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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How do you reheat steak without cooking it further?

If you’re like me, having left over steak leaves a lot to be desired. If you cooked it perfectly the first time, then any further cooking will turn it into charcoal or thereabouts. If you try pan frying but that just turns even the best medium-rare steak into well done in seconds, especially if you slice it.

Here are two methods I’ve used to achieve the above and stopped me from ruining a great steak the next day:

  1. IF THE STEAK WAS KEPT IN THE REFRIGERATOR  Place the leftover steak in a freezer seal plastic bag and immerse it in a pot of boiling water. After 20 minutes or so, the steak is warm enough to eat and the temperature hasn’t risen enough to change the “state” of the steak as it was originally cooked. The only problem with this method is that you recognize you’re not cooking to 160 degrees and so risk that some bacterial matter may have been introduced during the refrigeration stage.
  2. IF THE STEAK WAS FROZEN (OR REFRIGERATED OVERNIGHT) Place leftover steak in about 1/8 inch of warm water inside a slow cooker (preferably a small one) and turn the dial to “warm”. After about 1/2 hr, the steak is heated through and hasn’t changed it’s “state”. If you’re concerned about bacteria, dial it to low and the steak will cook slightly further (turning a medium rare into a medium, etc.), but you’ll still have a decent-tasting steak that has likely reached close to 160 degrees.

I find that whenever I reheat a steak, it loses a little of its original flavour, so I usually serve with a tomato/onion/feta salsa, or at the very least, a little A1 or HP sauce on the side. Even a little heated gravy or aus jus poured over the steak will not only add flavour but keep the warmth in.

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.

 

 

 

 

Spinach and Ricotta Gnudi with Tomato-Butter Sauce

Since my wife and I are foodies, our recent trip to Curacao included hitting one of the ten top ranked restaurants (according to Trip Advisor) each day we were there (we managed eight).

So when I came home, my first gourmet night was a little nerve-racking: How could I compete with the extraordinary dishes we had just experienced? I couldn’t disappoint my wife that soon after such a great culinary experience.

So I decided to make my own Gnudi and see what happened. Gnudi is basically “ravioli filling without the pasta,” according to Gotham Bldg Tavern (New York City) chef, Tommy Habetz (originator of this recipe). Turns out it was a hit with a fresh, tasty dough that soaked up the sauce perfectly.

INGREDIENTS
1 stick of unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, mashed
1 small onion, halved
1 bay leaf
pinch of crushed red pepper
one 28 ounce can diced Italian plum tomatoes
salt
2 cups spinach, stems discarded
1 tub of fresh ricotta (apx 1.5-2lbs)
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
2 cups all purpose flour

METHOD
1) In a large, deep skillet, melt the butter. Add the garlic, onion, bay leaf and red pepper and cook over moderate heat until the garlic is fragrant. Add the tomatoes and their  juices and bring to a boil. Simmer the sauce over low heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened and reduced to 2 and 1/2 cups (about 1, 1/2 hrs). Discard the garlic, onion and bay leaf. Season the sauce with salt and keep warm. (If you desire, you can chop up the onion and put it back but Tommy prefers it sans-onion)

2) Meanwhile, heat a medium skillet. Add the spinach, a handful at a time, and stir over moderately high heat until wilted; transfer to a colander; let cool slightly. Squeeze the spinach dry and finely chop it.

3) Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In a food processor, combine the spinach with the ricotta, eggs, nutmeg, and the 1/4 cup of Parmesan and process until blended. Add the flour in 3 batches, pulsing between additions, until almost incorporated. Scrape the ngudi dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead 5-10 times, until smooth.

4) Add one-fourth of the gnudi dough to a large, resealable plastic bag; with scissors, cut a 1/2 inch corner from the bag. Working over the boiling water, squeeze the dough through the corner opening and use a knife to cut it into 1-inch pieces. Cook the gnudi over moderately high heat until firm, about 3 minutes. With a slotted spoon or sire skimmer, transfer the gnudi to a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough.

