Fritter Love

i_love_frittersI won’t be surprised if this was printed somewhere on a mug, a tee-shirt or a bumper sticker. If it isn’t, it should be.

The best ever fritter has to be the corn fritter, but I admit I am biased. I remember the wonderful corn fritters my grandmother used to produce, based on a recipe in her copy of Pennsylvania Dutch Cookbook of Fine Old Recipes. This is a small pamphlet, falling apart and a bit battered, that I now have in my collection. It was published in 1934 in Reading, Pennsylvania, the heartland of the Amish. An entire section is devoted to fritters, but my grandmother’s penciled “x” (her mark of approval) is placed next to the corn fritter or Welshkorn Kuklein.

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I sometimes substitute fresh (or frozen corn) for a particular Pennsylvania Dutch delicacy of cracked and toasted, dried sweet corn that my sister sends in her Christmas care packages. It requires soaking and stewing beforehand and is definitely an acquired taste. Amazingly, I read in Diane Kochilas’ fabulous cookbook on regional Greek food, The Glorious Foods of Greece, that Pontic Greek immigrants from the Black Sea, now living in northern Greece, also consume a similar dried, toasted, cracked corn which they call korkota.

Fritters also cross cultures. In Greek cuisine there is, what appears to be, an infinite variety of vegetarian fritters. They are called keftedes, a term also applied to meatballs.  Depending on the cook, the region and the ingredients, kedtedes can be substantial, more like a vegetarian version of the meatball, or they can be veggie-packed little pancakes, more like American fritters. You can probably predict that my personal preference is the latter.

fritters

Pennsylvania Dutch Corn Fritters
I’ve modified the old Pennsylvania Dutch recipe since it used copious amounts of lard to fry the fritters and the proportions were designed for a family of twelve. However, it is like this one in that it uses very few ingredients, relying on the quality of the corn. A few posts back, I mentioned freezing packets of freshly cut corn from their cobs during the short British growing season. This is primarily what I use that corn for.

Yields approx. 1-1/2 dozen 2 inch diameter fritters

  • Corn cut from 2 large cobs (about 1 packed cup)
  • 2 Tablespoons Flour
  • 1 egg, separated
  • Salt and pepper
  • Vegetable oil for frying

Roughly chop the corn, reserving all the juices. Place in a bowl, sprinkle on the flour. Separate the egg and put the yolk in with the corn and the egg white in another bowl. Mix the corn mixture and season with salt and pepper.

Whisk the egg whites until they are white and soft peaks form. Fold this into the egg mixture.

In a large frying pan, heat the oil. You should have a fair amount to just over the bottom of the pan. Working in batches, place a heaping Tablespoon of the corn batter in the pan. Do not over crowd the pan.

Let the fritters fry until golden on bottom before flipping over, much like you would a pancake. It should only take a few minutes each side. You may need to add more oil with each batch.

When done, place on kitchen paper (= American paper towels) to drain the excess oil. Serve warm.

Greek Kolokitho Keftedes (or Courgette/Zucchini Fritters)

Yields approximately 1 dozen 2 inch diameter fritters

  • 1 Medium sized Courgette (= American Zucchini)
  • 2 Tablespoons Flour
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill (or 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh mint)
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • Salt
  • Olive oil for frying

Clean, top and tail the courgette. Cut lengthwise into two. With a metal teaspoon, scoop out the core – the soft inner flesh that surrounds the seeds. Coarse grate the courgette and place in a bowl.

Sprinkle the flour on the grated courgette, chop and add the dill (or mint) and the crumbled feta. Depending on the saltiness of your feta, you may need to season with additional salt. Mix, coating with the flour. Add the egg and mix well.

In a large frying pan, heat the oil. You should have a fair amount to just over the bottom of the pan. Working in batches, place a heaping Tablespoon of the courgette batter in the pan, pressing down slightly to spread out the mixture. Do not over-crowd the pan.

Let the keftedes fry until golden on bottom before flipping over. It should only take a few minutes each side. You may need to add more oil with each batch.

When done, place on kitchen paper (= American paper towels) to drain the excess oil. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Both of these fritter recipes can be served as side dishes, or as in Greece, serve keftedes/fritters as part of a selection of starters, or what the Greeks call meze.

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