Friday, July 27, 2012

Mama Ozzy's Magic Guacamole

Last night we had an impromptu party at the Tiki.  Some friends who we haven't seen in nearly 6 years were in town from Chicago and stopped by.  Doug and I decided to throw together a quick Mexican supper of:

Salsa Cruda (raw tomato salsa from the garden)
Smoked Corn and Black Bean Salsa
Mama Ozzy's magic guacamole
Spinach and Black Bean enchiladas
Pineapple Jalapeno Margaritas

I love guacamole, but I hate how after being exposed to the air causes it to turn black.  It's a natural thing due to enzymes in the flesh of the avacado decomposing amino acids (much like a banana turns brown).

I have seen all kinds of remedies for this..leaving the avacado seed in the guacamole (doesn't work and looks weird), using lemon juice...slows the process, but the guacamole still turns black.

I present to you here Mama Ozzy's magic guacamole that will not turn black, not even after an overnight refrigeration!  The solution is simple AND delicious.  Instead of lemon or lime juice in my guacamole, I use a pureed tomatillo.  It adds just the right amount of acidity to the guacamole and prevents it from turning black.


Mama Ozzy's Magic Guacamole
makes about 2 cups

3 large ripe avacados
1 medium-sized green tomatillo, paper husk removed, cut into chunks
1 clove garlic, minced very finely (or 1/2 tsp garlic paste)
salt to taste

Peel and seed avacados.  Place in a large bowl and mash with a potato masher until desired smoothness (I like mine a little chunky).

In a food processor, puree the tomatillo until it is liquid.  Add to avacados and stir in.  Add garlic and salt, stir and serve.  This delicious guacamole will not turn black!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Panko-Crusted Fried Green Tomatoes

I need to confess something.


There, I said it.  I love fried green tomatoes in all of their incarnations.  I have had them thick cut, thin cut, dredged in batter, dredged in cornmeal... all good.  I even love the movie Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe.  If it is ever on TV, I will watch it, no matter how far into the movie the programming is.

So now that we have established my obsession with fried green tomatoes, let me say, that this is hands down, the best preparation of fried green tomatoes I have EVER eaten.  EVER.

I first had them prepared this way at a restaurant called Founding Farmers, mere blocks from the Whitehouse on Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington D.C.  They are thick slices of juicy green tomatoes enrobed in a light flavorful crispy shell of fried panko breadcrumbs.  Once I had them, I had to come home and recreate the recipe.

These little beauties are the absolute essence of summer, since it is about the only time I can easily obtain green tomatoes.  I love to eat these on their own with a little lemon garlic aioli or , I love them slathered in pimento cheese, I love them on a sandwich with crispy bacon and fresh basil leaves and I love them just plain.

Bacon, Basil and Fried Green Tomatoes on Multigrain Bread.  
Shut the front door delicious!

I find these are much easier to prepare in a deep fryer, but a skillet will also work, just make certain to maintain a temperature of 350 or your little green 'maters will be greasy, and that would be a tragedy.

Panko-Crusted Fried Green Tomatoes
serves 4

4 medium-sized firm green tomatoes
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 eggs
2 Tbsp hot sauce
1- 2 cups panko bread crumbs
peanut oil for frying
waved paper

Slice tomatoes into 1/4-inch discs.

In a medium-sized bowl combine flour, salt, garlic powder and black pepper, stir to combine well.

In another medium bowl combine eggs and hot sauce, whisk to combine well.

In a third bowl, place the panko breadcrumbs.

Lay out a sheet of waxed paper.

dredge tomatoe slices in flour mixture, shaking off excess.  Dip in egg mixture making certain to completely coat the tomatoe slice.  Dip in panko breadcrumbs turning to coat evenly.

Place breaded slices on wax paper until ready to fry.

Pre heat oil to 350F.  Fry tomatoes in small batches (4-6 slices at a time), fliping them over from time to time, until they are crispy and golden brown.

Drain on paper towels, serve hot!

Summer Squash and Zucchini Pie

This weekend I decided it was time to post some of my favorite southern food favorites.  There is just something about summertime that makes me crave simple southern food.  At the top of the list is this simple and delicious summer squash and zucchini pie.  In late July the garden is overflowing with zucchini and summer squash and this is one of my favorite ways to prepare them.

