Fried Green Tomatoes with Shrimp Remoulade

There is only one thing that makes the first fall frost tolerable in my book and that is green tomatoes. In the fall I keep an eye on the weather. I hope for an extended season so we can get a few more red tomatoes from our garden. The tomatoes that we were getting in late September weren’t as delicious as the summer ones (I’m guessing that they don’t like the cool nights), but they were still garden-fresh tomatoes and I was happy to have them.

With a frost forecasted, my husband and I picked all of the green tomatoes. I have heard that some people don’t wait until the frost to pick green tomatoes. They pick them mid-season when they have too many tomatoes crowding each other. So far, we haven’t had that problem. We picked a bagful of small green pear tomatoes. I still haven’t decided what to do with them, though I’ve been eying green tomato relish recipes. We also snagged a few that were the perfect size for frying.

There are few foods that say “Southern” as much as fried green tomatoes. Turns out there’s a bit of a debate as to where fried green tomatoes originated. Food historian, Robert F. Moss, asserts that they were originally a Northern dish. Combing through cookbooks and newspaper articles, the first mention that he could find was in an 1873 Dayton, Ohio Presbyterian Cookbook. He also found recipes in several early 20th century Jewish cookbooks.

Mosses blames the 1992 movie “Fried Green Tomatoes” for the misplaced notion that this dish is Southern in origin. A quick trip around the blogosphere and you’ll see that everyone claims them, lots of people vehemently so. I enjoyed reading all of the accounts of people remembering their grandparents’ stories of eating fried green tomatoes. People traced their families fried green tomato lineage. I love when people get all up in arms over food origins.

I don’t remember the first time that I had them but I do remember the first time I really appreciated them. It was several years ago in New Orleans at Liuzza’s. As with many things, they do fried green tomatoes differently in New Orleans. The green tomatoes are lightly dusted with cornmeal, fried and topped with a tangy shrimp roumalade. Delicious. My husband does an excellent version and was kind enough to share his recipe.

Fried Green Tomatoes with Shrimp Remoulade
Use the largest, firmest green tomatoes you can find.

Ingredients

1 cup buttermilk
1 egg
A few dashes of hot sauce
Vegetable oil, enough to add about an inch in the bottom of your frying pan (we use coconut oil)
12 slices of green tomato, approximately 1/2-inch thick (3-4 tomatoes should do it)
1 cup cornstarch
1 cup cornmeal, lightly seasoned with Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning (or salt, black pepper and a dash of cayenne)
One pound small to medium shrimp, cooked, peeled and chilled (see below)

1 cup chilled remoulade sauce (see below)
Mixed greens

Method:

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk, egg and hot sauce.
  • Heat oil in a large frying pan over moderate heat.
  • Lightly salt and peeper each tomato slice.
  • Dip each tomato slice first in cornstarch, then in the egg mixture, then coat with cornmeal. Be sure to coat both sides with all three dips. Place tomato slices in the pan with heated oil in a single layer. Do not crowd. Cook over moderate heat until golden brown on bottom. Turn and brown on other side. (Total cooking time is 3 to 4 minutes.) Exterior should be golden brown.
  • Place cooked tomatoes on a plate lined with paper towels.
  • Toss cooked shrimp with the remoulade.
  • On individual serving plates, place a handful of mixed green. Top with two slices of fried tomato and top with shrimp remoulade.

Makes 6 servings (as appetizer)

Remoulade Recipe

Ingredients
2 cups chopped celery
1 garlic clove
1/4 cup chopped scallions
2 tablespoons fresh parsley
2 tablespoons mustard
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon horseradish, grated
1/2 cup ketchup

Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasonings to taste (or salt, black pepper and a dash of cayenne)

Method:

Place all ingredients in food processor and pulse until mixed. Cover and refrigerate until chilled.

Boiled Shrimp

Ingredients
4 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning
1 lemon, quartered
36 small-medium shrimp (about 1 pound)

Method:

  • Fill a pot with 4 quarts of water, add Old Bay seasoning and lemon quarters. Bring to a boil; add shrimp and cook 1 to 2 minutes. Drain and let cool. Once cool enough to handle, peel and devein. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Turning Mad Apples into Baba Ganoush

babaI like eggplant. I like the taste and look of them. They come in all kinds of cartoon-like balloon shapes and sizes. They can be purple, elegantly striped or creamy white.

Historically, eggplants and other nightshade vegetables, have suffered from bad press.  Sometimes called “mala insana” or “mad apple,” it was thought that eggplants caused many ailments including fever, epilepsy and insanity. It’s no wonder that Northern Europeans mainly used them ornamentally until the 1600s.

