These past two weeks I have been doing work experience at a café in Newtown. I chose Gather on the Green due to its sustainable and organic ethos. Additionally, their menu has an array of good quality vegetarian meals. I had a wonderful time there and learnt many tricks of the trade, one being to work efficiently in a very small space! Additionally, I was able to pick up a few vegetarian ideas to try at home.
One of my more regular tasks was to prepare an industrial sized batch of corn fritters and then cook them off. A very hot and sweaty job, resulting in hands that are now far hardier towards hot frypan handles than before. Despite it being a slightly painful job at times it was well worth it. The fritters were layered with wilted spinach, slabs of grilled haloumi and Gather’s homemade tomato relish. Apart from looking very effective on the plate, they were pretty popular and I knew that I had to try them at home.
You would think that after cooking thirty or so in the morning would put me off recreating the dish in the evening, but once I have an idea in my head I get antsy to try it out sooner rather than later. I used my own recipe for the fritters with one of the reasons being that I prefer besan flour – the fritters more substantial and it provides a better texture. Stacking them with haloumi incorporates protein into the meal and it is a dish that can largely be prepared ahead, making it suitable for hosting a dinner. Simply reheat the fritters and onion jam/tomato relish whilst grilling the haloumi.
Everyone was disappointed to discover that there were no left overs for lunch the next day – a pretty accurate indicator that they were popular!
Corn Fritter Stack
Makes 6 10cm diameter fritters. Serves 3.
50g besan (chickpea) flour
½ tsp baking powder
Pinch chilli powder
150g sweet corn kernels, either canned or cut from the cob
1 small red capsicum, deseeded and finely chopped
4 spring onions, white part only, finely chopped
Handful fresh coriander, finely chopped, plus another handful of leaves for garnish
Sunflower oil for frying
50g haloumi per person, cut into a rectangle approximately 8cm by 6cm and 0.5cm thick
1 cup baby spinach per person
Tomato relish/tomato onion jam
Sift flour, baking powder, salt, paprika and chilli powder into a bowl.
Make a well in the centre and crack in the egg with a little milk. Use a balloon whisk and slowly incorporate the flour into the egg.
Gradually add the rest of the milk, continuing to whisk in a circular motion until all flour is incorporated and the batter is smooth. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for at least thirty minutes.
Turn on oven to a low heat (to keep fritters warm whilst others are cooking).
Add sweet corn, capsicum, spring onions and coriander. Stir together until just combined.
Heat about a tablespoon of oil in a medium sized fry pan. Once shimmering, reduce heat and dollop a third of a cup of mixture into the pan to form a roughly circular patty. Repeat with another third of a cup – you should be able to cook at least two at once. Cook for about two minutes or until browned and firm on the bottom. Use a spatula to carefully flip over and cook a further two minutes.
Transfer to a plate covered in kitchen paper and keep warm in the oven. Continue the process until all of the batter is used up. Add a little more oil to the pan if necessary.
When on the last batch of fritters, wilt the spinach in another frying pan with a drop of boiling water and a good grind of black pepper and sea salt.
Once the last fritters have been cooked, tip out any remaining oil and return pan to a low heat. Cook haloumi for 1-2 minutes either side or until golden brown.
To serve, dollop spinach on the centre of a plate. Place a fritter on top, then the slice of haloumi, then a second fritter. Top with a good tablespoon (or however much you like) of relish/onion jam and then the fresh coriander leaves.
Source: A Taste Without Waste original (inspired by Gather on the Green café, Newtown, Australia).