Been in a bit of a weird mood the last couple of days, and when I’m like this a handful of things make me feel better.
Loud 1970/ 80’s music, I’m usually more introspective in my musical tastes – however I can’t help but feel happy while head banging and/ or miming with a wooden spoon.
Writing it out, sorry to all the recipients of some overly emotional emails, most of you are used to it by now. I can’t use this mood for poetry unfortunately .
Cooking. I love to cook. my Mum was a terrible cook and as a child I was a rather faddy eater. When following a recipe if an ingredient was missing Mum would substitute something she felt would taste similar, leading to the great coconut crumble disaster of 1984.
For a while we lived in a hotel when we first came to the UK, and for over six months all I ate for dinner was prawn cocktail followed by Black Forest gateau. My Dad then worked for Birds Eye, which solved the cooking issues for a while, but there are only so many fish fingers a girl can eat. In my late teens I took a voyage of family discovery to Israel via Poland, and it was here I really learnt to cook.
Israeli food, especially the street food was unlike anything I’d ever eaten before, and even now the smell of a falafel or an aubergine roasting transports me back there, as does chopping pepper. I spent a few months working for a family friend, and all I did was chop peppers I am a dab hand.
On Tuesday I went to see a recording of Radio 4’s The Kitchen Cabinet, one of the panellist’s was Itamar Srulovich, who was so funny . Although I’d heard of him I’d never read any of his recipes. This was corrected swiftly (via the wonder of the Internet). Yesterday, needing to work through my mood I decided I would cook carrot and butternut fritters; except when I got home all we had was a scabby end of a squash, but plenty of courgettes. So in the spirit of my Mum I made an ingredient substitution.
The recipe (borrowed, and another apology – hope that’s OK)
The following recipes make about 25 small fritters: enough for 6-8 people as a generous mezze, or for 4 as a vegetarian main course with green salad and a dipping sauce. If you can’t be bothered with the dipping sauce, thick natural yoghurt is a delicious alternative.
Serves 6-8 to share as a mezze
carrot 1 large, peeled (about 150g)
potato 1 medium, peeled (about 150g)
butternut squash ¼, peeled and deseeded (about 150g)
onion ½, peeled (about 60g)
salt ½ tsp + another ½ tsp salt
tarragon 6 sprigs, picked and roughly chopped
freshly ground black pepper ¼ tsp
ground cardamom pods ½ tsp
wholemeal flour 3 tbsp
baking powder ½ tsp
vegetable oil for frying
For the chive sour cream
sour cream 1 small tub (about 170ml)
chives ½ bunch, chopped finely
lemon juice 1 tsp
mayonnaise 1 tbsp
freshly ground black pepper
Grate all the vegetables on a coarse grater (or use a food processor) and place in a sieve over a bowl. Sprinkle with half a teaspoon of salt and mix lightly. Allow to sit for at least 30 minutes at room temperature to draw out the excess water.
Place the eggs, tarragon, remaining half-teaspoon of salt, pepper, ground cardamom, flour and baking powder in a bowl. Squeeze out whatever liquid you can from the vegetables, add them to the bowl and mix vigorously to combine.
Heat about 2cm of oil in a frying pan, and line a plate with some absorbent kitchen paper. Scoop little spoonfuls of the batter into the oil and fry for about a minute until they start to crisp up. Flip the fritters carefully and fry on the other side for another minute or so till crisp. Remove to the lined plate to absorb the excess oil. Repeat until you have used all the batter.
Mix all the chive sour cream ingredients together (I wouldn’t add any salt, as chives have a natural saltiness) and serve with the fritters.
It worked beautifully, I used 2 courgettes, and as they have a higher water content, weighted the vegetables down while they were being salted. I also used greek yoghurt in lieu of sour cream.
I also made a variant on the pistachio and apricot tabule using quinoa and bulgher wheat to go with it which was delicious. Needless to say I’ve ordered the book. And when I get back from holiday hopefully we’ll go and have dinner there.
Thank you Rainbow, Itamar and my email recipients (you know who you are) and of course Mum (by association) for the restoration of my mojo.