Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Fried Green Tomato Salade

Farmer's Market Day 
We hauled in a lovely basket of goodies.
I am going to make zucchini fritters with the squash,
Bruschetta with the lovely tomatoes and baby onions,
and a Cesare salade with that Gorgeous Romain lettuce.
I'm most excited about fried green tomatoes.
Fried green tomatoes in a salade is a match made in heaven.  

We love our veggies.
In the summer time, that translates into salades
Lots of salades.
We get very creative with them.
Today I making Fried Green Tomato Salade with goat cheese and a reduced Balsamic Dressing.
 That's a delicious mouthful.

Board of ingredients:
  • Lettuce
  • Bread crumbs
  • Olive Oil
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Vegetable or Canola Oil for Frying
  • Green Tomatoes
  • Flour
  • Goat Cheese
  • Eggs
  • Shallot
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Salt
  • Pepper
{I cannot eat gluten...and these were the only bread crumbs I had on hand.}
{Use regular bread crumbs for your recipe.}

To begin, we need to start the balsamic so it can reduce.
Reduced balsamic is thick, sweet and one of my favorite things ever.
{Try it on strawberries with a bit of whipped cream.}
{Trust me!}
I am making four salads so I need about a cup of balsamic.
I am going to reduce the vinegar by about half.
Put the vinegar over medium low heat and let it simmer very gently until it is reduced.

Next, start the oil.
I just use a pot on the stove.
You can get as fancy as you want.
Put the oil over a medium/medium high heat.
You want the oil to shimmer and move in the pan, but you don't want it to smoke.

Now we prepare to bread.
Flour, salt and pepper in one bowl.
Beaten eggs in the next bowl.
Bread crumbs, salt, pepper and a couple tablespoons of parm.
Mix 'em up and we are good to go.

Now, green tomatoes do not have a good texture.
They are very firm and we don't want crunchy tomatoes in our salade.
So, in order to get them fully cooked in the oil, we need to slice the tomatoes very thin.
{That's the most important tip to making good fried green tomatoes!}

Time to get messy.
First they go in the flour.

Tap the excess flour off.

Next, send them for a swim in the egg.

They go right from the egg into the crumbs.

That is beautiful.
Keep going.

Once our tomaters are breaded and ready to go, let's check the oil.
You can use a thermometer if you want.
{I don't.}
Toss a bit of the breading into the oil and see what it does.
If it doesn't bubble up, the oil is not hot enough.
I needed to turn my oil up.
If you are using a thermometer, bring your oil up to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

This is what you want to see when you drop something in oil to deep fry it.
My daughter says the oil is cheering.
I think that's adorable.

I use this thing, called a spider, when I am deep frying.
It's a Japanese cooking tool, but you can find them everywhere.
I highly recommend one for scooping stuff out of hot oil and letting it drain a bit.

Look at that!
If it was not so hot and if I did not need to take it's picture, I would have eaten it already.
But don't expect that one to make it to the salades.
Part of cooking is quality control and I am fully prepared to sample so that I can be sure to serve nothing but the best to my family.

Okay, vinegar.
This is a horrible picture.
But, you can see the vinegar coating the edge of the pan.
You want your vinegar to be the consistency of agave nectar.
If you get it too thick, add a bit of vinegar to even it out.
If it is too thin, keep cooking it.

Add the reduced balsamic to a small bowl.

Add a bit of olive oil.

Add a pinch of salt and pepper.

Then whisk like crazy.
You want the vinegar and oil to emulsify.
At first it will look terrible, but keep going.
It will come together and it will be so worth it.

Now we have everything ready to make our salade.
The lettuce is cut up and washed, the goat cheese is crumbled and the shallot is chopped.

Layer one, lettuce.

Layer two, onion.

Layer three, goat cheese.

Layer four, fried green tomatoes.

Layer five, parm.

Layer six, dressing.
Use plenty of dressing.

Eat immediately.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Farmer's Market Fresh Turnips

It is a thrill for us to go the to farmer's market on Saturday Mornings.
We wander around and look at everything before we purchase.
Then we get a treat like a cup of coffee, an egg roll or a caramel.
Then we shop.
Then we go home and I make something yummy for lunch while the kids mow the lawn.
Look at our lovely bounty this week.

I am most excited to be making turnips.
We LOVE turnips.
But they have to be caramelized.
It's so, so good.

