Quarantine cooking: Corn fritters turn pantry staples into easy dinner

Challenge yourself to use up whatever you have in your pantry before hitting the grocery store

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I see you there, digging through your pantry, sweatpants on, unsure of what day it is. You are all of us right now. You are immune from judgment. We're all in this together, and I know a lot of us are running out of food ideas.

In good times and bad, I like to take stock of my pantry and make a list of five weekday dinner options that make use of what I have on hand. It's a fun exercise for me, and it ensures that at the end of a long workday, I don't have to think of something to cook, I can just pick from a list.

Now that weekdays have been revealed as simply a social construct, I just have a really long list of meal ideas and an eagle eye on my pantry. I usually cook through my stress, and this time has been no different. Cooking is one thing I can control and execute beautifully, no matter what's happening in the world, as long as I have access to food. Feeding myself and my family something homemade, and somewhat nutritious, makes a huge difference in our ability to tolerate stress and boredom as a result of social distancing. In this way, not going to the grocery store as often becomes a challenge to see what you can make with what you've got.

There have been so many great pantry-raid recipes circulating on social media, in this newspaper, on YouTube, etc.; here is mine. I studied a few corn fritter recipes to develop this one, which uses just one egg and other simple ingredients you probably have. If you don't have fresh herbs, skip them. If you want to use other spices, go for it. If you want to replace the cornmeal with more flour, do it up. And hang in there.

CORN FRITTERS

Makes 8-10 fritters

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups corn (can use frozen, fresh or canned)

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1 cup flour

1/2 cup cornmeal

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp onion powder

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1/2 tsp paprika

3/4 tsp baking powder

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

Black pepper to taste

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1/2 cup chopped cilantro (or whatever herb you have)

1 egg

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk

2 to 5 tablespoons vegetable oil for frying

DIRECTIONS:

If using frozen corn, microwave until warm. If canned, drain corn thoroughly.

Mix dry ingredients first: cornmeal, flour, salt, onion powder, paprika, baking powder. Add garlic and black pepper, then egg and 1/2 cup milk until batter is around the consistency of paste. If mixture is too thick, add additional milk 1 tablespoon at a time. Add cilantro and corn, and stir until combined.

Heat flat-bottom pan to medium-high and add enough oil to fully coat the pan. Once pan is hot, use a wooden spoon to place about a golf ball's worth of batter into the hot pan. Let batter take whatever form it wants in the pan; it will end up as a flat fritter with a little rise thanks to the baking powder. Fry 4 to 5 minutes each side, or until golden brown. Enjoy with any condiment you happen to have — we made honey mustard and a feta spread with additional cilantro, and both were excellent accoutrements.


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