I'm forcing myself to post today. It's like a zen exercise. I'm doing it to keep my brain busy, and to force out all the accumulated suffering I've been absorbing from the earthquake drama since Monday at dawn. The relief machine is picking up momentum, the shakes continue (always stronger at night, I can't make out why) and I go on, counting my blessings and thankful for being here, all in one piece. I crave sleep, but I must be vigil. Needless to say I can't wait for that mini vacation.
The only way I'm able to wind down in the meantime is by cooking. Weird.
And since I've been feeding on comfort broth for the past two days, today I felt like making something totally unwholesome, unPC and deep-fried. I'm sure your livers will all forgive me for that.
Ready for sinful? Read on. And hopefully you'll replete like I have with my debauched shrimp and zucchini frittelle, Italian for fritters.
This 30-minute wonder is perfect antipasto fare. Put a batch of it on a platter along with morsels of ribbony mozzarella in carrozza, some crisp fried zucchini blossoms, a handful of French fries or fried artichoke hearts, and you've got yourself a lovely Frittura Mista; Italian for 'assorted deep-fried goodies.'
2 zucchini (I like to use the ribbed romanesche), julienned into matchsticks
1 garlic clove, halved
1 tbsp unbleached flour
1 tbsp cornstarch (aka cornflour or Maizena)
100 g (1/2 cup) arugula leaves
100 g (1/2 cup) dandelion greens (save the flowers too, they're edible)
Extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic or apple cider vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
In another skillet, sauté the shrimp tails in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the other half clove of garlic. Do this for no more than one minute; fish the shrimp tails out and rest them on a paper towel. Then coarsely chop and set aside.
In a mixing bowl, mix 1 egg into the flour and cornstarch. Beat in the other eggs one at a time, add the chopped shrimp tails, the prepared squash (or zucchini), adjust seasoning and mix well to blend. Refrigerate for 20 minutes while you uncork the ice-cold vino.
Heat about 1/2 cup of olive oil in a large frying pan, when it is piping hot, drop in 2 or 3 tablespoon-sized dollops of the blend at a time, and fry in small batches for 2-3 minutes on each side. Park the fritters briefly on a paper towel to absorb grease, while you plate the salad bed.
Scatter the arugula and the rest of the greens on a wide platter, dress with a thread of olive oil and your vinegar of choice. Toss and garnish with the fritters and a handful of edible blossoms, like for example dandelions, violets and cowslips. Voilà, frittelle.
Many of you kindly offered solidarity to those dramatically affected by Sunday's earthquake in Abruzzo. In the hours immediately after the first shock, I was unable to provide that information. If you are still interested in contributing, however, here are a few useful places to visit:
Thank you for your touching words of comfort and concern in the past few days. I have treasured them immensely. Much more than you imagine.