So, we start with our board of ingredients as usual.
  • Turnips
  • Olive Oil
  • Butter
  • Salt 
  • Pepper

We start to prep these little beauties by chopping off their little tail.
Then their tops get chopped off.
Then we peel them.

Then we dice.

Then we season with salt and pepper.

I apologize for the over exposed picture of butter.
I can do better.  
I promise never to do this again.
Anyway, a bit of olive oil and a couple bits of butter go in a non stick pan.

When the butter is melted and swirled around in the olive oil,
Add the turnips.

Start cooking them over medium high heat.
I'm here to tell you it takes a long time.
But it's worth it.
(By a long time, I mean longer than my attention span.)
(The only reason the turnips don't burn is because my daughter takes over stirring and watching.)
(She will be a much better cook than I am because she is patient.)

Now this is what I am talking about.
Those dark brown spots are the best.
Oh, yummy!

If you want to gild the lily, and sometimes I do, add a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese on top.

FYI, when you cook turnips this way, they shrink down.
Six turnips made about four small servings.
FYI, I could have eaten this all by myself.
I didn't...this time.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Seven Layer Salade

We are going retro today.
I am making a recipe that I have not had since I was a kid.
It was so good that I had to call my mom for her recipe. 
I was a little worried that it would not be as good as I remembered.
It was as good as I had remembered though.
Maybe better.

The board of ingredients:
  • A HEAD of Iceberg Lettuce
  • Green Onions
  • Celery
  • Mayo
  • Tomatoe
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Sugar
  • Bacon
  • Hard Boiled Eggs
  • Frozen Peas

Told you we were going retro.
No bag of lettuce for this recipe.
And it turns out that not every store sells heads of Iceberg in my neck of the woods. 
Anyway, we need to prep the lettuce.
That core is NOT yummy.
We need to get rid of it.

Luckily, it's super easy to get rid of it.
A) Cut it out like the core of a tomato.
B) Press down hard on the core with your hand and then wiggle the core out.

It's kind of a work of art isn't it?

Now we need to cut it down into bite sized pieces.
Start by cutting it into strips.

The cut it on the bias.
Perfect bite sized pieces.

Now we take it for a rinse and spin cycle in the old salade spinner.
I use this spinner all the time since I am not a huge fan of the preservatives in bagged lettuce.

Then spread the lettuce out into an even layer in your serving dish.

Now we get the goodies ready.
I like to give the tomato a little time on a paper towel to absorb a bit of the juice.
But you don't have to do that.

Now, we layer.
I don't know why they call it seven layer salad.
There are more than seven layers.
I counted.
There are ten.
Anyway, sprinkle the celery over the lettuce.

Now we add the green onion and peas.

Next on is the mayo.
I used to HATE spreading the mayo on.
I still do, so I cheat a bit.
Hello baggie of mayo.


Ta Da!

Squeeze it all out.

Next we spread it out.
Piece of cake.
I love it.

Now sprinkle the sugar over the mayo.

Tomatoes go on next.

(We take our eggs very seriously.)

Bacon next.
Confession time.
I made a little more bacon than the recipe called for.
I made a pound of bacon.
But don't worry, we didn't use a whole pound here.
We ate some before we put it on the salad.
By we, I mean my son.
By some, I mean half.

Okay, last layer.
The parm.
I like a lot of parm.  
I used about a third of a cup.
You can add as little or as much as you want.
My mother recommends a lot of parm though.
(She's right.)

And here it is.  
Dig in.
One note, I did pre-cut the portion sizes.  
I don't know if you can see it or if it helped.
I just felt that it was the right thing to do.
My son ate three portions all by himself.
Also, we discovered that two serving utensils was helpful.

Seven Layer Salade
1 Head Iceberg Lettuce, Chopped
1/3 Cup Celery, Chopped
1/3 Cup Green Onions, Chopped
10 oz. Bag Frozen Peas
2 Cups Mayo
2 Tablespoons Sugar
1 Large Tomato,  Wedged or Diced
4 or 5 hard Boiled Eggs, Quartered or Chopped
3 or 4 Slices of Cooked, Crumbled Bacon
Parmesan Cheese

1. Spread ingredients out in a 9X13 in the order listed above.
2. Chill and serve.

For a printer friendly version of this recipe  click here.