You might think he's doing something else. But in reality, he's learning how to sit/stay, and not doing a very good job of it (he eventually learned how to do so beautifully ... sort of ).

martedì 11 maggio 2010

Frittering Away

Sustained rains and coolish temperatures continue to nurture our highly ignored sorrel patches, of which we have two.[1] (Perhaps this happened because we thought they wouldn’t grow?) Countless variations on the sorrel soup theme have plied our table, as many friends can attest. We have had hard-boiled eggs with sorrel mayonnaise, and we will eventually get around to making Richard Olney’s splendid sorrel tart once the Italian Scallion can be induced to make the pie crust. Today, however, we fry sorrel fritters. It’s hoped that these lively little fritters will enliven a windy, cold, rainy May day.

‘Fritter,’ writes Alan Davidson, “is the English word for a small portion of deep-fried BATTER.” He adds: “The Roman scriblita, described by Cato in the 2nd century B.C., was probably a precursor of both fritters and DOUGHNUTS.”[2] He quotes C. Anne Wilson (1973) quoting John Russell, who observed that “apple fritter is good hot, but the cold ye [should] not touch.”[3]

“Frittering” as in to waste time has no linguistic connection to fritter the thing-you-put in your mouth. According to the invaluable on-line Oxford Dictionary, the wasting time verb version comes from the obsolete fitter, which means to break into fragments. The noun – a piece of fruit, vegetable, or meat – that’s fried comes from the Old French friture, which itself comes from the Latin frigere (to fry).[4]

The late, much missed Laurie Colwin, in “How to Disguise Vegetables,” says “A more effective way is to turn the offending vegetable [in this case, sorrel] into a fritter. Most people think fried food is fun and not serious eating. A crisp little fritter slips right down (often as a mere vehicle for the catsup or tomato sauce), but never mind that it is fried: it is all for a good cause.”[5]

So, sifting through a pile of fritter recipes – for vegetables, fruits, and too-tough clams – reveals that you can either make the batter with beer, or not. You can use baking powder, or not. You can cook the vegetable(s) first, or not. You definitely use eggs, and if you want to give those fritters a 3D aspect, you will most definitely whip the egg whites ‘til almost stiff peaks form. Or you can simply mix the eggs, entire, with the flour.

A previous experiment with this fritter idea led to the inclusion of both baking powder and separated eggs and whipped egg whites, as who wants to eat a fried hockey puck (though perhaps that would appeal to some Canadians whom we know and love)?

These go really well with a nice cool glass of Prosecco or equally cool glass of white wine. Do remember the words of one of those John Russells. A dollop of sour cream or crème fraiche would sit nicely on top of these, and if it's crowned by some smoked salmon, so much the better.

Sorrel and Green Garlic Fritters

6 green garlic plants, ends trimmed, chopped
½ lb. sorrel, cleaned
1 c. flour
1 c. water
1½ t. baking powder
2 organic eggs, separated
1/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Sour cream or crème fraiche, for garnish (optional)
Smoked salmon, if you're living large
Olive oil for frying

Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Melt the butter (over a medium flame) in a saucepan, add the green garlic, and still for a minute or two. Add the sorrel, and continue stirring ‘til it wilts and turns gray. Remove from the heat and let cool.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, egg yolks, and Parmesan cheese. Add the vegetable mixture, sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Whip the egg whites ‘til soft peaks form, and gently fold into the fritter batter.

Place some paper towels on a cutting board.

Heat a generous amount of olive oil, and drop heaping tablespoons of the batter into hot oil. Cook for a minute or two, then flip and cook for another minute or two. Remove, drain on paper towels, and keep warm in the pre-heated oven. Continue ‘til all the batter is used up, and eat immediately.
Makes at least 12. Dogs love this, even without the sour cream and smoked salmon.

The Parrot-Lured-by-Red-Wine-and-Pringles Absurdity Department: Flavio Briatore, 60, pug-faced suspended Formula One manager, and self-styled tycoon, has recently become the father of a baby boy.[6] We might even add Traditionalist Italian Male from the Stone Age to “tycoon” and “suspended Formula One manager” to his job description. Interviewed in Hello! Magazine, he’s asked if he will change young Falco Nathan’s diapers: “No, that’s a bit too much. If it was an emergency, but if everything is normal, absolutely not.” What about giving his son the odd night-time bottle then? This traditional Italian father looks momentarily horrified. “No, no. I think it is the job of the mother and the nanny. Not really the job of the father … I believe the mother has the bigger responsibility, especially now. When the child is three, four, five, six, I believe you start to have a communication, but not before.” From the May 3rd, 2010 issue. One wonders how Signor Briatore defines the difference between “normal” and “emergency.”

This in from ever-vigilant Spritzer Gal: Worth a peek.

This from Terracotta Sculptress in the Hinterlands of Tuscany: she’s on a ribollita hunger drive ‘til the rain stops coming; this means she’ll be lunching and dining on said today. Winter-warm polenta recipe to follow.

[1] Please visit last post for well-written and tired-with-the-weather comment from Genteel Friend.
[2] The Oxford Companion to Food, New York, 1999.
[3] Would love to write more about this John Russell, but it’s hard to tell from Wikipedia whom he might be, as there are 38 listed – 16 politicians, 6 sportsmen (we could probably safely rule them out as caring about apple fritters), 3 artists, 13 others, and one “Jack Russell/Disambiguation” which, I’d hoped, might refer to the breed. It didn’t.
[5] Home Cooking, New York, 1988. For a lovely remembrance of her, see Jonathan Yardley’s July 1, 2003 “Laurie Colwin: A Story Too Short but Still in Print” at
[6][6] It’s well worth checking out his biography on He’s had many, many brushes with the authorities over the decades.

1 commento:

  1. On behalf of pugs all over the world, I'm writing to protest the comparison of fat-faced, sperm spewing Flavio Briatore to a pug in any way, shape or form.

    Pugs are good-looking and lovable. Flavio is not.