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Recipes made with Fall ingredients in Central Texas

Hotty Totty Fried Green Tomatoes

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My sister went to college at Ole Miss, and while in Oxford, Mississippi she picked up the taste for great Southern food. Of course, like most of us, she is watching her girlish figure so she doesn’t eat it often. When I saw green tomatoes at the farmer’s market, I knew I not only had to buy them, but that I had to find a light, or at least lighter, way to prepare them.

When in doubt, I turn to one of my favorite cookbooks, Great Good Food by Julee Russo. I love this cookbook because it is organized by season (much like this blog) and has very flavorful recipes that are low-fat and calorie conscious – but the taste comes first. Seriously, order it now.

And of course, Julee did not let me down. She offers several Green Tomato recipes including Fried Green Tomatoes.  I, of course, changed a few things, replacing the milk with eggs so that the flour sticks better and spicing it up with cayenne

Make sure your oil is hot and serve them immediately so they don’t get soggy and ENJOY!

(By the way, Hotty Totty is part of the Ole Miss fight song, in case you were wondering where I got that from…)

Fried Green Tomatoes
Adapted from Great Good Food by Julee Russo
Serves 8

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp freshly ground sea salt
1/2 tsp cayenne
2 eggs, beaten
3 tbsps vegetable oil
4 green tomatoes,sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 lemons, cut into wedges

In a small bowl, combine the flour, salt and cayenne. Pour the eggs k into another small bowl.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat.

Dip each tomato slice into the eggs and then the flour. Fry the slices in HOT  oil until golden, about 5 minutes, turning once or twice. Drain on paper towels.

Serve immediately with lemon.

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A stir fry to celebrate the small fries

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The last two weeks have been filled with celebration as two of my friends have welcomed beautiful, healthy baby boys into the world. Way to go Sara & Kate!

In honor of these small fries, I give you a farmer’s market stir-fry. The fish is also from the market. A fish vendor has been coming weekly with shrimp and fish from the gulf. It is high quality seafood (they are also one of the purveyors for the Four Seasons) and a great addition to the market.

Pan Fried Snapper & Market Stir-Fry

1 red snapper fillet
soy sauce
canola oil
broccoli, chopped
carrots, peeled and sliced
mushroom, cleaned and sliced
1 cup white or brown rice, cooked
Hoisin sauce

Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat and add about a tablespoon of Canola oil.

In two flat bowls or plates, put soy sauce in one and Canola oil in the other. Dip the snapper in the soy sauce and then in the canola oil. If you want the fish to have a stronger soy flavor, you can let it sit in the soy sauce for a few minutes so it soaks a little in.

Pan fry the snapper skin side down first, 4-5 minutes depending on the thickness. Flip it and cook for another 4-5 minutes until flaky. (Some people don’t like to cook the fish with the skin on, but I find that it keeps it from falling apart. You can take the skin off once it is cooked.

In a separate skillet or wok (who’s not looking for an excuse to use their wok), heat about a tablespoon of canola oil so that it is very hot. Toss in the broccoli, carrots and mushrooms and cook until almost to desired doneness. Add a tablespoon or two or Hoisin sauce and a dash of soy. Give one final stir to coat everything.

If you don’t want to use oil, I have also stir-fried with broth. You have to get it really hot for that to work, but it does have good flavor. Basically you are looking for some moisture to keep everything from sticking. If you haven’t figured it out, I don’t believe in cooking spray. Use less oil or use broth. I don’t know what’s in those aerosol cans and I don’t think I want to….

Plate your rice, vegetables and fish and eat up!

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Be still my beet-ing heart: Beet Risotto

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Things were bustling this morning at the Downtown Austin Farmer’s Market. With a little warmer weather, the booths were crowded and there were a lot of familiar faces. It was wonderful to run into so many friends I hadn’t seen in a while and a truly delightful way to start the day.

I decided this morning that I’ve been in a vegetable rut, buying the same things I always get because I like them (broccoli, spinach, and mushrooms). For the good of the blog, I needed to stretch a little bit and try some things I don’t normally buy. Today’s victim – beets.

I didn’t grow up eating beets so it’s not a natural choice for me. I never see beets and think “oh, I could make x with that.” I also have a confession – I kind of think beets taste a little like dirt. (My friend Roxanne thinks the same thing about sprouts.) I know it’s just me, other people love them, but there it is. I did set that aside for today.

