Monthly Archives: September 2010

Fried Green Tomato Bites

Fried Green Tomato Bites

Fried Green Tomato Bites

I tried to grow cherry tomatoes again this year.  The plants started out promising, bursting with healthy foliage and small green tomatoes just a few weeks after I planted them.  But then the chipmunks came and every morning I would come outside to find half-eaten baby tomatoes littered on the ground.  I cried a little each time it happened.  Then the very hot and very dry weather hit and we couldn’t keep up with the watering.  My plants got dry and brown and the chipmunks started to get more picky about eating only the nearly ripe tomatoes.

Cherry Tomatoes

Cherry Tomatoes

Fast forward to mid-September.  The poor little green tomatoes still on the vines were not getting any bigger or any riper in the cool weather.  Since I love fried green tomatoes and I hate watching produce go to waste, I started the ponder the idea of frying my small green cherry tomatoes.  This morning I picked my plants clean and went for it.  I decided to use panko crumbs to add extra crunch.  Since the cherry tomatoes are so small, there isn’t the crust-to-tomato ratio of the larger slices so I figured extra crisp would only help.  I also opted for flour instead of the more traditional cornmeal.  I don’t always like the grittiness of cornmeal but you could certainly swap the two if you prefer.  Finally, I double dipped the tomatoes (milk-flour mixture-milk-flour mixture) in hopes of getting the crust to stick as much as possible.  Next time, I will add a little bit of rest time after the breading so the crust can really set.  I am please to report that these little cherries were every bit as delicious as a traditional fried green tomato with the added bonus of being totally snackable.  Even better, none of my tomatoes were wasted.

Frying the Tomatoes

Frying the Tomatoes

Fried Green Tomato Bites

Ingredients:

1 cup green (unripe) cherry tomatoes

1/4 cup flour

1/4 cup panko bread crumbs

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp onion powder

1/8-1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup whole milk or buttermilk

To Make:

Wash and dry your tomatoes.  Set a medium, deep sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Fill with a neutral cooking oil (safflower or peanut are good choices) to about 1/8″ deep.

While the oil is heating, mix flour, bread crumbs, spices, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.  Pour milk into a separate small bowl.  Dip the tomatoes, a small handful at a time, in the milk.  Scoop out, let drain for a second, and toss them in the flour mixture until well coated.  Put the tomatoes back into the milk for a minute, and then toss in the flour a second time.  Continue until all tomatoes have been double dipped.  Let them rest for a few minutes before cooking.

Once the oil is hot (a few drops of water should dance and sizzle when added to the pan), add the tomatoes, in batches if needed so you don’t crowd the pan.  Let them cook until golden on the first side, 30-60 seconds.  Turn the tomatoes until they are golden on all sides.  Remove to a plate covered with a paper towel to drain and sprinkle with a little more kosher salt and pepper.

To Serve:

Enjoy while still hot.  Conceviablely you could serve 2 with appetizer-sized portions but I don’t think you’ll want to share.

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Filed under Appetizers, Recipes, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Happy Anniversary (and we have a gift for you)!

I am thrilled to report that today is the one year anniversary of our blog.  Just like watching a baby grow up, I can’t believe that a year has passed already.  We have had tons of fun with this blog and appreciate the great feedback we have gotten from folks who read it.

So, as an anniversary gift, we are excited to be able to offer one of our readers $40 to use to spruce up the kitchen (or any other part of the house) with anything from lots of choices in bistro sets to our beloved pressure cooker.  How are we doing this you ask?  Well, the folks at CSN Stores have graciously offered us a gift code to give to one of our readers.  It is good towards anything at any of their stores (excluding shipping).  And let me tell you, there is lots to choose from.  Whoever wins this giveaway will have a fun time shopping.

To Enter the Giveaway:

To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment mentioning your favorite recipe we have posted.  Or, let us know if there is a type a recipe you would like to see us cook.  We will randomly pick a winner from among all the comments.  The winner will be posted one week from today (Sept. 29) so check back to see who won!  Good luck everyone and thanks again for all the readership this past year.  We look forward to many more.

Important Note:

Please only one entry per person (multiple entries will be deleted). It can sometimes take a while for your comment to show up so if it is not there right away, please wait a little while and check back again before posting a second comment.  The management thanks you.

P.S., If you are visiting us for the first time, please feel free to take a look around at some of our recipes.  From this pasta that started it all to some of our most popular posts, we hope you find something that inspires you to head into the kitchen for some cooking.

