Fried Green Tomatoes (aka Winter Caprese Salad)

If you have a bunch of these at the end of the summer…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then turn them into this with this proven, basic recipe that I call a Winter Caprese Salad. It was one of the appetizers used at the President’s Address at the end of the summer in “New York Fried” (Chapter 56).

green tomatoes1

INGREDIENTS

4 large green tomatoes
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 quart vegetable oil for frying

METHOD

  1. Slice tomatoes 1/2 inch thick. Discard the ends
  2. Whisk eggs and milk together in a medium-sized bowl.
  3. Scoop flour onto a plate.
  4. Mix cornmeal, bread crumbs, and salt and pepper on another plate.
  5. Dip tomatoes into flour to coat. Then dip the tomatoes into milk and egg mixture. Dredge in breadcrumbs to completely coat.
  6. In a large skillet, pour vegetable oil (enough so that there is 1/2 inch of oil in the pan) and heat over a medium heat. Place tomatoes into the frying pan in batches of 4 or 5, depending on the size of your skillet. Do not crowd the tomatoes, they should not touch each other. When the tomatoes are browned, flip and fry them on the other side. Drain on paper towels
  7. Serve with Burrata or semi-soft mozzarella with whatever basil you salvaged before bringing the plant in from the cold. Intermix the tomatoes, cheese, and basil on a plate (as you might with a Caprese) and drizzle with Balsamic Glaze.

 

 

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Fish Tacos with Secret Sauce

So simple it’s ridiculous. Which begs the question “How can restaurants charge $13-15 for a dish that you can easily make yourself for a fraction of that price?”. Of course, we could gourmet it up by making our own “secret” sauce but why bother; the restaurants don’t. A good dill and lemon sauce (found in the fish dept) commonly used for salmon, is perfect as the flavouring for a yogurt-based sauce.
I’m not sure we’ll order this again in a restaurant; it simply costs too much for what it is. But man does it taste good!

INGREDIENTS

2 frozen haddock filets
4 soft tortillas
egg and panko breadcrumbs
Carrot, sliced into thin strips
Lettuce, sliced into thin strips
Spinach, sliced into thin strips,
red pepper, sliced into thin strips
scallions, sliced
2 tbsns dill and lemon dressing
1 tbsn plain greek yogurt
2 tbsns tarter sauce
2 cocktail tomatoes, sliced and diced into pieces
1″ strip of feta cheese (greek style) crumbled

METHOD

Thaw filets slightly (in order to cut in half), roll in egg, then breadcrumbs. Place in oven at 400 for 20 minutes. For the last 4 minutes, place the tortillas, wrapped in tin foil, in the oven.

Meanwhile, cut the carrot, lettuce, spinach, red pepper into thin strips.

When heated, lay out the tortillas and spread 1 tbsn each of tarter sauce along centre of each. Place cooked filet in centre. Top with all the strips, tomatoes and feta, and place in serving racks.

Heat up the dressing and yogurt gently to prevent curdling, add pepper to taste.

Pour “secret” sauce over tacos and serve with a salad.

Nicoise Salade

Top chefs everywhere argue what constitutes an “official Nicoise” salad. Lyonnaise Chefs insist it is only fresh ingredients with no fish or vegetables. Chefs from other French regions, as well as Western afficionado’s, beg to differ, saying that potatoes and haricots verts (green beans) are integral to the original recipe. Others say there must be tuna (preferably cooked but canned in oil can be used as a replacement without bastardizing authenticity). And hard boiled eggs are a must… to most.

