One evening last week, when we should have been having the Taco night chicken casserole but had forgotten to take the chicken out of the freezer, I came up with a really good pancake/fritter combination.
Once we'd realised about the chicken, obviously we set about trying to decide what to do next. We were all a bit "meh!" about having an emergency takeaway, so I spent some time mentally running through what we'd got in the cupboards - to see whether anything jumped out at me as being dinner material.
I reckoned the best place to start would be to look at what we'd got that was surplus to requirements, or about to go out of date. Unusually, we had quite a few odd bits of this and that lurking in the fridge - such as a pack of honey roast ham that had been overlooked in favour of a jar of hot dogs at the weekend and half a bag of salad leaves, from my desire to eat something other than chips with my lasagne.
We also had some cherry tomatoes - always got those in the fridge - along with some beetroot, red pepper and black olives. I had been intending on eating these things up over the course of a few lunches, but I knew I had several backup tins of soup in the cupboard, which will always do for lunch instead.
So we had the makings of a ham salad - but what carbohydrate to put with it? I was quite keen to make some jacket potatoes, but hubby wasn't so enthralled at that idea. He suggested buying some potato salad, but I wasn't so keen on that idea either as shop bought potato salad is ghastly and just not worth the effort. I knew we had some new potatoes in the fridge, but didn't really want to use them as I remembered they were earmarked for use later on in the week.
I then remembered the Gordon Ramsey's Sweetcorn Fritters that I'd made recently and how successful they were. We didn't have any sweetcorn in the cupboard or freezer, but we did have some carrots and three little dessicated mushrooms. I reckoned that with an onion and some curry spices, they might very well make a decent little fritter/pancake thing.
They weren't exactly in keeping with the ham salad, but then they weren't so wrong either. I mean, if we were to have gone down the pasta salad route, what's to say we wouldn't have made that with curry flavours? So long as they are gently flavoured, I thought they'd go fine.
And they did. Because of the mushroom (even though they were dried up and a bit dessicated) consisting largely of water, the fritters didn't really want to crisp in the pan - which is why I'm describing them more as pancakes. However, the flavours were lovely (I was so glad I'd decided to grate the onion and add the half a teaspoonful of ginger) and after a moment of "well, that's different!" from the menfolk, they decided that they really liked them!
So, on the whole, not a bad dinner considering it was cobbled together out of nothing!
Cook's notes : The "cup" of grated carrot was teacup sized - but feel free to add more or less, depending on a) how much batter you require and b) whether you like carrots or not!
The 100ml of milk is not precise. It all depends on how big your egg is, how juicy the carrots, etc. Don't fixate on the measurement of milk - just use that as a guide and add as much or as little as you need, to achieve the right consistency.
CURRIED CARROT & MUSHROOM PANCAKE FRITTERS (makes 9/10)
1 cup of grated carrot
1 small onion, grated
3 mushrooms, chopped finely
half a tsp finely minced ginger
a pinch of sea salt
a heaped teaspoonful of Madras curry powder
2 heaped tbsp plain flour
1 large egg
100ml approximately of milk
rapeseed oil for the pan.
1. Add the grated carrot, grated onion, chopped mushrooms, minced ginger, sea salt and curry powder to a large bowl. Stir to combine.
2. Add the flour and egg - and stir very well. Before the mixture is 100% combined, add a tablespoonful of the milk and continue to stir. Continue to add more milk until you have achieved a consistency somewhere between "dropping" and "thick cream". You need the mixture to spread across the pan with the back of a spoon - so not too thick or it will just stick. Equally, you don't want it to be running all over the pan, so not too liquid.
3. Heat a tablespoonful of oil in the pan and add a tablespoonful of the pancake batter mix, making sure to pick up a good amount of the veggies. Spread the blob out with the back of the spoon so that it is level all over and not so thick that it will take for ever to cook through. You should be able to fit three into an average sized frying pan.
4. Fry until the underside has picked up good colour and is golden brown - around 3-4 minutes. Gently flip the pancake over and press down gently with the spatula. Cook the other side until golden brown, then remove to a plate covered with kitchen paper in a warm place.