Saturday, October 21, 2006

Prawn and Corn Fritters

I know this is too late for the Hay Hay Its Donna Day and F is for Fritter competetion. That I thought of them last week, and then saw some prawns for about $10 a kilo it was a fait acompli .

I just had to make these fritters this weekend. My mother's prawn and corn fritters are the most morish ones I have ever eaten and were probably the first. The batter uses finely minced, onion, garlic and ginger these three ingredients being the basis of nearly all my mother's traditional cooking.

The batter itself - a gorgeous mixture of mouthwatering prawns and sweet corn niblets.

Lightly frying and puffing up.

Recipe: I have provided one earlier with a very plain photograph and like all of my mother's recipes I know the ingredients but make it up as I go along.

1 egg
1 onion
2 cloves of garlic
2cm piece of ginger

300ml milk

2 cups plain flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 x. 400gram can of corn niblets
650 grams of medium size prawns

In my food processor, I finely chopped the onion, ginger and garlic. I changed the blade to the soft blade and then added the egg, flour and baking powder and milk and pulsed a few times. I removed the batter from the processor bowl and put it into a larger one and mixed through the corn and prawns. I added some sea salt at this point.

Gently heat (medium flame) some canola oil in a fry pan and when hot, add large spoonfuls of batter. Flip after a few minutes and keep them in a warmed oven while you cook the rest.

These are lovely served with a salad and lots of lemon.

However, I remember my mother also liked to serve them with some fluffy white rice.

In their glory.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Apple fritters and vanilla ice-cream scattered with pariya rose petals and a drizzle of maple syrup

When I knew Hay Hay its Donna Day was coming up and the theme was fritters I knew it was time for me to enter the fray - it is my first foodie internet event/competition. I tend to shy away from competition, too scared of losing too scared of winning is the way I think of them. When I analyse this, I am quite sure I learned this lesson a very hard way when I was 16 years old, from my blonde and buxom best friend who as it turned out wasn't just very competitive with me at English. When she saw that I was interested in a boy at school she did her best - i.e. battered her eyelashes at him and I ran a very poor second.

Anyway I digress from a lesson learned long ago and onto happier things. Originally I had thoughts of preparing a family fritter "Corn and prawn fritters." I did a post on them a long time ago as part of a banquet based on family recipes when I first began this blog. I also gave some thought to revisiting some pea and haloumi fritters I did about three months ago but failed to post as my photography of them was quite appalling.
Late this afternoon I realised I hadn't bought the prawns or the haloumi I needed for those two fritters so I had to quickly consider something else. Two of the concepts I decided to keep in mind when coming up with a new fritter for which I would have the ingredients readily at hand was "traditional" and "family".
For the "family" part, I chose the plate pictured to serve the dessert on. The plate was recently given to me by my mother and it was from her mother. I don't think it is a fancy, smanchy brand name piece it simply states at the back "Made in Japan" but the fact it was from a woman to whom I am closely related and have never met and yet this woman means so much to my mother I thought it was perfect to use today. There are 2 of these plates and are rarely used by me but when I do, it is always with some reverence.

The recipe for the fritters is my concoction of a few recipes that can be found scattered on the internet. When making up the recipe I wanted to use rings of sliced apple, and a thick, airy, batter. As a result I think they look almost like doughnuts, indeed that's what Elliot thought they were.
1 cup plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons vanilla castor sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
canola oil for deep frying
3 Braeburn apples(for approximately 4 serves)
Cinnamon Icing sugar for dusting
Maple syrup
Vanilla icecream
The apple of choice for us lately is the Braeburn, which is crisp, slightly tart & yet sweet. The perfect size for Elliot's lunch box, if it were too big there would be too much wastage as he would be throwing it away as there isn't time to eat a big apple and play Mum!

Out of the couple of dozen or so we have eaten over the past month only 1 or 2 have been on the floury side so pretty good percentages all up as far as I am concerned. I chose a couple of these apples for the fritters and cut them into rings. I made them about 1 cm wide and cut the core out of the centre.

In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar and nutmeg. Add the egg and milk and beat with a whisk until well combined. The mixture should be quite thick. Leave to stand for about 20 minutes.

In a deep saucepan, heat some canola oil over a medium heat. I checked my oil was hot enough by dropping a tiny bit of the batter in and see if the oil did its trick.

Dip the apple rings in the batter and add them to the heated oil. I did mine one by one as I used my smallest saucepan the bigger the saucepan the more you could do at once but probably no more than 3 is the best idea.

