I grew up in Boulder, which is at the foot of the mountains and the air is mostly like mountain air. My grandparents lived in Greeley, about 30 miles east of Boulder, which has plains air. I now live 10 miles east of where I grew up and the air here is plains air. Mountain air and plains air are very different. They smell different, feel different, move differently. Tonight as I walked our dog (a sentence I still can’t believe I say regularly) I walked past a house that had sprinklers on and someone smoking inside. I was hit by a wave of nostalgia, a memory of many summer evenings being a child at my beloved grandparents’ house in Greeley. It was the sound of the sprinklers, the feeling of the soft plains air at dusk, the smell of wet grass combined with cigarette smoke and fields not far away and cows somewhere in the distance. All that was missing was my sisters giggling with me while we somersaulted in our nighties and picked strawberries into yogurt containers and danced while Owl sang to us. And eating Cheezits in white bowls at the kitchen table with Boppa. And watching the news on that tiny black and white tv in the kitchen and then Bob Newhart. I don’t often dwell in the past but tonight, whoa Nelly, I am there with my whole heart.
Tonight I made these delicious fritters. We all liked them but couldn’t agree on a good name for them. I liked the simple/descriptive Smoked Salmon and Zucchini Fritters. My husband, who often calls foods “thing” or “stuff” thought they should be called Fish and Marrow Splats. My son, for reasons only understood by his 8 1/2 year-old boy brain, thought they should be called Kentucky Tits. My daughter had several suggestions that made her laugh hysterically. I thought maybe Smoky Summer Fritters, but seeing how I’m in Colorado I then thought that the “smoky” part might be misunderstood. So, in the spirit that a rose by any other name smells as sweet, here’s a recipe for a delicious, savory fritter/pancake/splat/tit (whatever that means) that uses some of your garden’s bounty.
Smoked Salmon and Zucchini Fritters (*a note about ingredients and substitutions below)
- 2 eggs
- 3 Tbs soft herb cheese (Rondele, Boursin, etc)
- 2 Tbs milk
- 1/2 c flour
- 1 cup packed grated zucchini (pack it in, you don’t want to be skimpy)
- 2 Tbs finely minced onion (you can use red or yellow or white or even green)
- 1-2 Tbs capers (we really like them in my house so I used 2 1/2 Tbs)
- 4 oz whole piece smoked salmon, shredded by hand
- freshly ground pepper
- olive oil for cooking
When the oil is hot put the batter into the pan, either by the teaspoon (for small fritters), tablespoon (for slightly bigger fritters), quarter cup (medium ones), or half cup (large ones) flattening the batter slightly.
Cook on one side until browned then carefully flip and cook on the other side until browned. Remove each one from the pan as it is done. You can either serve these hot, room temperature, or cold. They are great as a summer entree with a green or grain salad for dinner, with a cold yogurt cucumber sauce, with salsa, served cold as an appetizer, as a side dish for a heartier meal, etc.
*You can make these gluten-free by substituting rice flour for the wheat flour. You can add fresh herbs (dill, basil, parsley, cilantro) as you like. I use whole piece smoked salmon (not lox or nova) but you can use anything you like. If you don’t have smoked salmon but have leftover grilled, baked, or poached salmon use that. The fritters won’t be smoky but will still be delicious. If you use fresh (not smoked) salmon and/or leave out the capers you will need to add some salt. If you’ve got a bell pepper hanging around, mince some of that up and throw it in. If you don’t have herb cheese you can leave it out or substitute some shredded smoked provolone or cheddar or Swiss. I only ever buy extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, sunflower, oil, and safflower oil. The first two add distinct flavor to whatever I cook the last two are neutral. Try whatever oil you like. Experiment, enjoy.