Fried Green Tomatoes Revisited


Sometimes I don’t get things right the first time…

Last summer, I shared a recipe for fried green tomatoes with you, but the step-by-step photos did not do the dish justice.  Fortunately, I don’t mind trying a recipe again–especially if it means I get to eat it again!  And since the garden is exploding with big green tomatoes, what better time to offer a lighter, brighter, more vivid version of this crispy treat?  🙂

Flavorful Fried Green Tomatoes

friedtomatoplated

I’ve ordered fried green tomatoes a couple times at, believe it or not, more upscale restaurants, and though they were delightfully crispy, they were a bit on the bland side.

ENTER: SEASONING.

Garlic powder and a final sprinkling of kosher salt is all you need for a flavorful batch of fried green tomatoes.

(But a little dollop of dilly dipping sauce couldn’t hurt, either.)

Preparation

greentomatoslice

Wash and core 4 large green tomatoes.  Slice 1/2″ thick.

Next, set up your coating station:

friedtomatocoat

In one shallow dish, add 3/4 cup flour, 1 Tablespoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning, 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, and mix thoroughly.

In another shallow dish, beat 2 large eggs with 2 Tablespoons half and half or milk.

In the third shallow dish, add 2 cups [to start] of Panko breadcrumbs.  (You can find these in the Asian aisle of most grocery stores.)

Assembly

Dip a slice of tomato in flour.  Make sure both sides are coated well.  Shake off excess flour.

friedtomatoflour

Next, dip tomato in egg mixture, covering well.  Shake off excess egg.

friedtomatoegg

Finally, drop tomato in breadcrumbs and cover well.  I even like to lightly press the crumbs into place.  Shake excess crumbs off.

friedtomatopanko

One tomato down, plenty more to go.

friedtomatocoated

Cooking

Fill a cast iron skillet with an inch of canola oil and place over medium-high heat until hot.

COOKS NOTE: I like to get at least halfway through coating my stack of tomato slices before heating the oil.  I tend to rush less this way.  Hot oil makey me nervous.

Carefully place 4-5 tomato slices into the hot oil using tongs.

Fry on one side until golden, about 4 minutes.  Carefully flip and fry the other side for another 4 minutes.

frytomatoes

Remove and place on a thick sheet of paper towels to drain and sprinkle with a large pinch of kosher salt.

Cool at least 5 minutes before serving.

friedtomatodrain

Mmmmm.

Who cares about plates or guests?

Go ahead and eat one now.  No one will know.

friedtomato

These are even more tasty with dipping sauce.  Here is how I make mine.

friedtomatoplated2

Dilly Dipping Sauce

*1 cup olive oil mayonnaise (or 1/2 cup mayo and 1/2 cup Greek yogurt)

*1 small clove of garlic, finely grated

*2 Tablespoons chopped, fresh dill

*1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice

*1 teaspoon smoked paprika (regular will do, too)

*salt and pepper to taste
Whisk mayo, garlic, lemon juice, dill and paprika until smooth.  Mix in 1/4 teaspoon of salt and pepper to start.  Add more to taste if desired.
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Fried Green Tomato Recipe

Courtesy of Patrick and Gina Neely (with a few tweaks)

Ingredients:

*1 inch canola oil

*3/4 cup flour

*1 Tablespoon garlic powder

*1 teaspoon salt

*1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning

*1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

*1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

*2 large eggs beaten

*2 Tablespoon milk or half and half

*3-4 cups Panko breadcrumbs

Core and slice tomatoes 1/2″ thick.

Mix flour though cayenne pepper in a shallow dish.  Set aside.In another shallow dish, beat the eggs and milk until smooth.  Set aside.  In a final shallow dish, add 3 cups of Panko.

To coat, dip tomato slices in flour mixture, then egg, then Panko.  Set on a plate and finish the rest.

Heat 1″ canola oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Fry tomatoes at least 4 minutes on each side or until golden.  Drain on paper towels.  Cool 5 minutes before serving.