My oil was a bit too hot so I had to work very quickly ensuring the fritters were obtaining an even colour and then removing them to a plate topped with baking paper to drain. I knew the apple wouldn't be as cooked as I wanted but I also didn't want them to burn. So next time I think keep the oil on a lower heat or I thought I might microwave the apples for a couple of minutes before battering and frying.

I am so sick of editing this post but another good idea would have been to put these in a warmed oven at 100 degrees celcius for about 10 minutes so they would have cooked through and warmed the apple more.

To serve: I dusted the fritters with some icing sugar I had added some cinnamon to, and drizzled maple syrup over the ice-cream and fritters. Finally I scattered my lovely Pariya roses I got from the Essential Ingredient in Melbourne all over the plate. The roses provide the most gorgeous perfume to this dessert.


I made these fritters again with the left over batter last night and given that the first time I was trying to make, photograph and post within hours of the competition closing ,I was afforded a more leisurely approach and the finished product was much improved.

I used 2 braeburn apples and after I sliced them into rings I microwaved them for 2 minutes. So they were perfect on the inside. I moderated the heat of my oil better this time not too hot, produced fritters perfectly cooked through, (without resorting to the oven) so it meant I had a crispy outside as well.

It cannot be stated enough, just how well the combination of the Pariya roses and maple syrup enhance this dessert through the combination of flavour and fragrance!
For the full round-up of F is for Fritter for Hay Hay Its Donna Day head to Milk and Cookies after the 22 October for voting. The very talented jenjen will be announcing a winner soon after that.

Toasted Banana Bread

What a revelation I had this week at one of my favourite coffee shops. I ordered some banana bread with my coffee and I was asked whether I needed some butter. I have never had butter on it before but I thought instead of dismissing the concept out-of-hand I asked for the butter to be served on the side.

Once the bread was served to me I was surprised to find the bread had been toasted. I guess the reason I was so surprised is that I have always really considered that banana bread was a misnoma and it is really a a cake or better served as a muffin and when asked thought it better accompanied cream cheese frosting than butter. I mean there isn't any yeast in banana bread that I know of - is there?

I figure actually toasting banana bread is not a surprise to many , but for me the uninitiated into the joys of actually toasting the banana bread I have to say it was one of the most satisfying foodie revelations I have had to date.

So yesterday I decided to track down a very basic banana bread recipe, baked it last night, toasted it under my Breville flat sandwich maker, dusted it with some icing sugar and served it with some vanilla ice-cream, maple syrup and toasted walnuts.

For the purpose of this post this morning I decided to simply toast the bread and present it in much the same way as it was served to me earlier in the week. On that day, the toasted BB made a very satisfying 10.30am morning tea especially when I hadn't the time for breakfast earlier that day and portion control over the butter meant it was relatively healthy.

I think the recipe below is quite excellent - as it is low fat. I decided to use the simplest and most dense version I could find with no nuts or other embellishments. Indeed I noticed that many of the reviewers for the BB decided to take this super healthy version and add a naughty thing to it, like chocolate chips or healthier things like nuts!

From my experience this BB recipe could do with extra moisture and recommend adding more mashed banana or apple sauce.

Having read all of the reviews for the recipe I also think based on the majority of them that next time I would do the following:
* halve the amount of sugar or substitute white sugar with brown sugar
* use half wholemeal and half white flour
*add pecans or walnuts

Basic low fat Banana Bread from this site :
2 cups plain flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)
1/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 170° c.
2. With some canola cooking spray I sprayed the inside of a loaf tin.
3. Sift the flours and salt together and set aside.
4. I really don't like the 1/2 cup measure for things so I cut a piece of butter that looked approximately like 1/2 cup and with a hand beater beat the butter and sugar and vanilla together until light and creamy (approx 3 minutes - longer for me due to not letting the butter soften).
5. I then beat in one egg at a time beating well after each egg.
6. Then beat in the yoghurt (I only had the kids full fat vanilla) and the mashed banana.
7. After that I gently mixed the flour through the creamy banana mix.
8. Pour into loaf tin and bake for approximately one hour.

Measures of success:
*Inserting a wooden skewer that comes out clean proving it is baked through.
*A big crack down the middle of the loaf due to the operation of the baking soda
*Light to medium browning with crispy outside crust which will soften the next day

Other thoughts:
*The other versions of the BB from the website sounded fantastic too, coconut would toast very well if added to the recipe.
*I saw that Chocolate and Zucchini had a recipe for BB with Cranberries, I haven't yet found a fresh cranberry but am willing to give the dried versions a go.
*It is worth paying $12.00 a kilo for 4 bananas to try the other versions - those cheaper bananas I posted about earlier are few and far between.
*One of the things I am finding it difficult to succeed in lately, taking a photograph of the finished product without one of my children's hands appearing in it no matter how many times I tell them to wait!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Yes, we have some bananas - we have some bananas today!

