fried green tomatoes with buttermilk dipping sauce

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I know it’s super-late in the game to talk about tomatoes. BUT, there were green tomatoes at the market last weekend, so I’m taking that as a sign. It was meant to be.

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All summer long, I was on the hunt for green tomatoes. No joke. I went to all the markets. I asked around. My dad happened to get his hands on some in July. But they were kind of small. I was not satisfied.

green tomatoes

Why the obsession? Well, I had the best fried green tomatoes EVER at my friend Lindsey’s 30th birthday soirée back in June. I made my maiden voyage to San Diego just for the occasion, and it was a blast. There were margaritas upon landing, and pool time, and carne asada fries. But seriously, those fried green tomatoes were so incredible that I have not stopped thinking about them. I now associate San Diego with fried green tomatoes. 

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Thank goodness someone finally decided to bring their late crop green tomatoes to the market. I could barely contain myself. I busted out the panko and my cast iron skillet and it was on. There is just something about deep fried goodness. It’s almost unfair. Does anyone remember when McDonald’s used to deep-fry their apple pies? That’s what I’m talking about. Anyway, the combination of crunchy panko exterior, and tender, juicy, slightly acidic tomato just gets me. And when you throw in some tangy, creamy buttermilk dipping sauce, it’s like all the bases are covered. It’s crazy deliciousness. I made them for Sunday dinner and Granny approved. And we’ve got a winner. 

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fried green tomatoes with buttermilk dipping sauce 

adapted just barely from Down Home With the Neely’s via foodnetwork.com

serves 4-6

for the tomatoes: 

vegetable oil (for frying) 

4 green tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch slices

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon garlic powder

4 eggs

1 -1/2 cups panko bread crumbs

pinch cayenne pepper

pinch paprika

In a deep-fryer or cast iron skillet, preheat oil to 350F.

Season tomatoes on both sides with salt and pepper. Combine flour and garlic powder in a shallow dish. In another shallow dish, beat the eggs. In another dish, mix bread crumbs with cayenne and paprika. Dredge tomatoes through the flour, then the eggs, and then through the bread crumbs. Add only a few pieces to the fryer at a time, so they can cook evenly, about 2 to 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels and serve with buttermilk sauce.

for the buttermilk dipping sauce: 

3/4 cup buttermilk 

1/2 cup mayonaise 

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon chopped chives

hot sauce (like Crystal Hot Sauce of Tobasco)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and mayonaise. Season with salt and pepper. Add the chopped chives and stir to combine. Add a few dashes of hot sauce to taste. Chill until ready to serve.

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elote con queso y mayonesa

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I’m no stranger to street food. I’ve been eating off the streets long before these decked out food trucks became the thing. This is one of the many perks of growing up in the Bay Area. East Oakland taco trucks. Churro carts that pump out spirals of dough into bubbling hot oil (and put those Disneyland churros to shame). Tamales straight from the hands of the Tamale Lady. Ziplock baggies filled with mango and jicama and watermelon and doused in lime juice and chili. And those damn late night bacon-wrapped hotdogs. These are all things dear to my heart.

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Elote is at the top of my list of all time favorite street foods. Hot, sweet corn on the cob slathered in mayo and coated with queso and a squirt of lime and a sprinkle of chili powder. It sounds insane and it is. Insanely delish. Some people can’t seem to wrap their heads around the mayonaise on corn concept, but you need to trust. It’s kind of life changing.

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One of my favorite Sunday morning activities is hitting up the flea market, grabbing a papusa for breakfast, followed by roasted elote with the works. There’s something terribly satisfying about grubbing on corn while perusing the aisles of flea market treasures. But that’s probably because eating and shopping are two of my most beloved pastimes. And it’s also multi-tasking.

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Brentwood corn is the best of the best. And I’ve been picking up a few ears from the farmers market every weekend since June. Though it is fantastic au naturel, it’s way too tempting to have corn on the cob at home and not eat it street style. So that’s what’s been happening over here. Street corn is in the house.

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elote con queso y mayonesa 

serves 4

4 ears of corn 

kosher salt

2 limes, cut into wedges 

1/2 cup mayonaise

1 cup crumbled cotija (mexican cheese) or grated parmesan

ancho or new mexico chili powder 

to roast the corn: 

Heat your grill to medium.

