I slept until 9.30 today, I spent about four hours reading a book and then another two cleaning up party debris. This all means that my Christmas break isn’t over yet* and it is perfectly acceptable for me to write about food I had over the holidays. I hope. Because that is exactly what I am going to do. If you hang on till the end, there’s a recipe for tasty apple fritters in it for you.
*It also means I’ve just told you party mess hangs around my house for days on end. Yeah. I am quick like that.
So, the round-up:
Christmas Day 1
Egg nog (quite tasty- might try my hand at making this next year)
Edible gift: Brown butter brown sugar cookies (burned and inedible)
Christmas Day 2
Spiced rice-beef meatballs and mini chicken b’stilla
Chicken salad, mackerel roll-ups, chili-cheese cookies and feta filo-fingers
New Year’s Eve
Nibbles provided by friends
Pate with cranberry sauce
Slow-roasted leg of lamb with garlic and ratatouille, meat balls in tomato sauce, Caesar’s salad, grilled zucchini with mint oil and pine nuts, lentil salad, baked roseval potato slices, bread and herb butter
Chocolate-raspberry pavlova and apple crisp
Currant “donuts” (oliebollen) and apple fritters
Fish platters with potato salad (North Sea shrimp, smoked eel, pickled mussels, anchovies)
“Deviled” eggs (sour cream and sour cream/ smoked salmon)
Smoked salmon pinwheels
Raw herring with minced onions
Oliebollen and apple fritters
Oliebollen and apple fritters are a New Year’s must-eat. It’s probably something to do with ringing in the new year with rich, sweet things. (And a suspected 300 calories per bite) But for me it is not about that: it is about memories. Ever since I can remember, my father and, when he was old enough, my brother would go to my paternal grandparents’ house on 31 December and come back with big bowls of oliebollen. My mom and I would then take a batch of the freshly baked oliebollen to my maternal grandparents’ house and get a big platter of apple fritters in return.
The oliebollen were never a favorite of mine. They are quite tasty hot and crispy, straight from the sizzling oil. When they’ve sat around for a couple of hours, though, they become a bit soft and their inner blandness comes out. Nothing a good shake of powdered sugar can’t hide, but nothing fantastic, either. Apple fritters are a different story. They are good just out of the pan, but even better when they have had a bit of time to relax. You get a nice, soft layer of batter and a tangy-sweet bite of apple inside. Lovely.
In my mind, the apple fritters are inextricably linked to my mom’s dad, who used to make them for us. It is impossible to bite into one and not remember the way I felt on our 31 December drive to my grandparents’ house. I would be excited- my favorite meal of the year was only hours away. I would feel like a provider, entrusted with important task of bringing home the sweets (yes, I was just riding shotgun to my mom, but how is that relevant?). And, if I am completely honest, I would be a little anxious too. Would we get enough fritters to last us through the night? We always did.
My grandfather died a few years ago and now I am in charge of making the apple fritters. I make them because it would not be New Year’s Eve without them. But more than that, I make them as a tribute. To my grandfather, who gave me so many wonderful 31st of Decembers.
Apple Fritters, 2008 version
This year’s apple fritter recipe was adapted from this website. I liked the cinnamon taste, but the milk based batter gives them a cakey consistency I am not crazy about. Next year, I am going back to beer as my liquid of choice.
Makes 80- 100 fritters
¾ cup of castor sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
20 tart apples
600 gr self-raising flour
600 ml of milk
¼ cup of vanilla sugar
pinch of salt
oil for frying
powdered sugar for sprinkling
Mix the castor sugar with the cinnamon. Peel apples, core them and slice into four or five slices per apple. Layer the apples in a bowl, sprinkling a good amount of the sugar-cinnamon mixture between each layer. Leave for a few hours to macerate.
When you are ready for frying, heat the oil to 180 degrees Celsius in a deep fat fryer. Mix the self-raising flour with the milk, beating out as many lumps as you can (but don’t worry if a few remain). Mix in the vanilla sugar and the salt, and then the eggs.
Set up your work station: Put the bowl with the apples, the bowl with your batter and plenty of paper towels next to your fryer. Grab a fork and dip the apple rings into the batter and then put them in the oil. You can fry more than one slice at a time, but make sure the temperature of your oil doesn’t drop too much. If it does, wait for it to heat back up before putting in more apple slices.
After two or three minutes, the apple slices will have golden brown bottoms. Flip them and give them another three minutes until golden all over. Line a plate with paper towels and transfer your apple fritters to the plate when they are done. Repeat until all apple slices have been used, building a nice stack of apple fritters with paper towels between the layers to absorb excess oil.
Fritters can be served hot or cold, and are best sprinkled with powdered sugar before eating. They keep for at least a day at room temperature, probably two.