CAULIFLOWER, CHEESE AND SESAME SEED FRITTERS

FRITTI FRITTI FRITTI!!! Fritti are a catch-all phrase in Italian for small fried bits of anything. Fritters if you will. In parts of Southern Italy like Naples and Sicily there’s a huge FRITTI culture. A street food phenom at feasts, events, and small shops known as FRIGGITORIE where all types of local fried foods like fish, seafood, breads, doughs, vegetables, croquettes, etc. are sold in little cones to take away. The most famous of these Fritti are Arancini (riceballs), Fritto Misto, the famous small fried fish and seafood and vegetable mix, Potato Croquettes, Chick Pea Fritters (Panelle), Zeppole, Sfingi, the list goes on. There’s lots of crossover between Sicilian and Napoletana foods because they were at one time part of the same country (before unification of the Italian state in the mid 1800’s). Using the basic fritti batter as a base I created a Sicilian based FRITTI using steamed Cauliflower florets, mint, Caciocavallo cheese, sesame seeds. The result was a taste of SICILIA without the airfare and packing. Takes about 1/2 hour-45 minutes and one head of cauliflower makes enough fritti for 4-6 people. GREAT for parties. They can be made ahead of time and reheated in a hot oven on sheet pans, but truly taste the best after they are first made. I spend so much time pouring over Classic regional recipes, pulling from my own family’s cooking, from my Travels and that’s how I create my dishes. Some are classic traditional, others are created using the regional building blocks of ingredients that naturally go together.

FRITTI DI CAVOLOFIORE ( VRUOCULI), CACIOCAVALLO E GIUGIULENA CON MENTA

CAULIFLOWER, CACIOCAVALLO AND SESAME SEED FRITTERS WITH MINT

(MINT SHOWS UP OFTEN IN SICILIAN CUISINE)

1 LARGE HEAD OF CAULIFLOWER, RINSED WELL, DRIED WITH A PAPER TOWEL AND BROKEN DOWN INTO FLORETS

2 LARGE EGGS, BEATEN WELL

2 TBS. WHOLE MILK

1/2 TEASPOON KOSHER OR SEA SALT plus more for finishing

1 1/2 CUPS SIFTED SELF RISING FLOUR

3 TABLESPOONS GRATED CACIOCAVALLO OR PECORINO CHEESE

1 1/2 TSP FINELY MINCED FRESH MINT

3 TBS. SESAME SEEDS

1/2 TSP GROUND BLACK PEPPER

PEANUT/VEGETABLE OIL FOR FRYING

IN a heavy large high sided pot or skillet ( I like cast iron) heat 2 inches of oil to 375 degrees F.

While that is happening, set up a station with a sheet pan triple lined with paper towels or single lined with brown paper bags.

In a large bowl, add the dry ingredients except 1 tbs of flour. Then add all the liquid ingredients and beat together to form a batter. Should be the consistency of a thick pancake batter. Use more milk to thin it if too thick SLOWLY, add a little, beat..continue till you get to the right consistency. Toss the tbs of flour over the Cauliflower florets. Then drop them into the batter then in batches drop them into the hot oil after it’s reached the 375 mark or when a tester dancers and splatters when it hits the oil. Using wooden sticks or heatproof tongs make sure both sides are golden brown before you remove the fritti. They should puff up somewhat and be nice and crisp on the outside, sort of fluffy on the inside around the cauliflower. Takes about 6 minutes per batch. DO NOT OVERCROWD!!!!!!!! Take your time!!! As they come out of the fryer place on the blotting trays to drain. Sprinkle with some sea salt. Continue till done.

Where’s the dipping sauce??? Italian tradition, usually there is no dipping sauces for these Fritti. ItalianAmerican? If you must dip…a homemade Marinara works OR some whipped ricotta blended with a little honey and black pepper. You’ll thank me for that one.

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