All the discussions of the moment on the future of cooking will not change anything: a recipe is first and foremost like a book. We enter it or not. Certainly, it can be a question of readability, of interest of the story, of empathy or not for the characters. Also by title. It is the same for the title of a dish, its ingredients, the narration that is the technique used by the cook. But there is an inescapable postulate: the attraction for a recipe, a book is first and foremost the business of the “me” of the eater, of the reader, of his story, as long as he is living.
This is why the dishes cannot be edible, therefore readable only when they tell us a little about ourselves. Oh, not much is enough. Sometimes, a simple touch of nutmeg, a dash of spinach, a string of capers immediately impose a choice. It can also be a cooking that appeals to us, a round trip of meat or fish in brown butter. The emergence of a sauce (we think of Nantua) can awaken a powerful desire for the taste buds when it covers the “parish priest’s omelette” by chef Joseph Viola in Lyon (Daniel & Denise cap).
And then there are these calls, these winks of the seasons that delight you in the kitchen and at the table. This can arise in an open-air market, in the garden, more rarely on the shelves of supermarkets which are often love-killings. We are an indecisive vegetable scavenger, especially when the time comes for full growth. It is an understatement to say that the zucchini flower moves us when it illuminates the black earth and the morning dew. So will know why for us who are more familiar with mountain cabbages than vegetables that say the South like eggplant, pepper and fennel. Maybe because the zucchini flower is a hell of a joker that can be male and female. In the first case, it gives a simple green stem connected to the plant; in the second, the fruit starts just below the flower. Say like that, it sounds simple. But how many times, this evidence long ignored, has brought us disillusionment in the absence of zucchini from the garden to enchant ratatouille.
In fritters, stuffed (with vegetables, rice, fish, meat…), the zucchini flower reminds you of Provence like sauerkraut in Alsace. But it also happens that it takes unexpected paths, guided by the imagination of cooks. Like Thierry Breton, the chef, among others, of La pointe du groin in Paris. With him, it is the West, the real one. He claims the “Brittany as the pantry of France”. And when he summons the zucchini flower, it is to make him meet buckwheat (buckwheat) in tagliatelle. One can imagine the solar of the flower and the brown of this small angular seed that saved Brittany from famine for a long time. Thierry Breton associates this duo with a prince of red offal, the veal kidney. We are already salivating at the prospect of this delicate dish like living nature on the plate, an anthology of tastes that we taste like a book facing the Atlantic Ocean or the Mediterranean Sea.
Here is the recipe for “Veal kidneys, zucchini flowers and buckwheat tagliatelle” in the excellent Breizh, a contemporary panorama of Breton gastronomy by Thierry Breton (1).
You need two defatted and denervated veal kidneys; 400 g of buckwheat tagliatelle (buckwheat); 15 cl of walnut oil; 100 g of semi-salted butter; 8 male zucchini flowers (without the zucchini, only one stalk); 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped; 4 gray shallots, finely chopped; 10 cl of wine vinegar: 25 cl of beef or veal broth; a tablespoon of mustard grains; coarse salt; fine Guérande salt; freshly ground pepper.
In a saucepan, cook the buckwheat tagliatelle in plenty of lightly salted water. Cooking is the same as for classic pasta. Drain them and put them in the dressing dish. Drizzle them with walnut oil to prevent them from sticking together.
Cut the kidneys into quarters, salt and pepper them. Melt the butter in a pan and wait for it to take a nutty color; fry the kidneys in it for a few minutes then place them on the tagliatelle.
Wash and drain the zucchini flowers.
In the cooking butter, brown the garlic and the shallot, deglaze with the vinegar then the broth, add the mustard and reduce for one to two minutes. Then add the zucchini flowers, barely cook them then pour this juice over the veal kidneys and the tagliatelle. Bring to a boil and serve hot.
(1) Editions de La Martinière, 2017, 45 euros.