Pull the outer husks of the corn down to the base and remove the silk from each ear. Fold husks back into place, and place the corn in a large bowl of cold water with 1 tablespoon of salt for 10 minutes.

Remove corn from water and shake off excess. Place the corn on the grill, close the cover and grill for 15 to 20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes, or until kernels are tender when pierced with a paring knife. Remove the husks.

**Alternatively, boiled corn works just as well. Remove husks and silk from corn. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the corn. When the pot comes back to a boil, turn off heat, and cover the pot. Remove corn from the pot after five minutes.

Squeeze lime juice over the surface of the corn. Using a pastry brush or spatula, brush each ear of corn with a generous coat of mayo. Place crumbled cotija on a plate and roll each corn in cheese.  Sprinkle with chili powder and extra lime juice if desired.

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kale caesar slaw

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It’s beginning to feel like summer around here. I like it. I’m ready to make some frozen treats. But first, let’s take care of the important things. Let’s talk about kale.

tuscan kale

This is what I refer to as real life eating. I eat a whole lotta kale behind the scenes around here. Like at least two bunches a week, sometimes three, even four if I’m on a roll. It’s made its way into my eggs in the morning. And I usually have some form of kale for lunch or dinner. I haven’t really gotten into the whole green juicing thing, but I imagine that could happen some day.

caesar fixings

AD and I tried out this recipe for a kale Caesar slaw one night a few months back and since then I find myself making it at least once a week. If you’re looking for a way to incorporate raw kale into your diet, this is a great place to start. The secret to eating raw kale is slicing it into thin ribbons when prepping. I swear this makes a world of a difference. And if you love a classic Caesar salad like I do, this is right up your alley.

kale and stems

This is the kind of salad that easily becomes a meal (I can eat half of it in one sitting – it’s that good). I think the grated hard boiled egg is what really does it for me. But I’m also a sucker for an anchovy-based dressing; if you’re not so keen on anchovies, capers are an excellent substitute. A hunk of crusty bread alongside and a glass of wine and you’re good to go.

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kale caesar slaw 

adapted from epicurious

serves 2-6

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

8 anchovy fillets packed in oil, drained

1 garlic clove

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

splash of Worcestershire sauce

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan, divided

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 hard-boiled egg, peeled

14 ounces Tuscan kale or other kale, center stalks removed, thinly sliced crosswise (about 8 cups, or two bunches)

Combine the lemon juice, anchovies, garlic, Dijon, and Worcestershire in a blender or food processor; purée until smooth. With the machine running, slowly add oil, drop by drop at first, until dressing is creamy. Transfer to a bowl and stir in 1/4 cup Parmesan. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and chill. Dressing can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.

In a large bowl, toss kale and dressing and coat thoroughly (this is easiest done with your hands). Season with salt and pepper. Using a fine cheese grater or a Microplane, grate the hard boiled egg over the kale. Top with remaining parmesan and serve.

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deviled eggs with bacon

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February was fast and furious. I can’t even believe it’s already over. I actually kind of love how fast this year is flying by, which is new for me since I’m usually in a panic when I feel like time is passing too quickly. But there are things I’m looking forward to later this year. So let’s keep this train a-rollin’.

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Deviled eggs, anyone?

My sister is the go-to for deviled eggs in our family. But they’ve totally been my thing this year. People are thrilled when you show up to a party with a platter of deviled eggs – I know this to be a fact. Deviled eggs are the perfect party food. They go well with champagne (and since they’re packed with protein, you can drink even more champagne and not get crunk). And they’re easy to pop in your mouth as you pass the snack table, which is a plus in my book.

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I first made these deviled eggs for this year’s New Year’s Eve soiree. A friend asked if I could show him how to make them sometime. At the time, I couldn’t actually give a recipe because there was no recipe – when I’m not baking, I have a tendency to just throw these things together without measuring. But when I made these for a baby shower last weekend, I made sure to actually measure ingredients and take notes. So, my dear Ryan, this is for you.

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What’s most important about these particular deviled eggs is that they’re topped with bacon. If you’re not into bacon, you can leave it out, the eggs will still be a hit. But there’s a reason why bacon and eggs are a breakfast staple – it’s because they’re a team. And because bacon just makes everything better. Let’s not pretend otherwise.