Preserved Lemons


“This dish needs….something.”

Have you ever prepared what you think will be the most delicious dish ever only to discover it needed…..something?

More zest, more twang, more kick, more…SOMETHING!

What to do, what to do?

Before you start digging around in your condiment shelf, open up your produce drawer and pull out a lemon.

lemonplatter

Or better yet, pop open a jar of preserved lemons!

lemonpreserved

What the heck is a preserved lemon?

It’s a fresh lemon that has spent a couple weeks marinating in lemon juice and kosher salt.  Preserved lemons are a staple in Moroccan cooking and are used mainly in curries and stews.

What does a preserved lemon taste like?

A properly preserved lemon should taste briny, tart, slightly bitter and yes, lemony.

Meyer lemons are traditionally used since they are sweeter, but when a dear friend gave me five regular lemons off of her tree, I couldn’t resist turning them into something special.

How do you use a preserved lemon?

I add preserved lemons to vinaigrettes, couscous, roast chicken, cream sauces, curries…basically anything that benefits from a burst of lemon.

Depending on how strong or delicate the flavor of your dish is though, you may prefer to lightly rinse the lemon and use only the rind.

lemonrind

However, for bland dishes like couscous, I find that a non-rinsed wedge, pulp and all, blends right in and tastes fabulous.

couscous

So if you love exploring new flavors and are looking to find that special “something,” give preserved lemons a try.

Preserved Lemons

If you don’t have access to Meyer lemons, just used regular lemons with thin rinds.

Ingredients

*Fresh lemons  (For one 12-ounce jar of preserved lemons, you will need about 5-6 large lemons.)

*Kosher salt

*Clean jars

Process

Start by juicing about 2-3 large lemons.  Save the rinds.  (You will be using this juice to cover the cooked lemons once they are placed into jars.)

Next, bring a pot of water to a boil and carefully drop in 3-4 slightly firm fresh lemons along with the leftover rinds from juicing.

Parboil for 3 minutes and remove.

removelemon

Allow lemons to cool just slightly before cutting them into quarters.

Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of kosher salt over the lemon…

lemonsalt

…and one tablespoon of kosher salt into a clean, sterile canning jar.

lemonjar

Place salted, quartered lemon in the jar.  Repeat until jar is full (about 2 lemons per 12-ounce jar).

lemoninjar

Fill jar with the freshly squeezed lemon juice:

lemonjuice

Store lemons in a cool dark place or the refrigerator and allow to marinate for two weeks before use.  Every few days, give the jar a shake to distribute the salt and juices.

Keep refrigerated after use.

lemonpreserved

Again, preserved lemons aren’t just for Moroccan food; they bring zest and depth to many dishes that need a little extra “something.”

Have fun and experiment!

Who knows, you may discover a new favorite condiment.

Tasty Potato Chip Fake-Outs


In the words of Homer Simpson:

“Mmmmm….potato chips….”

Those become my words, too, whenever I think upon the chip drawer we have at work.

chipdrawer

Yes, we have a chip drawer at work.

Even though I am a supporter of the occasional bag of Doritos or Lays, I tend to think that “occasional” means “once daily.”

Therefore, this girl needs a healthy alternative for that daily salty/crunchy fix.

Enter veggie chips!

kalechipssweetpotatochips

I have met many a junk food fake-out that has left me feeling unsatisfied, but such is not the case with sweet potato and kale chips. They hit the spot!

(Without the MSG headache or hydrogenated oil-guilt.)

Baked Kale Chips

Step 1: Grab you some kale.

Prepackaged bags of chopped, fresh kale are the most convenient, but if you use bunched kale make sure it is washed and fully dried before baking.

kalebag

Step 2: Season the kale.

Toss kale in a couple tablespoons of olive oil and a light sprinkling of salt.  It is very easy to over-salt kale.

Place a thin layer of kale on a baking sheet.  Do not crowd the pan or the kale will not get as crisp.  And you’re going for crisp!

tosskale

Step 3: Bake kale at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes.