I got online and found some recipes that sounded tasty. I tried two recipes – one for the beets and one for the greens. I’m stuck on this don’t waste any part of the vegetable thing.

Since this is Valentine’s week, you can also use this beet risotto recipe to woo your sweetheart with some charming pink/red food. (Stop rolling your eyes you cynics.)

Roasted Beet Risotto
Gourmet November 2004

This risotto is good, but I didn’t love the beets. It’s my “beets taste like dirt” thing. I did like it though and I would cook it again for other people if I had beets handy. If you like beets, you’ll love it.

3 medium beets (1 1/2 lb with greens), trimmed, leaving 1 inch of stems attached
3 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (28 fl oz)
3 cups water
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups Arborio rice (14 oz)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 oz finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1/2 cup)
Garnish: Parmigiano-Reggiano shavings, made with a vegetable peeler

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 425°F.
Tightly wrap beets in a double layer of foil and roast on a baking sheet until very tender, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. Cool to warm in foil package, about 20 minutes.
When beets are cool enough to handle, peel them, discarding stems and root ends, then cut into 1/2-inch cubes.

While beets are cooling, bring broth and water to a bare simmer in a 2- to 3-quart saucepan. Keep at a bare simmer, covered.

Cook onion in oil in a wide 4- to 6-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute.

Add wine and simmer briskly, stirring constantly, until absorbed, about 1 minute. Stir in 1/2 cup broth and simmer briskly, stirring constantly, until broth is absorbed.

Continue simmering and adding broth, about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and letting each addition be absorbed before adding the next, until rice is just tender and creamy-looking, 18 to 22 minutes. (Reserve leftover broth.)

Stir in beets, salt, and pepper(mixture will turn bright pink) and cook, stirring, until heated through. (BOY, they are not kidding about the bright pink – I have lipstick that is paler than this. Woo!)

Thin as necessary with some of leftover broth, then stir in cheese and remove from heat.

Beet Green Gratin
Recipe courtesy Alton Brown
Show: Good Eats
Episode: Beet It

This recipe ROCKS! I had a failed turnip green disaster a few weeks ago (I spared you by not posting it) and was worried that I wasn’t going to have success with greens. Today, I learned that I like beet greens, but not turnip greens. I really like beet greens cooked like this. Yum!

1 tablespoon butter
12 ounces sliced mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound beet greens, cleaned and picked
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
4 egg yolks, beaten
1 cups ricotta
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup crumbled crackers (recommended: Ritz crackers)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the mushrooms and garlic and sweat. Add the beet greens and mix well. Remove pan from heat. Season with salt and pepper.

In a separate bowl, combine the egg yolks, ricotta, Parmesan cheese, and salt. Combine everything and put into a lightly oiled 9 by 11-inch baking dish.

Top with the crumbled crackers and bake for 30 minutes covered. Uncover and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

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Stuffed Acorn Squash

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In early December, we still have winter squash at our market. I decided to explore a stuffed acorn squash using a sausage I’d found at Central Market. You can use any kind of non-smoked sausage for this recipe. I was trying for something light so I used a turkey sausage that had dried cranberries in it.

2 acorn squash, cut in 1/2 and seeded
4 servings cooked rice – I used wild rice that I had prepared with chicken broth instead of water so that it had a richer flavor.
1 tbsp butter
1 lb mushrooms, sliced
1 small onion, chopped
a small handful of dried cranberries or cherries
1/2 tsp dried sage (look at me using a measuring spoon!)
pinch of allspice
salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put about an inch of water in a shallow baking dish and place the cleaned squash cut side down in the pan. Cook for 45 minutes or until desired tenderness.

While the squash is cooking, saute the sausage. You can use any kind of pan sausage. Remove the sausage from the pan and drain fat (if necessary).

Melt 1 tbsp butter in a saute pan (yes, you can use something besides butter, but no, it is not going to taste as good.) Add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute until tender. Add the sausage back to the pan and sprinkle in the spices. Add the rice and cook until heated through. Remove from the heat and add the cranberries or cherries (I didn’t do this since my sausage had cranberries in it.)

Remove the squash from the oven and set one squash on each plate. Fill with the stuffing. I suggest serving with a spinach salad. My favorite has spinach, apples, chopped walnuts and blue cheese. Dig in!

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