Monday, 31 March 2014

Chopped-Up & Beaten

Fritelle di Cavolini Cinese & Ricotta Salata
Choi Sam & Salted Ricotta Cheese Fritters

Sometimes, it is not easy being an ingredient in my kitchen. Let's face it- if you are an egg, chances are you are going to get beaten. If you are anything that is remotely Asian, you will probably get chopped-up. And if you cross my path in my kitchen, what with me being a mixed-up Sicilian, born in Britain and living in Germany... if you are not careful, you may end up being combined together to turn into something like this!

One of my favorite things that my mother would make when I was growing up (and of course even today), would be fritters made with greens- cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, cabbage or even cardoons. There is something really nice about vegetables in a simple egg and flour batter, it lets the flavor of the greens come to life and is for us, one of those old-time, home-cooking classics.

I had the last couple of handfuls of choi sam from Saturday and did not want for them to go to waste- they needed using up whilst they were still fresh and delicious- and I decided to prepare them in the traditional Sicilian way that my mother would prepare her greens rather than do another stir-fry for example. So for each handful of greens I used one egg... and from 2 eggs and 2 handfuls of greens I made 4 fritters... I love easy mathematics like that! I can work with those kinds of measures- I like to keep things simple whenever I can ;-)

And as I already mentioned- there was some chopping to be done! I cut the choi sam down into bite-size pieces and then popped them into a frying pad with about an inch of boiling water. I seasoned them lightly with salt and let them bubble away for around 5 minutes, by which time the water had almost completely evaporated and cooked into the greens.

I drained the greens and set them to one side to cool and drain for 5 minutes or so and in the meantime prepared the batter. To make this I cracked the two eggs into a bowl, added 2 tablespoons of flour and nice glug of milk and whisked them together. I recommend you use a whisk with a handle that looks like a chick if you make this dish in the Springtime ;-)

I let the batter "rest" for 10 minutes and in the meantime grated some salted Ricotta cheese to add to the mix. I added a good pinch of the grated Ricotta to the egg batter and set the rest to one side for later.

Before I got busy forming the fritters, I turned on the oven, turned on the broiler and then turned on the heat on my stovetop to get my non-stick pan hot and ready to go- heat is important in making these little beauties!

To make things easier, I made sure the greens were thoroughly drained first and then stirred them into the batter. Once the pan was really nice and hot, I spooned in a little of the batter, just a good tablespoon and waited for it to begin to set- which happens quickly enough if you have the pan nice and hot- and then added a second spoonful of the greens on top.

I then sprinkled them with a little more of the salted ricotta cheese and once that had melted in a little, set the fritter to one side and repeated the procedure until I had all 4 fritters made and then set them back, altogether into the frying pan and then popped it into the oven to finish.

And just 3-4 minutes later, the batter was puffed up and golden brown, giving the greens a comforting coating of mild, eggy goodness to compliment their slightly herb flavor.... a wonderful flavor combination, just like my mamma used to make- so simple and so good!

The salty Ricotta is a great addition in this dish- and why not use a Sicilian cheese with an Asian green? I believe in getting along together in every instance- in and out of the kitchen- haha!

And being as this had already turned out to be a weird and mixed-up affair, I decided you could hardly beat serving it with some of that lovely, sweet Thai chili sauce- great with that mild hint of garlic!

Yes these were very simple, yes they were just a little bit strange- but yes indeed they were truly delicious! Sometimes it's the most simple of dishes that are the best and this one was pretty much a success I would say- especially together with the sauce!

So whether you serve these as a side dish or as a whole vegetarian meal in themselves, do give them a try and see what you think. Do you want to know what I think? I think you are going to like them! Enjoy!

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