Back in Action with "Fried" Green Tomatoes

2009/06/24

Hey everyone! I have not written in a couple weeks, mostly because I was in Florida for a week and a half, and then when I came home, I didn’t really cook anything right away. I have a number of backlogged entries to post, including strawberry jam and a review of restaurants in Florida, so I will be writing a lot in the near future to catch up.

However, here is tonight’s dinner: “Fried” Green Tomatoes with Remoulade Sauce and Vegetarian Gumbo over Rice, followed by Fresh Peaches with Ice Cream

The appetizer and main course

The appetizer and main course

I love fried green tomatoes, and so does Ian, but taking a perfectly good vegetable, breading it, and frying it is not necessarily the healthiest thing to do. So I went online to find a healthier alternative, which I did. I read a bunch of different recipes for breaded but baked green tomatoes, along with eggplant and other vegetables, so I could get an idea for what to do.

The Recipe

  • 2 green tomatoes, sliced 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick
  • 1/8 cup fat free 99% egg product (or 1 egg, beaten)
  • 1/2 cup corn flour
  • Cajun flavored seasoned salt

    My particular brand of Cajun seasoned salt

    My particular brand of Cajun seasoned salt

  • Fresh black pepper
  • Parmesan Cheese (0ptional)
  • Cooking spray
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and spray a foil lined baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. Mix the corn flour, seasoned salt, pepper, and cheese together in a shallow bowl. Pour the eggs into a similar bowl.
    Eggs...mmm

    Eggs...mmm

    The flour mixture

    The flour mixture

  3. Dredge the tomatoes in the eggs, and then the flour, then lay on the baking sheet.

    Ready to be cooked

    Ready to be cooked

  4. Spray the tops of the tomatoes with cooking spray.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes, or until they start to brown. If parts still look a little “dusty” spray them a little more and then cook for 5 more minutes. Then flip, spray the other side, and bake for about 5 more minutes.
The finished product

The finished product (I'm not sure why the pic is so small)

I served these on lettuce leaves with a remoulade sauce. The lettuce leaves were not purely decorative; while Ian did not eat them, I wrapped one of my tomatoes with one, and I thought the fresh, crisp taste was a good addition. The verdict: while not as amazingly delicious as regular fried green tomatoes, these were a good substitute for everyday occasions, especially with the remoulade. I see a sandwich in my near future.

The Recipe

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp prepared horseradish
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp spicy mustard
  • 2 tsp chopped capers
  • 1 smallish garlic clove, minced
  • salt
  • pepper
  • juice of 1/3 lemon or so
All the ingredients, before mixing

All the ingredients, before mixing

Mix well. Chill for at least 1 hour before serving.

Just a dollop

Just a dollop

Note: This is just my remoulade, mixed up with whatever I had on hand, and is not a definitive recipe.

Originally, I was going to write up the whole dinner in one post, but I am tired now, so I will leave the rest until tomorrow…


Strawberry "Shortcake" Parfaits

2009/06/04
Strawberry Shortcake Parfait

Strawberry Shortcake Parfait

I promised you dessert, and here it is. This parfait-like dessert, which went over quite well I must say, was loosely based on strawberry shortcake. However, the strawberries were soaked in amaretto and the whipped cream was homemade, and therefore the layers did not say separate. It still tasted great, though.

Instead of using a shortcake base, I crumbled a couple buttery tea cookies into each glass. The particular ones I used are Persian and shortbread-like.

Persian Tea Biscuits

Persian Tea Biscuits

The strawberries, which had been picked fresh that morning at Larriland Farm, a lovely little farm in Woodbine, Maryland where they let you pick your own fruits and vegetables – essentially paying them to do work they would otherwise pay migrant workers to do. I marinated the strawberries in amaretto and sugar for about a half hour before I assembled the desserts.

Soaking Strawberries

Soaking Strawberries

Finally, I made the whipped cream. I have never made whipped cream before, and it is not particularly easy. I just couldn’t get it to set, even though I chilled the bowl and whisk beforehand. When it started to form peaks, I added a tablespoon of confectioner’s sugar and a teaspoon of amaretto to match the flavor in the strawberries.