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deviled eggs with bacon

serves 12

12 extra large eggs (do not use farm fresh eggs; buy eggs at least 5 days before preparing for best results – it makes them easier to peel) 

3/4 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard

1 tablespoon lemon juice

grated zest of 1 lemon

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

5 slices of crispy bacon, finely chopped

chives, chopped 

smoked paprika

Place eggs in a single layer in a large pot. Cover with an inch of  cold water. Place over medium heat and bring to a rolling boil. Remove from heat and cover. Let stand for 13 minutes. Remove the eggs and place them in a bowl of cold water to cool. When the eggs are cool, carefully crack and peel and place on a towel-lined plate. Pat dry.

Slice eggs in half lengthwise. Remove the yolks and place them in the bowl of a food processor. Add mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice, zest, and pepper to the egg yolk. Process the egg yolks until the mixture becomes smooth. Add more mustard, lemon juice, and pepper to taste. Transfer the mixture to the pastry bag fitted with a large tip. You can also use a freezer bag; snip off one corner.

Arrange the egg white halves on a platter. Pipe the yolk mixture into the cavity of each egg white. Top each egg with chopped bacon and chives. Sprinkle with paprika. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

lentil soup with preserved lemon

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If January was the month of fun and indulgence, then February has definitely been a time for taking care of business. Self reflection. Home improvement. Getting shit done. It feels like the right time.

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But first I had to recover from my annual bout with bronchitis. I had been fighting off a cold for a few weeks, but it finally caught up with me and everything went downhill from there. I wasn’t much in the mood to cook, but I wanted a bowl of soup in a bad way. Since I couldn’t deal with a whole lot of prep or slaving over a hot stove, I busted out my crock pot (which I had only used once in my life and involved turning canned condensed milk into dulce de leche).

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I also came across some red lentils that I had bought a few months ago and forgotten about, and decided that it was a lentil soup kind of day. Then I remembered a lemony lentil soup that Sara and I had talked about a few weeks earlier. And then I started thinking about the jar of preserved lemons in my fridge. I started googling.

That night I had lentil soup with preserved lemon for dinner. It didn’t take long to find exactly what I was looking for – a recipe that requires very little prep and is packed with flavor. One cup of lentils, one carton of veggie broth, half an onion, and a few cloves of garlic transform into something hearty and satisfying while you spend the day in bed. The crockpot does all of the work for you. I could totally get used to this.

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lentil soup with preserved lemon 

adapted from Mosaic Kitchen

serves 4

4 cups vegetable broth

1 cup lentils, rinsed and picked over

½ medium onion, diced

½ cup thinly sliced carrots

2 cloves garlic, minced 

½ teaspoon ground coriander seed

4 cups coarsely chopped fresh spinach

¼ cup lemon juice

1 tablespoon preserved lemon rind, diced or fresh lemon zest, plus more for garnish (recipe here)

Salt and pepper to taste

fresh grated parmesan for garnish (optional)

Add the vegetable broth, lentils, onion, carrots, garlic and ground coriander seed to a slow cooker pot. Stir together, cover, and set on low for 8-10 hours. The lentils should be very soft.

Stir in the spinach, lemon juice, and preserved lemon. Cover and continue to cook for 20 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish individual bowls with chopped preserved lemon and/or parmesan. Serve hot.

Alternatively…

You can also make this on the stovetop:

Soften the onion and carrots in 2 teaspoons of olive oil in the bottom of a 3 quart soup pot. Stir in the lentils, vegetable broth, garlic, and coriander seed. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes, or until the lentils and vegetables are very soft. Stir in the spinach, lemon juice, and preserved lemon or lemon zest, cover and continue to simmer for 10 minutes longer. Salt and pepper to taste.

onion jam

As promised, onion jam to go with that fig tart.

I fell in love with onion jam at a sausage party. And seeing that in writing just now made me laugh out loud a little bit. Let me explain. When my best childhood friend turned thirty last year, there was a party in his honor and homemade sausage was the main attraction. It was a literal sausage party. Although, now that I think about it… I’m totally being a 14-year-old dude right now. My apologies!

Anyway, as I was saying, there was a very innocent looking jar of onion jam at this party, alongside the platters of grilled sausages. I had a feeling about that jam, and it did not disappoint. Onion jam is a sausage’s best friend.

