Finding My Way Back to the Kitchen
Two days ago I put my apron on again, after a month of ignoring it. It’s not that I hadn’t cooked; it’s more that I’d done it in a somnolent state, not really paying close enough attention to realize I needed protective gear.
The garden is a harsh mistress and doesn’t really care what else is happening in your life. The zucchini need to be picked when they’re ready, before they grow large enough to be baseball bats. The tomatoes will explode if you ignore them. The corn will only show up on tables at the farm markets for a few short precious weeks.
And so it’s time to pay attention, and to collect all those ingredients and return to the kitchen and to life.
This recipe for fritters is unremarkable, you can find similar sets of instructions in any cookbook and of course online.
What’s different is the quantity. Like many people in the world (old and young), I am now cooking for just a single person: myself. Most recipes serve at least four, so this is an exercise in finding foods that are happy if you give them all your attention and cook just a small portion.
Usually, to be honest, I don’t measure much, especially with a homespun recipe like this. But I knew I would be sharing this recipe — if not the finished dish — with you readers, so … I measured. You’re welcome. But feel free to monkey around with the quantities. Want more green? Use more zucchini and less potato. Hate the potato thing? Leave the potatoes out. Cooking for 10? Just multiply the quantities. It will all be OK.
For a person dining alone, this is a filling meal and the perfect companion to a tomato salad. Or you can sautée some diced onions and add some cherry tomatoes, then cook it all down over low heat into a jam. Add garlic and diced peppers if you like more heat.
To create the julienne sticks of zucchini and potato, I used a mandoline, which seems like a fussy luxury until you have to make zucchini julienne sticks or until you want to make super thin cucumber or potato slices.
I bought mine on Amazon.com; it is called the PL8 Gourmet Slicer and you can buy one for $43. I store it in its box, which is about 15 inches long by 5 inches wide and 4 inches deep (small and easy to tuck into a corner of the pantry).
Be sure to use the safety accessory; the blades are extremely sharp.
Enough for one serving
One ear of corn, 1 cup of julienned Yukon Gold potato (lightly packed), 1 cup of julienned zucchini, 2 eggs, 1/8 cup sour cream, 1/2 cup all purpose flour, 1/2 cup chopped basil, 1/4 cup chopped scallions, 8 cracks of fresh black pepper, 2 teaspoons of coarse kosher salt, 1 teaspoon of curry powder
This recipe assumes that you have cooked corn left over from yesterday’s dinner or lunch. Scrape the kernels off the ear.
Julienne the potato (you’ll want about half of a large Yukon Gold) and the zucchini (about a third of a big old baseball bat). Blanche the potatoes in boiling water for about 5 minutes (if this seems too hard, just leave the potatoes out).
In a medium bowl, beat together the two eggs and the sour cream. Add the flour and beat it in until you have a fairly smooth batter.
Drop the julienned veggies into the batter and add in the basil and scallion (about one long scallion stalk — I usually just cut them into small bite-sized pieces with a clean pair of kitchen scissors; so much easier than chopping with a knife). Add the pepper, salt and curry powder and stir it all up.
Heat up a griddle or cast iron pan — although really a nonstick pan will work fine, too, since you will be cooking this over low to medium-low heat. If these were regular breakfast pancakes, you’d cook them faster and over higher heat. But you want the zucchini to cook, so … use low to medium-low heat.
I like to use butter with my fritters, but you can use whatever you like, including nothing if you’re working with a nonstick pan.
When the griddle is hot, scoop a large spoonful of vegetable-filled batter onto the hot surface and pat it down so it’s somewhat flat. You’ll want to cook each side for about 3 to 5 minutes.
You can eat them as I do, standing over the sink with my fingers. Or you can serve them on plates with tomato jam, or a white dairy such as sour cream, creme fraiche or Greek yogurt. Sprinkle more herbs on top. Do whatever you want. This one’s for you.