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Fried Green Tomatoes

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One of the staple dishes in the south is fried green tomatoes.  I love fried green tomatoes because they’re so adaptable.  I know I’m always saying that, but I really appreciate that quality in a food.  They’re good as appetizers, in salads and sandwiches, and even dressed up for dessert!

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I tend to like my fried green tomatoes on the spicy side.  The cornmeal and flour can be really bland if you don’t jazz it up, so I add a lot of heat and it comes out about medium intensity.  I like to add paprika, red pepper flakes, cayenne, chili powder, and maybe a little chipotle if I’m feeling crazy.

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Fried green tomatoes are made in a three step process.  First, they’re dipped in a mixture of flour and spices.  Second, they’re dipped in egg.  Finally, they’re dipped in a cornmeal mixture with more spices.  Dipping them in egg between the two dry dips gives them a nice crunch.  Then they’re fried, blotted off, and enjoyed!

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Fried Green Tomatoes

1 green tomato

1 cup corn meal

1 cup flour

2 eggs

1 tbsp paprika

1 tbsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tbsp chipotle

1/2 tbsp chili pepper

1/2 tbsp garlic powder

1/2 tbsp red pepper flakes

Peanut oil for frying

Slice the tomato.

Mix together flour and half the spices.  In another bowl mix together the cornmeal and the rest of the spices.  In a final bowl whisk the egg.

Heat the oil in the pan.  When it’s 350 degrees, or when bubbles form at the base of a wooden spoon, it’s time to cook.

Dip the tomato slices first in the flour mix, next in the egg, and finally in the cornmeal.  Drop in the pan and fry until golden brown.  Remove from the pan and place on a paper towel so the oil blots off.

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Cornmeal Cake with Strawberries

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This past weekend I had the pleasure of having one of my closest friends from high school, Julia, over for dinner.  She’s been living California for the past year, and I haven’t gotten the opportunity to spend much time with her.  In fact, I’ve seen less and less of her every year since we graduated from Durham School of the Arts.  We had so much to catch up on and I’m so glad she was able to come and stay.

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On Sunday Dan and I got up and went to the farmer’s market, which was fuller than we’ve seen it in months.  We picked up fresh strawberries and green tomatoes, and Sunday night we had a fried green tomato and arugula salad, steak with avocado sauce, and a cornmeal cake with strawberries.  It was all fresh and delicious, and paired with mojito after mojito it all seemed better and better.

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At some point in the evening Julia noticed our high school year books that I recently recovered from my parent’s house.  I had so much fun looking at the pictures, reading some of the (ridiculous) things that we wrote and remembering how passionate we were about everything from Jump, Little Children to saving the world (one Environmental Club meeting at a time).  If my parent’s were looking for someone to blame for my becoming a democrat (read “communist”), it would be the hours I spent with Julia debating our world view and developing our moral and political opinions.

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Since we moved to D.C. where I don’t really know anyone, I’ve become increasingly aware of how strange it is not to have female friends in close proximity.  Having Julia here last weekend was such a strong reminder of  what it’s like to have female friends in your life that you see on a consistent basis.  From the ages of 15-20 we did everything together.  Johnny Depp movie nights (Don Juan DeMarco is our favorite, The Man Who Cried was hands down the worst), trips to Charleston to see the Dock Street Concerts by JLC, hundreds of nights spent staying up all night talking about boys, politics, religion, music, and of course, the genius that is When Harry Met Sally.

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I was looking for a good photo of Julia and I from high school to end the post with.  There’s one particularly good one of us on the bus where we first met, but while I was looking for it I stumbled across this masterpiece.  At some point in our high school photography career, Julia and I had a photoshop project.  And, as you can see below, wow we championed that program.  The assignment was either to combine two things or combine two people, but I can’t remember.  Clearly we opted to combine photos of ourselves to create a new and improved model- Elenjula.  I’m taking the creepy floating eyes in the picture to mean that we intended Elenjula to be omniscient.  You’re so welcome.

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Cornmeal Cake with Strawberries
Source: Fresh from the Farmer’s Market by Janet Fletcher

For the cake:

1 1/4 cups sifted cake flour

6 tbsp yellow cornmeal

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp grated lemon zest

1/2 cup milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

Butter & cornmeal to prepare the pan

Strawberries:

2 pints strawberries

2 tsp sugar

2 tsps fresh lemon juice

1 cup heavy cream

Butter the bottom and sides of a 9″ cake pan.  Line the bottom with wax paper and butter the paper.  Dust the pan with cornmeal, shaking out the excess.

Stir together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt.

With a mixer, beat butter until creamy.  Add sugar a little at a time and beat until creamy and light.  Add eggs, one at a time, incorporating each completely before adding the next.  Add lemon zest.

Whisk together milk and vanilla extract.

Begin adding the dry ingredients and milk to the butter mix, alternating so that you add the dry ingredients a third at a time.  Use the mixer to blend them until they’re just incorporated.  Spread batter evenly into pan.

Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes.  Let cool in pan for 20 minutes, and then let cool on a rack until room temperature.

Hull the strawberries.  Put half of them in a large bowl and crush with a masher.  Slice the remaining strawberries and add to the bowl.  If they’re not sweet enough, you can add a touch of sugar.  Add enough lemon juice to give the mixer a refreshing edge.  Cover and chill.

When you’re ready to serve, whip cream and sugar until soft peaks hold.  Cut the cake into portions and transfer onto plates.  Top with berries and whipped cream.

Serves 8.

Yellow Cornmeal on Foodista

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Fried Green Tomato & Arugula Salad

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There are a few foods that are often served in southern restaurants outside the south.  Shrimp and grits are one, and fried green tomatoes are another.  I love fried green tomatoes, and love that they are championing southern culture with each crunchy delicious bite.

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I was lucky enough to find green tomatoes at the farmer’s market so this weekend I made a delicious fried green tomato salad.  I used arugula, fresh whole basil leaves, fresh mozzarella, and apples.  I sliced the tomato into half moon size pieces so that they were bite sized.  Dan sliced the mozzarella into strips and used his new apple corer/slicer to cube an apple.  It was fresh, delicious, and totally fulfilling.  The perfect start to a lovely dinner.

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Fried Green Tomato and Arugula Salad

2 cups fresh arugula

1/2 cup fresh basil

1 fresh mozzarella ball

1 apple

Fried green tomatoes (recipe below)

Thinly slice the mozzarella.  Cube the apple.  Toss arugula, basil, mozzarella, apple, and fried green tomato.  Top with the dressing of your choice.

Serves 4.

Fried Green Tomatoes:

1 whole green tomato

1 cup flour

1 cup cornstarch

2 eggs

1 tsp paprika

1 tbsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp garlic powder

Salt & pepper

1 cup vegetable oil

Heat the oil over medium heat.

Slice the tomato in 1/4″ slices, and then half them so they’re in half moon shaped pieces.

Mix paprika, cayenne pepper, half the red pepper, and flour.  In a separate bowl, mix cornstarch, the remaining red pepper, garlic powder, and salt & pepper.  Finally, in a third bowl crack the eggs and whisk them together.

Dip each piece of tomato first into the flour mixture, then into the egg, and finally into the cornstarch mixture.

To test if the oil is ready, stick the handle of a wooden spoon into the oil.  If bubbles form around it, you’re good to go.  Fry the tomatoes for two minutes on each side.  After they’re crispy and golden brown, place them on a paper towel to let the oil blot off.

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