Fried Green Tomatoes

Fried Green Tomatoes with Fresh Tomato Relish

Fried green tomatoes have their roots in the South, and are a delicious preparation for firm, tangy green (unripe) tomatoes. If you are unable to get unripe tomatoes, there are some heirloom varietals that are green in color and can make a good substitute if not too ripe. There are a number of variations to the preparation of fried green tomatoes; this is my own simple version.

3-4 large green tomatoes (firm)
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
1 egg, beaten
vegetable oil
salt and pepper

Slice tomatoes about 1/2″ thick (you can slice them thinner, but I prefer a little on the thicker side to keep them from getting soft). Beat one egg in a small, shallow dish, and combine flour and cornmeal and a bit of salt and pepper in a second shallow dish. Drag each slice through the beaten egg, gently shaking off excess. Then dredge in the cornmeal/flour mixture.

In a saute pan, heat about 1/2″ of vegetable oil over medium-high. When oil is hot, gently place the coated tomato slices in it and cook until golden-brown, about 30-60 seconds on each side.

Using a spatula or slotted spoon, transfer the slices to paper towels to drain.

I like to serve with a diced tomato relish, chopped fresh basil or Italian parsley and sometimes a little sriracha hot sauce.

Roasted Peppers with Feta, Garlic and Oregano

It’s been a while… I have been cooking, and photographing food, but not finding the time to sit down and post it! Tonight, I made an old favorite; this is a great appetizer, but I like it so much that sometimes I make a meal of it. It’s my adaptation of Bay Area Chef Salvatore Calisi’s piperade, as found on the menu at Dio Deka, in Los Gatos, CA. Like everything at Dio Deka, it’s fabulous. This version is my attempt to replicate it, and to keep it relatively simple.

Roasted pepper crostini

4 large Anaheim peppers
1 cup good, strong Feta cheese.
8 cloves garlic, peeled (larger ones cut in half, length-wise)
1 T. oregano (fresh or dried)
1 t. thyme, dried
3-4 T. olive oil
Crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 baguette (I use sweet french), cut into 1/2-inch slices and brushed with olive oil

The only part of this dish that is a little labor-intensive is the peeling of the peppers. In order to do this, place them on a gas burner, or use a torch to blacken the skin all over the peppers.

Then, place them in an airtight container for a few minutes, to let the skins loosen. Then, peel the peppers. (This is never very easy, but I find that twisting the pepper helps, and rolling it in my hands with a paper towel.)

Cut the tops off the peppers and remove the seeds, then slice them lengthwise into strips. Place them in an oven-proof pan with the garlic cloves, olive oil, oregano (fresh is better, but I used dried tonight because it was easier!) and thyme. Saute over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until garlic begins to brown and peppers are soft (about five minutes.)

Turn the broiler on high. Place the sliced baguette (brushed with oil) on a baking sheet and put it under the broiler. (If you’re anything like me, you’ll need to set a timer for 2-3 minutes to avoid torching the bread!) Once the crostini has browned around the edges (or as much as you want it to), remove it from the oven and set aside.

Sprinkle the feta over the top of the peppers, and place the pan under the broiler for about 3-5 minutes.

Sprinkle with the peppers with crushed red pepper flakes and serve hot, with the crostini. This makes enough for about 8 appetizer servings.

Classic Salad Lyonnaise with a twist

Salad Lyonnaise is a traditional French salad that is basically perfect in its simplicity. The ingredients are all pretty compelling on their own: bacon (is there anything better than bacon, really?), a poached egg, frisee, and a Lyonnaise dressing. The culmination of all of these and their textures and flavors is definitely greater than the sum of its parts.

I had never actually made a Salad Lyonnaise, and it crossed my mind as I was planning my mother’s day menu. It seemed a perfect pairing with the pizza Napoletana I was planning to serve. As I began to search for recipes, I came across a recently-posted entry on Former Chef (check it out, it’s a marvelous blog: The most intriguing component of Former Chef’s version was the fact that instead of simply poaching the egg, she dredged hers in Panko bread crumbs and fried it. The added color and crispiness of the golden-brown crust enveloping a luscious poached yolk makes it a true piece de resistance. This salad was a big hit on mother’s day, my parents loved it!

A poached egg fried in Panko adds a wonderful textural twist to this Salad Lyonnaise

Former Chef’s Salad Lyonnaise
(posted with her permission; thanks Former Chef!)

For Salad:
5 oz baby lettuces or frisee (more traditional)
4 pieces (3.5-4 oz) thick cut bacon, cut into 1/4 inch strips
2 eggs
2 Tbsp vinaigrette, see below

For Breading:
2 Tbsp. flour
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup panko* breadcrumbs
salt and pepper

For Vinaigrette:
2.5 oz extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp sherry vinegar (or sub red wine vinegar)
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 shallot, thinly sliced
salt and pepper to taste

1 cup neutral oil (canola) for frying
1 tsp vinegar (for poaching eggs)

optional: baguette, either for croutons or simply sliced with the salad

1. Make the vinaigrette (whisk together all ingredients; olive oil, vinegar, Dijon mustard, and shallot). This yields about 5 oz of dressing but I always save the extra for another salad later. You can cut the recipe in half if you like.

2. Slice the bacon and cook until crisp. Remove the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel.

3. While the bacon is cooking, bring a quart of water to a simmer and add the vinegar. Crack each egg into a small bowl and gently lower it into the simmering water. Poach for 3-4 minutes and using a slotted spoon, remove to a paper towel. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes.

4. While the eggs are poaching, set up the plates/bowls for breading. Flour, egg, and breadcrumbs in each. Season the flour with salt and pepper.

5. Using a slotted spoon, carefully dredge the egg in flour, then beaten egg, then coat with the panko breadcrumbs. Set breaded egg gently on a plate and bread the second egg.

6. Heat the cup of oil in a large frying pan. The oil will be hot enough, when you drop some of the breadcrumbs into it and they start to sizzle and color (note; if they turn brown in less than 5 seconds the oil is too hot). When the oil is ready, using the slotted spoon, gently lower the eggs into the oil. They should take about 15 seconds to turn brown on each side. Gently turn them over and fry on the other side. Remove with the slotted spoon to the paper towels and drain.

7. Quickly toss the salad with a few tablespoons of the dressing and the bacon and place on plates. Top with the crispy poached eggs and serve with baguette and a chilled white wine.