Disclaimer: We are not receiving a payment, kickback, or renumeration of any kind from CSN Stores.  Thank you.

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Filed under Announcements, Contests

Refrigerator Sour Pickles

Refrigerator Sour Pickles

Refrigerator Sour Pickles

When cucumbers first start to appear in the summer, it is blissful.  After a fall and winter of heavy root vegetables, and a spring of greens, cucumbers are wonderfully light and refreshing.  Plus, they usually come along with tomatoes, zucchinis, and other denizens of high summer.  The problem with cucumbers is that they are pretty prolific and I have a hard time doing anything with them other than putting them in salads or on sandwiches.

Pile o' cucumbers

Pile o' cucumbers

Sure, I have a couple of Asian-style salads that cucumbers star in, but honestly, my repertoire is pretty limited.  So when the cucumbers start to overwhelm our crisper drawer, I reach for my trusty refrigerator pickle recipe and make a big batch.  The beauty of refrigerator pickles is that they are simple to make and because they are so acidic, they last a long time* in the fridge without the need for fancy canning.  The best part is that in about 30 minutes, we can make enough pickles to last us most of the year.  Which means we don’t ever have to buy them in the store.

The brine

The brine

This recipe is a modification of a recipe from Alton Brown.  I love the original for its simplicity but I have tweaked it a bit for my tastes.  Namely, I switched up the vinegars a little and cut the sugar in half because I like my pickles less sweet and more sour.  However, if you wanted more of a sweet-sour balance, feel free to increase the sugar.

Yummy vinegar and spices

Yummy vinegar and spices

Refrigerator Sour Pickles

Adapted from Alton Brown

6-8 pint-sized glass canning jars with lids

12 cucumbers (mix of all sizes), about 4 lbs.

1 medium onion

3 cups water

3 1/2 cups cider vinegar

1 cup white wine vinegar

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 tbls kosher salt

1 tbls mustard seeds

3/4 tsp turmeric

2 tsp celery seeds

1 tbls pickling spice

1 tbls granulated garlic

To Make:

Thoroughly wash the cucumbers and trim the ends.  You can take the peels off (which I would do if I was using cucumbers that had been sprayed with pesticides) but leaving them on makes the pickle a bit crisper.  Slice the cucumbers approximately 3/16 of an inch thick.  Using a mandoline or food processor makes this job significantly easier and more consistent then doing it by hand with a knife.  Slice the onion into half moons that are 1/16 of an inch thick.  Set sliced cucumbers and onions aside.

To make the brine, combine the vinegars, water, sugar, and spices in a non-reactive saucepan large enough to hold everything.  Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, turn down the heat and let simmer for a full 4 minutes to allow the flavor of the spices to bloom.

Pack your cleaned and dried canning jars with the cucumber and onion.  Pack them full, and don’t be afraid to push down to get as much air out as you can.  Pour the warm brine over the cucumbers, filling the jars as full as you can without spilling everything when you put the lid on.  Let the jars cool to room temperature, top off with extra brine as need, put the lids on and put them in the fridge.

To Serve:

Let them sit a couple of days before you dive in.  Makes 6-8 pints of pickles, depending on how much cucumber and onion you use and how tightly you pack your jars.

*Public Service Announcement: The recipe says that these keep for a month or so in the fridge. However, we have kept them for longer than 6 months and still had them come out tasting fine.  So, feel free to keep them longer if you like, just use common sense (you know, throw away any jars that get moldy or appear discolored or cloudy) and don’t blame us if something goes wrong.

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Filed under Add-ons, Dairy-free, Gluten-Free, Recipes, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Corn Pesto

Corn Pesto

Corn Pesto

Can I share a fear with you?  I am afraid that corn and tomato season is almost over.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the fall with its cool weather, pretty displays of nature, and pumpkins.  But corn and tomato season sends my heart aflutter and makes me do things like eat tomatoes at every meal and make enough corn and black bean salsa to fill a 5-gallon bucket.

Corn off the cob

Corn off the cob

So while there is still corn left, please make this pesto.  It is a revelation, and I don’t use that word lightly.  Gently cooked corn is pureed and mixed with pine nuts, parmesan, and topped with chopped bacon and basil.  It is so thick and creamy that I contemplated eating it with a spoon like pudding (okay, maybe I actually did that).  The corn is super sweet, the bacon and cheese are salty, and tomatoes add just enough acid to balance the whole dish.