After 15 minutes, stir kale around and continue baking until all of the kale is crispy.

Stay close to the oven.  It can go from almost done to burnt very quickly.

P.S. Your house will smell like cabbage right about now.  Just an FYI in case you are having guests over later…

kalebaked

Step 4: Allow kale to fully cool before transferring to an air-tight container.

kalechips

The results?

A light and airy treat that tastes just like a Lay’s potato chip.

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Baked Sweet Potato Chips

Step 1: Grab you some sweet potatoes.

Thoroughly scrub and dry potatoes.

Step 2: Thinly slice the sweet potatoes.

If you have a mandolin, the size of the potato does not matter.

If you do NOT have a mandolin, go for the longer, skinnier potatoes as these will be easier to slice with a vegetable peeler.

slicepotatoes

Step 3: Season the sweet potatoes

Toss potatoes in a couple tablespoons of olive and sprinkle with salt.  I also like to sprinkle them with cinnamon, garam masala or Chinese 5-spice.

Place potatoes in an even layer on a baking sheet.

bakepotatoes

Step 4: Bake the sweet potatoes.

I will admit that baking these suckers can be tricky.  If you have a dehydrator, you are one lucky dog.

Bake potatoes at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes.  After about 30 minutes, stir potatoes around and continue baking until the potatoes become crisp.

KEEP AN EYE OUT!  The potatoes around the edges of the pan will begin to begin to crisp up and burn faster than the ones in the center so stir again if needed and watch those chips like a hawk.

Once the chips are done, allow them to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

The results?

Mmmm!!!!  A baked-to-perfection sweet potato chip is so worth the hassle.  Crispy and toothsome, these really hit the spot if you love salty/sweet snacks.

And again, if you own a dehydrator, thank your Creator.  🙂

sweetpotatochips

I just love a tasty fake-out!

Flavorful Fried Green Tomatoes


Green tomatoes.

They have one of two destinies:

Destiny #1: They can ripen into a beautiful red tomato or

Destiny #2: They can be plucked and turned into a crispy treat.

I’m not typically a fan of fried vegetables, but after wandering past rows of plump green tomatoes these past few months, I finally got curious enough to whip up a batch of fried green tomatoes.

Since I did not have a family recipe for this dish, I went in search of one that had just the right flavor and texture to make frying a vegetable worth the extra calories.

I found just what I was looking for in this recipe from Food Network’s Down Home With the Neely’s.

The verdict?

They were the best fried green tomatoes I have ever tasted!

They were a hit with my friends!

They were gone in a matter of minutes!

If you have a few green tomatoes sitting around, I suggest you put them and this recipe to work.

Flavorful Fried Green Tomatoes

(recipe adapted from The Neelys)

First things first, get your frying oil hot and ready!

Cook’s Tip: A 6-inch cast iron pot is ideal if you do not have a deep fryer or do not want to waste so much oil filling a larger pot.  A sturdy, heavy-bottomed pan or deep skillet would also work, though.

Fill pot with roughly 3 inches of canola oil and heat over medium-high until hot.

Meanwhile, prepare the tomatoes.

Cut about 4-5 large tomatoes or 10-15 smaller tomatoes into 1/4″ slices and season with kosher salt and black pepper.

Cook’s Tip: You can use red tomatoes, too, as long as they are firm and not fully ripened.

Time to set up the breading station!

In one shallow dish or plate, mix 3/4 cup flour with one Tablespoon garlic powder and one teaspoon Old Bay seasoning.

In another, beat three large eggs and two tablespoons of milk until smooth.

In a final dish, mix 1 cup of Panko bread crumbs with 1/2 teaspoon paprika and a pinch of cayenne pepper.

Cook’s Tip: Panko is a type of breadcrumb that gives fried foods a wonderfully light and crunchy texture.  You can find them in the Asian or seafood aisle.

Time to dress up our tomatoes!

First, dredge tomato slices in flour mixture and lightly shake off excess.

Next, dip slices in egg…

…and then in the Panko making sure every inch of tomato is covered.  Lightly shake off excess.  (Yes, your hands will get uber messy.)