The PR for eggplants in Spain was certainly more favorable. Prizing eggplants for aphrodisiac qualities, the Spaniards dubbed them, “Berengenas” or “The Apple of Love.” It’s all in the branding.

India, Pakistan, the Middle East and China have been enjoying eggplant forever or there abouts.

The real nutritional winner in eggplant is a phytonutrient found in the skin called nasunin. Nasunin is a potent antioxidant and has antiangiogenic properties, which are purported to inhibit cancer growth.

Baba Ganoush
Next time I’m making a double batch of this Middle Eastern dish. My husband and I ate it in two days and I was sad to see the empty bowl. Luckily, it’s a breeze to make so I plan to pick up more eggplant at the farmers market this week. I may even triple the recipe and pop the extra (if there is any) in the freezer.  I’d pick baba ganoush over humus for a dip any day, but it is also delicious on roasted chicken or as a sandwich spread.

Tahini is a lightly roasted sesame paste. It’s usually found with other nut butters or in the international section of grocery stores.

Ingredients
2 large eggplants (about 1 1/2 pound)
1/2 cup tahini
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley

Method

  • Preheat oven to 400º F.
  • Trim the stem of eggplant.
  • Prick eggplant with a fork in several places and place on a baking sheet. Bake the eggplant until it is soft and deflated, about 45 minutes.
  • Let the eggplant cool. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise. You can scoop out the pulp, but I prefer to just put the whole shabang in the food processor. That way you get all the nutrients in the skin.
  • Add tahini, garlic, lemon juice and salt to food processor and process until smooth. You can also mash this with a potato masher
  • Stir in the parsley. Season with more salt, to taste.
  • Serve with homemade pita bread. Serves four to six.

Homemade Tortilla Chips

The first time I made homemade tortilla chips was out of necessity and laziness. I was too lazy to drive to the store and buy chips and needed them for the fresh bowl of guacamole I had just made. I know it was very poor planning to make guac and not have tortilla chips. I have no defense there.

I use to fry them, which works fine, but takes both a lot of time and a lot of oil. Now I bake them.

I love making my own tortilla chips for several reasons. First, I’ve never seen commercially available tortilla chips made with just olive oil (I’m sure they exist, I’ve just never found them). I’m not a fan of soy or canola oil, so I avoid them. Second, I always try to keep corn tortilla in my numberswiki.com

fridge, so the ingredients are on hand. Third, they are so doggone good!

Ingredients

8 corn tortillas
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt

Method

  • Heat oven to 375ºF
  • With a pastry brush or your hands, coat both sides of the tortillas with olive oil.
  • Stack the tortillas for easy cutting.
  • Cut the stack into eighths.
  • Separate the pieces and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt.
  • Bake the chips for about 8-12 minutes or until they are crisp and just beginning to brown slightly. Keep an eye on them and don’t let them burn!
  • Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes. They should get crispier as they cool. If they still aren’t crisp enough, place them back in the oven. Again, keep an eye on them, since nobody wants burnt chips!
  • Serves four (or two if you eat as much as we do).

Squash Blossoms

A few weeks ago my sister-in-law Tori wrote this on my facebook wall: “Kara, if you’ve never tried them before, gently fry up some zucchini flowers–absolutely amazing….” Since then, several people have echoed her sentiments. My first thought was, “What about the zucchini?” I thought that if you picked all the blossoms than you wouldn’t get any squash. It is true. If you pick all of the blossoms on your plants you won’t get any squash. The trick is to only pick the male ones and even then, don’t pick them all. It takes two to tango and the plant needs some male blossoms to pollinate the female blossoms.

It’s fairly easy to spot the male blossoms. They are slightly smaller than the female ones and grow on the longer thinner stems. The female blossoms will often have a little squash growing at the base. Pick them in the morning while they are open. Once they are closed the delicate flower is harder to open. Picking them when they are open also insures that there aren’t any critters hiding inside.

If you aren’t growing squash, you may be able to find blossoms at the farmers market.

Ingredients
Squash blossoms (however many you have will do)
3/4 cup flour
2/3 cup ice water
1 egg
salt and pepper
3-4 tablespoons oil (I use coconut oil)

Method
-Cut stems off at the base and clip out stamens from the inside of the blossoms.
-Gently wash the squash blossoms and let dry.
-Mix egg, flour, water, salt and pepper until combined. The batter can be a little lumpy.
-Heat oil to just below the smoking point in a small sauté pan.
-Dip blossoms into batter and place in pan.
-Cook each side until crisp and lightly brown.
-Remove from pan, place on a paper-toweled lined plate and salt.
-Serve warm.