Personally, I like the potatoes, could lose the green beans, and not as much tuna as suggested in most recipes. And the herbs are fresh, not dried; mine come right from the back yard. Here’s the version I had at Cafe Boloud, a fine French restaurant in Toronto, and repeated the next day at home (serves 4-6):

INGREDIENTS for VINAIGRETTE

2/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp finely chopped shallot
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh basil
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh thyme
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh oregano
1 tspn Dijon mustard (old style)
salt and freshly ground black pepper

INGREDIENTS for SALAD

2 grilled tuna steaks (8oz each), or 1 can tuna (most recipes call for 2-3)
4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and quartered lengthwise (most recipes call for 6. In a pinch, I’ll use pickled eggs)
1/2 lbs small young red potatoes or fingerling potatoes (most recipes call for 1 and 1/4 lbs but I find the extra starch spoils the melding flavours)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 medium heads Boston lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces (I grow Arugula in my garden and sometimes substitute for a more peppery flavour)
3 small ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into wedges (I grow grape and heirloom sweet tomatoes and sometimes use several of these orange and red tomatoes for a bigger “burst” of flavour)
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 lb green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces (most recipes call for 1/2 lb but I find that too much, often eliminating them altogether)
1/4 cup nicoise olives (or Kalamata)
2 tbsp capers, rinsed
2 anchovies chopped finely (optional. I love anchovies)

METHOD

Marinate tuna steaks in a little olive oil for an hour. Heat a large skillet on medium high heat, or place on a hot grill. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side until cooked through.

In a jar or bag, place the oil, vinegar, shallots, herbs, and mustard together. Cover and shake until well blended. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Place onion slices in a small bowl and sprinkle with 3 tbsn of vinaigrette. (the onions soaking in the vinaigrette will help take some of the bite out of them. )

Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Add 1 tbsn of salt. Heat to boil. Lower and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain. While still warm, cut them into quarters. Place them in a bowl and dress them with about 1/4 cup of the vinaigrette.

While the potatoes are cooking, fill a medium sized pot halfway with water, and add w teaspoons of salt. Bring to boil and add green beans. Cook until tender but still firm to the bite (about 3-5 minutes). Drain and either rinse with cold water to stop the cooking or shock for half a minute in ice water.

Arrange the lettuce on a serving platter. Cut tuna into 1/2 thick slices and mound in center of bed of lettuce (or spread canned tuna). Sprinkle the tomatoes, onions, olives, capers, and anchovies around the tuna. Arrange the potatoes and green beans around the outside edge. Place egg wedges on one side of the serving dish, face up.

Pour the vinaigrette over dish just before serving. Garnish with fresh basil.

This and other recipes occasionally pop up in the Artichoke Hart series (available here), or the London Cartwright series (available here). Both chefs are fictional… the dishes are not.

 

Grilled steak salad with Arugula, Balsamic-glazed onions, Tomatoes, and Feta

steak-with-feta-and-arugula

 

This is such a simple salad but I think it’s one of the best ways to eat steak.

INGREDIENTS (to serve 4)

6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 small red onion, thinly sliced into half moons
1 tsp balsamic vinegar (good dipping quality)
1 tsp brown sugar
kosher or sea salt
black pepper (grated)
1 lb skirt, sirloin or round steak
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1.5 oz container of baby arugula (about 6 cups)
1/2 pint red grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise (1 cup)
1/2 pint yellow grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise (1 cup)
2 0z feta, crumbled (1/2 cup)

DIRECTIONS

In large skillet, heat 1 tbsn olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute for 5 minutes, until softened. Add balsamic vinegar and brown sugar, and continue to cook for another 2 minuts, until very soft. Season with salt and pepper. REmove to bowl and let cool.

Rub grill pan with 1 tbsn of olive oil and eheat ovaer high heat. Season steak generously with salt and pepper (sometimes, I’ve marinated steak in dark wine for 30 minutes or even overnight to tenderize and flavour, but it’s not necessary). Grill steak for 3 mintues per side (6 minutes total) for medium rare. Longer if a thick steak and if you want more medium. Remove steak to cutting board, cover, and let sit for 5 minutes. (It will continue cooking so don’t overcook on the grill).

In a large bowl, whisk together red wine vinegar with 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Add arugula and tomatoes to vinaigrette and toss gently to combine.

Thinly slice steak diagonally across the grain, removing fat.

Divid sald mixture among 4 plates. Top each with caramelized onions, steak, and crumbled feta. Serve immediately with crusty bread and a good oil/balsamic dip.