We had our first warm(ish) days of the year this past week, and everyone is soooo giddy!
Major collective cabin fever happening over here in Toronto and surrounding area. We feel so robbed- everyone else seems to be enjoying the Spring that we are practically crying for. So for the first time the other day, I saw ones in shorts and sandals as I walked down the street. The tulips are ready to pop open, and the tree buds are ready to burst open. And truly, it is about time.
And now rhubarb is becoming visible and common at the markets across the city. No matter how often I see those charming pink hued stalks, I will still get excited and will grab a bunch to bring home with me. I have no idea what I will be making with them, but I know the inspiration will come. After all the pies and crisps have run their course, I have to try out a chutney and a shrub as well. The cherry shrub I have made several times has been amazing, so I’m so curious to see how rhubarb will work out.
I was perusing the Spring Food and Drink magazine (the cooking magazine that our local wine and liquor stores here in Ontario carry) the other week, and came across a recipe for a lovely little dessert. In a bowl of honey scented kefir, rhubarb fritters are added and then drizzled with honey. I didn’t actually want to make the entire dessert, not because it doesn’t sound absolutely dreamy, but because I just wanted to make something to snack on.
Fritters, hush puppies, donuts, beignets, they are all variations of the same thing: a thick batter or dough that is fried in oil. The flavours and additions are endless. I will say, I don’t often deep fry. But when I do, I love it!! There is a flavour and texture that comes with deep frying that just can’t happen with baking. I know the healthier version is baking, and thus usually bake or roast most dishes. But every once in a while, frying must happen! Fried chicken and donuts, for example.
So I looked through the recipe. I had everything to try this one out. I was surprised to see that the main flour in the recipe is rice flour, as opposed to a wheat flour. Add cornstarch, baking powder, egg, milk and spices, and a thick, stiff batter is formed. I was wondering about this- it’s much stiffer than other fritter recipes I’ve tried in the past. Mind you, knowing that they are gluten free made me want to forge ahead. It’s not often I find a gluten free recipe for something fun that I am happy to try out. I had all the ingredients to make something gluten free! Yippee!
Obviously the main flavour would be chopped rhubarb. But instead of using ground coriander for the oomph as the recipe called for, I opted for anise seed. I crushed a tsp of the small licorice scented seeds in my mortar and pestle, and added it to the batter. I also decided on cinnamon and orange blossom water. All of these flavours work wonderfully against the rhubarb, and turned the fritter into something you may enjoy in ancient Bagdad with Aladdin and Jasmine!
These get spooned into 325F oil by using two tablespoons to scoop and drop. After about 2 minutes per side, I used my trusty spider to remove them to a paper towel lined plate. And then they got sprinkled with powdered sugar. And then I bit into one. The flavour was amazing. The rhubarb was perfect. And the texture was great. It is definitely a denser fritter than a hush puppy. But still, for it being gluten free, the texture was simply lovely.
This fritter should be served warm. The original recipe calls for a drizzle of honey. Obviously this would be lovely. But I wanted something that you can pick up with your hands, vs serving in a bowl and eating with a spoon. The recipe makes about 15-18 depending on how large of spoonfuls you grab from the batter. And they fry up so easily. Honestly from beginning to end, I was at this recipe for about 25 minutes. So these could be prepared while everyone is slowly waking up, and serve them as part of a brunch spread. Or make them after dinner and snack on them while watching tv. Trust me, these will get inhaled. And then you’ll have to go back and fry up another batch!! And isn’t it nice to have a fun little recipe to turn to when feeding someone who is gluten free?!
I’m so proud of myself that I sat down to write this down, and say hi to all of you. It was so gloomy and rainy this morning, that I seriously wanted to climb back into bed with the cats, and have a nap! But instead, I actually now have a small sense of satisfaction at being productive. Maybe I’ll go bake something now. Or go watch a movie! What do you do when the weather just says ‘Stay inside’?
Rhubarb Cardamom Fritters
A fun little gluten free deep fried unconventional 'donut' filled with chopped rhubarb, and scented with cardamom, anise seed and orange blossom water. A snack that even Aladdin and Jasmine would enjoy!
- 1 1/4 cups 310 ml rice flour
- 3 tbsp 45 ml potato starch
- 3 tbsp 45 ml granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 tsp 6 ml baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp 2 ml ground cardamom
- 1 tsp 4 ml anise seeds, crushed with a mortar and pestle or the back of a spoon in a small bowl.
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup 80 ml milk
- 1/8 tsp orange blossom water
- 3/4 cup 175 ml diced rhubarb, about 1/4 inch dice
- Canola oil or grape-seed oil for deep frying.
- 1/3 cup icing sugar for dusting the fried fritters
In a medium bowl whisk together the rice flour, potato starch, sugar, baking powder, salt and spices.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, and orange blossom water. Pour this over the dry ingredients and stir to combine. It will turn into a smooth stiff batter.
Fold in the rhubarb and set aside.
Bring a 2 inch depth (5 cm) of oil in a medium sized heavy bottomed pot to 325F (160C)
Using two spoons, drop scant tbsp (15 ml) of the batter one at a time into the oil. Do not overcrowd. I found that I could get around 4-5 depending on the size into one batch. This will also depend on the size of the pot.
Fry in batches for 2 minutes per side, flip and fry another 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon or spider onto a paper towel line plate.
Using a small sieve, dust the fritters with icing sugar.
Recipe inspired by Food and Drink magazine, Spring 2018