Whipped Cream

Whipped Cream

To assemble the parfaits, I started with the crumbled cookies, then added a little whipped cream, then the strawberries, then the rest of the whipped cream. I sprinkled more cookies on top, and then garnished with a fresh strawberry and a square of 86% dark chocolate.

The Recipe:

  • fresh strawberries, a couple of handfuls per person, washed, hulled, and sliced
  • 1/4 cup amaretto
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tbsp confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tsp amaretto
  • 8 cookies
  • 4 fresh strawberries
  • 4 squares high quality chocolate
  1. Mix sliced strawberries with 1/4 cup amaretto and 1/4 cup sugar in a medium mixing bowl and let sit for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Prepare the whipped cream. Whisk heavy cream in a chilled mixing bowl until peaks start to form. Then add 1 tbsp confectioner’s sugar and 1 tsp amaretto. Continue to whisk until it begins to firm up. Do not over-whisk. Chill until ready to assemble.
  3. When ready to assemble, crumble about 1 and a half cookies into the bottom of each of 4 parfait glasses. Add a heaping teaspoon of whipped cream. Divide the strawberries among the glasses. Top with the remaining whipped cream. Garnish with a fresh strawberries and chocolate squares.

A Small Summer Dinner Party

2009/06/03
Oh the joys of summer. This morning I went strawberry picking, (more on that tomorrow) and that got me hankering for fresh produce. So I gathered a couple friends and put together a nice, simple meal to highlight the flavors of the season.
We began with a simple dinner salad.
Dinner Salad Dinner Salad

The salad was a combination of mixed baby lettuces, shredded parmesan cheese, toasted slivered almonds, and my simple Balsamic Vinaigrette.

The Recipe:

  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp brown mustard
  • salt and pepper

Whisk all the ingredients together. Serve immediately.

The main course was baked chicken (both real and fake) with roasted early summer vegetables and polenta wedges, garnished with a little crumbled goat cheese.

IMG_0444
Chicken with Polenta Strips and Roasted Vegetables
IMG_0445
The same polenta and vegetables, but with Quorn fake-chicken

There were two vegetarians in the group and two meat eaters, so I made two of the plates with real chicken and two with Quorn fake chicken. “Naked Chik’n Cutlets” are what I think they are called. Both the fake chicken and the real chicken were brushed lightly with a mix of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and pepper while they were cooking. I, personally, really like the Quorn fake chicken, and I thought the light marinade was nice.

The roasted vegetables were really the star, so it is unfortunate that they are not as visible in the picture. I cooked a mixture of carrots, asparagus, red bell pepper, and vidalia onion in the same marinade as the chicken. The flavors blended very well and the vegetables were very tender and colorful. They just shouted: summer!

I have had a hankering recently for polenta, so I decided to make little polenta wedges. These took way longer than I thought they would, so they are not as brown and crispy as I would like them to be, but no one complained. To make the polenta wedges, I just cooked the polenta according to the package instructions, cooled it in the refrigerator, shaped it into a log with a dish towel (thanks Clotilde!), chilled it some more, cut it, and baked it in the oven after spraying it with olive oil with the nifty little olive oil pump my mom gave me for Christmas last year.

The Recipe:

  • 4 carrots
  • 1 large bunch thin asparagus
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1 vidalia onion
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon zest
  • salt and pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Peel the carrots and chop on a diagonal. Cut off the bottom third of the asparagus stalks and discard. Cut the remaining pieces in half. Dice the red pepper. Halve and slice the onion. (This is how I cut the vegetables because I thought it would look fun. You can cut them however you like.)
  3. Mix the olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and pepper together in a small dish.
  4. Line a roasting pan or 9 x 13 baking dish with aluminum foil. Toss the vegetables with the marinade.
  5. Cook in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until done.

We also had dessert, but I’ll write about that later…