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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fry That Sucker!

Zucchini Fritters with Tzatziki

Fry That Sucker!
by Victoria Challancin

My mother was from Georgia and, like every good Southern cook of her time, she fried everything. Everything.  She fried chicken (of course), quail, dove, rabbit, fish, turtle, alligator tail, frog legs, venison, mushrooms, okra.  You name it, my Mom fried it.  Deep fried it, at that.  And although these foods still represent comfort and love to me, I rarely, rarely fry anything.  Ever.

In today's world of healthy preparation and choices, frying has become a dirty word, an anathema.  And with good reason. Who could live on a steady diet of so much fat? (And how did my family survive such food?).  There are just too many other ways to prepare tasty dishes.  But occasionally, when I get in the mood to fry something, albeit in a wee bit of oil and not in a deep pan of it, I fondly remember both my Mom and the late and inimitable Molly Ivins, writer, political commentator, and humorist, who famously once said, "I'm gonna write a Texas cookbook, and call it Fry That Sucker!"

That summed up how I felt this week when trying to think what I might prepare for my healthy vegetarian husband.  I thought, "Zucchini Fritters.  I'll just fry those suckers!"  And so I did.  And boy, were they tasty--I'm so glad I did.  Hats off to you, Mom, and to Molly.

 Zucchini Fritters
Recipe by Victoria Challancin

1 pound zucchini
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill or basil
1 large garlic clove, pressed
2 tablespoons grated onion

Canola oil, for frying

Trim the ends off zucchini and grate them on the large holes of a box grater.  Place in a colander and toss with a teaspoon of salt.  Mix well with hands to distribute salt.  Place colander in sink or on a plate to catch the water that will drain off the zucchini.  Set aside for  20 minutes.

Meanwhile place the flour, baking powder, and black pepper in a bowl.  Mix with a fork.
Set aside.

Rinse the grated zucchini under running water and squeeze dry with hands.  Alternately, you could squeeze it dry in a clean towel or a piece of cheese cloth.  Add zucchini to the bowl with the flour.

Add the egg, dill, garlic, and 2 tablespoons onion to the bowl and mix well to incorporate all the ingredients.

Heat about 1/4 cup canola oil in a large heavy skillet until very hot.  Using a large spoon, drop dollops of the zucchini mixture into the skillet, being careful not to crowd the pan.  Cook the fritters over medium high heat until the underneath is golden, about 3 to 5 minutes.  Turn the fritters and fry on the other side until golden, about 2 to 4 minutes.  Drain on a paper towel.  Transfer the fritters to a baking sheet and keep warm in a 200-degree oven.  Continue the process until all the batter has been used, frying in batches and adding more oil as needed.

Note:  Taste (face it, just eat a fritter...) one of the first fritters cooked for salt.  Usually, enough salt remains from the original salting even though the zucchini has been rinsed.  Adjust salt if needed.

Oh, Tzatziki.  I could probably write a book about you.  Or at least an ode.  

Tzatziki is a Greek condiment or salad served on its own with other appetizers or as an accompaniment to other dishes.  Made of thick Greek yogurt and seasoned with fresh herbs like dill or mint, tzatziki is both refreshing and easy to prepare.

Tzatziki is something that I frequently have on hand. My husband, who comes from a Macedonian family and loves all flavors from Greece, Turkey, and the Mediterranean in general, simply loves it.  So does my son, though he now lives in the U.S.  I make it so often that it was hard to actually write down the recipe.  Sometimes I add fresh dill, sometimes mint.  Sometimes lemon juice is used to give it a tart flavor, sometimes vinegar.  Sometimes I have a higher ratio of cucumber to yogurt, sometimes a smaller.  If I feel like it, I grate the cucumber; if not, I slice it.  One garlic clove or two--just whatever you prefer.  Occasionally, if I have time, I drain my yogurt or use thick Greek yogurt.  Sometimes I don't even have time to salt and drain my cucumbers.  And I never measure any of this, so I am guessing that the glug of olive oil is about a tablespoon, though two wouldn't go amiss.  So as you can see, we are dealing with a flexible recipe here.

But however I do make it at any given time, Tzatziki is very useful to have around.  It is terrific with these fritters, but is also great on a green salad, served with eggs, atop practically any cooked or raw vegetable, or just good on its own.  

Tzatziki:  Yogurt with Cucumber
(Recipe by Victoria Challancin)

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and thinly sliced or grated
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups natural yogurt
2 garlic cloves, pressed (one if the taste of raw garlic seems too overpowering)
Freshly ground black or white pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice or white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh dill or mint

Place the cucumber in a colander and sprinkle with salt.  Mix gently with hands and allow to drain.  It is wise to set the colander over the sink or a plate to catch the water that drains from the cucumber.  Set aside for 2o minutes.

Meanwhile, place the remaining ingredients in a medium bowl.  Stir to combine.  Set aside.

Rinse the cucumber and squeeze dry with hands.  Add the cucumber to the yogurt and mix gently with a spoon.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  Store in the refrigerator and serve cold.


I love the bright green flecks of zucchini peel and dill

My husband brings me roses...

©Victoria Challancin.  All Rights Reserved.

Recipes are meant to be shared, but please do not use images or text without my permission.


Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

hehe I love that idea! Fry That Sucker is such an eyecatching name! :D And we have a lot of zucchini in the stores at the moment, these look like the perfect way to cook it! :D

tori said...

Gorgeous fritters. Sometimes things just taste better in a little bit of oil....

Ben said...

Just fry it now and worry later. hehe. Great dishes!

Lynne Daley said...

I rarely fry anything anymore except okra when it's in season, but I may change my mind after seeing how delicious your zucchini fritters look. The Tzatzkiki sauce looks a great sauce for the fritters. I eat Greek yogurt by itself all the time, but love it in Tzatzkiki.