Seriously - months of being a bananaless household and this week I have them coming out of our ears. While prices remain high in supermarkets and green grocers i.e. $14.00 per kilo, bargains can be found at the weekend markets and the roadside it seems.

My mother sent some home with the kiddies that she got at her local market for about $5.00 per kilo. This bunch of beauties was dropped off at my place this morning by a friend who stopped on her way to work and bought them from a road-side vendor for $4.50 for two kilos!

I am wondering whether to let some go nice and ripe to make some banana bread - I think its a must. P is dreaming of pancakes and bananas, maple syrup and pecans for dessert tonight with my mother's riper bananas.

Isn't it bizarre how we react to one of our staples becoming a rarity, I can almost empathise with those folks on Survivor- except of course their access to everything is extremely restricted.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Risotto Bianco - with pesto

Two cuisines inspire me the most, Italian and Japanese. I have been leafing through the latest Delicious trying to work out how to track down Edamame and Wakame and at the same time, checking out Jamie Oliver's Italy and became mesmerised by his white risotto.

So due to the fact we are sans children this weekend (and week in fact), I decided to make this risotto but what also compelled me to cook it was the fact that I was making pesto anyway.

I have nearly always considered risotto part of my winter/autumn repertoire but with the addition of the pesto I started to consider the possibilities, a tiny course of white risotto and pesto before some grilled quail perhaps and then a pork dish. I am considering a menu consisting number of small dishes because of the dinner we had on Friday night.

A good friend of P's invited us over to meet his new partner and she also loves to cook so they were keen to try out a number of dishes on us. We started with some olives, cheese etc. The first course was a very small bowl of pumpkin soup. They asked us what we thought the secret ingredient was, I thought wasabi as I could taste mustard flavours in fact it was tomato. Who'd have thunk it!

They then served us some ravioli which they had made and filled with spinach and ricotta and made a lovely tomato sauce, parmesan and basil all really lovely light flavours.

Then there was some lemon sorbet. And finally a whole spatchcock and sweet potato salad. Finally there was a toblerone mousse - really we were very spoiled I think and I must say they are excellent cooks! I look forward to returning the favour which got me to thinking about this risotto as one of my courses.

My pesto is usually made in a mortar and pestle. A handful of toasted pinenuts, one clove of garlic a good handful of grated parmesan and three handfulls of basil leaves. Give it all a good bash and pour in some extra virgin olive oil and keep bashing it till you get it to the consistency you like your pestos (I am assuming that there are no pesto virgins out there!) but I don't like my pesto too coarse and dry as you can see.

Jamie's recipe called for onion, garlic and celery and white wine and warmed stock. I used half an onion, no celery (would have used it if I had it) , 2 cloves of garlic and about 1 litre of stock, a big splash of white wine and about 1 cup of aborio rice.

Heat the stock in a saucepan and keep it gently simmering.

Finely dice the onion and smash your garlic. Then in my saute saucepan I heated up a big splash of extra virgin and a knob of butter and when that was nice and bubbly I added the onion and garlic and sauteed on a moderate heat till transparent. Then add the rice and stir for a few minutes till the rice is coated with the butter/oil and looks nice and glossy next add the white wine.

When the wine has cooked out of the rice, add the first ladle of stock and a good pinch of salt. Keep the heat on simmer. Keep adding the stock ladle by ladle, but making sure in between each ladle you are constantly turning the rice and incorporating each ladle of stock prior to adding the next one.

I tend to find that this process takes up to 20 minutes. After 15 minutes, taste the rice, add more salt if necessary and if the rice is still not cooked keep adding the stock and turning the rice. The mixture will become creamier and creamier. The rice is cooked when it is mostly soft and only a subtle bite is left in the middle. Have a boiled kettle handy if the rice isn't cooked by the time you run out of stock and add some hot water.

Remove from heat and add a knob of butter and a good handful of grated Parmesan. Put on the lid and let sit for 2 minutes. Mine didn't look as oozy as Jamies. I can only think the way for me to get it like his is once it is cooked, add one last ladle full of stock/water and then mix it through gently and take it immediately off the heat so as not to incorporate or evaporate the stock into rice as I had been previously doing till this point.

Hmmm think I will give that method a whirl next time.

Serve it immediately, with a big dollop of pesto, some extra pinenuts and fresh basil scattered on top and a few dashes of extra v.

Yes I know overdid it on the number photographs but I am feeling very indecisive today!

About Me

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Mother of two with one of each. Wife of one.Dogless. Busy working five days a week, baking and cooking when time allows. Writing rarely these days. Wishing I had time to read more often.