Fried Green Tomatoes

While picking up produce from the local farm stand for our regular Saturday night gathering I came across a bin of green tomatoes. I had been struggling to come up with another side and figured I could give fried green tomatoes a try.

These are unripe tomatoes, not some fancy heirloom such as Green Zebra tomatoes. These are very firm; not a rock but certainly not a fragile tomato that will be easily bruised.

Fried Green Tomatoes
Servings: 6-8
Prep time: 25 minutes
Total time: 55 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 6 green tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup coarse corn meal
  • 1/3 cup fine corn flour
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1.5 to 2 cups vegetable oil
  • sea salt

Directions:

  1. Core tomatoes and cut into 1/4″ slices. Place sliced tomatoes on a double layer of paper towels which you’ve laid in a rimmed baking dish. Allow to rest for at least 20 minutes. Blot the tops of the tomatoes at the end of the rest period to pick up any moisture.
  2. While the tomatoes rest combine the corn meal with the flours in the bowl of a food processor. Give it whirl for 30 second to a minute until the coarse corn meal is a bit finer.
  3. Whisk together the 2 eggs along with 1/4 cup of water until combined. Set aside.
  4. When ready to fry the tomatoes add enough oil in a 12″ skillet so that you have between 1/8″ and 1/4″ of oil in the bottom of the pan. Heat over over medium-high heat until shimmering.
  5. Dip a tomato slice in the egg mixture and then shake off the excess egg. Dredge slice in cormeal/flour mixture, coating both sides. Add the slice to the skillet. Repeat until the skillet is full but not overcrowded.
  6. Cook for 3-5 minutes then flip with tongs and repeat on the second side. The goal is the standard GBD (golden, brown and delicious). Transfer cooked tomatoes to a new rimmed baking sheet lined with paper towels. Sprinkle hot fried tomatoes with sea salt.
  7. Repeat with remaining slices until all are cooked. You can keep the finished ones in a 200°F oven to stay warm while cooking the rest.

Notes:
Tongs worked really well for me; far better than a spatula.

Next time I’ll try some buttermilk to coat the tomatoes instead of the egg. Egg worked OK however most of the recipes I looked at suggested buttermilk. Also I’d try this thing Ted does when he makes chicken fingers where he coats the chicken and then let’s it rest on a cooling rack for 10-15 minutes before frying. This helps the coating to bind to the chicken and seems to help it stay affixed after cooking.

These would have been good with a little spice mayo or remoulade sauce.

I looked at a number of recipes in figuring out what to do with my green tomatoes. Two that are online include Southern Living Fried Green Tomatoes and Dinner’s Done! Fried Green Tomatoes.

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Weeknight Chickpeas

We try to have at least one vegetarian meal each week and when I’m at a loss for what to make I turn to chickpeas. This dish is similar to the Chickpea side dish recipe I posted years back. The flavor profile is different and it makes a filling meal with some rice.

Weeknight Chickpeas
Servings: 2-4
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 green pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1 Serrano pepper, halved, seeded and minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and pressed
  • 2 tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. ground paprika
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. ground chipotle
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 14.5 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 14.5 oz.can diced tomatoes (do not drain)
  • kosher salt and cracked black pepper

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a sauce pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and peppers. Sprinkle with salt, stir to coat in oil and cook for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic, stir and cook until fragrant. Add the spices, incorporate and cook for about 1 minute.
  3. Add the chickpeas, tomatoes, a big pinch of salt and 1/2 cup water. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook for 20 minutes.
  4. Taste; chickpeas should be slightly firm outside and creamy inside. Adjust seasoning with salt and black pepper as desired. Serve up on a pile of white rice.

Notes:
I prefer to use Goya Reduced-Sodium Chickpeas for this dish.

A half tablespoon of acid, such as cider vinegar, stirred in to the chickpeas at the end of cooking will enhance the flavor of the dish.

Beer Steamed Bratwurst with Onions

This recipe was inspired by the brats we enjoyed as part of the Milk-Can Supper we enjoyed a few months back. I think the result was very tasty and I’ll certainly make brats this way again.

Beer Steamed Bratwurst with Onions
Servings: 10-12
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 25-30 inutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 3 lbs. fresh bratwurst
  • 2 large onions, peeled and cut into 1/4″ half-moons
  • 1 12 oz. bottle ale

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat until shimmering. Add about half of the brats and brown on all sides. Transfer to a dish and repeat with the remaining brats.Cut the brats in half and set aside.
  2. Remove the pot from the heat and place a collapsible steamer basket in the bottom of the pot. Spread the onions on the steamer basket. Layer the halved brats over the onions. Pour the beer over everything.
  3. Cover the pot and return it to medium heat until the beer begins producing steam. Reduce the heat to low and steam the brats for 15 minutes.
  4. Check the temp. of the brats. If they’ve reached 160°F in the middle then they are good to go. If not cook for another minute or 2.
  5. Serve brats with the steamed onions in a bun, on a plate, with mustard or with what ever your heart desires.

Notes:
I had lack of burners the night I made these so I cooked them to 155°F, dumped the brats and onions in a oven-safe dish, added a bit of the beer broth, covered it with foil and tossed it in the oven set to “keep warm (which is ~250°F for me). When dinner was ready 30 minutes later these were all set and ready to go.

Saturday night – 09/13/2014

The weather turned cool this past week which, while a pleasant relief from the prior weeks hot & steamy weather, was a bit of a surprise. I’m not ready to turn on the furnace though I didn’t mind pulling on my favorite flannel shirt. In any event the cool weather made me long for comfort food. A friend’s birthday, and favorite dishes, helped narrow down the menu.

Menu
Beer steamed bratwursts with onions
Potato and Onion Perogies
Succotash
Braised Cabbage

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Notes under the cut

Zucchini Brownies

I have dinner with my mom at least every couple of weeks. She shared a zucchini brownie that a friend of hers passed along and it was pretty good. I had a zucchini and thought I’d see what I could come up with. The results were pretty good, though more a snack cake than a brownie.

It is amazing to me how well the zucchini is absorbed into the finished product. If I didn’t know it was there I don’t think I’d be any the wiser.

Zucchini Brownies
Servings: 12
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 55 minutes (plus cooling time)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cup shredded zucchini
  • 270g (2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. table salt
  • 1/2 tsp. espresso powder
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prep a 13″x9″ pan by spraying it with vegetable spray, lining it with a piece of parchment to make a sling and then spraying it again with vegetable spray.
  2. Whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, soda, salt and espresso powder and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl mix the sugar and oil together. Beat in the egg and vanilla until combined.
  4. Add the dry ingredients and stir until combined. It won’t turn into a batter, more like lightly moistened sand.
  5. Add the zucchini and chocolate chips; stir until well mixed. The batter will moisten up as you stir. You want it to just come together; a small pocket or two of dry ingredients won’t be a problem.
  6. Transfer to the prepared pan and press to the edges. Bake for 35-40 minutes, rotating the pan 180 degrees at the halfway mark.
  7. Allow brownies to cook in the pan for at least 1 hour.

Notes:
I shredded the zucchini on the large holes of a box grater.

I stand by the lightly moistened sand analogy. Shocking how much liquid the zucchini provided and how it goes from nothing-like-brownie-batter to a geez-this-is-thick-brownie-batter in less than a minute.

I drew inspiration from several recipes I found online including The Best Zucchini Brownies, Chocolate Zucchini Brownies and one at chef-in-training.com.