July 21, 2010 10:39:00 AM
Whew, I''m off the road for a while and so glad of it! After four days in Miami and then four in Athens, Ga., two weeks in a row, I''m thankful to wake up at home and have to plan a day here.
We had some delicious food in Miami, but most of it was seafood that isn''t readily available here. In Athens, with my two stepdaughters, we had itty-bitty tacos at Taqueria del Sol, falafel at The Grit, and Faithe had her first taste of feta cheese in Five & Ten''s popular watermelon and feta salad. Unfortunately, we had to skip The Varsity on this trip, but there''s always next time.
Fried green delights
Terry watered my tomatoes while I was away and, lo and behold, I have two that might make it from green to red. I brought back one each of five different heirloom varieties from the Athens organic farmers'' market, so I may just go ahead and pick one of my two fruits while it is green, ''cause I''m a Southern girl and I love my fried green tomatoes!
You''d think fried green tomatoes were contemporary, as they seem to appear on restaurant menus ranging from downhome to uptown. However, I did find a recipe in my oldest cookbook, "The New Dixie Receipt Book" (1902), which is as useable today as it was then. The tomatoes are covered with simple cream gravy and sound really good. Find the recipe with today''s column.
Plain or fancy, the base is always a slice of green tomato breaded in some way, and either deep- or pan-fried. The variety comes from what happens next. In my former food shop, I usually served them with crumbled goat cheese and a creamy roasted red pepper sauce. For variety I offered them stacked a la Napoleon style, with rounds of fried grits and then topped with the same red pepper sauce. The sauce had a creaminess that complimented the crunch and tang of the tomato and still had loads of flavor from the roasted red peppers.
I just found a recipe at an online blog for fried green tomato sandwiches with fried bologna, onions and Miracle Whip. Sounds good to me. Or fried green tomato Benedict? Yummm ...
I have included a few recipes today from a variety of chef sources. I have tasted fried green tomatoes here; some were good, one was excellent and one was awful.
What makes them awful? Well, I think it all starts with the thickness of the tomato slice. Too thin, and it simply either burns or is way too greasy. Deep-frying in a restaurant fryer that just had fish in it isn''t too appetizing either. Pan-frying in oil that isn''t hot enough will produce a greasy tomato; oil that is too hot will burn the breading before the tomato itself has a chance to cook.
I''m not a fan of using pure corn meal, as it''s a little too gritty for me, but hey, it''s your kitchen, you do what you want. I also prefer to season the breading (flour and corn meal) with only salt and pepper. You could add any number of flavorings to the breading, such as garlic powder, garlic salt, herbs, etc.
I hope you enjoy the recipes.
I have a question: What is your favorite pantry staple and why? Or, do you have something lurking in there that you don''t know how to use? Let me know, and we''ll talk!
FRIED GREEN TOMATOES
Six large green tomatoes
One egg yolk
Salt and pepper, to taste
For the gravy:
One tablespoon flour
Two tablespoons butter
l/2 pint milk
(Source: "The New Dixie Receipt Book")
FRIED GREEN TOMATO AND ARUGULA SALAD
One large egg
1 cup buttermilk
Three very firm green tomatoes, cut into 1/3-inch slices
3/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Dash of cayenne pepper
2 cups peanut, corn or canola oil for frying
1/2 cup Buttermilk Vinaigrette (note: e-mail me if you want this recipe)
12 cherry and/or grape tomatoes halved or quartered
One large bunch arugula
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
(Source: "Frank Stitt''s Southern Table")
FRIED GREEN TOMATOES, A LA EARLY GIRL*
Five green tomatoes
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup milk
3 cups breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
Zest of one orange
Vegetable oil for frying
(Source: "In Praise of Tomatoes," by Ronni Lundy; *Early Girl is a restaurant in Asheville, N.C.)