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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Frittering Away Some Time........

I'm just going to throw a quick post together this week.  I had some fun and came up with a great recipe on the fly and wanted to get it posted to satisfy the promise that I would.

Saturday morning arrives without much fanfare and the plan is to clean house all day, cook some stuff, and generally have a productive day.  The Blueberry Banana Pancakes had just gotten done, I had just placed a nice sausage patty on my plate, and was moments away from dumping local honey over the whole thing when the call came in.

A friend of mine was supposed to do a cooking demonstration for my local Farmers Market but had to bail do to the flu so, in need of a cook, Terra calls and asks if I can fill in.  Not wanting to leave my friends in a lurch, I packed up a bunch of stuff including my camp stoves and away I went.  Driving into town gave me plenty of time to think about what I could do on such short notice and without knowing what was in at the Market, I was really without ideas.  As is most often times the case, Gina provides a stunning bit of wisdom on my way out the door.  "You're pressed for time.  Just do something simple like Curried Squash or something".  It was a stroke of brilliance because I had spent the night before tinkering with Fritters of various forms and consistencies and before you have to ask, yes I do just go into the kitchen to tinker sometimes and since we had BBQ chicken, I wanted a spicy fritter to go with my dinner.  Which is where we begin today.

As close as I can tell, fritters come in two forms.  Either deep fried in oil or done as a small, thick pancake.  For all of the recipes that are listed below, either preparation will work just fine.  Deep frying is pretty self explanatory.  For the "Pancake" method, just make sure there's about 1/4" of oil in the pan.  Also, make sure you use an oil with a high smoke point (the point at which it begins to burn). Lastly, the base recipe is always the same for me.  It's how you adjust it and what you add to it that makes the difference.

Fritter Base Recipe

1 1/2 cups Pastry Flour
1 1/2 cups Fine, Yellow Corn Meal
**This is where the adjustment comes in.  Depending on the recipe and what other ingredients you're using, you may wish for a more fluffy fritter and you would want to add more flour and reduce the corn meal.  For something like Hush Puppies, which are fritters, you would reverse that.**
1 tsp Baking Power
1-1 1/2 cups milk
1 Egg, beaten
1/2 tsp Sea Salt or more to taste

Sift dry ingredients together and work egg in with a fork until combined.  Add milk to the desired consistency.  Deep fry heaping tablespoon sized balls in 350 degree oil or pan fry until golden brown.

With this base recipe and a few adjustments as you desire, some rather interesting creations can come up.  For what I worked on over the past few days, I'll list my adjustments to the base recipe and the additional ingredients.  One thing to take note of would be that thinner the batter, the more fluffy they will be.  The batter should be just tight enough to hold together but not be formed into a ball.  To little liquid will result in fritters that are fit only to throw at squirrels invading your bird feeder.


Standard Hush Puppies

Ok, before I go even one keystroke further:  This is by no means the "End All, Be All" of Hush Puppy recipes because everyone and their brother in the South will be thinking "You left this out!" or "My Momma never did that!"  Take this as a base recipe and adjust at will or with whatever you heard should be in there.  Use less milk and add beer, Use more of one thing and less of another.  Just don't tell me I got it wrong because there is, obviously, no "Right" way to make them!

Base Recipe from above with 2 cups Corn Meal and 1 cup Pastry Flour
1/4 cup Vidalia Onion, finely diced
1/4 cup chopped Green Onions
1/4 cup Crispy Bacon Bits

Make batter as directed above, add other ingredients, and deep fry to a deep brown.  True Hush Puppies have to be deep fried.  Anything else is just, well, wrong.


Friday Night's Fritters (Spicy & Sweet Fritters)

Base Recipe with 2 1/2 cups Pastry Flour and 1/2 cup Corn Meal
1/3 cup Vidalia Onion, finely diced
1/4 cup crispy Bacon Bit or Pieces
2 cloves Garlic, finely diced
2 tbsp Bacon Fat
2-3 Cayenne Peppers, finely diced
1/4 cup chopped Green Onions
3 tbsp Organic Cane Sugar
4 tbsp Seriously Hot Hot Sauce
Honey to drizzle over Fritters

Saute onions and garlic in bacon fat until slightly browned (some don't care for the taste of singed garlic.  I do).  Add this, including the remaining bacon fat, and the rest of the ingredients to the batter.  Deep fry in oil to delicious perfection.  Drizzle with Honey to finish

These didn't come out as hot as I really wanted and I will revisit this with hotter ingredients in the future.  On that, you can bet.

Farmers Market Surprise Fritters (Curried Pear and Pepper Fritters)

Base recipe from above with 2 cups Pastry Flour and 1 cup Corn Meal and add an extra Egg
1/4 cup Yellow Onion, finely diced
3 cloves Garlic, finely diced
1/4 cup Sweet Red Pepper, finely diced
2 cups Cooking Pears, cut into roughly 1/2" cubes
1 tbsp Curry Powder
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
Pepper to taste

Saute onions, garlic, and peppers in olive oil just briefly to give them a bit of a head start, then add the pears.  Cook until pears just begin to soften and add the curry powder.  Make sure everything is well coated with curry, remove from heat, and let stand for a few minutes for the curry flavor to come out.  When cooled a bit add to the batter and blend well.  let stand a few more minutes then pan fry in 1/4" oil at 350 degrees to a deep brown.  You'll know you have the batter right if they come out about 3" in diameter and about 3/4" thick.

Take the above recipes and tinker.  Add apples, seafood (I'm working on a Scallop Fritter), or whatever your heart desires.  Salt them when they come out of cover them in powdered sugar.  This is one of those great Blank Canvas things that you can personalize and make all your own.

I might also like to add that, for some reason, a Good Port seems to make any fritter taste better.  At least that's how it seemed Friday night.  As always.......

Party Well, Eat Better,
Rob


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