Fried Green Tomatoes

I mentioned yesterday that Nick and I bought green tomatoes on Monday so I decided to tackle making fried green tomatoes for the first time ever! I did some research (as always) before choosing a simple recipe from a blog called “Pretty Tasty Things.” I pretty much left this recipe alone other than adding in a little cayenne to the flour for some extra heat.

Whenever I batter and fry anything (which isn’t all that often), I look for a batter that uses flour and buttermilk as part of the dredging process. The flour is a perfect first step because it helps coat whatever you are frying so you get a true batter around everything. The buttermilk helps create the next step of the barrier and gives the outside layer some moisture to adhere to. The cornmeal and bread crumb outer layer creates a crunchy bite. So when I saw these in this recipe, I had to try it!

This recipe is relatively easy but the dredging can be a little tricky. I found using a fork to flip, cover and move the tomato slices from bowl to bowl was the easiest way. You can use your fingers but be careful to use one hand for the dry ingredients and one hand for the wet ingredients so you don’t end up with a gloppy mess!

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Ingredients

3 green tomatoes

1 cup of flour

1 cup of plain bread crumbs

1 cup of yellow cornmeal

1 cup of buttermilk

salt and pepper

cayenne

vegetable oil

Directions

Rinse and pat dry the green tomatoes. Slice the tomatoes into 1/4-inch thickness. Season both sides with salt.

(pictured above)

In three separate bowls, add flour to the first one with some salt and pepper, buttermilk to the second, and combine the breadcrumbs and cornmeal in the third.

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Taking a slice of tomato, lightly coat it in the flour, coat both sides with the buttermilk and then dredge into the breadcrumb/cornmeal mixture. Repeat process for all the slices.

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Heat a large skillet on medium heat with vegetable oil about 1/4-inch high. Once the oil is hot, gently place 5-6 slices into the pan. Let one side turn golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side, before turning it over.

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Remove and place on a baking rake to drip the excess oil. I kept mine in the oven until all the slices were fried (at 170 degrees).

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WW Points: 5 points for 2 slices

Don’t forget to try them with the buttermilk ranch dressing from yesterday’s post!

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

I love ranch dressing! One of my favorite snacks growing up was carrot sticks and ranch. And, everyone also knows that I love Ina Garten. So you can imagine how much I LOVE Ina Garten’s Buttermilk Ranch Dressing? I have made this recipe twice before.  I always forget how easy it is so I’ll go months without making it! Nick and I bought some green tomatoes at a road side stand on Monday so I figured I would make this dressing to go along with some fried green tomatoes (I’ll post about them soon!) This is definitely not a low fat, WW recipe but you can alter it in a few ways to make it better. Give it a try with full fat first (it’s AMAZING and worth the splurge!) then alter as you see fit.

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Ingredients

3 scallions, white and green parts, chopped

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, lightly packed

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon good olive oil

2 garlic cloves, chopped

2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (maybe a little less)

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup good mayonnaise (I used reduced-fat)

1/2 cup Greek-style yogurt, such as Fage Total

1/2 cup buttermilk, shaken (I used light buttermilk)

Directions

Place the scallions, basil, lemon juice, mustard, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade.

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Puree for 15 to 20 seconds to make a smooth mixture.

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Add the mayonnaise, yogurt, and buttermilk and blend until smooth.

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Transfer the dressing to a container, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour for the flavors to develop.

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…or eat some right away… just to make sure it tastes good 😉

This is a great time to use mason jars. This recipe makes 3 cups so it will fill about 1 1/2 mason jars. Definitely let it sit in the fridge for a bit (at least one hour) before using it- the flavors develop so nicely!

WW Points: 1 point for 2 tbsp 

(with reduced fat mayo and light buttermilk)

Grilled Caesar Salad

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One of my favorites things to make during grilling season is a grilled Caesar Salad. It is so simple to prepare yet grilling the romaine completely elevates this “recipe.” I honestly hesitate calling it a recipe! The first time I tried this was at my friend’s house in high school. Her mom used to cook for us all the time and this is one of the recipes I have taken on as my own!

Grilled Caesar Salad

1 head of romaine lettuce (try to get one that holds it shape- no leaves falling off)

Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper

Caesar dressing (store bought or homemade)

Croutons (store bought or homemade)

Directions

Start your grill (propane, charcoal or grill pan) and bring to a moderate heat. You want to grill and heat the lettuce slowly but you want it warm enough to leave grill marks.

Cut the romaine lettuce in half lengthwise then cut each half in half again. Make sure you take care to keep all the leaves in tack!

