I learned cooking by experimenting with my mother’s ‘guestimated’ amounts for a recipe – a pinch of coriander powder, a dash of turmeric, or roughly about a ¼ cup of coconut milk. This seemingly casual style of cooking taught me to taste and adjust for individual and overall flavors while preparing a dish.
I relied on this skill recently when wanting to use up some extra zucchini. I began by following a recipe from one of my go-to cookbook authors – Claudia Roden. A. noted that Roden’s Zucchini Fritters recipe, with its tangy feta cheese and aromatic dill, is a classic food from Turkey. However, without the two key ingredients, feta cheese and dill, I had to shop my refrigerator for equivalent tastes.
Although Roden’s unfussy recipes are precise, the flavors that are eked out from fresh ingredients are easy to replicate. Goat cheese is tangy and crumbly, and although not as strong as feta, the cheese effortlessly folds into the onion-zucchini mixture. The mixture holds together even when fried. Dill, on the other hand, has a distinct flavor, and so replicating its aromatic essence was key. Parsley proved to be a successful swap, providing the aromatics without competing with the mild taste of zucchini.
Onion – 1, chopped
Vegetable oil – 3+ tbsp for frying
Zucchini – 2 large, chopped
Eggs – 3
Flour – 3 tbsp
Pepper – 1 tsp
Parsley – 3-4 sprigs
Goat cheese – 7 oz
- Heat 1tbsp oil in a pan at medium heat.
- Add the shallots and sauté until lightly browned.
- Add the zucchini and sauté until crisply tender.
- Beat the eggs in a bowl. Add the flour and mix.
- Fold the zucchini-shallot mixture and cheese into the egg mixture.
- Heat a large skillet with enough oil to fry the mixture. Keep the oil at medium heat.
- Drop in 3-4 generous tablespoon of the mixture into the hot oil leaving enough space between each in the pan.
- Fry each side for 3 minutes without disturbing to check if done. Browning each side prevents them from disintegrating.
- Remove and drain the oil on kitchen paper. Makes about 8 fritters. Use immediately.
- If storing for later use, reheat the fritters when needed in the oven at 350°F.
- Can also be served as hors d’oeuvres with a dab of wasabi sauce and cooked tuna placed on top.
I would love to hear from you about your go-to cookbooks, and I hope to add them to my “Cook The Book” featured category. I would also like to hear about why a particular ingredient was swapped, and if it added or took away the original flavor.
Note: Zucchini Fritters adapted from Claudia Roden’s Arabesque: a taste of Morocco, Turkey, and Lebanon