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Zucchini Rutabaga Cakes with Tomato Marmalade

Zucchini Rutabaga Cakes with Tomato Marmalade
 This post was a contribution to the venerable food web event "Is My Blog Burning?" (Anyone or anything in the foodblogosphere that's been around for more than a year is "venerable," possibly even ancient, and this baby is in its 18th month. Talk about venerable!) Each month, food bloggers all over the world blog on a specified theme for one day and some worthy volunteer hosts the event, which means defining the theme and then collecting all the links and posting a roundup of the contributions a few days later. No competition angle here, just good fun in the kitchen!

This month the host is Linda of At Our Table, and in her theme proclamation she announced: Summer's Flying, Let's Get Frying! Anything fried - deep fried, pan fried, or stir-fried - is therefore the name of this month's IMBB game.

"We're here, we're frying, get used to it."

The Epicurious food dictionary defines "fry" as "To cook food in hot fat over moderate to high heat." I've done my part here, with an attempt to bring together a suite of late-summer goodness in these zucchini-rutabaga pancakes with tomato-corn marmalade, but in sitting down to write out the recipe I've run up against a bit of a snag: we don't fry things anymore! Only sauté is allowed in the healthy kitchen of the new century. It's only a word, after all, and in my book (and in the Epicurious dictionary) sauté is just another word for fry, but for whatever reason I'm balking at writing the words "fry the cakes."

This delicacy is due, I think, to a couple of decades of efforts by the food police to convince us that we shouldn't eat fried foods (just Google the words "fried foods" to see pages of links to warnings of cancer and the general decline of civilization). Not that we've stopped frying: we've just switched to sautéing! It's odd, in a way, that this feeling, which came from the low-fat days Before Atkins, has lingered into the post-Atkins era, since fat is apparently good to the Atkinsites. Having it both ways, I guess, is the explanation here: going for low-carbs (which means fats can just ride on in) but at the same time watching the cholesterol meter, just in case. Ah, the knots we tie ourselves into just to fill our bellies and enjoy it at the same time!

"Deep-fry" is still okay, I guess because there's just no way to hide the fact that the food is floating in a vat of hot oil, but you rarely see deep-fried food featured in blogs....and "stir-fry" is okay, because tossing vegetables around in a well-seasoned wok that's probably been prepped with a spritz of vegetable oil spray sounds really healthy and almost fat-free.

There's just no denying that everyone loves fried food. (I had my annual serving of battered and deep-fried fresh clams the other day at Billy's Chowder House and loved every minute of it!) But having a web event to celebrate fried food seems somehow risqué, as if we were coming out of some kind of closet and forcing the world to look at what we are doing, furtively, secretly, in our kitchens, when we said we're sautéing food for our friends and family. We're FRYING UP DINNER in here, and there's NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT!

Ah, freedom!

It feels good to be out in the open with it: honest, unfettered, open for all to see. I'm still having twitches and pangs about admitting that I fried the little cakes, but I'm going to go ahead and say it, since today is FRY-DAY and no one can stand up to the power of foodbloggers united! Thank you Linda, for your visionary leadership and integrity!

Zucchini / Rutabaga Pancakes with Tomato / Corn Marmalade

Zucchini Rutabaga Cakes with Tomato MarmaladSince Elise loves the lowly rutabaga, I've been on a campaign over the past few years to find more roles for the yellow turnip in my cooking. This marriage of zucchini with cheese, onion, rutabaga, tomato and corn is the latest product of that effort.

2 medium zucchini
1/2 medium rutabaga (also called yellow turnip)
2 eggs
1/2 C vidalia onion, sliced thin, sliced halved
1 C gruyere cheese, shredded
1 C panko flakes
1/4 C fresh oregano, minced
salt, hot sauce to taste
oil for frying

1 lb fresh ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, chopped
2 tsp white sugar
2 T brown sugar
1/2 medium vidalia onion, chopped
1 T water
2" cinnamon stick
1 star anise, whole
1/2 tsp coriander seed, ground
1/2 tsp cumin seed, ground
olive oil
corn kernels, cooked, cut from 1/2 ear of corn
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1-1/2 tsp corn starch dissolved in 1 T cool water
salt, hot sauce to taste

Grate the zucchini and place in a colander. Mix in 1 tsp salt and allow to rest in the colander over a bowl for 30-60 minutes. Squeeze the zucchini as dry as possible.

Peel and cut the rutabaga into chunks about 1-1/2 - 2" across. Boil them in salted water until they just start to yield to a fork. Drain, cool, and shred.

Mix the zucchini, rutabaga, egg, onion, cheese, panko flakes and oregano. Correct seasoning.

Generously cover the bottom of a heavy frying pan with oil and heat until hot but not smoking. Use an ice-cream scoop to portion the pancake mixture, dropping the balls of mix into the pan with plenty of breathing room between them. Use a metal spatula to immediately flatten them into a pancake shape. Fry about 4 minutes on a side, until golden.

Drain on a rack and keep warm on another rack in a 200º oven while cooking subsequent batches.

To serve, top each cake with a dollop of the marmalade and then a dot of sour cream. Garnish with a sprig of fresh oregano or other herb.

In a large, heavy skillet, slowly sauté the onions, with the tablespoon of water and the white sugar, for about 8 minutes until starting to caramelize. Add the tomatoes, brown sugar, cinnamon, anise, cumin and coriander, lower heat and slowly cook for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally and adding a little water when necessary, until the tomatoes have completely broken down. Remove the cinnamon stick and star anise and discard.

Raise heat to medium, stir in the cornstarch mixture and cook for a minute or two to thicken. Add the vinegar and season to taste with salt and hot sauce. Stir in the corn.


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Yum! Those little cakes look great. I like the idea of tomato marmalade.


Excellent post on frying!

Hi Stephen, Great post. That combination looks REALLY good! OK, so I chickened out and stuck with a saute - confession done!

Atkins be damned! This is remarkable--and I can envision so many other possible pairings with the tomato marmalade!

As Shakespeare put it "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet".

Looks fabulous and I'm sure tastes just as good.

Hahaha! I really enjoyed your frying post! And those little cakes look really yummy...tomato marmalade sounds like the perfect pairing too :-)

I love this! Thanks so much for participating in IMBB. Great to have you on board for it!

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