Hello again. I hope everyone have been staying safe and learning how to make it through what is our “New Normal.” Like a lot of folks, these times have caused me to really think about what is to come and what I can do to not only help me and my family but help others as well. For me this means to slow down and get back to some basics. Just because something is newer and shinier does not mean it is better. I get reminded of the song from the old movie “The Jungle Book” that says, “the bare necessities, the simple bare necessities of life”.
In most parts of the country September marks the beginning to the end of growing season. Down here in the South, however, our season continues much longer well into October and some years even November. Although our growing season is much longer than other parts of the country, it is never too early to begin planning for the end of growing season. Having a good plan in place when the season ends will help you be ready to put all those extra vegetables up for winter. You should begin your plan with first deciding what you are putting up and what methods you will use to put your vegetables up. There are several ways and paths you can choose at this point such as freezing, drying and curing, dehydrating, water bath canning, pressure canning and you can even create a type of root cellar with a buried metal container. I remember growing up with my grandparents and we always had an abundance of food put up for the winter. So much in fact that we used these far into the next years growing season. The point of this article is to get you ready for next month’s article when we will go through several of these processes to get you ready for when that first frost comes, and the time is NOW! By having a plan in place to preserve the vegetables that were tended to all summer we will be able to enjoy recipes like these all winter long.
All for now. Eat well, live well.
Fried green tomatoes with lump crab, sherry, and cream
For the tomatoes:
3 ea. fresh green tomatoes (sliced)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbs. Cajun seasoning
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 ea. egg
1/3 cup cornmeal (I prefer white cornmeal)
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
Canola oil for frying
For the Sauce:
1/2 lb. lump crab meat
1 tsp. garlic, chopped
1 tsp. chives, chopped
2 Tbs. creamed sherry
1/2 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper
Begin by laying the slice tomatoes on a wire rack on a baking sheet and salt tomatoes. Let tomatoes sit for about 15 minutes or so. While tomatoes are sitting, place flour and Cajun seasoning in a mixing bowl. In another bowl place buttermilk and egg. In yet another bowl, place cornmeal and Panko. Place oil in a cast iron skillet about a half inch or so of depth. Heat oil to 325. Dip tomatoes first in the flour mixture then in the buttermilk and then in the cornmeal mixture (if you use one hand for the wet and the other for the dry will be a lot less messy). Carefully place breaded tomatoes in the pan and cook for about 1 1/2 minutes and turn, until tomatoes are golden brown. Set tomatoes aside on paper towel lined plate to drain. Heat a sauté pan to medium high heat and add the shallot and garlic, cook for about a minute. Add crab meat and stir. Add Sherry and cook for about 30 seconds. Add heavy cream and cook to reduce by about half. Season with salt and pepper and serve over the fried tomatoes. Garnish with fresh chopped chives.
Grilled Amberjack with stewed okra and tomatoes and fried pickled red onion
4 ea. 7oz. Amberjack filets (any fresh white Gulf fish will work)
Stewed Okra and tomatoes (recipe follows)
Fried pickled red onion
4 red onions
2 cups cider vinegar
4 Tbs. sugar
6 tsp. salt
4 cups hot water
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
Slice onion thin (julienne), add sugar, salt, vinegar, crushed red pepper and hot water together. Stir until sugar and salt is dissolved. Add onion, make sure onions are submerged. This will stay fresh for weeks in the refrigerator as long they are sealed tight. You can use these on fish, beef, lamb, pork, etc. Great little flavor pop as a garnish.
Breading for the
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
1 Tbs. salt
1/2 Tbs. black pepper
1/2 tsp. Cayenne pepper
In separate bowls combine milk and egg and mix together. In another bowl, combine flour with salt and peppers. Remove a handful of onions from the brine and dip into the flour, the egg mixture, and back into the flour. In a cast iron skillet with oil or an electric fryer such as a Fry Daddy, fry the onions until golden brown. Season with a little salt and pepper to taste.
Season fish with salt and pepper or some Creole seasoning if you like. Heat grill to 375 degrees. Brush top of fish with a little oil or spray with pan spray. Place fish on heated grill and cook for about 2 1/2 minutes per side or until fish is opaque and hot in the center.
On a serving plate, lay the okra and tomatoes down, place fish on top and garnish with fried onions. Serve this with a side of Jasmine rice or your favorite rice.
Stewed okra and tomatoes
2 ounces bacon, sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch wide slices (lardons)
1 cup diced onion (about 1 medium onion)
1 cup diced bell pepper (about 1 bell pepper)
1/2 cup diced celery (about one rib)
1 tsp. chopped garlic (about 1 clove)
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 jar canned whole peeled tomatoes and their juices
1 pound (16-ounces) fresh okra
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. fresh thyme
1 pinch of cayenne
1 pinch cinnamon
1 scant pinch of ground cloves (watch it on the ground cloves, a little goes a long way, and you can easily overdo it!)
1/2 cup water
Cook bacon lardons until lightly browned. Place the bacon lardons in a thick-bottomed pot (3 or 4 quart). Heat on medium and cook until the bacon is lightly browned and much of the fat has rendered out.
Add onions, celery, bell pepper, then garlic. Once bacon has browned, add the onions, celery, and bell pepper. The bacon should have rendered enough fat to cook the vegetables, but if not, add a tablespoon of olive oil to the pot.
Cook over medium high heat until onions, celery, and bell peppers are lightly browned, about 8-10 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook for a minute more.
Add remaining ingredients, water, then simmer. Add the tomatoes, okra, and salt to the pot. Add the black pepper, cayenne, thyme, cinnamon, and cloves. Stir to combine.
Add 1/2 cup of water. Cover and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. Add more salt and pepper to taste.
Lavender Crème Brûlée
1/2 qt. heavy cream
2 Tbs. dried lavender
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
9 egg yolks
In medium sauce pot, bring cream and lavender to a scald and then cover to steep for 15 minutes. In a large mixing bowl, add yolks and sugar and whisk until pale in color. Add vanilla and salt and whisk to combine. Strain lavender out of cream and discard lavender, slowly temper cream into egg mixture and strain thru mesh strainer. Place Crème Brûlée dishes into hotel pans and fill dishes with custard. Fill pan with water halfway up the sides of the dishes and cover with foil. Bake at 300 for 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven, uncover, remove from water, and allow to cool.