Wholefood Cooking

No Fresh Cherries in July

CARROT AND CORIANDER FRITTERS

This blog began when I walked into my local Coles (large supermarket chain) to get the few bits I do buy there (toilet paper, organic butter etc), and stood gobsmacked at the truly staggering amount of fresh cherries that was on show. Firstly, my brain was going a bit nuts – “Brr, it’s cold, it’s July, it’s not Christmas, is this an illusion? My brain, dear reader could simply not compute fresh cherries in the middle of winter. Then I saw the price – $9.95 – another shock, given I’ve never, ever seen cherries in Western Australia cheaper than say $15.00kg (and organic never less than $30.00) and for most of my life about 4 times that amount – this was special fruit, that usually was so expensive for most of my life that Santa left a few in our sacks. On closer inspection, they were from the U.S. And then the issue followed me, as I sat with Chris Taylor from Fraser’s restaurant, and Rachel Mc Sweeney from Masterchef (now working with Chris) as we sat on a panel about Restaurant vs Home Cooked meals, at the Mundaring Truffle Festival last weekend.

Kate Nelson put forth a meal she had recently (thus the dead of winter)  in our food rich, wine growing Margaret River area, where rather than be served the abundant fruits of the land, she was served raspberries – what did we think she asked? Poor Chris, as he felt that was fine given that many apples (and pears) at this time of the year, are now coming from a cool room. What about rhubarb, citrus,  dried or bottled fruits we suggested! What about Lime or Lemon Meringue I thought all excited !  My view was that we should be using what is available and seeing their beauty, rather than using imported frozen berries in our deep, dark winter? But, to be fair, I didn’t realize until later, that those berries may well have been frozen in summer by the people that served them, so I stand corrected!

The issue is this – here we are in what Jessica Prentice from her glorious book ” Full Moon Feast” would call, and has traditionally been known as the ” Hunger Moon”.  Now, it’s been a very, very long time since that actually has been the case in the more affluent countries, but come late winter and very early spring, there is very little left in the fruit world that is fresh –  similar for milk, meat and vegetables. We are disconnected from this natural cycle by the wealth of foods now available, and indeed the fact that it is a warmer climate here in Western Australia. But, even still I cannot get Lamb or Hogget for another few weeks, there is little West Australian goats cheese to be had, and no garlic.

This is the time of the year to reap the harvest of the hard work of summer – the bottling, drying and preserving. Now, I was going on to do a dessert that used dried fruit – and was planning a Dried Apricot Pie, or Sago Plum Pudding or Upside Down Buttermilk Cake with Jewell Fruits –  but was afraid you might yell ” oh, not another dessert Jude !!! Is that all you eat!!!!? “. I do love dessert, especially at this time of the year, but I restrained myself.

Thus I turned to the carrots you can see at the top of the page – they look like the kind of carrot that Hagrid (from Harry Potter) would grow. I was a bit suspicious of these carrots 4 weeks ago at the Subiaco Farmers Market, but given they were organic, and local (very few organic carrots in WA are actually from WA, but older ones from the East Coast – often sprouting) I bought some. Revelation – they were the sweetest carrots I have ever eaten, better than my own. This grower knew how to grow carrots. So yesterday at the market, these were the last he said, so I bought them all. With lunch to be made, and a vow to do it with what was on hand, I turned to Nigel Slaterand his book Tender –A cook and his vegetable patch. I adore this man and if only he lived in WAustralia rather than England. But I trust him, so I pretty well followed his recipe (you can read about that below) and served it with a simple fennel, celery and parsley salad with a sharp lemon dressing – a variation on this.  The fennel and celery were also from the farmers market and local, and the parsley was growing nuts in my rose pots. That is no place for parsley, so I pulled it up and am putting it to good use. For dessert, we did, dear reader, have dried organic apricot pie with cream. It made a wonderful lunch on a sunny but cold winters day.

Nigel Slater’s Carrot and Coriander Fritters 

Ingredients

handful spring onion greens, finely chopped
handful fresh corainder, roughly chopped
1 heaped tablespoon white spelt flour
grated cheddar – approx 2 – 3 tablespoons, I used a Vintage Cheddar
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
300 approx gram carrot, scrubbed and finely grated
1 clove garlic (I had literally, 1 left), finely grated
sour cream, 2 tablespoons
2 eggs
extra virgin olive oil for frying

This is my adaptation of Nigel’s recipe, using what I had on hand. I made approx 10 – 12 good size fritters. I chose to grate my carrots quite finely, and felt they had a softer texture than if I had used the larger grate. I threw in a huge handful of fresh coriander, and also spring onion greens finely chopped – but they were very fine and young. Nigel calls for 150 ml double cream, I felt that was excessive (as I was planning cream on the pie) and used only  a dollop of sour cream, and as I only had a sharp vintage cheddar in the fridge used that for the cheese. They were fabulous. He is a good man that Nigel.

Directions

Add spring onion, coriander, spelt flour, cheese, sea salt and pepper to a medium size bowl and mix together. Add the carrot and garlic and toss it through with your hands. Whisk the cream and eggs together, and stir through the carrot mix, until well combined.

Add enough oil to coat the base of a frypan well. When hot (but not at all rippling or smoking) drop approx 1/4 cup or large tablespoon into the oil – it should sizzle. Cook for approx 5 – 8 minutes before turning – I found they must be very well cooked and sealed before turning, otherwise they are too fragile. Turn and cook until golden another 5 or so minutes. Remove and drain on paper towel before serving.