Why do we choose to cook the things we do, when we do? Most of the time, it is simply so we can eat what we really fancy; a subconscious response to a constantly fluctuating state of mind and appetite that’s influenced by mood, season, weather, memory, occasion, outside events and internal feelings.
Ed Smith helps his readers home in on their cravings (whatever the reason for them) by organizing his recipes within six cleverly conceived flavor profiles: fresh and fragrant chili and heat tart and sour curried and spiced rich and savory; and (best of all?) cheesy and creamy. There’s also a directory of alternative cravings at the back, providing additional ways in. All bases are covered, from snacks through sides, to main courses and desserts.
Think of fermented and fresh tomato salad with feta for when both sun and cook are already smiling; or lamb chops with cacio e pepe white beans if in need of a re-set; the likes of ‘nduja spatchcock chicken, should a tickle of chili be in order; or curried brisket noodles to meet spice needs. Whether we want snap and crunch or velvet softness, sharp citrus or warming aromatics, or just something involving bubbling, molten cheese, CRAVE presents a fresh take on seasonal cooking, but goes beyond that too – acknowledging core instincts and base itches, and so delivering recipes you’ll want to make every day of the week, whatever the weather or mood.
Ricotta fritters with coconut and makrut lime chocolate sauce
This is a twist on Italian bombolini (ricotta doughnuts), using flavours from elsewhere to add an aromatic punch – coconut, makrut lime leaves, lime zest and cinnamon. Even if you’re not accustomed to deep-frying they make for an easy and memorable finish to a meal.
The sauce requires coconut cream, which is typically listed as including around 70–80% coconut solids (so not ‘milk’, ‘light milk’, ‘creamed coconut’ or ‘water’). The quantity made will be more than you need, but in this instance, I think it’s better to have too much than too little; use any excess as you would Nutella (e.g. on pancakes), or reheat then dilute to make a spiced-coconut hot chocolate.
2 large eggs
Finely grated zest 1 lime
120g (41⁄4oz) caster (superfine) sugar
250g (9oz) strained ricotta
80g (23⁄4oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp flaky sea salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
For the sauce
300ml (1¼ cups + 1 tbsp) coconut cream (ideally 80% coconut solids)
12 fresh makrut lime leaves
100g (3½oz) dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), broken into small pieces
4 tsp golden caster (superfine) sugar
½ tsp flaky sea salt, plus more to garnish
Put the eggs in a mixing bowl and quickly beat them with a whisk, then whisk in the lime zest and two-thirds of the sugar. Using a large spoon or spatula, stir in the ricotta (it should look like lumpy wallpaper paste).
In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Fold this into the ricotta mix, again using the spoon or spatula. Cover and refrigerate the batter until required (anywhere between 1 and 12 hours is fine). If the mixture splits over that time just beat it together again.
Meanwhile, put the coconut cream and makrut lime leaves in a small saucepan over a low– medium heat until the cream reaches a moderate simmer (try to avoid it boiling). Reduce the heat to as low as possible for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat and leave to infuse for an hour.
Return the saucepan to a low–medium heat. When a few small bubbles appear, pick out the lime leaves and add the chocolate and sugar. Wait for 30 seconds then encourage the chocolate to melt into the cream, stirring until you have a smooth and silky sauce. Add the salt, stir again and leave somewhere warm until required. You can do this in advance – refrigerate then gently reheat shortly before you need it, serving the sauce slightly above room temperature for optimum viscosity.
When ready to eat, combine the cinnamon and the remaining sugar in a bowl or small roasting tray. Line a second bowl or tray with a paper towel.
Set a deep-fat fryer to 160°C/350°F (if you don’t have a deep-fat fryer, fill a saucepan 5–7cm/2–2¾in deep with a neutral cooking oil and heat to the same temperature), then drop
1 dessertspoonful (about the size of a walnut) of batter into the saucepan. Fry for 3½–4 minutes, ensuring both sides are golden. Cut the fritter in half to check the inside is cooked (it should be soft but still cooked all the way through, not molten), then adjust the cooking time accordingly. Fry the remaining mix in two to three batches to fit your fryer or pan.
Transfer each batch of fritters to the paper-lined bowl or tray to absorb most of the oil, then roll them in the cinnamon sugar.
Serve as soon as the final batch has been dusted, with the sauce either in little dipping pots, in puddles on a plate, or with it drizzled lavishly over the fritters, plus a few flakes of salt.
Reprinted with permission from Hardie Grant Books.