Okay, is there anything more summery than corn fritters? The sweet corn in the market right now is amazing- plump, crunchy, sooo sweet. There is so much to enjoy about it all on its own, but to this corn I am adding a bunch of crab, jalapenos, Old Bay, and cayenne, and I’m serving them up with a not modest amount of avocado dip. Because, avocados. This could be the official dish of summer and California. I’ll admit, things start feeling a little rich after the fourteenth or fifteenth one. Cold beer or a well-chilled glass of lemonade can help.
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After a year of pondering the whys behind all of our official food holidays, I have decided that on days like today I am just glad to have an excuse to add these to the table. Whoever came up with National Corn Fritter Day, be it a council or a marketing agency or some guy who really digs fried food, I thank you wholeheartedly. Not that I needed that much of an excuse, but I’m glad I had one.

Spicy Corn and Crab Fritters with Avocado Dip

For the fritters:

3 c. of fresh sweet corn (3 ears)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
1 egg
3/4 cup 2% milk
4 oz. lump crab meat
1 green onion, green part removed, chopped
Peanut oil, enough to make fill a medium pot 3″ deep

Remove the corn from the cob. Pour the olive oil into a pan set over medium-high heat and saute the corn and jalapeno, stirring often. Once the corn is cooked to crisp-tender, remove from the heat and allow to cool a little.
In a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, and spices. Make a well in the center, pour in the egg and milk, and whisk until a smooth batter forms. Add the corn, crab meat and green onion and fold carefully so as not to break down the lumps of crab.

In a medium pot, heat the oil to 365F. Carefully drop ping pong ball-sized spoonfuls into the oil. Be cautious not to overcrowd the pot. Turn each fritter over after about three minutes, or once the submerged side becomes deep golden in color.
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Remove the fritters from the oil and place on a paper towel-lined plate. Sprinkle with salt.

For the dip:

4 small (or two large) ripe avocados
1 garlic clove
1/4 cup sour cream
2-4 tsp fresh lemon juice
Pinch salt
A dash of Tabasco sauce

Place all of the ingredients in bowl of a food processor and pulse until smooth.

Eat with reckless abandon.
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I bake something nearly every day, which I love and am thankful for, but whenever I can bake something that is not sweet I am even that much more joyful.

Today is National Zucchini Bread Day. I really enjoy the tried and true cakey version, but I think there is room for interpretation today. Try these soft and cheesy, zucchini-rich little scones (they count as a bread, don’t they?), and celebrate a food holiday whose existence I cannot exactly explain, but am loving anyway.

Triple Cheese- Zucchini Drop Scones

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
Pinch coarse black pepper
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
4 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1/3 cup whole milk
1/3 cup quark (or plain Greek yogurt)
3/4 cup zucchini, shredded
1/4 cup each shredded cheddar, gouda, and parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 425F.
Sift the dry ingredients together and place in a medium bowl. Add the chilled butter and rub into the flour mixture to create small flakes.
Whisk together the quark and milk. Squeeze as much moisture from the shredded zucchini as you can and add to the milk mixture. Stir well to break up any lumps. Pour the mixture into the dry ingredients and toss together lightly, breaking up any big lumps as they develop. Add the cheeses and mix lightly until the dough forms a loose ball. Using a big spoon or rubber spatula, drop eight tangerine-sized lumps of dough onto a parchment-line sheet pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes.
Remove the plastic and bake for 16-18 minutes, or until the scones are evenly golden. Serve hot.

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Pfeffernusse, just like I don’t remember them…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My memories of nibbling countless pfeffernusse in my childhood kitchen are strong, and according to my mother, totally false. I have mentioned before that it was not uncommon to wake up in the morning to the scent of freshly baked cookies. On nights when she just wasn’t ready for sleep, Mom would bake a little something while the rest of the family slept. In my memory, pfeffernusse cookies were on that counter, alongside lebkuchen, chocolate chip, or whatever else she had a craving to make. So when I asked her about these particular cookies and her late-night baking habits, ┬áMom gently replied, “Nope Honey, never made those. I promise.”

Uhhh. Okay.
I’m going to look up false memories on a few psychology websites. You, however, should really make these. Pfeffernusse, or “pepper nuts” are one of my all-time favorite cookies. These wee little guys are meant to be nibbled slowly- they have a biscotti-like crunch and a powerful amount of warm spices that keep your tongue tingling long after they are eaten. My version is just a teeny bit boozy, since the cookie and the glaze have a little brandy mixed in, too.

Pfeffernusse

2 large eggs

1 Tbsp brandy

1 tsp instant coffee (I use Starbucks)

2 tsp grated orange zest

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup sugar

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup whole-wheat all-purpose flour

1/8 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp cloves

1/2 tsp cardamom

1/4 tsp very finely ground black pepper

2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 cup very finely chopped candied orange peel

 

Glaze

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

2 Tbsp water

1 Tbsp brandy

 

Beat the eggs and both sugars on high speed until very light. Add the brandy, coffee, and orange zest, and mix well. Sift the flours, baking powder, salt, and all the spices together. add to the egg mixture, and mix on low speed until just combined.

Scoop into teaspoon-sized balls and place on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Lightly cover each baking sheet with a cotton towel and allow to dry for a minimum of four hours (or overnight).

Preheat the oven to 325F. Uncover the baking sheets and bake until lightly golden, about 18 minutes.

Sift the powdered sugar, then whisk together with the water and brandy. Set aside.

Once the cookies are cool, dip each in the glaze and place on a drying rack. When they are dry, sprinkle with a little powdered sugar.

Eat with reckless holiday abandon.