the fritter experiment

Ever since our last trip to Portland I’ve been dreaming about the corn fritters we ate at the Whiskey Soda Lounge. I was determined that when corn came into season up here I would try making them myself. Of course, now I don’t quite remember what was in them, but nothing ventured nothing gained. I bought a few ears of fabulously sweet corn from Steve at Dunbar Gardens last week and we grilled them with a little ancho chile salt one night for dinner. We also put a couple of poblano peppers on the grill, and the next night I skinned them and tossed them in a food processor with the leftover grilled corn kernels. I saved out some of the corn and added it in after processing, for texture. Then I mixed in about a third of a cup of flour, one egg, and a handful of chopped fresh cilantro. I plopped spoonfuls of this into a hot skillet and cooked them until golden.

The result was absolutely nothing like the fritters at WSL (which I’m quite sure were deep-fried and possibly full of dried shrimp and minced Thai chile), but it was very tasty nonetheless, much like a Southwest-y version of the “corn oysters” my parents used to make when I was a kid. We ate the fritters as a side dish with a Thai beef-eggplant stirfry, then I refried the leftovers for breakfast with fried eggs and habanero sauce. Now that was good.

Corn’s still in season, what variation shall I try next?


Tender (plus beet)

After a bit of a dry spell, we bought ourselves a new cookbook: Tender, by Nigel Slater. Nigel is one of those people that could write a shopping list and I’d buy it. When it’s a discussion of fresh vegetables and home gardening and things to cook in season, there’s definitely no question. I brought it home and immediately read it cover to cover.

The way I envision using this book is the all-too-frequent case where I have a vegetable languishing in the fridge and I can’t think what to do with it. I might not follow one of Nigel’s recipes – much of what he does is very similar to what I do when I’m winging it – but having all the possibilities laid out at once is tremendously helpful, and his tone is deeply encouraging. In this case, I had some beets.


We ate the greens off the beets a couple of weeks ago, and it was about time to use up the roots. Nigel’s recipe for beet tzatziki actually only used one beet, but it reminded me of their existence and I made borsch with the remainder a few days later.

beet tzatziki

Beet tzatziki is pretty darn simple: just yogurt seasoned with garlic, fresh mint, and grated raw beet, in pretty much any proportion. The trick seems to be finding any middle ground between the moment you start stirring it together and the moment (very soon afterwards) when it suddenly looks like thickened Pepto Bismol. Or raspberry ice cream. Something very, very pink. In any case, it tastes good. It makes your dinner plate look kind of awful, though.

beet tzatziki

about to process

The chickpea fritters that Nigel suggests to go with the tzatziki were a lot of fun. I’ve made falafel many times from a mix, and read recipes for making it with soaked, ground chickpeas, but it never really occurred to me that I could just puree cooked chickpeas with herbs and an egg and fry it. It might not be a true falafel but they were extremely good. They’re very soft-textured, though, so I think they’re best eaten with a fork rather than stuffed into a pita, which would just mush them into hummus. Not that that wouldn’t be tasty, too.

falafel ingredients



Chickpea Fritters

adapted from Tender: A Cook and His Vegetable Patch by Nigel Slater

  • one can chickpeas, drained
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 egg
  • bunch of parsley
  • handful of mint
  • salt and pepper

Roughly chop the parsley and mint leaves and the garlic. Put everything into a food processor and whirl it around until it’s mixed but still just a touch chunky. Let it sit for ten minutes (apparently this is important, although I didn’t notice much difference).

Heat a film of olive oil in a nonstick pan (or two, if you don’t have a pan big enough for all of the fritters at once). Add the chickpea mixture in dollops – it will be very soft. Smooth out the dollops with the back of the spoon, then leave them the heck alone until they begin to brown on the underside. Don’t poke at them, they’ll fall apart! When they seem to be getting a good crust, flip them over quickly with a thin spatula and cook the other side.

Serve with tzatziki (beet or otherwise) and a green salad.

zucchini #5

zucchini fritters

When a farmer hands you a beautiful fresh summer squash and tells you, “this is only the fifth zucchini I’ve picked so far this year,” you really want to do something nice with it. I made fritters.

zucchini #5

Zucchini fritters are something I used to make a lot, but it’s been a while and I can’t find my original recipe, which was from a low-carb book by Fran McCullough and seems to be lost in the mists of time. I made something up, based loosely on my memories and on a recipe in Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, and a bowl of egg yolks in the fridge left over from my grandfather’s birthday cake. Next time I think I’ll actually follow a recipe, but this was still pretty yummy.

Continue reading