This recipe was written by my friend Clare, a chef. She’s an amazingly creative cook, and a fan of putting (non-toxic, as she always reminds me) glitter on top of everything from cakes to roast dinners. I remember a particularly surreal occasion involving rice noodles topped with silver glitter. Clare’s got an incredible gift for making a meal look like a work of art, meaning that the dishes she whips up usually look too pretty (not to mention too covered in glitter) to be edible. Clare wrote this recipe as a guest contribution to Ohana magazine, and asked me to take the photos.
We cooked this recipe back on dreary, dark February evening. Ironic, considering Clare’s titled this recipe ‘Sunshine Sweetcorn Patties’. To make this recipe, Clare bought over her entire spice cabinet, and set about decanting pretty much the whole lot into the fritter batter. This is a relatively simple recipe, but one that is so much greater than the sum of its parts. Whilst Clare fried the fritters, I fussed about ‘styling’ the shot: arranging pieces of fabric on top of a wooden box and going through numerous plate options. I eventually settled on a neutral, sand-coloured plate to compliment the yellow of the sweetcorn.
I have had a few (unsuccessful) forays into artificial lighting before, but as I had no other option on this occasion I had to give it another go. Sunlight is naturally more flattering to food than any other type of light, in my opinion. High-end food photography for big brands is usually done with carefully controlled artificial light in a studio, but I prefer the more authentic touch that natural light gives. My ‘set up’ for this shot involved dragging a wooden box to the middle of my bedroom floor and angling a desk lamp at it. Most of the problem with artificial light seems to be the high contrast and harsh shadows that using a single directional light source creates, so I counteracted this by placing a diffuser between the lamp and the food. This helped a little, but there was still some white balance adjustment needed in post-production to get the colours to look less washed out. The finished result is ok, but will never compare to the magic quality of natural light.
For the fritters:
375g sweetcorn (frozen or canned)
2 tbsp plain flour
2 tbsp cornflour
1 red onion
pinch of salt
1 tsp coriander seeds
¼ tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp curry powder
¼ tsp turmeric
2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
Sunflower oil, for frying
For the pineapple:
1 can of pineapple rings, drained
1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
First, prepare the sweetcorn. If it’s frozen, defrost it in the microwave, if canned just drain it. Chuck all your spices into a mortar and, as Clare puts it, ‘pestle the sh*t’ out of them until crushed. Dice the red onion finely and put in a bowl along with the spices. Beat the eggs and flours together, then slowly whisk in the milk until you have a thick batter that drops off a spoon. Then add the spices, onion, sweetcorn and pinch of salt. Roughly blend the mixture with a stick blender.
Heat a glug of sunflower oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, and drop a tablespoon of batter into the pan to make each fritter. Fry for a couple of minutes on each side, until golden brown. For the pineapple, get a griddle pan on high heat, brush the pineapple with the chilli sauce and fry for a couple of minutes on each side. Drain the fritters on kitchen paper. Serve on a bed of cucumber and spinach, with the hot pineapple on top.