5) Carefully transfer the gnudi to the tomato sauce and stir lightly to heat through. Spoon into shallow bowls and serve at once, passing more Parmesan at the table.

Pair with a fresh Tuscan white wine (this is a Tuscan dish), or a light Chardonnay.

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.

Turkey scallopini in lemon sauce

This dish was inspired by our new friend, Chef Massimo Zingaro Fidale, on our recent visit to Italy. His simple but oh-so-delicious Veal Scallopini in Lemon Sauce was so tasty I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

However, as usual, I changed it; Canadianized it if you will. In my version, I use turkey scallopini and make the sauce a little heavier with the introduction of Greek yogurt. I also add a little twist with the use of Limoncello (brought home from Italy).  ‘Twas a totally new and mouth-watering experience.

INGREDIENTS

4 strips turkey scallopini
4 slices back bacon (pork loin)
2 tbsn sesame seed oil
2 tbsn plain greek yogurt
4 tbsn lemon juice
2 tbsn limoncello
1 tbsn capers (dried)
1/2 tsp fresh oregano (1/4 dried)
pepper to taste

METHOD

Brush turkey strips with lemon and saute over low heat in sesame seed oil, till browned both sides and white inside (about 4 min per side) then add the lemon and simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off heat and cover.

Simultaneously saute the back bacon to desired crispness. Don’t burn as it will alter the taste of the dish immensely.

While these are cooking, slowly begin heating the yogurt and (very slowly) pour in the limoncello. It may curdle but keep mixing. Add the capers, oregano, and pepper.

Place turkey in centre of plate and pour remaining lemon juice over them. Then pour the sauce on top.

I served with roasted garlic potatoes and thin slices of fresh tomatoes from our garden.

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.

 

Veal with Olives and Grape Tomatoes

At this time of the year, I get an abundance of small grape tomatoes. They are delicious as a snack but I get so many, I have to think of dishes to prepare with them. (The larger tomatoes don’t ripen till late in August here).

This is one I hadn’t tried before and since we were in the mood for a little meat, worked out really well. The topping alone would be good on any meat.

INGREDIENTS

2 tbsp flour
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
4 slices of top round of veal for scallopini
2 tsp oil
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tbsp cold butter
1 cup grape tomatoes (halved)
1/3 cup pitted kalamata olives (halved)
1/3 cup chopped parsley (fresh if possible; less if dried)

METHOD

Mix flour, salt and pepper in a large plastic food bag. Add veal, 1 piece at a time, and toss to coat.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add veal and cook 4-5 minutes, turning once, until golden (center should be opaque). Remove to a warm plate.

Add wine to skillet; simmer 1 minute. Reduce heat to very low. Stir in butter until melted, then the tomatoes, olives and parsley. Spoon over cutlets.

I served with sauteed carrots and roasted small potatoes in rosemary.

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.

 

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.

 

Caponata

I love discovering new Italian dishes that I’m told are basic, traditional masterpieces that everyone knows. Unfortunately, I wasn’t born an Italian, so it’s all news to me. This is yet another dish with only one name. And it is amazing. The fusion of flavours makes perfect sense once you make it. But I would never thought of putting them together this way myself. Absolutely stunning served at room temperature as a snack or appetizer.

INGREDIENTS

4 tbsp olive oil
2 celery stalks, sliced
2 red onions, sliced
1 large eggplant, diced
6 small videlia tomatoes, chopped in quarters
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp pitted green olives
2 tbsp capers, drained and rinsed
salt and pepper
4 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (to garnish)
ciabatta or calabrese bread (to serve)

METHOD

Heat half the oil in a large, heavy-bottom pan. Add the celery and onions and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, until softened but not coloured. Add the remaining oil and the eggplant. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 mintues, until the eggplant starts to colour.

Add the garlic, tomatoes, vinegar, and sugare, and mix well. Cover the mixture with a circle of wax paper and let simmer gently for about 10 minutes.

Remove the wax paper, stir in the olives and capers, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour the caponata into a sering dish and set aside to cool to room temperature.

Just before serving, sprinkle over the parsley to garnish. Serve with bread.

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.