Fritters. The quick and magic combination of ordinary pantry ingredients and anything you can think of!
My introduction to “fritters” was the handwritten menu in the old Highbury Fish Shop. In our house we were rarely allowed “bought food”. Now I realise it must have been for reasons of economy. Occasionally I was allowed to “buy my lunch” and would walk down the road from the school to the traditional shopping centre, coins tightly clutched, into the fish shop and the magical world of thick glass, white tiles and fish and chips. The fritters here were thick slices of potato, coated in batter and deep-fried. lip-burning delights. Heavy with salt, newspaper wrapped and eaten by tearing an opening in the top of the neatly folded parcel.
Again probably for reasons of economy my childhood was populated with pancakes. Warm from the frying pan, (that my father had burned black showing us how to cook outdoors over a fire in the orchard), sprinkled with sugar and drenched in lemon juice off the tree in the garden or drizzled with golden syrup. I still use pancakes with lemon juice as a reward I’m allowed to eat at the end of some particularly repellent task.
I also grew up with that absolutely annoying advertisement “if there’s an egg in the house, there’s a meal in the house”. I often wondered if this constantly repeated ditty ever appeared at weddings or funerals? Yes, a ghastly, head invading phrase – but it’s true; what a difference an egg makes. The difference between nothing to eat and a whole yummy meal worthy of sharing.
Fritters seem to have had a resurgence in popularity if their appearance in recipe books and supermarket promotional handouts is any indication. I’ve also seen fritters promoted as a way to sneak vegetables into young children – never argue with that. Fritters are a basic egg batter (think pancakes) with stuff added to them. I don’t have a recipe for pancakes or fritter batter; I break an egg or two into the bowl, add soy milk and water and some melted butter or oil and whisk it up. I plonk in enough self-raising flour to make a thick batter (thinner for pancakes so less flour) and some grinds of freshly ground black pepper.
I leave the batter sitting on the bench while my big and heavy French non-stick frying pan heats through (sometimes I help this along by rinsing the pan in warm water). I love this frying pan – it’s so big and deep and I use it to saute meat and vegetables for the mystery stews and soups I’ m always making. You’ll hear more about mystery soups and stews as the weather gets cooler.
I use only a dash of oil or a smear of butter in the pan and like pancakes, I just leave the fritters to slowly cook through and only turn when the crumpet like bubbles appear all over the upside. I have the pan on what I call a low heat and I adjust it up and down if the fritters aren’t cooking or browning as I like. I don’t make them too big, about as big as a traditional teacup saucer, then they are really easy to turn over. I use a very short-handled slice to turn the fritters (not a fish slice as the handle is too flexible and the fritter can bounce away – believe me!)
Unusually for summer, because you can grate in summer vegetables such as courgettes, this season’s fritters have mostly been made with tinned or frozen vegetables – sweet corn and peas. On one occasion I didn’t defrost the frozen peas and corn before ladling them into the batter – I wouldn’t recommend this even though the vegetables in the finished fritters, while “cool” had the fresh picked taste of garden produce. Include some finely chopped red onion in the batter and top with a tomato based relish or salsa. Just bliss.
This recipe for fritters is from the New World promotional booklet for 18 – 24 January 2016
Courgette, Corn, Feta & Herb Fritters
(makes 8 large fritters or 16 bite-sized)
50 grams plan flour
2 large free range eggs
1 tablespoon of sparkling water
1 cup corn kernels
2 courgettes grated
1 large chilli, finely chopped (you can omit this for milder kids’ version)
100 grams feta cheese, crumbled
¼ cup mint leaves finely chopped
¼ cup basil leaves finely chopped
Flakey sea salt and ground black pepper
Place the flour, eggs, sparkling water and a pinch of salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl and whisk until combined (This is your batter) Add the corn, grated courgettes, chilli (if using) feta, mint and basil and mix well to combine.
Place a splash of olive oil and a knob of butter in a non-stick saute-an over a medium heat. If you are making 16 fritters use a dessert spoon measure for each one, if you’re making 8 then use a table-spoon measure.
Spoon the batter into the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes each side until golden and crispy. Place cooked fritters on paper towels to drain and cool and repeat with the remaining mixture.
Allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container or the residual heat will make them go soggy and horrible.
Recipe by Marty the Backyard Cook
Speaking of relishes (who was speaking of relish?) I have to mention two wonderful jars of delight from the New Zealand company Barker’s of Geraldine. As a treat for our Christmas brunch I bought a jar of Barker’s Morello Cherries Fruit Preserve – not sweet, full of fruit and while wonderful with croissants just delicious with cold ham and chicken (I kid you not). And wouldn’t you know it, I just loved Barker’s Spiced Apricot & Orange Ham Glaze on breakfast toast. It was reasonably runny but was so delicious and fragrant giving a middle eastern flavour to the first bite of the day.. I had only one problem with these two products – when you weren’t looking I was eating them out of the jar with a spoon.
While I love making small batches of orange marmalade, jams and muesli for family and visitors and serving them in special dishes I’d have no hesitation in putting these Barker’s “jam jars” on the table in flagrant contravention of my late mother’s exhortation that “jam jars never go on the table”. As well as the fabulous contents this visually interested cook loved the look of these products and the feel of the wrapper on the fruit preserve – it feels thick and textured and luxurious. The lids are “silver” with a Barker’s logo. Fabulous graphics and branding.
The morello cherry preserve was bought on special at Tauranga Pakn’Save and seemed incredibly cheap for the quality of the product. The apricot and orange spiced ham glaze was part of a Christmas box given to a family member.
Rosemary Balu. Rosemary Balu is the founding and current editor of ARTbop. Rosemary has arts and law degrees from the University of Auckland. She has been a working lawyer and has participated in a wide variety of community activities where information gathering, submission writing, community advocacy and education have been involved. Interested in all forms of the arts since childhood Rosemary is focused on further developing and expanding multi-media ARTbop as the magazine for all the creative arts in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand.