Thursday, 16 August 2007

Courgette Fritters, Rhubarb Fool & Vanilla Shortbread

Courgette Fritters

In recent weeks I saw these being made a few times on other blogs. I have made them before, and can remember liking them, but the memory was quite hazy. So every time I saw them I thought I’ve got to make them again, and eventually I did!

I know why I put it off. I dislike grating things, particularly cheese. Everyone has their thing in the kitchen that they don’t like and mine is grating and sifting icing (confectioners sugar). A couple of birthdays ago a friend gave me a baby grater, and I grated some cheese and carrots on it and thought it wasn’t too bad. Recently when out and about I came across the Mama grater in the same design, so I thought, well anything that gets me over my grating thing, and home it came. I don’t know if it’s the design of the grater or just the joy of new gadgetry, but it works so fast and smoothly that I don’t seem to have the dread of grating that I used too. They even go in the dishwasher!

Back to the courgette fritters though Nigella, Bill Granger and Delia all have version of this fritter, these come from Nigella Lawson’s Forever Summer. I’ve been cooking a lot from it these last couple of weeks and have more planned. They are quick to mix, although take a little while to shallow fry. I served them with the lime for lunch one day, and we had the leftovers reheated in the oven the next night for supper, hubby actually preferred them like that. The reheated ones needed a sauce I decided, so I just made a one minute sauce by mixing a small tub of low fat yoghurt (5 fl oz) and a heaping teaspoon of ready made mint sauce (from a jar) and hey presto a refreshing minty dip. Next time I’m adding the sauce for sure, because it just seemed to compliment the courgette fritters so well, made them seem fresher somehow. Very summery either way.

The Mama and baby graters

In case courgettes are not your thing, here is an easy summery pudding with rhubarb – and a little biscuit to have with it!

Rhubarb Fool and Vanilla Shortbread

This is a pudding that Nigella makes on the TV series which accompanies Forever Summer, and the thing that pulled me to make it the first time I saw it was seeing Nigella drizzling over her beautiful magenta rhubarb syrup on top. You really have to have the very pinkest rhubarb, I made this one with some I’d frozen when I saw some lovely pink slim rhubarb. It’s just as well because all that I could find in the shops was thick and green and I’m sure it’d have been sour as a lemon too! I have copied these recipes from a Nigella article here.
Rhubabrb Fool
From Nigella Lawson's Forever Summer

1 kg rhubarb, trimmed and coarsely chopped
300g vanilla sugar
500ml double cream

Preheat the oven to 190°C/Gas Mark 5.
Mix the rhubarb and vanilla sugar together in an ovenproof dish. Do not add water. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the fruit is completely soft.
Drain in a colander, or sieve, and pour the juice (you should have about 500ml) into a saucepan, then heat and let bubble away until reduced by about half.
Pour into a jug and leave to cool; do not, however refrigerate as the syrup might crystallise and lose its fabulous puce clarity.
Puree the fruit until totally smooth, then cool and chill this as well.
Whip the cream in a large chilled bowl until lusciously thick but not stiff.
Carefully fold in the rhubarb puree, then some of the reduced juice, so the mixture is streaked, rather like raspberry ripple ice cream.
Put the juice in a glass jug so that people can add more, if they want, as they eat. Or frankly, you could instead use half the amount of rhubarb juice in the pan for reducing and use the remaining 250ml for adding to champagne for a fabulous, blush-pink summer drink.

Vanilla Shortbread
From Nigella Lawson's Forever Summer

I know that biscuits sound like the sort of cooking someone else does, but you need never have baked anything ever in your life to be able to make these with ease. And I hate to say this, but they are so much better than anything out of a packet.

Makes 33 fingers
100g icing sugar
200g plain flour, preferably Italian OO
100g cornflour
200g very soft unsalted butter
seeds from 1 vanilla pod
vanilla or ordinary caster sugar for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 160°C/gas mark 3. Put the icing sugar, plain flour and cornflour into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the double-bladed knife and give them a quick blitz (just to save you sieving, which is my most-hated job in the kitchen) before adding the butter along with the vanilla seeds you've scraped out of a pod. (Don't even think of throwing the deseeded bits of pod away: stash them in a jar of caster to use next time a recipe requires vanilla sugar.)
Process again until the soft mixture coheres and begins to form a ball, loosely clumping around the blade. Turn this out on to a Swiss roll tin and press to form an even (or as even as you can make it) layer, using fingers or the back of a spoon, or both. Be patient, it will fit smoothly.
Using the tip of a sharp knife cut the pressed-out shortbread into fingers. I make two incisions lengthways - ie to form three layers - and then make 10 cuts down - so that you end up with 11 fingers per layer. Obviously, the aim should be to cut at regular intervals but don't start getting your ruler out.
Just go by eye: uniformity is the province of the conveyor belt not of home cooking. Use the tines of a fork to make little holes in each marked-out biscuit: I press down about three times, diagonally, on each finger.
Now that you've pressed, incised, and punctured, slide the Swiss roll tin into the oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes, by which time the shortbread will be pale still, but not doughy. Expect a little goldenness around the edges, but shortbread should be not crisp but melting. Remove the tin from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes or so, before removing, with a palette knife and your fingers, to a wire rack. Sprinkle with sugar and leave them to cool completely before storing in a tin.


Deborah said...

I'm making fritters tonight!! I have actually never had them, but I have been seeing them on so many blogs lately, I knew I needed to try!

Lydia said...

I've been seeing fritters everywhere, too, and haven't yet made my own this summer. I don't share your distaste of grating, but there are many other kitchen tasks I don't like -- and most desserts fall into that category!

Ilana said...

It must mean a lot that a Scotswoman would think N's shortbread is better than the bought stuff. I better make these then!


Brilynn said...

Well I have no excuse not to make these fritters, the garden is overrun with zucchini. I want to try using the blossoms too.

Nora B. said...

You've been busy! Wonderful recipes. I think that you idea about the minty yogurt is a terrific accompaniment. I don't fry my fritters but bake them in the oven. I have no patience for frying. I feel like making shortbread now, it's all your fault! ;-)

KJ said...

I love fritters. Yours look delicious. And I could tuck into your fool and shortbread right now. Yum.

Andreea said...

i absolutely love shortbead. have just never given it a try at home.

annauk said...

You are such an inspiration Kelly-Jane. I made the courgette fritters once, and as you say, we really enjoyed them, but have not made them since - I'll have to try and remedy that.
The shortbread fingers look fantastic, as does the fool.


Patricia Scarpin said...

I don't know how to pick a favorite here, Kelly-Jane - everything you cooked/baked looks delicious!

Cheryl said...

Love, love, love, love shortbread. So good with the rhubarb.

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Thanks for posting the picture of the graters. I was wondering what they looked like as I read. The shortbread looks wonderful, but what is a Swiss roll tin? Is that a baking pan?

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Kelly-Jane I have your mama grater IF on one side the holes are bigger than any I've seen on other graters. I love the bigger size for doing pizza cheese and the cheese for quesadillas.
I've been wanting to do the zucchini fritters maybe tonight.

Peabody said...

Oh rhubarb fool, that sounds so light and tasty.

Kelly-Jane said...

Deborah, I hope you enjoy your friters!

Lydia, hee hee!

Ilana, I have a favourite shortbread that I make that I'll blog in the future I hope, but Nigella's shortbread here is a really good partner to desserts, not too thick and full of vanilla and sugar!

Brilynn, if only I had a vegetable patch!

Nora, the mint yog really made the fritters for me, and it's funny you should say you bake yours, I was really close to doing just that!

KJ, Thank you!

Hi Andreea! Nigella's recipe is really easy :)

Anna, I'm really bad at making something and then forgetting about it, if I hadn't seen fritters about in the bloggin world they would probably had remained forgotten!

Patricia, Thank you :)

Cheryl, I love shortbread too :)

Lynn, I think it'd be called a jelly roll pan in the US, it's a flat tin 9" x 12.5" x 1 inch deep (inside measurements, as opposed to outer edges.

Tanna, yes that sounds the same, the big holes are just huge! There isn't a make on the grater and I can't remember from the shop.

Peabody, got to have at least one fool a summer!


vonsachsen said...

Thanks for the reminder about the fool! I love this particular one but just forgot about them this year.
Mmmm, and I must say, I´m a bit envious of your Vanilla shortbread ;) I´ve made them twice and they do taste great, but mine just doesn´t look this perfect!! I mean, mine doesn´t look perfect at all...they look "homemade":D
Thanks for being an inspiration for so many of us, KJ !


Merri-An said...

I could kiss you! I made this shortbread last Christmas and could not find the recipe anywhere. It is SO easy and so delicious - I must admit I use Vanilla Bean Paste instead of the vanilla beans (so expensive in Australia)and now I can make it again. I made at least 5 batches last year! I love your blog. Thank you so much.