This is basically a squash casserole baked in a pie crust. This recipe is sort of a cross between a quiche (but much less eggy) and squash casserole. To make things easy I use a prepared pie crust from the grocery store, but when I feel I have more time, I make my own pie crust... it's totally up to how you feel. Whatever you do , do not omit the crumbled butter crackers on the top... that's the best part!

I love to serve this pie with thick slices of garden fresh tomatoes and basil tossed in a simple vinnaigrette!  Welcome Summer!

Summer Squash and Zucchini Pie
serves 8

1 (generous) pound of yellow crookneck summer squash
1 (generous) pound of zucchini
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp nutmeg (preferably freshly grated)
1 9-inch pie shell, unbaked
1 cup crushed butter crackers (I like Ritz)
2 Tbsp butter

Chop zucchini and squash into 1/4-inch coins.  Place in a large glass microwave-safe bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Microwave on high for 8 minutes.  Let vegetables cool to room temperature before removing plastic wrap (about one hour).

Transfer cooked vegetables to a clean cotton dish towel, and gather into a bundle.  In a collander over the sink squeeze as much water as you can out of the vegetables (otherwise pie will be soggy).

Pre heat oven to 350F.

Saute onions in olive oil over medium high heat until they just become soft and translucent.

In a large bowl combine onions, squash and zucchini with cheddar cheese, sour cream, eggs, salt, garlic powder, pepper and nutmeg.  Stir to combine well.

Line a 9-inch piepan with prepared pie crust.  Place squash filling in pie shell and spread to smooth.

Top with crumbled crackers and dot crackers with pats of butter.

Bake 40 minutes until golden brown.  Let pie rest 20 minutes before serving.  Serve hot or at room temperature.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Mama Ozzy's Jalapeno Pimento Cheese

It's been a long time since I posted any recipes!  I intend to change that over the next several days and weeks.  What have I been doing since my last post?  Enjoying my summer, that's what!  We spent a week with friends over the Fourth of July celebrating Doug's and my 50th birthdays (Doug's brthday is in April and mine is in October, so July is right in the middle).  The week was filled with lots of fantastic food, lots of time floating in the lake, riding jet skis and of course cocktails!

The weather here has been insanely hot, with many many consecutive days of 100 + degree temperatures.  When its that hot, I just don't feel like cooking and heating up the house.  However one thing I did make was this delicious pimento cheese.

Pimento cheese is a southern classic, and it seems every cook has a different way of preparing it.  Pimento cheese is making a trendy resurgence in the foodie scene.  I have seen it on grilled cheese sandwiches, topping Kobe beef burgers, adorning a plate of fried green tomatoes, and even mixed into a savory bread pudding.  I love it on crackers or a sandwich.

Here is my variation.  The first thing you will notice is that I don't use any pimentos in my pimento cheese.  While I love a roasted red pepper as much as the next person, I find that it's delicate flavor gets lost in pimento cheese and results in a rather bland final product.  I MUCH prefer using pickled jalapeno peppers.  Spicy and tangy, they make this cheese spread dance and sing! I also add a generous splash of Sriracha hot chili sauce for a little extra kick... DELICIOUS!

Delicious Sriracha (rooster sauce) is delicious on everything!

This is ridiculously easy to prepare.  If you can operate a food processor or use a cheese grater, you can make this pimento cheese.  It keeps for several weeks in the refrigerator, and is terrific for late night snacking with celery sticks!

Mama Ozzy's Jalapeno Pimento Cheese
makes about 3 cups

8 oz. sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
8 oz. pepper jack cheese, grated
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
1/4 - 1/2 cup chopped pickled jalapenos (depending on how spicy you like it)
1 - 1 1/2 cups prepared mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp Sriracha hot sauce

In the bowl of a food processor combine the chopped onion and 1/2 of the pickled jalapenos. Process with 1/2 of the mayonnaise until very smooth.  Mixture will be very runny.

In a large bowl combine grated cheese, and jalapeno onion mixture.  Stir in remaining chopped pickled jalapenos and additional mayonnaise until your desired consistency is achieved.  Season to taste with salt pepper and Sriracha hot sauce.  Keep refrigerated.