Wednesday, February 21, 2007
BIG ZUCCHINI, HAM, BASIL, AND RICOTTA FRITTERS
Boy, do I love fritters. Already A and I are at the point of eating zucchini fritters for dinner at least once per month, so often and with such gusto that we’re slightly abashed; as I’m making the week’s menu I’ll casually ask him, “Any requests?” and he’ll just as casually venture, “Zucchini fritters?” We treat them as a main dish now, with a little green salad or tomato salad on the side just to keep us civilized, which is important because otherwise we’d probably be eating them with our hands right out of the skillet, they’re that good. And I’m already counting the months until fresh-corn season so I can embrace Jack Bishop’s corn pancakes with the passion they deserve. And now here comes a new recipe to tempt me.
I found this recipe on my new favorite food blog, the Smitten Kitchen. Really, this is just the sort of thing I was looking for when I started my own blog—someone to hungrily, thoughtfully test new recipes for me and write about them in great detail, with helpful and delectable photographs. It’s a bit more upscale than my own style (more highbrow recipes, more challenging techniques, and did I mention the gorgeous photography?), so occasionally I have to look away or be blinded by envy. But in a nice way.
This recipe is originally from Donna Hay, who (I’m exposing my ignorance here) is apparently a sort of Australian Martha Stewart? She is apparently also a genius, because these are great fritters. Actually, they’re almost like big pancakes. I found them supremely comforting, which was important, because I made them last week when A had been endlessly sick with what turned out to be tonsillitis. I was, I think, fighting off the illness myself, and besides had grown a little oppressed with my caretaker role. I can’t think of anything more wholesome and healing-sounding than breakfasty foods for dinner, and sure enough, the fritters fit the bill perfectly. I think I could have chosen better ham (the low-sodium stuff I bought at Trader Joe’s was too much like lunchmeat, and oddly flavorless), but otherwise it was a resounding success. Which is good, because I had to buy self-rising flour especially for this recipe, and I now have a big bag to use up.
I have to admit, this recipe is even easier than my beloved zucchini fritters, since you don’t have to go through the hand-cramp-inducing rigmarole of squeezing the moisture out of the zucchini. Nothing else to note, except that one fritter makes a pretty big serving; after taking a look at the first one I made, I ended up scrapping the salad I was planning as a side dish and just had some immunity-boosting orange slices on the side.
*Exciting postscript, December 2008: No self-rising flour? No problem! Make your own by placing 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a 1-cup dry measuring cup, then filling the measuring cup the rest of the way with all-purpose flour. Simplicity itself!
1 cup self-rising flour
1½ tablespoons butter, melted
⅓ cup milk
salt and pepper to taste
½ cup ricotta cheese
¼ cup torn basil leaves
2⅔ ounces ham, diced
1 zucchini, grated
4 tablespoons olive oil
1. Place the flour, eggs, butter, milk, salt, and pepper in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Fold in the ricotta, basil, ham, and zucchini.
2. Place 2 tablespoons oil in a medium frying pan and heat over medium heat. Add half the fritter batter to the pan (about 1 heaping cup) and cook for 2–3 minutes or until bubbles appear on surface. Flip fritter and cook 2–3 minutes longer or until both sides are golden brown. Remove to a plate.
3. Add another 2 tablespoons oil to pan and make a second fritter with remaining batter. Cut each fritter into 4 wedges and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Time: 20 minutes