Thursday, August 25, 2011

Variation on a Theme

Our garden is coming in.  What we have too much of varies from year-to-year.  This year we have too much summer squash.  When casting about for new and interesting ways to prepare this vegetable, I thought about the Zucchini Fritters Adele made for us several years ago when bushels of this torpedo-sized vegetable threatened the collapse of our porch.  Off I went on a virtual journey to Adele’s blog--Tales of the Basil Queen.  What a journey.  Adele loves to cook and bake—creative, inventive and intrepid, she dares to go where only the most seasoned of cooks cares to venture. 

Reading the Basil Queen’s Zucchini Fritter post the taste and texture memory of these wonderful appetizers lived vividly in my mind, even after the passage of several years.  I knew that not only would the recipe transfer to summer squash, but that it would do so very nicely. 

Adele’s Zucchini Fritters are appetizer-sized morsels of deliciousness.  I wanted entre-sized portions, which was going to require a slight change in texture to support the larger size, and a little flavor enhancement for good measure.  After a trial or two, I settled on adding just a little bit of cornmeal and some minced onion and summer savory.  The end result--a very nice variation on a theme.

Notes for this recipe:  My herb of choice for this recipe is summer savory.  It can be difficult to find, but well worth the effort.  We grow this herb, so my search doesn’t go any farther than the garden.  You can also use other herbs.   Basil or cilantro would be excellent choices.  If using dried herbs, reduce the amount to 1 tsp.

Summer Squash Fritters

2 very large or 5 or 6 smaller summer squash
1 Tbsp. Kosher salt
¼ cup finely minced onion
2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh summer savory
½ c. milk
1 egg
1/ 2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. corn meal
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. kosher salt
Olive oil
Sea salt

If using a large summer squash, cut it in half and remove the seeds.  Grate summer squash using a food processor or box grater.  Place the grated summer squash in a bowl, add the tablespoon of Kosher salt, and stir with a rubber spatula, mix to combine.  Set aside and let sit for 30 minutes. 

During the 30 minutes mince the onion and summer savory, and set aside.  Measure the milk into a glass 2 cup measure, add the egg, and beat with a fork until combined, and set aside.  Measure the flour, the baking soda, and corn meal into a bowl, add a good grind of black pepper, and the Kosher salt.  Stir to combine and set aside.

When the 30 minutes have gone by, place a colander in the sink and scrape the summer squash into it.  Using your hands, squeeze as much liquid as possible from the summer squash.  When the squash is dry measure out two cups into a mixing bowl.  Set aside. 

Preheat oven to 170.  Line a heat proof plate with a paper towel and place in the oven.  Place a heavy flat bottomed skillet (preferably cast iron) on the stove, turn the heat on to the low side of medium high, and pour in about ¼ inch of olive oil.

While the oil is heating, add the flour mixture to the summer squash and mix in.  Add the milk mixture, the minced onion and summer savory, and stir just until combined.  Check the oil in the skillet.  The oil must be hot, but not smoking.  To check if the oil is ready, dip your fingers in a little water and flick them towards the heating oil.  If the oil sputters and the water evaporates on contact, the proper temperature has been reached.

Using a metal ¼ c. solid measure or a ¼ c. scoop drop mounds of the summer squash mixture into the heated oil.  Flatten slightly.

When golden brown, turn the fritter over and cook the other side until nicely golden brown.  

Remove to paper towel-lined plate in the oven and repeat with remaining batter, adding oil as needed. (Be sure to heat the oil to the proper temperature before adding more batter.)  Just before serving, grind a little sea salt over the fritters.  Serve immediately.  

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