Tuesday, March 12, 2013

When Busy, Fritter Away Your Time!

Spring has arrived along with all the work, excitement, and joy that goes with it.  So what can a gardener working long hours throw together fast for a hot and tasty supper?  How about gathering whatever is lurking in the cupboard/fridge/garden such as canned tuna, broccoli, adding some flour, baking powder, and herbs/spices then binding the mixture with a beaten egg, forming it into patties and sauteing them until golden brown and happily dipping (finger food!) the warm, crunchy-but-moist delights in a cold sauce of yogurt, capers, and tomato paste?  I am speaking of course of the ever versatile fritter.

Or how I like to describe them:  a meal in a biscuit though these are more like pan-fried stuffing morphing into fish cakes.

Broccoli, garlic, and thyme came from our potager.

Spicy Roasted Broccoli & Tuna Fritters with Yogurt Dipping Sauce
(Makes sixteen 3-inch fritters)
  • Flour, white, 155 grams/1 cup*
  • Tuna, drained and mashed, individual serving can, 95 grams
  • Salt, 1/2 tsp
  • Baking powder, 1/2 tsp
  • Egg, one large
  • Broccoli, roasted, 50 grams/1/2 cup* (I used fresh, but frozen should work also though you may need less water or more flour to make the mixture)
  • Red pepper flakes or ground cayenne pepper per preferred heat level (I used just a few flakes)
  • Ginger, fresh or frozen, finely chopped, 1/2 tsp
  • Thyme, fresh, finely chopped, 1/2 tsp or dried, 1/4 tsp
  • Garlic, 1 or 2 cloves, crushed
  • Oil, vegetable (I used a mix of olive and sunflower as olive oil by itself is not the best frying medium but I love its flavour!)
  • Tomato paste, 1 T
  • Capers, whole or finely chopped (for more flavour and ease of dipping), 1 T
  • Yogurt, plain, 125 ml/4 oz
  • Lemon, sliced thinly
  • Thyme, fresh, several sprigs for garnishing
* American measure, that is, 8 oz

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F/175 degrees C.  Gather your ingredients.

Ever since my G+ friend +Rajini Rao turned me on to roasting cauliflower and broccoli, I have put away my childish things, that is, boiled broccoli and became an adult, at least in how I handle members of the cruciferous family.  Coarsely chop and put the pieces on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Dribble one tablespoon of olive oil and mix until all the broccoli is well coated.  Roast about 10 minutes.  Then stir them and roast for another 10 minutes till browned on the edges and mostly tender.

Meanwhile mix the flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium-sized bowl.  Make a well in the centre and crack an egg into it.

Stir with a fork until lumpy and add the ginger, red pepper flakes, crushed garlic, minced thyme, and mashed tuna.

Add the finely minced, roasted broccoli (mince finely after the coarsely chopped broccoli is roasted). Dribble water tablespoon by tablespoon till mixture becomes a paste.

Pour an inch of oil into a skillet over high heat for a couple of minutes.  Meanwhile dip your fingers into cold water, make approximately 3-inch patties from about a slightly rounded tablespoon of mixture.

Test to see if the oil is hot enough by flinging a few drops of water; they should sizzle for a few seconds.  If the oil is sufficiently hot, you are actually steaming the fritters more than you are frying them as the oil will stay mostly on the outside and can be blotted off with paper towels--fried food is not demonic!  Lower the heat to medium-low and place the patties in the skillet, without any of them touching each other.  Brown about 3 minutes on each side.

While the fritters are frittering, mix yogurt, tomato paste, and capers together and reserve.  Thinly slice a lemon.

When nicely golden brown, remove the fritters and drain on paper towels.

Serve garnished with the lemon slices and fresh thyme along with the dipping sauce.

In the garden, pruning which has been going on for a couple of weeks will be finished soon.  I do all I can on my own, and then I make an appointment with The Calm One.  After a few cancellations and reschedulings, we come together, me armed with a pointer--not that one, this one and cut above the swollen bit, that is, the collar--and him with everything else: ladder, lopers, saws, ropes, and a very business-like attitude.

The Box Elder which enjoys a serious flirtation with various wires strung along the street--hovering just underneath them with its plentiful buds insinuating eventual luscious summer growth when a full-blown affair could happen--takes our animated discussion as to the fate of its limbs in stride as if it knows love will conquer all, and it will some day have a rendezvous with those tempting wires.

The Calm One rigged up a rope set-up with my pulling down at one end so when he completed the pruning cut the large limb did not crash into the wires or on the car parked below.  Success!  Perhaps now we will be left in peace during the summer when various work bombers descend on the quartier, 'suggesting' our tree's affection for the wires must be tamed with butchery pruning done in the wrong season.

The Box Elder was no exception to the abuse done to the trees during the ten years prior to our moving here.  The collar which contains wound-healing chemicals is still trying to knit over an inconsiderate pruning cut done years ago.

The Box Elder's main crotch is where Dayo likes to snooze.

Spring is also the time when promises made to crowded and ill-placed plants are kept.  I pledged the whole block bed to the rhubarb in a weak moment late last summer.  As the two plants looked up at me from their wedged-in corner of the bed I could see they had not forgotten my word.

I first carefully spaded around the rhubarb to determine the depth and width of the hole needed to be dug--the hole needs to be a few inches wider and deeper than the plant.  Soil was then filled into the space around the transplant and firmed.  Lastly, the rhubarb was watered thoroughly.

The compost in the red crate was put in the bottom of the hole and mixed into the soil.

And when I did the rounds, their long-lost sibling hurriedly planted in a not-so-sunny spot in the front garden made it known that it wants out of the darkness and into the light.  It arrived with the other two in a shipping box several years ago and pines for a family union.

Soon, little one, you will join the others!

If all this exuberant budding and birdsong were not enough clues that spring has sprung then Dayo pulling his first all-nighter of the season is indisputable proof that Spring is officially here.  Early the next morning The Calm One opened the sous sol and in dashed the Prodigal Cat.  So knackered he was, he slept most of the day.

Gallivanting all the night apparently is thirsty work.

ASHOO! (Yet another clue, oh, dastardly spring allergies!)  Ooops, I meant, à bientôt!


Pruning Guidelines 
Joe Pastry on frying is more like steaming
Roasted Broccoli Parmesan Bechamel Soup