups extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tsp dried chili flakes

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Combine the olive oil and chili in a medium saucepan. Place over low heat and slowly bring the oil to a 176°F.

  2. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Place in a sealed container.

  3. Before using, strain out the chili flakes.

  4. Can be stored in the fridge for up to a month in a sealed container. (After a month, the chili oil will start to lose the spiciness and flavour).