Well, we are back from Italy now, husband and wife, and I am well and truly back into the swing of cooking. I guess it doesn't take long when you've been away from the stoves for two weeks. I did miss it while I was in Italy, which I never really had before. I am usually more focussed on eating all the good pasta and pizza I can get my hands on. But this time round, we weren't staying in the convento for the duration so there was a lot of milling around, thinking of where we could go and eat. Part of me wanted just to buy a bag of pasta and some nice olive oil and go back to our hilltop chalet, but I resisted and as a result we had some beautiful meals.
Now though, we are going through a bit of a dry spell in Britain which means it does truly feel like summer *fist pump*. I know there are a lot of people complaining about the heat but we had a 7 month long winter, I am rejoicing in it. This is what summer should be like. I mean, yesterday was really humid so maybe an hour or so of rain every few days would be nice. Just to keep the grass green and the breeze cool. But I do love the heat. I would always rather be hot than cold.
One thing people always ask me, "Isn't it too hot to cook when it's hot outside?" When you're working in a small, professional kitchen for 6 hours of service, stoves lit all the time, yes it does get a bit much and with an open kitchen you worry about the visibility of your sweat stains to customers... but at home, not so much. I mean, I wouldn't slow roast anything in the summer and keep the oven on for hours on end. But making a nice dinner in about half an hour doesn't require that much heat in the grand scheme of things. If I'm really not feeling it, which does happen, theres always salad.
One of my favourite summer meals is sweetcorn fritters. They are like pillowy, savoury, zesty pancakes and they are incredibly more-ish. I love them. With a good salty cheese like halloumi or akkawi and a fresh pickle or chutney. The thing about these fritters is, I use tinned corn and fresh herbs, but the taste is so phenomenally fresh that you'd think everything was picked within hours. Go try it. I promise you will love it.
200g plain flour
1 tin sweetcorn (drained weight 285g)
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1 small punch coriander leaves, roughly chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
Olive oil for frying
Drain your tin of sweetcorn and keep the liquid, you might need it later. In a food processor, roughly blitz the sweetcorn, most of the coriander, spring onions, flour and bicarb together. If you are using a proper food processor I would pulse it rather than use the continuous setting. When it's mixed and clumpy, keep plusing and slowly drizzle in the eggs. You want to end up with a moist batter but nothing too runny. It should still have some body to it. If it's too dry, add a little of the sweetcorn water a spoonful at a time and keep pulsing. Fold in the salt and pepper.
Heat a frying pan with enough olive oil to make a thin film on the bottom of the pan. Spoon the mixture in, I used a dessert spoon and flattened it out slightly but you can make them as big or small as you like. When the edges on the bottom are nice and golden, flip the fritters and look for the same on the other side. Keep frying until the middle is cooked through.
When you have all of them, sprinkle over the rest of the coriander and serve. I served mine with akkawi cheese and quick pickled cucumber from The Great New Zealand Cookbook.