Carefully place 3-4 slices of tomato at a time into the hot oil and cook for 2-3 minutes, turning once, until golden.

Remove and drain on paper towels.

Lightly sprinkle with salt while hot.

Diner’s Tip: Your first instinct will be to pop one of the these lovelies into your mouth right away.  DON’T DO IT!  That lovely is HOT! Just wait a couple minutes, okay?

I was super impressed with this recipe.  The tomatoes had such a great flavor and the texture of the breading was light and crispy instead of heavy and soggy.  Though best warm, they were still great at room temperature and maintained their crispiness.  Such versatility makes them the perfect addition to a summer potluck or picnic.

Can’t wait for my next crop of green tomatoes!

The Recipe

Serves 4

*Canola oil

*4-5 large green tomatoes (0r 10-12 smaller tomatoes)

*salt and pepper

*3/4 cup all-purpose flour

*1 Tablespoon garlic powder

*1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning

*3 large eggs, beaten

*2 Tablespoons milk

*1-1 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs

*1/2 teaspoon paprika

*Pinch of cayenne pepper

Fill a medium-sized pot with a couple inches of canola oil.  Heat oil over medium-high heat until hot.

Meanwhile, cut tomatoes into 1/4″ slices and season with salt and pepper.

In a shallow dish or plate, add flour, garlic powder and Old Bay and mix.

In a separate dish, pour beaten egg.

In a final dish, add Panko, paprika and cayenne.

Dredge a tomato slice in flour and shake off the excess.  Next, dip tomato in egg and then in the Panko, making sure the tomato is completely covered in bread crumbs.  Lightly shake off the excess and carefully place in hot oil.

Cook tomatoes 2-3 minutes, turning once, until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels.  Serve warm.

A Simple Squash Dish


If you own a squash plant, then you know you don’t simply have squash–you have it coming out of your EARS!!!

When I was a kid, Momma would experiment with as many recipes as possible so as to use up the constant bounty on our counter top.  Squash bread, squash cookies, boiled squash, pickled squash, stuffed squash–we ate a lot of squash in a lot of different ways!  My favorite form of squash was a dish that Momma called, “Calabacitas” which is a Mexican squash dish traditionally prepared with corn, onions, tomato and cheese.  I actually prefer my Calabacitas without corn and only a little cheese.  I also prefer to steam the squash instead of boil it.

Mmm!  Cheese, sauteed onions, tomatoes, summer squash: this dish delivers just enough “bad” to balance all the good.  Serve a spoonful of this alongside your favorite grilled meat and you’ve got the perfect summer dinner!

Calabacitas

Even though it is ideal to use the light green Mexican variety for this dish, zucchini and summer squash work just as well.  I use whatever I happen to have on hand.

Fill a deep pot with a couple inches of water.  Set your steamer basket down inside the pot and put the lid on.  Bring water to a boil.

Meanwhile, chop your veggies!

Slice squash 1/4-1/2″ thin.  Set aside.

Thinly slice half a medium onion length-wise.

“Gut” the seeds and pulp from one medium tomato and slice length-wise.

By now, your water should be boiling.

Add your squash and cover the pot.  Reduce heat to medium.

Meanwhile, heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan over medium-high heat.  Add onions and saute about 4 minutes or until lightly cooked.

Add the tomatoes.

Sprinkle in a SMALL amount of salt, stir and turn off heat.  (No more than 1/2 teaspoon of salt or your dish will be too salty!  Remember, we’re adding cheese at the end.)

By now your squash should be at or close to fork tender.  If so, add it to the onions and squash.  If the squash is still too firm, cover and steam for another minute or two.

Lightly toss the veggies together until well incorporated.  Add a sprinkle of pepper.

Transfer to a dish and top with grated Monterrey Jack cheese.

Or not.

You decide.

