My Uncle Frank has always been very near and dear to my heart. He was the grandfather that I never had. He and his wife, my Aunt Fran; only live a couple of blocks from where my sister and I grew up. We were always at one another’s home, and they participated in everything that my sister and I did. So every year for Valentine’s Day we would bring something special over to my Aunt and Uncle’s home. Not for Valentine’s Day, but because it was my uncle’s birthday. I usually made him cookies or a cake to share with my Aunt, and also kept the tradition years later even when I moved away. I would mail him a box of anything that I conjured up in my kitchen…he would always tell me it was the best present he ever tasted.
But growing up, my sister and I loved to go over there to spend time with them. Every year on his birthday he would tell us that he brought my Aunt Fran flowers and hearts for Valentine’s Day. And every year my Aunt Fran would show me that he gave her a head of Cauliflower, and a can of Artichoke Hearts. My sister and I would giggle at this year after year, and years later when my husband learned of the tradition he exclaimed “Your Uncle Frank is a genius!” Needless to say Cauliflower and Artichoke Hearts (among many other things) are two things that will always make me think of him. It is wonderful to have these memories.
Very sad and true my Uncle Frank passed away unexpectedly in late February of last year. I will be making some Cauliflower and Artichoke Hearts in his honor; I will also have to bake something and send it to my Aunt Fran! So here is to you Uncle Frank- Hope you are having a Happy Birthday, I know you are watching over us all.
Cauliflower and Artichoke Heart Fritters
1 can of Artichoke Hearts; drained, dried well and squeezed with a bit
Cauliflower; cut into 1 – 2 bite size florets (about 1 ½ cups)
1 cup of Flour
1 tsp of Baking Powder
2 tsp of Sea Salt
Generous pinch of Cayenne Pepper
2/3 cup of Beer
1 egg (beaten)
Milk, about ¼ to ½ cup (to thin batter to desired consistency)
Vegetable or Peanut Oil, for frying
First; in a bowl whisk together your flour, baking powder, sea salt, and cayenne pepper. Whisk in the beer and egg – be careful because it may foam up. Whisk in the milk until it has the desired constancy you wish.
Next; heat about an inch of oil in a frying pan over medium heat. When you see oil heated (when it gets wavy ripples) carefully dip a pieces of cauliflower or artichokes hearts into your beer batter. Dip your coated veggies into your oil and let it sizzle. Never crowding the pan with too many at a time. Turn them occasionally.
Finally; when your veggies are all golden, remove them carefully from the oil and drain on a plate layered with paper towels. Work like this in batches until you have cooked up all of your veggies. Be sure to always keep an eye on your oil level as you might need to refill your frying pan.