If you have never tasted pumpkin fritters, you are not ready to die and go to heaven. You must try them, you have nothing to loose..its not as if you are investing in caviar or filet mignon. Next time you purchase butternut squash, buy a little extra, roast it and save a little. Great for cocktails, or side dishes.... like little fried balls of squash puree. To die for!
In Spanish we call them Frituras de Calabaza and they are usually made from a type of pumpkin-like squash that is round in shape and varies in size. This squash is popular in the Caribbean as well as Central and South America. It is also commonly called a West Indian Pumpkin. You can find them already cut in most Latin markets for they are quite hard to get into. The closest thing to the flavor and texture of calabaza in this country is Butternut Squash and that is what my mother used when we first came to the States.
Pumpkin fritters remind me of a dinner I attended about 10 years ago. The host and hostess, both wonderful people but a bit showy, just didn't know the phrase enough is enough. I had been warned by friends who had previously dined at their home, but I also had been told they had a cook who made the best pumpkin fritters on earth. When I was a little girl, we used to have a cook who made them and I hadn't had them in a long time. They were my favorite.
Sure enough, cocktails went on for two hours. Two uniformed servers in white jackets and black bow ties passed one hors d'oeuvre after another and I paced myself, anxiously waiting for the fabled pumpkin fritters. Finally, there they were, the stars of the show and the beginning of my Waterloo. Tray after silver tray of pumpkin fritters came out to ooohs! and ahhs! and I did not let one pass untouched. My mother, sitting across from me in the living room, kept giving me the evil eye..you know, the one that says, "You are making a pig of yourself. " But to no avail...I must have had a good dozen and dinner was yet to come.
Around ten o clock we were ushered into the dining room where a table for 24 was dressed in Victorian splendor with plenty of silver accoutrements to make Queen Victoria blush.
These people came from another century. It was like having dinner in the Age of Innocence. As soon as we sat down, three servers this time, serving a la russe, came out of the kitchen with the first course. Keep in mind now, I was seated to the right of the hostess with a Catholic priest in between. Very Garcia Marquez meets the Thorn Birds.
We started with a luscious crab cocktail that was out of this world. Large chunks of crab so fresh that they must have been caught just that afternoon. Cream of squash soup followed, devoured like it was the Last Supper, for anything squash is high on my list. On to the main course of beef tenderloin with roasted potatoes and a vegetable mousse. I think there were another two side dishes being passed around but by this time I was catatonic and hyperventilating and definitely in my own cocoon. The priest, thank heavens, was having a lively chat with the hostess and the person across from him. If he had tried to engage me, no doubt he would have been met with glassy eyes and dead silence.
At some point, I started doing what I used to do when I was a child, hiding bits in my napkin and hoping to excuse myself to the ladies room to dispose of them. I kept looking at my hostess and noticed she would serve herself a bird's portion of each dish and kept talking and drinking with not a single morsel going into her mouth. No wonder she looked so fresh; but by the time I caught on, I was a dead duck.
The dessert was the crowning glory, a cart rolled in with cakes, flans, cookies...don't ask me what else; but I noticed a couple of my favorites somewhere in the mix. I must have dived into one of these too but I was so close to passing out that I kept trying to catch my mother's evil eye in case I made a fool of myself. This time she wouldn't even look my way..oh boy, was I in trouble.
I won't go into what happened when I got home...I will leave that to your imagination. Let's just say that for a long time the mere mention of pumpkin fritters sent me into convulsions and I avoided them like the plague.
Definitely a night to remember!
I haven't had pumpkin fritters since that night almost ten years ago.
I think its time.
If I could only trust myself to eat but a few...
1 1/2 pounds calabaza or butternut squash
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cups self rising flour
1.Peel calabaza, cut into chunks and boil in a large pot of water until tender.
2.Drain water and mash calabaza then drain again.
3.Mix 1 1/2 cups of mashed calabaza together with butter, egg and sugar.
4.Sift flour with nutmeg and cinnamon and add to calabaza mixture.
5.Mix well and drop spoonfuls into heated oil such as a deep fryer. Oil should be enough to cover fritters.
6.Cook until both sides are lightly browned and serve hot. Makes 12 Fritters.