Friday, 24 July 2015

Frittering it all away...

It's the school summer holidays and after a very busy few months for the grown-ups here, I've got a bit more time to fritter.

Literally. I've been making fritters.

Pea, mint and feta fritters.

When a neighbour asked if I'd like to come with her to a cookery demo at a local farm shop by vegetarian cook Rachel Demuth (of Demuth's Cookery School in Bath), it seemed the ideal treat for a few months of hard slog. I'm a lapsed vegetarian (read more of that here) who's still really a vegetarian at heart. I cook a lot of veggie stuff, but my repertoire dates from my conversion to vegetarianism in the 1980s - it was good to get more with it at the cookery evening.

The demo didn't disappoint. Rachel and her partner cooked up a veritable veggie feast: basil and pesto bruschetta, followed by pea, mint and feta fritters with tzatziki and local asparagus and toasted almond salad. For dessert we were served stawberries in mint and elderflower syrup. Not only that, but they also dished up lots of sensible advice about veggie cooking and eating - I really liked the pragmatic approach that took into account the benefits of using quality ingredients whilst also accepting that not many people can afford to use expensive ingredients all the time - lots of ideas were given for maximising flavours and saving costs. Rachel's partner is an expert forager so there was also much discussion about the use of foraged ingredients.

I haven't made the pesto yet, although I'm hoping for a more successful attempt than my last one here, but I have made the fritters twice (see recipe below) - they're scrummy, and gluten free as well as vegetarian.

I told a veggie friend about the evening and he recommended Rachel's cookery books - he has one from a few years ago and still uses it often - that's the sign of a good cookery book.

Pea, Mint and Feta fritters

100g fine yellow cornmeal (I could only find a quick cook polenta which seemed to do the trick)
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs separated
250g peas, podded weight
75g feta crumbled
2 spring onions, finely chopped

Handful of fresh mint
100 ml milk
Salt and black pepper 
Oil for frying (Rachel's a big fan of rapeseed oil)

Blanch the peas and mash them. Mix the cornmeal, baking powder, egg yolks and mashed peas, crumbled feta, spring onion and fresh mint. Add the milk and stir until it's a smooth paste. Season well.

Whisk the egg whites until fluffy and fold into the corn batter.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and drop balls of the batter into the pan - you can make any size. Fry until golden and set. (In fact my mixture was firm enough to roll into balls and flatten into fritters and fry.)

What not to do - Despite Rachel's mantra of doing things by hand, in the interests of speed I still went ahead and whizzed it up in a food blender the first time. Bad idea because everything becomes homogenised and you can't taste the feta!

Note: This is not a sponsored post. My neighbour and I went along of our own free will and paid with our own hard earned cash! All views are my own. I'd definitely go to another of Rachel's demos - the twenty minute suppers course would be right up my street.


  1. My attempts at gardening have not come to much yet - and the radishes have tasted ok- but there were only 5. Lots and lots of leaves though. I made a successful radish leaf pesto - using up some fairly inexpensive walnuts I had from Lidl. I dont eat cheese, so make it without - then stir grated cheese into Bob's portion of hot pasta. The sauce was a lovely green colour. Re the fritters- I did these with cottage cheese [I CAN digest that] and they were delicious.

    1. Your pesto sounds yummy! Rachel's top tip for nuts and seeds was to dry fry them briefly before using in a pesto, on salads etc because that releases the flavours more.

  2. Hi Sarah,
    What I liked about your evening and menu was the type of foods used, all items that could be homegrown or relatively inexpensive to buy.

    For fine-ground cornmeal, if you have a coffee grinder, you can also regrind regular cornmeal. A blender may be able to do this, as well.

    Since you brought up peas in the recipe, can I ask you what "mushy peas" are? Are they an English thing? Food trucks are big in our area and my son gets his lunch at work from a supposed "English" food truck, some days. He'll order fish and chips and it will come with a side of "mushy peas". I was asking if these were field, split peas or green peas, but he didn't know.

    1. I think mushy peas are made with marrow fat peas. (Hopefully other UK readers will correct me if I'm wrong!). They are a larger pea. I've only seen them in the dried version. Off the top of my head, I think they are made by soaking and boiling with bicarb of soda, and mushing. People are usually divided - either love 'em or hate 'em. Me, I love 'em! At home if I buy a tin, I have it all to myself as none of the rest of the family like them!

    2. A quick google search returns all sorts of mushy pea recipes but I think this will get you close to the sort found in a proper English chippy!
      It's grey, cold and rainy here today - just the weather for mushy peas - I think I'm going to have to go and buy a tin for supper!!

    3. Thanks for this. I just googled marrow fat peas, and they are different from both garden peas and green split peas. Also, wikipedia says that mushy peas are sometimes cooked with mint. I now recall my son mentioning mint in this dish. Very interesting. It's gray and cool here, today, too. But no sign of rain. This has been one of the driest summers on record for us. A good day to run my errands and bake some cookies for a weekend event.

      Have a great weekend, Sarah!

  3. They look lovely. I always have a box of whitworths quick soak mushy peas in the cupboard. They are delicious!

    1. I found a tin in my cupboard yesterday but I know the boxes you mean. Must stock up!

  4. I would have loved to have gone to this event with you. I have been looking around for cooking classes/evenings and am having a hard time finding anything very close. This is something that my husband and I want to do together.

    I noticed your word "scrummy" and it sounded a little funny to my American ears. We use the word scrumptous, but I've never heard it shortened to scrummy. Scrummy sounds a lot like crummy to me which I think is the exact opposite idea from using scrummy. Does all of that make sense to you?

    1. I think you would have enjoyed it - if you ever come this way I'll book us on a cookery demo! As for scrummy, I'm sure it's a well recognised shortening of scrumptious over here but now you've made me wonder if it's a bit 1980s, along with my vegetarian cooking style.