Bacon and tomatoes

Bacon and tomatoes

While we served this over pasta as the recipe suggested, it would also be excellent spread on crusty bread, or eaten with a spoon for breakfast.  Seriously, it is that good.

Smooth and creamy

Smooth and creamy

Corn Pesto

Adapted from Epicurious

Ingredients:

4 bacon slices, coarsely chopped

4 cups fresh corn kernels (cut from about 6 large ears)

1 large or 2 small garlic cloves, minced

1 1/4 tsp kosher salt

3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus additional for serving

1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

8 ounces spaghetti

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely torn

1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half (or quarters if very large)

To Make:

Cook bacon in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp, stirring often. Transfer to paper towels to drain and roughly chop.  Pour off all but 1 tbls bacon drippings from skillet.  Add corn, garlic, salt, and pepper to the skillet. Sauté over medium-high heat until corn is just tender but not brown, about 4 minutes.  Reserve 1 1/2 cups corn kernels in small bowl and put the remaining corn mixture into a food processor or blender.  Add grated Parmesan and pine nuts and pulse to combine.  Add olive oil through feed tube in a thin stream with machine running and blend until pesto is almost smooth, set aside.

Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until al dente.  Drain, reserving 1 1/2 cups pasta cooking liquid. Return pasta to pot. Add corn pesto, reserved corn kernels, and the basil leaves. Toss pasta mixture over medium heat until warmed through, adding reserved pasta cooking liquid by 1/4 cupfuls to thin to desired consistency.  This definitely made a very thick pesto that needed some thinning.  Season pasta to taste with salt and pepper and sprinkle with the bacon.  Divide the cherry tomatoes among each serving.

To Serve:

Serve hot, with additional grated Parmesan as desired.  Serves 6 as a main course.

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Filed under Dinner, Gluten-Free, Meat, Pasta, Recipes, Vegetables

Ratatouille

Ratatouille

Ratatouille

Are you swimming in vegetables yet?  If you belong to a CSA and/or make a hobby out of frequenting your local farmer’s market, I imagine you are feeling a little like we are.  Sometimes I fear that I won’t be able to use all my vegetables fast enough before the next batch arrives.  It certainly doesn’t help that I approach buying vegetables like I do buying shoes.  I know that I have a bunch of stuff at home that I should eat but I just can’t resist a ripe melon or a basket of technicolor cherry tomatoes.

Zucchini and Eggplant

Zucchini and Eggplant

That is where Ratatouille comes in.  This recipe is one of the best ways to use up all those veggies you have in the fridge (psst, you can even use the ones that are slightly past their peak of freshness).  The vegetables are cooked with olive oil, aromatic herbs, and a splash of vinegar and somehow, this transforms a dish that is mostly zucchini and eggplant into something that is silky, rich, and deeply satisfying.

Onions and Peppers

Onions and Peppers

If you have lots of veggies, you can easily double this recipe (which is what I did) and make enough to feed an army.  It keeps well in the fridge and reheats nicely for leftover.

Tomatoes and Herbs

Tomatoes and Herbs

Ratatouille

Adapted from The Joy of Cooking

Ingredients:

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium eggplant (about 1 lb), peeled and cut into 1″ cubes

1 lb zucchini, cut into 1″ cubes

1 large onion, sliced

1 small bell pepper, cut into 1″ squares (we threw some left over hot pepper in there too… feel free to do the same if you like a little heat)

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes

1 4-inch sprig of rosemary

1 bay leaf

1/4 cup basil

2 tbls red wine vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

To Make:

Using a large skillet that has a cover, saute the eggplant and zucchini over high heat in 1/4 cup olive oil until just tender, about 10-12 minutes.  Remove the eggplant and zucchini and set aside.  Reduce the heat to medium-high, add the two tablespoons of olive oil and the onions. Cook until the onions are slightly softened.  Add in the bell pepper and garlic and continue to cook until just tender, another 8-12 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add in the tomatoes, the garlic, rosemary, and bay leaf.  Season with salt and pepper.

Cover the pan, reduce the heat to low and let it ride for 5 minutes.  Add back in the previously cooked eggplant and zucchini.  This time, let it all cook over low heat until it’s really tender, about 20 minutes.  To finish, stir in the fresh basil and red wine vinegar.

To Serve:

Ratatouille makes a delicious main dish, a side dish, or light lunch.  It can be served warm or room temperature.  Serves 6-8 as a side dish.

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Filed under Dairy-free, Dinner, Gluten-Free, Recipes, Side Dish, Vegetables, Vegetarian