And just like that it is spring! The change of season was more noticeable this year after the long cold winter, don’t you think? It seemed to literally change overnight. One day we were rugging up before heading outside, and the next we were shedding long sleeves to let the gentle warmth of the sun kiss our skin. As I sit here writing this, I glance out our kitchen window to see the magnolia tree growing through our veranda in full bloom. And beyond that new blossoms are bursting open every day in our small orchard. It brings excitement and anticipation for the summer fruit the trees will provide.
With the warmer weather a garden project we have been planning for years is now coming to fruition. Being situated in a valley, during the three months of winter our garden basically comes to a standstill. (Thank-goodness for hardworking local growers or we would have very little to eat.) For some time we have discussed building a glasshouse to provide a warmer zone to grow food through winter. The only catch is that the best location for the glasshouse is – you guessed it – right where the garlic and asparagus beds live. The garlic I can forgo for a season, but the asparagus… sigh. It takes many years to establish an asparagus bed and we are just at the point of getting a decent harvest after 4 years of virtually nothing. However, it is the only logical location with the best sun, and somewhat tucked away from playing children throwing balls. The only solution is to move the asparagus crowns, and hope for the best.
Of-course there were other less important plants that had to go including a patch of broad beans. As I was pulling them out I remembered how delicious the tips of the plants are. I often pinch them off when the flowers develop, I once read this tells the plant to put energy into growing beans rather than growing taller. Regardless of whether this works or not the tips are delicious, sweet and crunchy like pea tendrils. I usually toss them in a salad or lightly saute with a little ghee. But this time I decided to do something a little different and make fritters, similar to zucchini flower fritters that are battered and then shallow-fried. The result, a total winner! If you don’t have broad bean tips then small spinach leaves could be used or even young asparagus when it arrives at the markets any day now.
P.S. Homegrown Kitchen is a FINALIST!
I received some crazy exciting news this week, my little food blog is a finalist in the ‘Best Publication’ category of the prestigious Culinary Quill Awards. Other finalists in my category include Cuisine Magazine, Healthy Food Guide and Nourish Magazine, so as you can imagine I am a little overwhelmed with this news. Who would have thought my homegrown blog, written, styled and photographed just by me, would shape up to admirable publications like these! Winners announced in October so I will keep you posted, although I am not sure I will be quite so lucky to win – I’m just happy being a finalist!
To harvest broad bean tips simply pinch off the very tips of the plants, this is a combination of leaves and white flower buds. They are wonderfully sweet and crunchy. Recipe loosely based on Fried Zucchini Flowers from Mangiare Italiano by Maria Pia.
12-15 broad bean tips
approx. 1 cup olive oil or grapeseed oil
3 free-range egg whites
1/4 cup unbleached white flour (GF: use rice flour or GF flour mix)
1/4 cup tapioca (arrowroot) or potato flour
1 tablespoon finely chopped mint leaves
generous pinch of sea salt
- First pour the oil into a heavy-based shallow pan (I used a cast iron skillet) to come about 1cm up the sides. Turn the heat to moderate/ low and leave to slowly heat up while preparing the batter.
- Combine the batter ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine.
- Once the oil is hot (check by dropping in a little batter mix, it should lightly brown within 30 seconds). Dip a broad bean tip into the batter to thinly coat then carefully place it in the oil. Repeat with 4-5 more tips to fill the pan - don't overcrowd. After approx. 30 seconds, once the fritters are lightly golden on the bottom, flip over and cook the other side until golden. Use a slotted spoon to remove the tips (starting with the first tip that went into the pan), draining as much oil as possible then place on a paper towel lined plate. Cook the remaining tips.
- Serve immediately with lemon wedges and salt, for each person to flavour is desired. This is a true spring garden treat!
!Cooking with Olive Oil
We are often told not to use olive oil for cooking, and generally I don't. However there are a few instances where I would and they are always using a traditional technique as with this recipe. In times past olive oil was most certainly used to cook zucchini flower fritters, before refined vegetable oil even existed. Olive oil has a smoke point of around 180C, which is when the oil begins to oxidise and produce free-radicals. When a small amount is heated in a pan it can easily reach and exceed 180C. However, when a larger quantity of oil is used, such as when shallow frying using a low temperature, the quantity of the oil prevents it from reaching smoking point. With all that said, these fritters are rather high in fat so I would treat them as an occasional food. And of-course you could also use tallow or lard or any refined oil you have on hand.