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Corn Fritters with Smoked Salmon Crème Fraîche (and a delicious vegetarian alternative)

Corn Fritters with Smoked Salmon Créme Fraiche

With the start of Lent last week I find so many around me abstaining from meat, either every day until Easter or, as is more traditional among my Catholic friends, on Fridays.  And, while I still think it a little odd this sacrifice doesn’t typically include fish (let alone chicken stock or beans made with ham hock) I recognize we each show reverence in our own way.

With this in mind, I’m adding a new offering for the Lenten season: Fish for Fridays.  Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t consider a wonderful vegetarian meal.  But I eat seafood, usually a few times a week, and know how truly delicious it is.  However, as this is the first of my Lenten series (and I didn’t even get it up on Friday), I will include an absolutely amazing vegetarian alternative.

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Last week we made a soup that called for crème fraîche as a garnish.  But, as we didn’t use all of it and I always feel so guilty about letting food (let alone anything as delish as crème fraîche) go to waste, I searched for a way to use the remaining portion.  In my search of the abundantly wide web, I found an interesting recipe from Bon Appétit for Double-Corn Fritters with Dungeness Crab Crème Fraîche.

While these directions seemed promising, the comments indicated that the dish was probably bland.  What’s more, Kirk found out last year that he has an allergy to most shellfish, ergo crab is no longer welcome at our home.  Moreover, it’s often so difficult to find truly delicious crab and it’s so terrifically easy to pick up incredible smoked salmon that I adapted the original dish to Corn Fritters with Smoked Salmon Crème Fraîche.

It’s a wonderful little plate that would be a dandy lunch entrée accompanied by a soup or salad or, perhaps even better, a delectable first course.  The corn cakes can be made up to two days ahead of time and the topping the day before.  (What’s better than starting a dinner party with a dish you just have to heat and assemble, especially if it’s a notably impressive one, such as this?)

Of course, as I envisioned the gathering of friends where I would, as the picture of a perfect hostess, place perfect plates with scrumptious bites in front of each of my guests, I realized half of those dear guests would have an empty spot because they simply do not eat seafood.  Thus the need for an equally fancy, yet simple to prepare, vegetarian alternative arose.  The panacea, which uses the same corn cakes is Corn Fritters with Olive and Roasted Pepper Fresh Ricotta.  Also an amazing dish!

Corn Fritters with Ricotta with Olives and Roasted Red Peppers

To be sure, there must be limitless alternatives for corn cake toppings.  (Mine truthfully arose because I had this amazing fresh ricotta and I used that as a jumping off point.)  I’d love to hear your ideas on other toppings.  The corn cakes are made nearly entirely of pantry staples and could easily be adapted to a bite-sized hors d’oeuvre.

Corn Fritters with Smoked Salmon Crème Fraîche

As mentioned above, the recipe from which this dish is adapted was criticized for being too bland.  I’ve added a tad more salt to the fritters and reworked the Crème Fraîche.  However, I think the addition of a small amount of fresh jalapeños would add a zesty zing to the dish.  Or, if using the fritters as a foundation for a Southwestern topping, even an abundance of pickled jalapeños would be welcome.

Yield: makes about 2 dozen fritters, enough for eight first course or luncheon portions

Credits: recipe adapted from Bon Appétit, October 2005, as published at Epicurious

Ingredients

Fritters

  • 2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 2/3 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels (defrosted if frozen)
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
  • Oil for frying

Crème Fraîche

  • 8 ounces smoked salmon, diced (Cambridge Oaks Smoked Salmon recommended)
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives, plus additional for garnish
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

Directions

For fritters:

Mix first 5 ingredients in medium bowl. Whisk buttermilk and egg in small bowl to blend. Stir egg mixture into dry ingredients, then stir in corn kernels, onion, and bell pepper (do not overmix).

Pour enough oil into large skillet so that bottom is covered and 1/8 to 1/4 inch is standing in pan. Heat oil over medium heat. Working in batches, drop 1 scant tablespoon batter for each fritter into hot skillet; spread each to 2-inch round. Fry until golden, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to towel-lined baking sheet and blot to remove excess oil.  Add additional oil to skillet between batches as needed.  Oil should come to at least half-way the depth of the fritters.

For crème fraîche:

Place salmon in medium bowl. Fold in crème fraîche, 1/4 cup chives, pepper, and cayenne. Season with salt.

Arrange warm fritters on platter. Top with salmon mixture and garnish with additional chives.

Notes

Fritters can be made ahead. Let stand at room temperature up to 2 hours or cover and chill up to two nights. To reheat, bake uncovered in 350°F oven until heated through, 6 to 8 minutes.  Transfer to towel lined plate and blot to remove excess oil.

Créme fraîche can be made up to one day ahead. Cover; chill overnight. Stir before using.

Corn Fritters with Olive and Roasted Pepper Fresh Ricotta

Ingredients

Fritters

  • 2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 2/3 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels (defrosted if frozen)
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
  • Oil for frying

Ricotta

  • 1/2 cup fresh ricotta cheese
  • 1/8 cup finely chopped fresh chives, plus additional for garnish
  • 3 tablespoons kalamata olives, chopped
  • 1 jarred roasted red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/8 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

Directions

For fritters:

Mix first 5 ingredients in medium bowl. Whisk buttermilk and egg in small bowl to blend. Stir egg mixture into dry ingredients, then stir in corn kernels, onion, and bell pepper (do not overmix).

Pour enough oil into large skillet so that bottom is covered and 1/8 to 1/4 inch is standing in pan. Heat oil over medium heat. Working in batches, drop 1 scant tablespoon batter for each fritter into hot skillet; spread each to 2-inch round. Fry until golden, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to towel-lined baking sheet and blot to remove excess oil.  Add additional oil to skillet between batches as needed.  Oil should come to at least half-way the depth of the fritters.

For ricotta:

Place all ingredients in bowl. Gently mix together.  Season with salt and pepper.

Arrange warm fritters on platter. Top with ricotta mixture and garnish with additional chives.

Notes

Fritters can be made ahead. Let stand at room temperature up to 2 hours or cover and chill up to two nights. To reheat, bake uncovered in 350°F oven until heated through, 6 to 8 minutes.  Transfer to towel lined plate and blot to remove excess oil.

Ricotta can be made up to one day ahead. Cover; chill overnight. Stir before using.

Images copyright of Jennifer R. Vickers, T-Bones and Tofu.

Salmon Corn Cakes

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3 comments on “Corn Fritters with Smoked Salmon Crème Fraîche (and a delicious vegetarian alternative)

  1. Lorien
    February 23, 2010 at 1:41 am #

    The veggie alternative to this made me drool at work. Especially since I’ve been sick and living off soup for weeks now. I think this might just have to be my welcome back to the land of solid food meal. Thanks for another awesome post! By the by, this post also got me feeling all sentimental because I gave up meat (in all its forms) for Lent 10 years ago, and have been a good vegetarian (though not as good a Catholic) ever since.

    • jennifervickers
      February 24, 2010 at 11:58 pm #

      It’s interesting that it just took 40 days for you to change your dietary ways forever. Feel better! But just incase, I’ll try to get a yummy soup recipe up for you soon.

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