Although I promised myselve that this year I would not have posted on sundays and birthdays (yes, mine, today!), I just had to make an exception for this Donna Hay Day, hosted by Milk and cookies . I must say italians aren’t that familiar with Donna (at least for now), but I am: she’s the author of the first cookbook I ever bought. I was at university then, and it must have been something like 8 years ago (oh my god am I really getting that old?). Anyway, since then I’ve spent quite some hours cooking Donna’s recipies and, most of all, just staring at her beautifull work. An other good reason to go for it could be that I’m also the proud translator of Donna’s Instant Cook, in italian. So well, could I imagine not to participate? Nope, I couldn’t! So, it hasn’t been easy at all but here I am with my fritters for Donna.
First problem: What on earth is a fritter??!
Well I did say this challenge wasn’t easy… For those of you who don’t know, I’m belgian and I live in Italy. Not that it’s important or anything but, well, strangely, in none of belgian, french or italian cooking, there is such a thing as a fritter (well maybe there is but anyway I never got to see one). Now, of course, I saw the pictures and I read the recipies so I could conclude that a fritter is a kind of thick pancake, though it really makes me think more of a savoury plum cake fried in oil. (Does this make any sense?) Anyway, no kidding, cooking something that your own mind never conceived before isn’t exactly a piece of cake…
Second problem: The recipe ??
I must say this was the easier part: I clumb on the sofa with a cup of tea and the three Donna Hay books I posses and I just looked them over again. And indeed, there where some fritter recipies in there (I suppose I unconsciously just passed those by in the past). In The Instant Cook I found some vegetable fritters that didn’t look bad at all, but there is actually no way to find parschnip in Rome so I just had to forget about those. In Entertaining I found a corn and pumpkin fritter- yummie – but it was turning over the pages of Flavors that I finally saw the light: A bacon and cheddar fritter with balsamic oignons. That was definitely the one.
Third problem: Fritters… all’italiana??
Since I’m in Italy and I also do believe Donna doesn’t mind for italian tastes ( from her books you would say she doesn’t), I decided to make the whole thing a little more italiano. So I replaced the bacon with prosciutto and the cheddar (that I wouldn’t have found around anyway) with Asiago cheese. I used the younger, softer version, not that it has a particular taste – it almost hasn’t – but that was actually a great idea, the cheese melting beautifully inside the dough. I would also advice to try these fritters with some not too aged pecorino toscano. Then at the end I added some basil and a bit of aragula on top but kept the oignons just the way they were. Oh yes, I wanted some nice thick fritters so I’ve put less milk and more flour into the original dough. So there you go:
Prosciutto and Asiago cheese fritters with balsamico onions.
for the fritters:
baking powder 2 tsp
Asiago cheese 50g
butter, melted 85g
prosciutto di Parma 5 slices
fresh basil leaves, chopped 3 tbsp
salt & pepper
for the balsamico onions:
red onions 4
balsamico vinaiger 10cl
chicken stock 20cl
fresh thym leaves 2 tbsp
brown sugar 2 tbsp
Sift the flour together with the baking powder. Whisk the eggs with the milk and the melted butter and foild in the flour. Add the grated montasio cheese and the chopped prosciutto, basil, salt and pepper. Fry 2 tbsp of this dough at a time in a non stick pan for about 3 minutes each side, at low heat.
For the balsamico onions: Slice the onions thickly and put them in a pan with a dash of olive oil, the chicken stock, balsamico vinegar, thym, sugar, salt and pepper. Bring to boil, cover and let simmer over low heat for about half an hour or untill the onions are soft. Serve the fritters topped with the onions and some aragula on the side. Serves 4.