Brush each 1/4 of romaine on all sides with 1-2 tsp of olive oil (just enough to lightly coat ) and then sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place on the grill turning every 2-4 minutes until the outside of the lettuce is warmed through and has grill marks.

Drizzle with dressing and top with croutons. Serve immediately.

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This is by far the worst “recipe” I have written on this blog but that is mainly because grilling lettuce is all about trial and error. I have made this salad a number of times and it turns out differently every time. Just wing it and I promise it will turn out well!

Red Rooster Harlem

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I decided to venture away from the apartment on this rainy afternoon for some comfort food. I ended up at Red Rooster Harlem which has become a favorite in recent months. This hot spot opened about two and half years ago and has played an integral role in transforming this neighborhood. Lenox is now speckled with eateries that are attracting a culturally diverse crowd.

This culinary destination in Harlem (just off of 125th on Lenox Ave) is the brainchild of star chef Marcus Samuelsson of Aquavit in Midtown. While Aquavit offers a nod to his Swedish upbringing, Red Rooster connects to his southern roots resulting in a menu ranging from corn bread and yard bird to Helga’s meatballs.

Today, I opted for the Shrimp Po’boy with Old Bay potato chips and a market salad. The bun was perfectly toasted and buttered an filled with sweet shrimp dusted in a spicy rub. The potato chips, homemade no doubt, where crunchy with just a hint of Old Bay seasoning. All in all, not a bad choice for a delicious and comforting lunch on this rainy Friday afternoon.

Fancy Jell-O Shots

With Memorial Day coming up, I thought I would share one of my favorite “drinks” to have at a summer party. I have made a few versions of these over the years and it’s a fun way to get creative in the kitchen. Change it up by pairing orange Jell-O with an orange with orange liqueur or use lemons! You can do whatever you want to with this! Prepare them ahead and pull them out when guests arrive and they will be so impressed! I haven’t tried the strawberry margarita version yet but they are on my list of treats to make this weekend.

Strawberry Margarita Jell-O Shot

Strawberry jello shot

Ingredients

24-30 large strawberries

1 box Strawberry Jell-O

1 cup tequila

3/4 cup cointreau

Sugar

1-2 limes

Special equipment
A melon baller or small measuring spoon with relatively sharp edges

Directions

Balancing the strawberry on its side, parallel to the cutting board at the point where it is widest, cut off the top.

Still holding it the same way, cut off a tiny part of the strawberry’s bottom tip so the berry can stand upright. Make sure not to cut off too much or you’ll create a hole at the bottom. Repeat with all remaining strawberries.

Using a melon baller or small measuring spoon, carefully scoop out the insides of the strawberries.

Put them all on a baking sheet and dry them a little with a paper towel.

Combine Jell-O mix with 3/4 cup boiling water and stir 2 minutes to completely dissolve.

Stir tequila and cointreau into the Jell-O mixture.

Using a container with a spout, pour Jell-O/booze mixture into strawberry cups. Fill them up as much as possible, because Jell-O shrinks when it solidifies.

Refrigerate four hours or until firm.

To finish
Zest lime into a plate of sugar.

Slice lime (you can use the same one if you don’t care about the aesthetics, or a new one if you do) into thin rounds, then cut into small wedges. You may also want to cut a small chunk through the center of each wedge’s flesh so they can balance on the tip of the strawberry.

 Wet the sides of the solidified Jell-O shot with lime or water, roll in your sugar-lime zest, and garnish with lime wedge.

Citron Vodka Jell-O Shot

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Ingredients

1 box of lime Jell-O

Limes (as many as you would like)

Your choice of liquor (Absolut Citron for a crisp and citrus flavor or Tequila for a quick interpretation of a “margarita” shot)

Directions

Cut the limes in half lengthwise and clear out the insides.

Prepare the Jell-O according to the instructions on the box. Reduce the water portion by ¼ cup and replace with your alcohol of choice.

You want to make sure that your limes are set onto a surface that will keep them up right.Try using a muffin pan.

Pour your Jell-O mix into the lime shells and then place them into the refrigerator to set over night or for however long the Jell-O box instructs.

When they are ready, cut each lime in half to make the perfect bight sized lime Jell-O shot!

*Photos: Macey J. Foronda/Buzzfeed (strawberry) and Frock Candy Blog (lime)

Dear American Consumers

Haven’s Kitchen posted this article yesterday and I had to share it. I think I have shared a good amount about my views of the American food system and how broken it truly is. This guest writer does a great job outlining the root of the biggest food issues today.

