As you learn to cook it is smart to rely on recipes. Time tested and readily available, recipes make those first homecooked meals a bit more of a sure thing. However, to really learn and to really advance in confidence, the technique and the flavors are more crucial. I have always challenged myself (especially as of late) to get in the kitchen without a rubrick of components and amounts. Recently I’ve been helping a good friend in the kitchen and it has been fun to teach him a few of the basics. Rather than creating set dishes or specific recipes, we’ve been working on the development of flavor, texture, and appearance. One of the hardest parts about cooking for yourself is avoiding repitition and boredom. But by focusing on the process rather than a set of written instructions, the outcome is often more rewarding and more enjoyable over the long run.
I often design my dishes based off an ingredient or two. Last night was no exception. Ricotta, zucchini, and corn. I could not get these ingredients out of my head but I couldnt not figure out a suitable meal. I originally thought about a grilled flatbread of sorts. How amazing would that be! No grill, and an oven that heats up the apartment to whatever temperature it is set to eliminated this dish from the running. I was stumped. I wanted something different, something I had never made. And then it hit me. Zucchini, Corn, and Ricotta fritters! Here is where the challenge set in.
I knew I could find a recipe that would give me a good idea of how to get the right consistency but what is the fun in that? So instead I shredded the zucchini and removed some of the moisture using paper towels. Added some quickly sauteed corn and the fresh ricotta and went from there. Using an egg and flour/corn meal mixture to keep the mixture together, I pan fried these delicious fritters until a crispy golden brown. Next, what to serve these with. Creating a dish is all about complimenting your components. The whole should be greater than the sum of the parts.
Adding a crab salad of tomatos, jalapenos, red onion, jumbo lump crab, and fresh lime juice to the fritters proved to be the perfect compliment. In fact when eaten together, the crab salad and the fritters tasted like a new and improved crab cake. So did my attempt at creating something without a recipe work? Well I’ll admit, the fritters werent exactly the consisentsy I was hoping for. Maybe a cornmeal coating could have given them that extra crunch but the flavors were fantastic. And more importantly I enjoyed the process and learned something along the way. So next time your in the kitchen, see if you can break away from those old standby recipes and I bet you’ll discover a whole new excitement when it comes to cooking.