Frittering away a fall afternoon

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Fritters fritter away so little time. Thirty minutes to prep. Two minutes to crisp. One to munch. Thirty-three minutes isn't frittering. That's practically staying on task.

There are more effective fritterers than fritters. Consider the Internet, designed to delete whole afternoons. Or the leaf-dropping tree, capable of raking up an entire weekend. Or the World Serious, which requires the seriously observant to slump on the couch for a week, staring morosely and mumbling: "Bad call."

The fritter, by comparison, is a fleeting distraction. All it requires is mashing cheese, shaping balls, then rolling them in flour, egg and breadcrumb. The triple jacket ensures a crisp outside and melting inside.

Hot from the pan-fry, the fritter goes nicely with a fall salad. It's a pleasant diversion from computer, rake or couch. And always a good call.

Ricotta fritters

Prep: 30 minutes

Cook: 2 minutes per batch

Makes: 16 fritters (enough to accompany 4 servings of salad)

1 clove garlic

3 slices white sandwich bread

Kosher salt

3/4 cup flour

1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water

4 ounces mild goat cheese

½ cup whole-milk ricotta cheese*

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon snipped fresh chives

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

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