Fritter turns squash into a firm favorite

September 13, 1998|By Rob Kasper

I SEE MYSELF as a good friend of pancakes but only an acquaintance of squash. So when I found them together recently I was surprised

I liked the combination. They were called "squash fritters" on the menu of the Owl, a restaurant and motel I visited in Parksley, Va., on the Eastern Shore, about half an hour south of the Maryland-Virginia line on U.S. Route 13.

They were one of several side dishes that came with a plate of fried oysters. First I tasted the oysters, which were perfect. They had crisp crusts and moist, juicy centers. Then I tasted the spoon bread, which was soft and creamy. Then I ate the stewed tomatoes, which were delightfully sweet and dotted with bits of bread.

Finally I attacked the squash fritters. They looked more like pancakes with dark green flecks in them than golden brown fritters. They tasted heavenly, a magnificent mixture of light batter and fresh vegetables. I polished off two 4-inch pancakes and considered ordering a second helping, but I was getting full. Instead, I ordered dessert, a pleasing piece of coconut custard pie with a flaky crust.

When I got back to Baltimore, a table full of squash from my garden greeted me. I decided to replicate the dish I had enjoyed on the Eastern Shore.

I called John M. Roache, who, with his wife, Donna, operates the Owl. He told me the dish was "just something we whipped up a few years back."

Squash fritters seem to be a popular dish with "women and tourists," Roach said, explaining that most of his regular male customers tend to "stick to green beans."

Roache told me the squash fritters were made just like clam fritters. That night I tried a recipe for clam fritters, replacing the cup of chopped clams with a cup of grated summer squash. I cooked them in a skillet with an inch of olive oil.

My creations looked more like fried dough than the fluffy pancakes found at the Owl. So the next morning I called Roache back to get his suggestions. When I read the list of ingredients in my recipe to Roache, he told me to add "a pinch" of baking soda and a little vegetable oil and chopped onion to my dough. And he suggested that rather than cooking the mixture by surrounding it with oil, I should cook it on a lightly oiled surface, as if it were a pancake. So I am going to try again. They are that good.

Squash Fritters

Yields 6 (4-inch wide) cakes

1/4 cup oil

1 egg, beaten

2/3 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

1 cup squash, grated or finely chopped

1 teaspoon chopped onion

Combine oil, egg, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pepper; beat until well blended. Stir in squash and onions. Heat a lightly oiled skillet or griddle. Form dough into 4-inch pancakes and cook in skillet, flipping once, until centers are done, about 3 minutes per side.

Pub Date: 9/13/98

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