Note: you can also stuff the blossoms with cheese before frying. We recently used goat cheese.

Dandelion Fritters

These fun and interesting appetizers are sort of like hush puppies with flowers. The floral taste is very subtle, especially, if you go too heavy with the batter, like I did. A lighter touch or a tempura batter would highlight the floral taste better.

You’ll need to pick the flowers when they are fully opened and use them quickly. They will close up in the late afternoon even after they are picked.

Ingredients
20 dandelion flowers
1/3 cup whole wheat flower
1/3 cup corn meal
1 t baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of salt
Dash of cayenne pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1/3 cup milk
1 egg
Oil for frying (I used olive oil because I was out of coconut oil)

Method

  • Mix the dry ingredients together.
  • Add egg, milk and garlic. Mix well and then add to dry ingredients. It should have a pancake batter-like consistency.
  • In a heavy skillet, add about 3/4 of an inch of oil. Heat to medium-high (do not heat past the oil’s smoking point, olive oil has a low smoking point, but worked fine for me).
  • Dip the flowers in the batter and place them in the skillet. Turn once and fry until golden brown.
  • Place on a plate lined with a paper towel.

Serve hot.

Deviled Eggs with Bacon

If you are wondering what to do with all those dyed Easter eggs you have, I have two words for you: deviled eggs. While the traditional deviled eggs are indeed delicious, I thought I would share a few variations.

Ingredients
6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and cut lengthwise
1-2 strips cooked bacon, crumbled
1/4 cup mayonnaise or plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon prepared mustard
1/8-1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Dash of cayenne pepper
Paprika for garnish

Method

  • Peel eggs and cut in half lengthwise. Carefully remove yolks and place in a mixing bowl.
  • Add all ingredients to cooked egg yolks and mash well.
  • Spoon (or if you want to be fancy, pipe) mixture into egg white halves and garnish with paprika.

Curried Deviled Eggs

Ingredients
6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 cup raisins
1/8-1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
Paprika for garnish

Method

  • Peel eggs and cut in half lengthwise. Carefully remove yolks and place in a medium mixing bowl.
  • Add all ingredients to cooked egg yolks and mash well.
  • Spoon into egg white halves and garnish with paprika.

Guacamole Deviled Eggs

Ingredients
6 hard-boiled eggs
1/2 ripe avocado
1/2 small onion minced (about 1/4 cup)
Juice from 1/2 a lime
1 tablespoon minced jalapeños (optional)
1-2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro
1/8-1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Cilantro sprigs for garnish

Method

  • Soak onion and jalapeños in lime juice for 10 minutes or more
  • Peel eggs and cut in half lengthwise. Carefully remove yolks and place in a mixing bowl.
  • Add all ingredients to cooked egg yolks and mash well.
  • Spoon into egg white halves and garnish with a cilantro sprig.

Korean Scallion Pancake With Soaked Flour

I’ve been soaking almost all my flour these day. Apparently it neutralize phytic acid, which interferes with the absorption of certain minerals and vitamins. Read all about it here.

This recipe is adapted from http://koreanfood.about.com.

Ingredients
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups water
1 bunch of scallions, chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
Olive or coconut oil for cooking


Method

  • In a large bowl, mix flour, yogurt and 1.5 cups of water.
  • Cover and place in warm place for 12-24 hours. (Your counter top will do).
  • Add eggs. This is a little tricky, since the flour mixture has already bonded together. I just use my hands, though a mixer would probably do the trick. The batter should be a bit runny so that it will spread evenly in the pan. If it is too thick, add water.
  • Heat a sauté pan over medium heat and coat with a thin layer of oil.
  • Pour batter to fill pan in a thin layer.
  • Cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until set and golden brown on bottom.
  • Flip and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add more oil for each pancake, if necessary.
  • Serve with spicy dipping sauce.

Serves 4 to 6 as an appetizer.

Spicy Scallion Pancake Dipping Sauce
This is as basic as it gets. Mix equal parts of soy sauce and hot chile sauce like Sriracha. If you want it less spicy, cut back on the Siracha. Dip away!?

Preserved Lemon Mini Biscuits

I got the idea to add preserved lemon to biscuits from the Serious Eats blog. They did a wafer version with parm cheese. I made more of a biscuit. I made some biscuits with blue cheese and some with cheddar. I couldn’t decide which I liked better. The blue cheese ones are saltier, but also more complex. The cheddar ones are a bit lemonier. I say make a batch of each.