Calabacitas Recipe

Serves 2-4

*1 Tablespoon canola or vegetable oi

*2 medium yellow squash, sliced 1/4-1/2 inches thin

*1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced length-wise

*1 medium tomato, seeded and sliced length-wise

*1/2 t salt

*Pepper

*1/4-1/2 cup shredded Monterrrey Jack cheese

Steam squash in a pot fitted with a steamer basket over medium heat until fork tender.

In skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add onions and saute until glossy, about 4 minutes.  Add tomatoes and 1/2 teaspoon of salt, season with pepper and toss until well combined. Turn off heat.

Add squash and toss until well combined.  Top with cheese.

Leek and Potato Gratin


Even though potato salad reigns supreme this time of year, I would like to share with you a cheesy, melty, savory potato dish that has transformed my opinion of potato dishes forever: Leek and Potato Gratin!

My inspiration for this recipe comes from my brand new cookbook that I got at last month’s Country Living Fair in Austin: Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook by Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer Purcell.  (This book is extra special because I had it signed by one of the Beekman boys himself!)

I first spotted this recipe in my November issue of Country Living Magazine and immediately knew that I had to serve it at my birthday dinner.  It was such a big hit that I served again for a few other meals including Easter lunch.

And guess who has two thumbs and is thinking of serving this alongside some tangy grilled chicken or a juicy sirloin this summer.

You guessed it!

Too rich for summer you say?  Well, the way I see it, this dish has every ingredient that would otherwise be slathered on a baked potato so why not cut out the middle man?  🙂

AND coming from someone who loves to nibble on these cheesy potatoes long after the party is over, this dish is just as delish at room temperature as it is piping hot.

Give it a try…and then give me some.

Leek and Potato Gratin

Be ready to rinse some veggies, folks.  Potatoes are dusty and leeks?  Well, leeks are a minefield of dirt and need a good purging or your lovely creation will be ruined by a mouthful of grit!

The best way to rinse leeks is to cut them in half length-wise in half:

Then, under running water, rinse the leeks pulling the leaves apart and rubbing the dirt out:

Shake out the excess water and thinly slice.  Meanwhile, heat 4 tablespoons of butter and one tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Toss in a teaspoon of grated, fresh garlic and stir.  Cook leeks until soft, about 20 minutes stirring occasionally.

Season leeks with salt, pepper, thyme and a dash of fresh nutmeg and add a cup of heavy cream.

Cook’s tip: If you’re going light, use 1/2 cup cream and 1/2 cup of whatever milk you have lying around.  Don’t goo too light, though, or the dish will just wind up tasting watery.

Stir occasionally until mixture is thick, about 15 minutes.  Add heavy cream and cook until thick and reduced by half.  Turn heat off and set aside.

Slice a few pounds of either red or Russet potatoes (I leave the skins on) 1’4″ thick or thinner.

Cook’s Tip: To reduce baking time, you can parboil the potato slices in boiling, salted water for 10 minutes.  Drain well before using.  OR, keep your kitchen cooler and cook the potatoes on the grill until halfway done (about 30 minutes for large potatoes).

Butter a large baking dish.  (I prefer to use a round one).  Spread a couple tablespoons of the leek mixture on the bottom of the baking dish and arrange potatoes in a single concentric layer like so:

Next, spread half of the leek mixture evenly over the top of the potatoes:

Sprinkle a cup of grated cheese (I use an even mixture of Gruyere and Parmesan) on top of the leeks.

Repeat with another layer of potatoes, leeks and cheese.  Finish up with a final layer of potatoes and a sprinkling of cheese.

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 45 minutes at 400 degrees.  Remove foil and bake another 30 minutes.

Cook’s Tip: If you chose to pre-cook your potatoes, cover dish and bake 20 minutes.  Remove foil and bake another 20 minutes or until cheese bubbles.

Allow dish to set for 15 minutes before serving.  Garnish with freshly chopped parsley.

Is it dinner time yet?

