Sunday, May 20, 2018

Dandelion, Poppy Seed and Lemon Fritters

Rick and I have been stepping up our foraging game this year, and dandelions is one of those well-known wild edibles that we keep putting on the back burner. They usually come up at about the same time morels do and because we're usually so keyed in to mushroom hunting this time of year, everything is forgotten. Morel hunting requires lots of concentration!

However, this year was different. With our late spring, the morels have been taking their sweet time. It's early May and we are just finding our first morels of the season. In previous years, the morel season usually ends around Mother's Day. In just a couple short weeks, we've experimented with nettles, garlic mustard, dandelions and ramps. It's been so fun! It's amazing how much there is to eat in the wild if you take the time to learn about them. 


Dandelions can be found just about anywhere and they are as recognizable as cats, so I won't say too much about ID. The flowers, stems and leaves are edible. When picking any wild edible, make sure you're doing so in an area that is not sprayed. And stay away from busy roadsides where exhaust and fumes from vehicles can contaminate them. 

Dandelion flowers smell pleasantly sweet, with a light chamomile-like aroma. They're quite lovely, considering that most people hate them. Dandelions are also good for bees and other pollinators because they come up before most other spring flowers. If you can stomach it, try to allow them to grow in your yard. 

The leaves keep really well in a zip-top bag that's slightly open with a damp paper towel inside. The flowers, on the other hand, will begin to deteriorate soon after you pick them. The flowers close up and the petals quickly lose their body and vibrancy. After a whole day of foraging, they looked ragged by the time that we got home. Plus, we couldn't eat them right away. But as sorry as they looked, the flavor was still good. We decided to make these fritters, so looks didn't matter much. If you plan on using them in a salad or in a recipe where presentation is important, I would try to keep them as cool as possible and get them home to use soon after.


Servings: About 6-8 fritters
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Ingredients:
- 1 1/2 cups of dandelion flowers, stems removed
- 1 cup of flour
- 1/4 cup of sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
- 1/3 cup of whole milk
- 1 egg 
- 1/2 teaspoon of poppy seeds
- 1/2 cup of confectioner's sugar
- 1 tablespoon of milk
- 2 teaspoons of lemon juice 
- Vegetable oil for frying

Directions:

1. Wash dandelion flowers well, and allow to dry. Cut off stems, and if you have time, cut off the sepals because they can taste bitter. 

2. Heat enough vegetable oil to shallow or deep fry fritters in a medium saucepan to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, combine flour, 1/4 cup of sugar, poppy seeds, baking powder and dandelion flowers in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, lightly whisk 1/3 cup of milk and egg together. Combine the wet and dry ingredients and fold together until just mixed through. Try not to overwork the dough. 


3. When oil is hot, use a lightly greased spoon to drop fritter dough into the oil. Cook until golden, flipping to cook the other side if you are shallow frying. Use a toothpick to check for done-ness. Drain fritters on a cooling rack. To make the glaze, mix together confectioner's sugar, 1 tablespoon of milk, 2 teaspoons of lemon juice. If the glaze is too thin, add more sugar and if it's too thick, add more lemon juice. (I didn't really measure... ) Add a little vanilla if you like. Drizzle glaze on top of the fritters and allow to harden before serving. Fritters are best warm.

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