Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Cooking The Breakfast Book, Chapter 5: Fruit Fritters with Meyer Lemon Yogurt Dipping Sauce

Another cooking first under my belt thanks to my collaborative cooking projects: deep frying. Chapter 5 of my Cook the Book adventure was filled with all kinds of temptations, in the form of Doughnuts & Fritters. The Fruit Fritters recipe below caught my eye immediately, and in retrospect I think in my mind I was envisioning something more like an apple fritter. These fritters though, are superbly simple  just fresh fruit, battered and fried. Marion suggests powdering them with sugar, which I did because it looks nice, as well as serving them with a little bit of maple syrup. I actually found them demanding something a little lighter and different, thus the Meyer lemon dipping sauce addition. For all you other first-time-fryers out there, my message is straightforward: don't be afraid.

Fruit Fritters with Meyer Lemon Yogurt Dipping Sauce
Serves 6-8
Adapted from from The Breakfast Book by Marion Cunningham

1 egg, separated
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3/4 cup flat beer*
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
Any combination of the following fruits (or try something not listed here): apples, ripe and firm, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch slices; bananas, ripe and firm, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch slices; apricots or peaches, ripe and rather firm, peeled and pitted, cut into 1/2-inch slices; pineapple, rind removed, cut into 1/2-inch slices, 2 inches long
Lemon juice or sugar
Vegetable oil for frying

For sauce (my addition):
Plain yogurt
Meyer lemon zest

Blend the egg yolk, oil and beer in a blender, food processor, or bowl until thoroughly combined. Add the flour and salt and beat until smooth. Cover the container with plastic wrap and let rest for at least 1 hour.

Prepare the fruit according to above and taste. If anything lacks sweetness or tartness, sprinkle with sugar or lemon. (This step can also easily be skipped.)

Beat the egg white until it is stiff but moist, and fold it into the fritter batter once done resting.

Preheat oven to 250°. Heat approximately 1 1/2 cups of vegetable oil in a skillet to 370°. Gently pat each piece of fruit dry with a paper towel, and then dip in the batter until coated completely. Place a test piece in the hot oil. If the batter becomes dark brown within a few seconds, remove from heat and turn it down a little. Cook pieces about 20 seconds on each side, turning with a slotted spoon, and removing when golden.

Pat fritters dry of oil on paper towels and dust with confectioners' sugar. You can keep them warm in the oven as you fry the rest to serve. 

Don't worry if it takes a couple fritters to get the hang of it.

Mix plain yogurt with Meyer lemon zest to taste and serve as a dipping sauce to provide a nice flavor and texture contrast to the fritters.

* Cooking notes: This recipe requires flat beer, so you will want to open a can or bottle and leave it out, covered, overnight or for at least a few hours.

I found the fritters by themselves to be pretty rich and not something I would typically eat for breakfast. The addition of the citrusy yogurt sauce brightened the dish up considerably for me though.

Like most fried things, these are better when eaten immediately. I found the fritters that had rested in the oven had already become a wee bit soggy and felt more oily than those eaten right away. I would suggest serving these for an informal brunch where folks don't mind eating small batches fresh out of the frying pan.

In terms of the fruit mix, I went with peaches, pineapple and bananas. The boyfriend liked the peaches best and I think I leaned towards the pineapple. The bananas to me seemed like they should be served over vanilla ice cream as a dessert. Which they could be of course.

Although this was a lot easier than I anticipated, really I think I would have a bigger sense of deep frying accomplishment had I picked one of the doughnut recipes (like jelly doughnuts). Luckily, I have five cooking compatriots who have also been cooking from the same chapter. Be sure to go virtually savor their dishes too!

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