May 2009. It's a month before our wedding and I'm struggling to figure out what to serve to our vegan guests. The current menu is full of decadent carnivorous dishes: lobster and clams, bacon wrapped scallops and miniature crab cakes. A platter of grilled veggies for our vegan friends feels like a cop out... so I gather every resource I have (cookbooks, magazines, blogs) and scour each for ideas. After hours of searching, I come up empty.
Desperate, I send an e-mail to a blogger whose site I've been reading for a while. Her recipes have always been delightful and I think, "Heck, maybe she has some ideas". Within an hour, a response flutters into my mailbox... and it's loaded with suggestions. We go back and forth a bit, and, soon, she has guided me to a recipe for bulgar salad stuffed peppers (which, ultimately, gets raves from our guests). If I hadn't felt a bond to her already, this sure solidified things.
I'm not sure if Deb remembers this interaction (I have no doubt that she gets a number of inquiries each day), but it's one that I will never forget. I had the pleasure of meeting her in person in July at the Big Summer Potluck and we got to have some nice little chats over the course of the weekend.
Like most home cooks, I've been anticipating the release of her book for quite some time (how long has it been? It feels like she announced it eons ago). Well folks... The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook is finally here and it is just as magnificent as you would expect from something created by Deb. As soon as it arrived the other night, I marked the pages of every recipe I want to make (ok... maybe not every, because my copy would be full of Post It notes). I am a sucker for rugelach, so I can't wait to dig into her Chocolate Raspberry Rugelach. And the Vermouth Mussels with Oven Fries is totally calling my name. I know Eric won't mind if I spend the next few months cooking all of these. Right, Eric?
Since I have no patience, I immediately got to work and whipped up these leek fritters. They're served with a garlic and lemon sour cream sauce that is just magical. After I took pictures, I promptly devoured them (making me feel slightly guilty). They were wonderful and I'm planning on adding them to my Thanksgiving menu.
Ok... so, now that I've gone on and on, here's some fun news: The publishers of the book have very generously provided a copy for me to giveaway! Yup! That's right! You could have your very own copy of The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook (you can also purchase it, of course, though I know it's always fun to win things). Oh, and since I'll hopefully be seeing Deb when she comes to Boston, I will try to get it signed too.
Unlike most giveaways I do here, I'm going to open this up to everyone (not just US/Canadian residents)! Woo hoo!
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Official Rules: This is a worldwide giveaway. No purchase necessary. Giveaway will end on November 16th 2012 at 12:00 pm EST. One winner with a valid entry will be selected at random using random.org. The winner will be notified by email and will have 48 hours to claim their prize or another winner will be selected.
(adapted from Deb Perelman's The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook)
yields approximately 10, 2 1/2 inch round fritters.
Ingredients for the Pancakes
4 large leeks, pale green and white parts only
2 scallions, trimmed, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
Pinch of cayenne
2 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil, for frying
Ingredients for the Lemon and Garlic Sour Cream
1/2 cup sour cream
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Pinch freshly grated lemon zest
1. Fill a bowl with cold water. Cut the leeks in half lengthwise and plunge them in the water, fanning the layers to get rid of any grit. Once they are clean, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips.
2. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the leeks for 3 to 4 minutes, until they are softened but not limp.
3. While they are cooking, whisk together the flour, baking powder, a few grinds of black pepper, ginger, and cayenne.
4. Drain the leeks and dry in a towel or cheesecloth. Make sure to get rid of as much water as possible.
5. Transfer the leeks to a large mixing bowl and add scallions. Add the flour mixture to the leeks and toss to coat. Add the egg and stir until it is incorporated with the mixture.
6. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place in the oven. Heat the oven to 200 degrees.
7. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat until it begins to shimmer. Scoop heaping tablespoons of the batter into the skillet (I made 3 fritters at a time). Using a spatula, gently flatten the fritter. Cook for approximately 3 minutes, or until it is golden brown. If they are cooking too quickly, lower the heat. Flip fritters and cook until the other side is golden. Drain on paper towels and transfer to oven.
8. Repeat with remaining batter.
9. While they are in the oven, make the sour cream by whisking together all the ingredients and seasoning with a little salt.
10. Serve fritters immediately and top with a dollop of sour cream and a little additional lemon zest.