There is something luxuriously sedate about this Labor Day weekend. The Bay Bridge is closed, eliminating any car-bound folks from points east, and a large slice of the city’s population is away on varying weekend jaunts to warmer destinations. San Francisco is quiet right now; and it feels very much like the remote little island that it almost is.
I woke early with the good, calm feeling that comes at the start of a day dedicated entirely to the cooking of food and its consumption. At the market I asked where to find Dixie cups and the helpful young fellow would not believe that I was making sweet, old-fashioned popsicles and not jello shots. They didn’t carry any, officially – he disappeared into the back of the store and found me, ten minutes later, with a huge bag of cups outstretched as if in some offering to the certain debauchery he imagined.
We began with a rose spritzer that I like to think was inspired by the necessary improvisational spirit of the Depression: it was composed of five old but decent bottles of wine, some mint from the garden, and a lime. There was a crazy, dangerously tasty blue cheese dip that had to be hidden after a period. There were the simple corn fritters which were like some happy marriage of creamed corn and fried state fair food; savory turkey burgers and merguez sausages on the grill; and the horchata popsicles to finish.
1.5 c long grain white rice
2/3 c almonds
1/2 c sugar, or to taste
2 t cinnamon
1 t vanilla extract
approx 5 c water + 3 c milk (I used soymilk)
Traditionally, the rice, almonds and a cinnamon stick are soaked overnight in water. I didn’t have time for this, so instead I slowly brought all the ingredients to a very low boil, and let it simmer for about 20 minutes. Allowed it to cool in the fridge. Many recipes called for blending and straining – this produced an awful, gooey mess. Blending was completely unnecessary. Instead, simply strain the cooled mixture, and pour over ice. Horchata is so simple.
For the popsicles, a little fine-tuning will be needed. That much water produced a very icy finished product. Less water, and more of something creamier – coconut milk, basic cream, or a thick yogurt – will no doubt yield a lovelier popsicle.
Progress reports will be posted.
Corn Fritters with Chipotle Cream
3-4 ears sweet white corn
1/3 c milk
1/2 c cornmeal
1/4 c flour (approx)
1/2 t baking powder
2 green onions, finely chopped
generous salt + finely ground black pepper
1/2 c Greek yogurt (or sour cream, or creme fraiche)
chipotle hot sauce
This is adapted from Martha Stewart’s recipe and there were some changes. A lot of cornmeal and flour were added because it seemed too wet. The milk may not be necessary. And the addition of green onions + spicy yogurt sauce finished them nicely.
Boil corn, drain. Once cool, slice kernels from cob into large mixing bowl. Add egg, then fold in cornmeal, flour, baking soda, green onions. (Add the milk if you must.) Add generous quantities of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Meanwhile, heat a large frying pan over medium. When oil is hot, drop large spoonfuls of batter into pan and crisp both sides until brown.
For the cream: add hot sauce drop by drop to your liking. Super simple.