Keeping The Friendship Fires Burning By: Nadine Hughes

Do you ever find yourself so immersed in the daily tasks of life that time just seems to escape from you?  You keep meaning to pick up the phone and say hello to a friend you haven’t spoken to in ages but you get so wrapped up in your own life that the days turn into weeks which turn into months.  I know I do.  Now if the relationship is solid, you can pick up where you last left off without missing a beat but sometimes it does take time and effort to keep those friendship fires burning.
Last week I had the good fortune to meet a group of ladies that reminded me how important it is to keep throwing those logs on the fire!  I gave a cooking class to 8 wonderful ladies who have been meeting for dinner once a month for over 35 years.  Together they have gone through marriages, divorces, births, deaths, illnesses, adversities and triumphs.  The one constant however has been their friendship and their ability to take time to nurture it.

In planning the menu with two of the ladies, I thought “What could I possibly teach these women that they haven’t already experienced together?”  I’ve never struggled over a menu so much before but in the end, it didn’t matter what I prepared for them.  I could have served them a peanut butter and jam sandwich and they would have been happy!  They were content to share each other’s company again; talk about what was going on in each of their lives and to share with me some wonderful stories of their dining adventures together.  What a treat!

After a long 5 hour class, I went home exhausted but thrilled and inspired to meet this great group of friends.  It was too late to call any of my friends that night but come the next morning I was the queen of the social butterflies!  So ladies, “Come on over.  You bring the wine, I’ll make the peanut butter sandwiches and let’s talk about nothing but everything!”

Sweet Potato Fritters are the perfect sharing food to nibble on with a glass of wine.  I make them in batches and freeze them in advance.  Then when it’s time for some girl company, I pop them in a 375 oven for 20 minutes or until they’re heated through.  A bit more work than a peanut butter sandwich ☺ but then aren’t your friends worth it?

SWEET POTATO FRITTERS
Makes 12 fritters
Preparation Time:    15 minutes + 2 hour refrigeration
Cooking Time:        20 minutes

Ingredients:
•    Vegetable oil
•    800g sweet potato, peeled and coarsely grated
•    6 green onions, chopped
•    1 teaspoon grated lime zest, green part only
•    ½ cup coriander leaves, roughly chopped
•    2 red chillies (preferably Serrano), seeded and finely chopped
•    75g ( ½ cup) plain flour
•    Salt and pepper to taste
•    3 eggs, separated
•    1 cup sesame seeds
•    Sweet Chili Sauce, for dipping

1.    Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a large non-stick pan, add sweet potato and stir over high heat for 3-4 minutes or until just soft.  Remove from heat, cool slightly.
2.    In a medium bowl, combine cooled potato, green onions, lime zest, coriander, chillies and flour.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Add egg yolks and mix until well combined.
3.    Using an electric mixer or hand held mixer, whisk egg whites until soft peaks form, then gently fold into sweet potato mixture.  Shape ¼ cupfuls into 12 small rounds (about 5cm diameter).
4.    Place sesame seeds on a plate.  Coat the fritters all over with the sesame seeds, using your fingers to press the seeds down.  Place on a baking tray, lined with parchment paper, cover and refrigerator for 2 hours.  (Note: The fritters can be prepared and kept in the refrigerator up to 24 hours.)
5.    Heat enough oil to cover the base of a large non-stick frying pan and cook fritters, in batches, on both sides.  Drain on paper towel.  (Note: Cooked fritters can be frozen in an airtight container.  Reheat in a 180C/375F oven until heated through.  Approximately 30 minutes for frozen and 20 for defrosted fritters.
6.    Serve fritters on their own or with a sweet chili sauce for dipping.

Nadine Hughes is the creator and owner of, The Cook’s Companion, through which she offers kitchen consultations and menu planning services as well as a cooking and entertaining school that offers classes for adults and teens throughout Southern Ontario. She is also a published writer and avid blogger who is often called upon for “emergency” cooking and entertaining advice. In addition to The Cook’s Companion, Nadine launched the internet based The Menu Companion in February 2008, which markets and sells comprehensive menu planners that focus on the planning and preparation of dinner parties.
Look for Nadine’s first ebook “Groove Mama – Rediscover Your Fun Side By Throwing a Great Party” available for CAN$7.99 at http://www.groovemamma.com

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