Making onion jam requires little more than onions and patience. Onions, caramelized to max, are the perfect condiment – sweet and savory and super flavorful. You’ll want to put it on just about everything.

onion jam

from Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole-Grain Flours by Kim Boyce

makes 1 cup  **recipe can easily be doubled

2 pounds yellow onions, about 7-1/2 cups sliced 

1 tablespoon olive oil 

1 teaspoon kosher salt 

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or to taste 

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar 

Cut the stems off the onions. Slice each onion in half through the root end. Lay each onion half cut-side down and slice it, toward the root, into slices about 1/4-inch thick.

Heat a 5-to 7-quart heavy bottomed pot over a medium-high flame. Add the olive oil and heat until it’s shimmering. Add the onions, salt, and pepper and stir to coat the onions with the oil. Saute the onions for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions have lost their gloss, the bottom of the pan is getting dark in areas, and the edges on the onions are beginning to brown. Turn the flame to low, cover the pot, and cook for 20 minutes.

Uncover the pan, stir the onions, scrape any dark flavorful bits from the bottom of the pan, and continue to cook, uncovered, for 1 hour more. Stir the onions occasionally, especially toward the end of cooking time, to prevent burning. The onions are ready when the liquid has evaporated and the onions are dark, translucent, and jammy. Stir in the vinegar and allow to cool. The onion jam will keep int he refrigerator for 2 weeks, or in the freezer for 1 month.

savory fig tart

Isn’t it crazy that the holidays are just around the corner? I feel like in the blink of an eye, Thanksgiving will be here and I’ll be knees deep in pies and sides. I know it sounds slightly insane that this is what I’m obsessing about at the moment since it’s not even Halloween yet (Halloween??!! OMG, I need a costume!), but this is how my brain sometimes operates – freaking out about the future instead of dealing with the present.

In the spirit of staying in the present, I’m giving you a fig tart. I know we’re on the very edge of fig season, which is why I hesitated sharing this with you. I considered waiting until next year, for the peak of fig the season. But then I realized that if I wait a whole year, I might forget entirely about this tart. And that would be a shame.

If you can still find figs at the market (I’ve been buying mine at Whole Foods), you’ve gotta make this tart. It is heavily inspired by the amazing fig tart I ate on my birthday. Figs are my favorite, so whenever I see them on a menu, I go for it. This particular tart is a sweet and savory number, which is always a plus in my book. There are lots of little elements that make this fantastic. Gorgeous figs. Sweet-savory onion jam. Salty prosciutto. Sharp watercress. Pungent blue cheese. Toasted hazelnut for a little bit of crunch. Together they become this little masterpiece. It’s the kind of thing that works beautifully as a first course, or a light lunch. Or if you’re feeling real ambitious, you could make them into bite size hors d’oeuvres. Whatever your little heart desires…

savory fig tart 

inspired by Wood Tavern

serves 4

1 sheet puff pastry

1 cup onion jam (store bought or make your own… I’ll post a recipe soon!)

1 pound black mission figs (about 3-4 figs per tart), quartered

3 ounces prosciutto

1 bunch watercress or upland cress, stems trimmed 

1 ounce blue cheese, crumbled 

1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar

1/2  cup extra virgin olive oil

kosher salt

fresh ground pepper

1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Thaw the puff pastry according to the manufacturer’s instructions. On a lightly floured surface, unfold the pastry and carefully smooth out any seams or tears in the dough. Prick the surface of the dough all over with a fork. Cut the sheet into quarters, then place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Place a sheet of parchment on top of the pastry, then place another baking sheet or pan on top of the parchment. This will prevent the pastry from puffing, leaving you with a flat pastry base. Place in the oven and bake until golden, about 15-25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

When the pastry is cool, spread 1/4 cup of onion jam on each quarter of the pastry. Arrange figs on top of onion jam. Take slices of prosciutto and arrange on top of figs.

Pour the vinegar in a small bowl and season with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Slowly add the olive oil and whisk until the mixture is emulsified. Add the blue cheese and mix gently until combined. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Just before serving, toss the watercress lightly with the vinaigrette. Arrange a mound of dressed watercress on top of each tart. Top with chopped hazelnut and extra blue cheese from the vinaigrette. Serve immediately.