Four months and nineteen days later

Mark Bittman’s version of Yotam Ottolenghi’s Leek and Cardamom fritter recipe, published in the New York Times Magazine, has been on my fridge since December 4th 2011. I don’t keep things on my fridge, period, so this should tell you something. Well, I guess it actually tells you two things. One, I don’t always get to the recipes that I mean to. And two, I really, really wanted to make those fritters!

In January I got close – I bought what I thought were all the ingredients, only to find that we were out of cardamom. I could probably have made do around any other missing ingredient, but that wasn’t going to fly. So the next week I bought a little packet of ground cardamom, but then we had a birthday brunch to host, and then I was doing a lot of bread baking, and then fritters started sounded really maybe more like mid-winter holiday food, while I was busy trying to force the arrival of spring.

Well, leeks are perfect spring food, and I should have remembered that sooner. Tonight, I finally made the fritters, sort of. The recipe was pretty heavily modified with the kids and my limited dinner prep time in mind, but I think it has the same heart. I am hanging on to the original recipe, and some day when we are having company I will make it as written, using the Thai chili and beating the egg white and probably making a sweet-spicy dipping sauce of some sort.

We added a couple of cups of diced sweet potato to make them into our main course and make them more kid-friendly. I didn’t increase the spices we used, so I imagine the original recipe has an even more explosive taste – but these had plenty of appealingly strong flavor. They were hearty, and had that certain something that makes you want more and more. Kyle also noted that they were surprisingly moist and tender for being fried. The leeks brought a nice, sweet, caramelized flavor. The mix of spices had us contemplating the flavor profile in the best kind of way (Kyle: “It’s kind of Indian tasting. Or kind of Moroccan maybe? Or maybe like latkes?” – now doesn’t that sound like something delicious, no matter what it may be?)

We dipped them in plain yogurt, which was nice. Jacob dipped them in ketchup, which was annoying, but he sees fried potato, and no matter what else is mixed with that fried potato, he thinks he needs ketchup. I guess I should just be thankful that he eats whatever we serve! :)   I thought we would have a few leftover and was looking forward to seeing if they would reheat for breakfast, but Kyle finished them. Next time.

(Ottolenghi’s book Plenty is terrific, by the way, but I am figuring you all know that and don’t need me to tell you!)

Sweet Potato, Leek, and Cardamom Fritters
Adapted from Mark Bittman’s version of Yotam Ottolenghi’s Leek-and-Cardamom Fritter recipe as it appeared in the New York Times Magazine, December 4th 2011

2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons butter
4 leeks, thickly sliced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups peeled and diced Hannah Yam (sweet potato)
2/3 cup fresh cilantro (leaves and fine stems), finely chopped
3 ounces mild goat cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup plain yogurt (not Greek – this is replacing milk, so I used the runnier kind of whole milk yogurt)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Additional canola oil for frying

Put the first two tablespoons of canola oil and the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Once it is hot, add the leeks. Cook, stirring, until they are softened, about ten minutes. Add the spices and continue to cook for five minutes more.

While that is cooking, mix the sweet potato, cilantro, goat cheese, and salt together in a large bowl. Once the leeks and spices are done cooking, pour them into the bowl and mix everything gently, until well combined.

In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, eggs and yogurt until combined. Add the melted butter, and mix until you have a very smooth batter. Gently fold the batter into the leek and sweet potato mixture.

Put about two tablespoons of oil into your skillet (use the same one) and heat over medium heat. Once it is hot, use a quarter cup measuring cup to scoop four pools of batter into your pan (like making pancakes). Cook until golden brown (a minute or two) then flip, and cook a couple minutes more until cooked through.

Drain on paper towels, and then eat warm (the original recipe suggests keeping them warm in a 200 degree oven while you cook the remaining fritters, but I just sent Kyle and the guys to the table with the first batch and then finished up cooking them – it didn’t take too long).

This made 12 fritters. We served them with plain yogurt, and found them to be well worth the four month and twenty day wait :)

4 thoughts on “Four months and nineteen days later

  1. Pingback: Leek Fritters with Cilantro Yogurt Sauce « emmycooks

  2. Thank you so much for inspiring me to make these! It was the cardamom in your post that intrigued me, but then I apparently forgot about that while I was cooking and used the turmeric that the recipe in Plenty calls for instead. They were great, and next time I am going to try this variation. If you do want a dipping sauce recipe, I loved the yogurt-and-cilantro one in the book; it would probably be especially amazing with your added sweet potatoes.

    Any chance you are coming to the BlogHer Food conference in Seattle in June? I just signed up (I’m in Seattle so it’s easy for me) and I was thinking about the fellow bloggers it would be fun to meet. :)

    • Hi Emmy! I am not coming to any conferences in Seattle, but we do make it up there from time to time (my mom grew up there). It would be fun to meet – I have started imagining your little girls as bizarro versions of my little boys :) The dipping sauce sounds terrific, I forgot that was in the book. And the cartoon on the fridge … well, hopefully you won’t need an updated version come November!

  3. p.s. Here’s the oldest thing on my fridge: a 2001 Matt Groening cartoon showing a pouting character locked in his room with his arms crossed, being asked from outside the door: “How many years are we going to have to listen to you whine that George W. Bush is a right-wing dimwit foisted on America in a blatantly stolen election?” The sullen answer: “4.” Boy, was THAT not funny when he got elected the second time. I think I should probably throw it away now.

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