Happy Christmas everyone! Even if you don’t celebrate, or if you celebrate in other-than-traditional ways, I wish you all happiness and peace. I’d like to express how grateful I am for all your support this year. I’ve been surprised, over and over, by how many lovely people I’ve met through this blog, online and in person. I appreciate every kind comment, email and letter that comes my way – my life has been enriched so much by coming here and without you, naturally, I would have given up long ago so thank you! A thousand times, thank you.
I have a treat in store for you too. As if his apple fritters weren’t exciting enough, I have an interview with Tim of the marvellous blog Lottie and Doof.
From the deliciously minimalist layout to his urbane yet enthusiastic posts and the unabashedly calorie-laden offerings (who doesn’t love a man who knows his way around a vat of deep-frying oil?) Tim is a gem.
Though I’ve never met him in person, he has an immediately captivating voice; he is clearly artistic and of-the-moment yet simultaneously manages to exude a soothing old-world sort of gentlemanly charm which make even challenging recipes seem doable, after all.
He does do the occasional recipe for a meal but it’s clear his passion is baking and so I decided to make something sweet that he made himself, for his birthday. Please give it up for Tim!
Sweet, salty, sour or bitter or a combination, and if so which?
I like them all, but my favorite combination is sweet-salty. Sour I love too (vinegar is one of my favorite things). Bitter depends on the application, sometimes it is perfect.
Did you grow up in a food-centric household or did your interest in food develop independently of your upbringing? If the latter, do you remember why?
Nobody in my family liked to cook, but they all appreciated good food. The love of food came from my family, the love of making it came from me. I watched Julia Child a lot as a kid. I like to say that everything I learned, I learned from TV–which is almost true.
What’s your earliest food memory?
I remember having a hot dog I was enjoying stolen from me by our dog, Ralph. I was probably 5 years old and it was very upsetting.
The knife you use most often; brand and type?
Is this something people know? I have no idea. It is a chefs knife. My mom bought me a set. I think they are a popular brand. Sorry.
Are you a cook or baker? Why?
Mostly a baker, a cook to a lesser extent. I think cooking is harder than baking, and I don’t think I am very good at it. Baking satisfies me both in terms of the process and the final product. Also, you get more positive attention for baking.
Do you get hangry (dangerously irritable and irrational when hungry)?
Yes, ask my partner.
Any tips you follow to avoid the dreaded hangrrr or try and stave it off in others?
Eat often. Also, drink plenty of water. (I love that there are terms for this.)
Where was your favourite country food-wise to travel to?
Vive la France!
How many kitchens have you called your own and what was your favourite one like?
I’m on my 8th kitchen, believe it or not. I like the current one the best. It is the first one I have owned and it is nice being able to hang pot racks and shelves and the stuff you need to make a kitchen work. The kitchen is small, but very functional.
Bedside table – cookbooks, novels or something else?
There is a giant stack of cookbooks and food magazines next to my bed. I am always researching or reading about something related to food. There is also a glass of water.
What is one of the best things that has happened to you because of blogging?
This is a great question! It is really and truly the people I have come in contact with through this process. I have made good friends and been encouraged and inspired by so many people. If I had to pick just one thing, it would be a recent lunch with Dorie Greenspan. Amazing that the blog led me to meet one of the people who inspires me the most. And yes, she is every bit as lovely as I had imagined.
Have you had any scary stalker moments?
No! Does that happen? Oh, I hope it doesn’t happen.
What was the biggest learning curve for you as you developed as a blogger (ie: using the software, photography, styling, writing etc.)?
ALL. I had no idea what I was doing when I started. It has taken me a while to find my groove. I think all of these skills improve with practice and so the blog is a good format for practicing.
How do you handle people saying “oh, I’m scared to cook for you because you must have such high standards”? Do you have high standards or are you just happy someone wants to cook for you?
I don’t know if anyone is actually scared to cook for me. I think that cooking a meal for someone is so generous and wonderful that it makes the food taste good. Also, my friends are all pretty good cooks, so this hasn’t been a problem.
What’s one food/kitchen product/utensil you love but can’t get where you are?
I want copper cannele molds from France. I made the mistake of not buying them last time I was there and they are prohibitively expensive to order online. Next time.
When you blog, do you think of yourself primarily as a cook/baker, writer, photographer, stylist, a combination or something else?
I think of myself as a home cook who does that other stuff too.
Post squirrel, storing up posts for weeks (months!) to come or living on the edge and banging ‘em out as you go?
I wish I could store up posts, that would make life so much easier. I am not that organized and I get bored easily. On the rare occasion that I do something in advance, I often lose the inspiration to write about it. It all happens in (almost) real time for me.
Thanks Tim! I know you’ll stay awesome.
To dust the fritters
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Mix together in a bowl or a ziplock bag and set aside.
For the apple filling
30 grams (1/4 stick or 2 tablespoons) butter
450 grams (1 pound or about 3) apples (Tim and I both used Pink Lady), peeled, cored and cubed
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
125ml (1/2 cup) sparkling apple juice (I used Almdudler)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Melt the butter in a heavy frypan over medium and add the apples when it begins to froth. Sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon and cook about 10 minutes or until caramelly looking in spots, stirring occasionally.
Add the cider and vinegar and turn up the heat, cooking until the liquid evaporates.
For the batter
220 grams (1 and 3/4 cups) plain flour
110 grams (1/2 cup) sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
170 ml (2/3 cup) buttermilk
2 large eggs, separated
2 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
Pinch of salt
Plain flavoured oil (sunflower or corn for example) for deep-frying
Set up your workspace by lining an oven tray or several large plates with a double thickness of paper towels. Have a pair of tongs ready.
Start heating about 5 cm (2 inches) oil in a medium pot over medium heat to 165 celsius (330 fahrenheit). If you don’t have a thermometer, it should be ready when a cube of white bread dropped in browns in 15 seconds.
Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
Whisk the buttermilk, egg yolks and melted butter in another bowl and stir lightly into the dry ingredients in 3 batches. Do not overmix.
Beat the egg whites and salt in a scrupulously clean glass or copper bowl with a hand mixer on the whisk attachment until they form firm peaks.
Fold a third of the egg whites into the batter to loosen and then fold in the rest. Finally, fold in the apple filling.
Drop tablespoons-ful of batter into the hot oil and fry, turning once or twice, until deep golden brown. Depending on the size of your pan, you might get 4-6 in at a time, but don’t overcrowd.
Fish out with tongs and drain on the paper towels. Toss in the cinnamon sugar while still hot.
Allow the oil to come back to temperature (it will drop when you remove the last batch so don’t be tempted to add more right away) and repeat.
Tim says you can reheat in a 180 celsius (350 fahrenheit) oven for 5 minutes to reheat. I concur; I did it the next morning and they were even better – the sugar caramelised and they were chewier.