Tuesday, July 6, 2010

when life hands you lemons

Ok, this is not about lemons or lemonade. But it is about what to do when you think you have a dud on your hands and then-AHA!

This HOT holiday weekend brought me to my dear friend's beautiful home in Ellenville, NY. It was a weekend of good eating, good conversation  AND  there was hiking at nearby Minnewaska State Park Preserve in New Paltz. We found a cool path through the woods to a scenic waterfall with not a lot of water falling, but a lovely chill in the air from the cavern of jagged stones.

The bottom of the waterfall at Minnewaska State Park Preserve.

The heat was not universally kind, however and a casualty of the day was my host's tomato plant that had lost all its leaves in the heat wave. Could it be salvaged with a lot of watering? A local resident neighbor assured us it could not. Could we harvest the hard green tomatoes that were withering on the vine? Possibly. Fried green tomatoes live on in folklore and not without good reason. Or so we were willing to find out. We plucked the fruit from the bare branches and sliced them open to see what we had on our hands.

The fruit was bright, juicy and green! Perfecto! A quick dredging in beaten egg and then cornmeal and then sauted in oil till golden. 

We decided to do a zucchini as well. Why not?
The tomatoes were delicious- tender, tart, and filled with a delicate young tomato flavor. Serve with a lemon and herb seasoned  aioli for a simple summer appitizer.

Fried Green Tomatoes with Lemon Aioli

-Cut tomatoes into thick slices
-beat an egg in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper
-put a cup of cornmeal in a small bowl
-dip tomatoes in egg and then in cornmeal, set on a plate or cookie sheet
-heat 1/4 cup of oil in a saute pan and when hot, fry the tomatoes in a single layer for 5 minutes on each side until golden. 
-drain tomatoes on a paper towel.
-serve warm with lemon aioli

Lemon Aioli
-1 cup of mayo mixed with 1 Tbs. Lemon zest, 2 Tbs. lemon juice, 1Tbs. minced chives, 1 or 2 dashes of tabasco sauce
-Mix all together with a whisk
-chill before serving

Beautiful pictures, Deb! Love them! Over the past few weeks I have really been in a "get-together" frame of mind. This past Saturday, I invited a few friends over for an impromptu barbeque. Nothing fancy, just great, inexpensive summertime wines and simple grilled veggies on a beautiful ciabatta that I grilled and coated with homemade pesto and fresh, locally made mozzarella. My stomach is growling in recollection!

This brings me to Deb's recipe for fried green tomatoes. What a perfect recipe to include at one of these gatherings of friends. In a few weeks, I am hosting a "candle party" for a large group of women and you can be sure Fried Green Tomatoes will be on the menu! Deb - is it easy to actually find these under-ripe tomatoes in local markets and shops? I would think they would strive to only show ones already ripened, or on their way to ripeness. I don't have my own garden, so I am hoping I can locate some.

As for wine, I definitely want to drink white with these fried treats. Wines with good acidity tend to go well with most things fried or creamy. So, the tomatoes as well as the aioli will work well with a wine with this quality. I love Muscadet in the summer (I love it all year round, actually, but it has a particular affinity with the warmer weather!). A crisp, white, bright, fresh wine like Muscadet would just pair perfectly with Deb's recipe. And what's great is that you don't have to spend a lot of money to find a superb one. My favorite Muscadets are in the $10-$15 price range.

Two things to keep in mind when finding the perfect Muscadet: First, the best ones come from the area in the Loire Valley in France called the Muscadet Sevre-et-Maine. There are four communes in the region that can put this on the label and so this is always something to look for. Second: the best Muscadet also has "sur lie" on the label. This means that the wine has been kept on its lees (mostly dead yeast and skins) throughout the winter after harvest, before bottling. Since the wine has been allowed to mingle with its lees, it tends to pick up some extra richness. Also, by leaving the wine in the same fermentation tank with the lees, the carbon dioxide released during fermentation gives the wine some extra "zip".

If you are thinking about making Deb's Fried Green Tomatoes - definitely consider Muscadet as your wine of choice! I know that's what I'll be drinking!


  1. Very interesting about Muscadet- I had no idea! As for green tomatoes, well you are correct in that you won't find them in the supermarket. Best to look through a friends garden for a particularly abundant crop. Not every tomato on the vine will ripen. If you cn't find the green tomatoes, consider just using a zucchini or yellow squash.

  2. I LOVE fried green tomatoes!! I will try pairing with an aioli next time!

  3. Last year with the blight epidemic, fried green tomatoes (along with tomatillos) became staples during the tomato-less summer. I didn't pair it with a dipping sauce so will definitely try this one (maybe in the fall when the season is ended). I'm too eager for my ripe blight-free tomatoes this season!


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