French Fridays with Dorie
As I present these Zucchini Fritters with Tzadziki sauce there is now a creeping atmosphere of excitement among many of the bloggers over at “Camp Dorie” as summer begins to wind down and early-fall shows itself on the horizon. Usually this time of year, when my local drugstore puts out the Halloween costumes on the same day I bring home my first case of fresh peaches, I get pissed off. But not this time. This time I’m excited to see fall arrive.
The International Food Bloggers Conference ( IFBC ), held in Seattle each year, is only a month away and although the gathering is not an officially sanctioned French Fridays with Dorie event, many of my fellow Doristas (we who are cooking our way through Dorie Greenspan’s tome Around My French Table one recipe at a time ) will be in attendance – this Dorista included. Not only will this be the first time many of us have ever actually come face-to-face with another Dorista in the wild but it is also the first time that most of us will get face-to-face with a real, live Dorie Greenspan.
As luck will have it Mme Greenspan herself will be serving as the keynote speaker of the assembly and this has me absolutely beside myself with excitement in a way that somewhat surprises me. I’ve only seen a Dorie Greenspan on television once or twice and in her Baking with Dorie IOS app (available on iTunes .) The level of excitement I’m feeling at only the possible chance I might get to meet her and exchange a ‘hello’ is catching me off guard. It’s just not like me.
I’m really not all that much on being starstruck. Having grown up in or near Los Angeles most of my life I’ve come in contact with quite a few ‘notables’ and by and large the whole fame idea never felt like much to me. I’ve handed Frank Sinatra a sandwich (“thanks pal”) and I’ve ridden up in an elevator with Cher twice (“four please”). No big deal. I’m even closely related to more than one well known celebrity-type person and am friends (or at least friendly acquaintances) with several more.
Usually I find famous people a bit annoying and the thought of meeting them just doesn’t impress me much.
But Dorie? Um… this feels very different. This is the woman who has had more impact on my culinary life than any other woman save my mother. (Yes, even Julia.) She has informed my cooking, my writing, and even my friendships and those are all very powerful areas of my life. So, I fully predict that when and if the moment comes that I am within 30 feet of her I will suddenly transform into an incoherent (if not fully mute) hyperventilating mess. Should I even get close enough to eek out a ‘hello’ it will no doubt sound like a grunt or a stammer.
I have prepared myself for this by scripting an alternate reality that plays out a bit differently.
I will extend my hand graciously to Mme Greenspan and tell her what a pleasure it is to finally meet her and tell her how much fun it has been to cook my way through her book; what an inspiration her effortless and engaging writing style has been to me; and what an honor it is to finally get to say so to her face. Coherently. I will thank her for bringing Gerard’s Mustard Tart into my life and of course I will have to apologize for taking a dagger to her delicious Coeur a la Creme .
She will laugh and encourage me to engage further so I will even though throngs of her fans are still waiting to say hello. We’ll soon be exchanging knowing looks and shared secrets with each other such things as our favorite brands of pimente d’espellete. Then as she remembers that she must go back to the others she will invite my husband and I to join her and her husband Michael for a vermouth cocktail and some spicy Signature Nuts later in the evening. She never travels without a secret stash of these which is an amazing coincidence because neither do I! During cocktails I will ask her bout her son Joshua and gush on about about my pilgrimage to Beurre y Sel last spring and she will giggle and laugh at our funny stories about Margarita, our cat. (This is a fantasy, remember?)
As our cocktail gathering comes to its natural conclusion (“Gosh, where did the time go?”) Dorie will suggest we look them up the next time in we are in Paris…which by coincidence is only the next week! We do, and while my husband and Michael decide to go off looking at car shows and military museums, Dorie and I wander the Paris food markets to discover fun things to bring back with us and cook for dinner. Together. In her kitchen. In Paris. The same city where David Lebovitz lives.
“Really Trevor, anytime you and your darling husband are in town you really should just plan on staying here. Use your key.”
Doesn’t that sound so much better?
Zucchini Fritters with Tzatziki
It is no secret that I’ve not always been much at keeping pace with the rest of the Doristas each week so I was happy to see that this week was a “Make Up Friday” where anything missed previously could be posted. For my part I didn’t have to go back very far to find a recipe I had still to create: Tzatziki. You know things are pretty crazy with life if you can’t find the few minutes required to make this delicious Greek condiment most often used as a sauce for gyros and kebabs.
Apparently it is now finding its way onto French tables, Dorie’s included, as a sauce for sandwiches, tartines, and even as a dressing for fresh vegetables and salads. A dollop of this stuff on a few slices of tomatoes given to us by a friend was the culinary highlight of my week. Just sayin’.
I show it here with some traditionally prepared zucchini fritters as this end-of-summer-fall-is-on-the-horizon season also means we are at that part of the year when our neighbors and friends begin to realize they can’t possibly eat all the zucchini they are growing and begin to beg and plead with us to take some of it off their hands.
We do…er, did, and this delicious lunch was the result. I think I may make some up for Dorie the next time w’re all together in Paris.
Grate both the cucumber and zucchini at the same time as each needs to drain for 30 minutes. Then, while the tzatziki is waiting and chilling in the refrigerator you can start in on the fritters. Do as Dorie suggests and try your tzatziki on sliced tomatoes or as a dip for cut veggies or as a condiment with any grilled meat
This is what you will need:
- 2 cups greek yogurt
- 1 cup coarsely grated cucumber, seedless
- 2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
- 1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, split, germ removed and minced
- 2 Tbs minced fresh dill
- 2 Tbs minced fresh mint
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups grated zucchini
- 1/2 cup grated potato
- kosher salt
- 1/2 tablespoon flour
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon chopped chives
- 1 tablespoon chopped mint
- zest of one lemon
- 1/4 cup chopped white onion
- 1 or 2 tablespoons unsalted butter for frying
This is how you make it:
- Coarsely grate cucumber and put into a small bowl and add ½ teaspoon salt and mix well. Let it sit for 30 minutes to let the water seep out. Drain it well and squeeze out as much remaining water as you can. Add the yogurt to the bowl and mix in the rest of the ingredients, check for seasonings. Cover and keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
- Please the zucchini and potato in a bowl and sprinkle with salt. Let sit for 30 minutes to let the moisture drain out. Squeeze out all of the remaining moisture by wrapping the zucchini and potato in paper towels and squeezing again. Removing moisture is critical so blot with more paper towels if necessary. Open up paper towel and dust the veggies with the flour to get at more of the moisture.
- In a bowl, whisk together the egg, herbs, and lemon zest. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add onion and grated zucchini potato mixture and stir well.
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees and place a foil lined cookie sheet in the oven.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and melt 1 tablespoon of butter . When the foam subsides drop a large spoonful of batter into the pan and use the back of the spoon to flatten and even out the shape of the fritters. The flatter the fritter the crispier it will get.
- You can cook about 3 or 4 fritters at a time depending on the size of your pan. Cook until each side is golden brown and just showing 'burn'. Place fritters in the oven while you finish cooking the batter.
- Serve as soon as possible with the tzatziki.
For another great zucchini-yogurt combination please check out this post over at yogurtmaker.ca I wrote as part of their Thought Leader series. Zucchini yogurt soup is another great way to show off this winning flavor combination!