When Oprah cooks up her corn fritters, it's not wise to keep her waiting. "You're supposed to eat them sizzling hot," she says. The scene is Oprah's home in coastal Santa Barbara, a spot that always makes her happy. Right now, on a morning saturated with California sun, she's busy in the kitchen of her guesthouse.
Making these southern-style corn fritters, Oprah seems completely in her element, and there's nothing that her longtime partner, Stedman Graham, would rather have for breakfast. Oprah's chef, Art Smith, is the one who actually came up with the recipe. "One morning, Stedman asked me for those corn fritters, so I just did it my own way. It may surprise people, but I cook all my meals on the weekends." That almost always includes corn fritters for breakfast, along with herbed scrambled eggs, sausage and turkey bacon.
She prefers recipes that are anything but complicated, and these corn fritters aren't tricked out with spices or even salt. You simply blend the five main ingredients, adjusting for individual tastes. Oprah uses unbleached self-rising flour for extra flatness. "If you want fluffier fritters, use regular self-rising flour," she says. If the batter gets too thick, add a bit of buttermilk or water. On the other hand, if you prefer your fritters lumpy and extra crunchy, add corn.
With the batter almost ready, she strolls out to her garden to snip a few sprigs of lemon thyme for the eggs. Back in the kitchen, she fires up the six-burner stove and lightly scrambles the eggs with the herbs, salt and pepper, and a bit of pepper Jack cheese.
When the fritters come off the stove, they're edged in golden brown. Oprah dabs them with butter and sets out small pitchers of maple syrup, fruit syrup and honey. As everyone contentedly chows down, she spoons some eggs onto her own plate but passes on the fritters—too high-carb. She doesn't feel she's missing out, though, since sharing them is the important thing.
"Homemade food," she says, "is like love on a platter."