Recipe:

*4 Tablespoons butter

*1 Tablespoon olive oil

*5 lbs. leeks, white and light green portions only, rinsed well, cut into 1/4-inch rings

*2 large garlic gloves, grated

*1 1/2 Tablespoons kosher salt

*1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme or 1/4 tsp. dried

*1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

*1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

*1 cup heavy cream (or, if you must, half and half)

*1 1/2 cup Gruyère cheese, grated

* 1 1/2 cup Parmesan or other sharp cheese, grated

*3 lb. Russet or red potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/4-inch slices

*Fresh parsley rinsed and chopped

Remove the tough, dark green tops of the leeks (toss these in your compost pile or save for flavoring stocks or soups).  Cut leeks length-wise and rinse well.  Slice into 1/4″ rings.

Heat butter and oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add leeks and garlic, stirring occasionally.  Cook for 20 minutes until leeks are soft.

Add salt, pepper, nutmeg and thyme.  Pour in cream and stir.  Cook for 15 minutes until thick.

Spread a couple tablespoons of leek mixture evenly on the bottom of a buttered casserole dish.  Rinse and slice potatoes 1/4″ thick and arrange in a single concentric layer over the leeks.

Spread half of leek mixture evenly over the potatoes.  Mix the cheeses together and sprinkle 1 cup over the leeks.  Repeat by adding one more layer of potatoes, the rest of the leeks and 1 cup of cheese.

Finish with a final layer of potatoes and the last cup of cheese.

Cover dish with foil and bake for 45 minutes at 400 degrees.  Remove foil and bake for another 30 minutes.  Allow dish to set for 15 minutes before serving.

Summer Corn Salad: The Solution to Same-Old-Potato-Salad


Once upon ten minutes before my dinner guests were due to arrive one evening, I realized I had not prepared a salad.

I also realized that I was out of lettuce.  I had every other vegetable under the sun…just no dang lettuce!

But then I discovered a bag of frozen corn in my freezer.

And so, my summer corn salad was born.

The beauty of this salad is that it’s flexible to your tastes.  Hate corn?  Try jicama.  Detest cumin?  Omit it from the dressing.  Need a main dish?  Add rinsed black beans and cubes of grilled chicken.  Either way, here is how I make it:

Extract the juice of one lime.  (It is always best to use the fresh stuff !)

Add 1 teaspoon kosher salt.  (If you are using sea salt, start with 1/2 teaspoon).

Add one teaspoon ground cumin…

…a few drops of Tabasco sauce…

…and a smidgen of chili powder.

Vigorously whisk in 1/2 cup olive oil.

To round out the flavors of the vinaigrette, add a generous teaspoon of honey.

Now for the veggies!

I prefer using bell peppers of all colors, red onion, jalapeno and fresh cilantro.  No matter what you use, cut the veggies into corn-sized pieces.  In my opinion, uniform pieces of veggies make for a more palatable salad.  The sweetness of a tender kernel of corn is quickly lost when paired with a big, awkward chunk of bell pepper or onion.

Pour dressing over veggies.

Add a bag of defrosted frozen corn and give a good mix.

Another plus with this corn salad?  The longer it sits, the better it gets.  Prepare it up to two days in advance and you’re golden.

Like corn.

(Sorry, that was a corny joke.)

A light, fresh, versatile salad.  Try it tonight!

Summer Corn Salad

*24 ounces or two bags of frozen corn, defrosted

*1/3 cup red onion, small-diced

*1 small jalapeno, seeded and small-diced

*1/2 cup red bell pepper, small-diced

*1 medium lime, juiced

*1 teaspoon kosher salt

*1 teaspoon ground cumin

*1/4 teaspoon chili powder

*couple splashes of Tabasco

*1 heaping teaspoon honey

*1/2 cup olive oil

*fresh cilantro, optional (add right before serving, otherwise, it will turn limp and dark within an hour)

In a large bowl, add all veggies (minus cilantro) and set aside.  In a separate dish, add lime juice, cumin, salt, chili powder, Tabasco, honey and whisk in olive oil until mixture is smooth.  Pour over veggies, mix well.  Prepare up to two days in advance.  Serve with sprigs of fresh cilantro.