The “western diet” is primarily processed food that is high in fat, salt and sugar- all of which are addictive and have altered our palates to crave more. If the current “health” fad is low carb, industrialized food companies change their marketing. If its low or no fat, it’s changed again. Has anyone ever noticed how several different types of gummy candy are marketed as a low fat food? It’s all a ploy by big food companies to trick you into thinking its healthy. It’s not. It’s all sugar.

The other way these big companies deceive consumers is with pricing. While working at Slow Food USA I stumbled upon an great article from the California Public Interest Research Group entitled “Apples or Twinkies: Could Farm Subsidy Cuts Actually Make Americans Healthier?” The argument the research group made is that government subsidies favor an industrialized food system- where corn is subsidized to make corn starch and corn syrup instead of a simple (not to mention edible) ear of corn. This has caused processed food costs to decline and the price of fruits and vegetables to increase.

This quote more or less sums it up:

According to CPIRG, since 1995 only $262 million in taxpayer support subsidized apples, which was the only significant federal subsidy for a fresh fruit or vegetable. Breaking it down, the report states that if instead of sending funds to farm subsidies, Americans were given a direct cut to spend on their own groceries, it would amount to $7.36 for each American to spend on junk food per year versus just $0.11 for apples.

As consumers, we have the power to change the food system by shifting what we demand to see at our local markets. Although a Twinkie may cost less now, how much will it cost you down the line in terms of your health and the costs associated with treatments for heart disease and diabetes? I know that that is an extreme but by demanding more from our food system we can alter the health system in this country down the line.

The point I am trying to make is that eating local, seasonal and sustainable food can affect you in more ways than you might think. It has the power to support your local economy, alter prices in favor of wholesome food and positively affect your health. It seems like a no brainer, right? Try it out for a week. Whenever you find yourself grabbing a bag of chips, a frozen meal or a yogurt, check out the food label for the the fat, salt and sugar contents. Trust me, it will shock you (the sugar in yogurt is absurd!) If you exchange those meals or snacks for real fruits and veggies for just a week, your palate will change. That frozen meal will taste so salty you have to stop eating it (at least that’s what happened to me). It may seem daunting (and expensive) but we have to demand change in our food system. If we demand this change, the prices will eventually be in our favor and an apple will be cheaper than a Twinkie.

After all, doesn’t an apple (maybe with a little almond butter) sound better than a Twinkie anyways?

Gwynnett St.

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For those of you who don’t know, I work at an amazing restaurant in East Williamsburg Brooklyn called Gwynnett St. A co-worker of mine from my days at Esca opened this place about a year and a half ago. I ate here many times last spring and when I was looking to do something different for work last September, Carl offered me a job. I love working here (even though its about a hour commute each way!) because the food is just so good- it makes my job as a waitress easy when the food sells itself.

I was lucky enough to go in for a tasting menu last night with Lauren. I helped her move about two months ago so she insisted on treating me to dinner. How could I refuse? Normally the tasting menu is 7 courses (and at $85 it is one of the best deals you’ll find in the city) but Chef Owen sent us out 9 courses! We were even able to try a dessert that isn’t on the menu yet! Here’s what we got!


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Our first round of cocktails:

Green Acres (L)- hendricks gin with fennel

Darling Buds (R)- ford’s gin with riesling and strega

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Stinging Nettle Soup (before the broth was poured)

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Stinging Nettle Soup- raw clam, pickled kombu seaweed, parsley root and nasturtium

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Fluke crudo with cucumber broth, marinated shaved cucumber, green almond, knotweed and fresh horseradish

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Cocoa nib pasta with braised artichoke, sunflower seed puree and charred white onion petals

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Second round of cocktails:

Mr Pink (L)- mexcal, absinthe, elderflower with a rim of pink peppercorn, salt and sugar

Flower Power (R)- pisco, aperol, rose petal, rose water and lemon

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Lauren enjoying the last bites of the cocoa nib pasta

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Lamb’s tongue with fresh fava beans, fava bean emulsion, dried fava bean cake and smoked feta

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Cashew tofu with cauliflower and turmeric puree, pickled turmeric, charred cauliflower and black garlic (this is my fav!)

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My last cocktail:

Road to Nowhere- rye whiskey, amaro and orange bitters

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Cobia with roasted celtuce, asparagus and fermented cranberry

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Beef with beef heart, broccoli raab, broccoli florets, pickled ramps and flowers

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Our first dessert (which isn’t on the menu yet)- Strawberry with elderflower meringue and lemon verbena custard

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Our final course- Carrot/cardamom cake, carrot custard, caramel sauce, milk and honey candies with milk and honey sorbet

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And to finish it all off? A montenegro on the rocks with orange to help my very full stomach!
Gwynnett St really is a hidden gem so make sure to check it out next time you’re in the city!