These make great hors d’ouves.

Ingredients
4 tablespoons finely chopped preserved lemon (about 1/2 small preserved lemon)
2 cup grated cheddar or crumbled blue cheese
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour.
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  • Place the chopped preserved lemon pieces in a mesh strainer, and rinse. Be sure to remove seeds.
  • Mix together the lemon pieces, cheese, and parsley. Knead until it forms a well-mixed dough ball.
  • Break off small pieces (about a teaspoon) and roll into bite-size balls. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and press down on each ball slightly.
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden.
  • Allow to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes about 16 mini biscuits.

Prosciutto Wrapped Fried Pickles

Otto from Ottos’ Market got me to try La Quercia Prosciutto Americano from Iowa. Not only does it hold it’s own against fancy imported Italian salumi, it’s made with humanely raised hogs without antibiotic, nitrates or nitrites.

This recipe uses coconut oil. The once shunned oil is now the new darling of the food world. Coconut oil is antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial, an antioxidant and is, in fact, good for your heart.

Ingredients
2-3 tablespoon coconut oil (enough for about 1/8-1/4 inch of oil)
2 cup pickles (any type will do. Click here for a quick pickle recipe)
1/4 pound thinly sliced Proscuitto
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup wheat flour
1 egg
1 Tablespoon water
dash of salt

Method

  • Place egg and water in a bowl and whisk.
  • In a separate bowl, mix cornmeal, flour and salt.
  • Wrap each pickle slice with Proscuitto.
  • Dip each Proscuitto wrapped pickle in the egg then dredge in the cornmeal mixture.
  • In a small sauté pan, melt coconut oil over medium- medium high heat. Keep temperature right below the oil’s smoking point.
  • Set each slice in the heated oil. Cook each side until golden brown.
  • Set on a paper towel-lined plate and let cool slightly before serving.

Pear, Cranberry & Blue Cheese Salad on Endives

ENDIVEEndives make a great alternative to crackers. They are shaped perfectly for holding filling, are low in calories and have a healthy dose of vitamin A and C. The walnuts, cabbage and cranberries up the nutritional ante of this snack.

Ingredients
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 pear, peeled, cored and finely chopped
1/4 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
2 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup red cabbage, finely shredded
2 tablespoon walnuts, chopped
3 tablespoons dried cranberries
16 large leaves endive

Method

  • Toss pears in with lemon juice and set aside.
  • Combine, yogurt, blue cheese, honey, and vinegar in a bowl; season with salt and pepper.
  • Add walnuts, pears, cabbage, and cranberries; toss well to coat.
  • Place a spoonful of salad on each endive leaf.

Makes 16.

Fig Prosciutto Wraps

figsFig and prosciutto are a classic combination. Search out La Quercia prosciutto or other brands that use humanely-raised, heritage pork.

Ingredients
16 thin slices prosciutto
16 whole dried figs
Fresh pepper, coarsely ground

Method

  • Wrap a slice of prosciutto around each fig. Grind pepper on top and drizzle with olive oil.

Makes 16.

Apricot and Goat Cheese Canapés

apricotI love these. They are, tasty, easy and pretty, the three things that I look for in hors d’ouvres. Try experimenting with different toppings.

Ingredients
16 dried apricots
8 teaspoons goat cheese
1/4 cup chopped, shelled pistachios
1/2 teaspoon honey
Freshly ground coarse pepper

Method

  • Top each apricot with 1/2 teaspoon of goat cheese. Top with pistachios and drizzle with honey. Sprinkle with pepper.

Makes 16.

I’m sharing this recipe on Whole Foods for the Holidays.

White Bean Dip with Rosemary

whiteBeanThis healthy dip is full of folic acid and a bit of protein. For an extra nutritional boost serve with carrot sticks instead of pita chips.

Ingredients
1/8 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
3 cups cooked white beans, drained
Juice from 1/2 of a lemon
1/2 teaspoon salt
More Salt to taste and a few dashes of cayenne pepper

Method

  • In a medium skillet, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Add the garlic and rosemary and cook over moderately heat, stirring, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Don’t let the garlic brown.
  • Add the beans and toss to coat.
  • Transfer to a food processor. Add lemon juice, season with salt and cayenne and process to a smooth puree.
  • Transfer the dip to a small serving bowl, drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

Serve with vegetable slices or pita chips.