Monday, February 23, 2009

Mardi Gras Fritters

It's Mardi Gras! Mardi Gras, i.e. Fat Tuesday, is celebrated in many countries worldwide. It's the last day of the Carnival extravaganza: people go wild, drink plenty and eat ultra rich. Fried foods are de rigueur. In France, we make beignets, made of fried dough or batter. Beignets actually go by many names, according to the region: bugnes near Lyon, bottereaux in the West (Bretagne, Vendée, Deux-Sèvres, where my family is from -my grand-mère makes delicious bottereaux), etc.

There are lots of savory options too. In Brazil, you can eat acarajé, black-eyed peas fritters. In Martinique, where Carnival is also celebrated in style, I remember making delicious breadfruit fritters, my inspiration for today's fried treat.

I wanted savory fritters just like these breadfruit fritters, i.e. not an item dipped in batter but, like potato latkes, or falafel: everything mixed together and fried.

I had leftover textured soy protein (TSP) from a trashy and delicious Tater Tots Casserole (thanks Shauna!), and it's what I used. TSP is a little disturbing at first, because it really looks and feels like ground meat, a little chewy. It takes exactly the taste that you give it. You DO have to give it a taste, with spices, tamari, onions, etc., orelse you end up with little sponges... I usually use it in vegan Bolognese or in hachis Parmentier. It a fun texture to play with.


I made my Mardi Gras fritters with TSP, onions, mushrooms and spices. It was both festive and tasty.

But before we proceed, here's a haïku, just for you.

winter is ending
Mardi Gras left us sated,
nice layer of lard

(I can't wait for Lent)


TSP mix:
1 cup dry TSP *
7/8 cup water (or, if you buy packaged TSP, as much as the label says)
1 onion, sliced
2 tbsp wheat-free tamari **
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
1/4 cup chopped spring onions (optional)
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp minced ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp caraway seeds (otional)
a pinch of Cayenne pepper

fritter mix
1 1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour
1 tsp arrow root or potato starch

+canola oil for frying

In a big bowl, mix 7/8 cups of water with 1 cup of TSP. Cover.

Slice onion and sauté with oil in a pan. If it sticks to the bottom, add 1 tsp tamari, or more. When the onion is translucent, add rehydrated TSP and the rest of the tamari. Mix. Cook for 5 minutes. Add mushrooms, spring onion, ginger, garlic, spices and sauté until cooked (minimum 15 minutes).

Cooked and sautéed TSP + friends

I ended up with about 2 cups of that mix.

Make the fritter mix: garbanzo flour + arrow root.
Mix flours and TSP and form a wet ball.

The raw stuff. I felt like Jeanne Dielman.

Make patties and throw in medium hot oil. When it's brown, it's done.

Cooked fritter and raw patty

* Suggestion: If you can't find TSP, use lentils instead.
** It doesn't have to be wheat-free, of course, but that way, you can make the whole recipe gluten-free.
suggestion: here, on a fresh spinach salad,
with a lemon-olive oil dressing sprinkled with homemade "bakin' bits".

Bon appétit! Bon Mardi-Gras!

Jeanne Dielman, making vegan Mardi-Gras fritters.

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