Sunday, February 26, 2012

VEGETARIAN FOOD BLOG: SPINACH, RICOTTA AND RICE FRITTERS



Before we go any further with this fritter and patty party, an explanation of what defines each is useful.

Fritter mixture is wet. Sloppy. You can't use your hands to form balls with fritter batter. Imagine a very thick pancake batter, with vegetables and stuff bulking it out.

Patty mixture can still be quite moist. But importantly, you can use wet hands to form large round balls. You place them on a large plate, flatten them slightly, and place in fridge or freezer to firm-up before frying. Being cold keeps the patty in one piece when you fry it, especially when you flip it.

If you've only just stumbled across Billie Bites, here's some background: Billie grew a little fussy. On return from holiday we embarked on a fritter and patty frenzy. Suddenly, vegetables are back in her diet.

She loves cooking, and fritters and patties are perfect toddler fodder. Yes it does involve hot oil, so here's where I insert a disclaimer. However, Billie is very clear that pans on the stove are hot. We've never had any problems or any near-misses. I do of course watch her at all times around hot oil. Hey, those master chef kids had to start somewhere.

This is from the fritter camp. Next up, we'll demonstrate the difference with a patty recipe.

These numbers were a HUGE hit. Billie ate plate-loads. And she was a fabulous sous chef.

SPINACH, RICOTTA AND RICE FRITTERS


2/3 cup brown rice (makes 1 1/4 cooked rice, and can be prepared ahead)
Large bunch of English spinach 
1/2 cup grated cheddar
600g fresh ricotta (if at all possible, use the really fresh, firm stuff)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
freshly ground black pepper
just a little bit of salt
freshly grated nutmeg, or 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
handful fresh oregano (or basil, parsley if oregano not around)


Place rice in small pot with double the amount of cold water. Bring to boil with lid on, then turn right down to low and simmer with lid on until water absorbed. Don't stir, just lift lid occasionally and it will be obvious when water almost gone. Turn off and leave lid on for few minutes. Remove rice from pot and place in large bowl to cool.


Meanwhile, pick spinach leaves and wash. Drain, leaving a little water on the leaves. Place in large pot with lid, on medium heat. After a minute shake pot. After another minute lift lid and give quick stir. When just wilted, remove and chop spinach.


Add salt and pepper, nutmeg, spinach, cheddar and herbs to rice. Next add eggs, then ricotta. 


Heat a large heavy fry pan on medium with couple of spoons of oil - olive, rice bran or coconut are best. Once hot, turn down to low and dollop tablespoons of mixture into pan. The smaller the fritters, the quicker to cook. But if they are larger they will soak up a bit less oil. So depending on your priorities...With this recipe I found smaller to be better as the mixture is a slow cooker. 


Flipping rules: Avoid multiple flips. This encourages breakage. Instead gently try the edges with your flipper, and if it comes away easily and does not look about to break into pieces, your fritter is ready to be turned. Flip when solid. Patience is a virtue with these fritters, they don't like to be rushed.


Place on a large plate lined with newspaper to soak up any excess oil and serve as are. No sauce or chutney needed. (Yes, newspaper really works just as well as paper towels. But if you don't have newspaper lying around your kitchen because you read everything online, you may have to go out and buy paper towels.)


Where's the picture? Billie scoffed them all before I could reach for the camera.











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