"Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie."
-----Garfield cartoonist Jim Davis

Monday, July 21, 2014

FRIED GREEN TOMATO SALAD & CHEF JOE RANDALL'S COOKING SCHOOL, SAVANNAH, GEORGIA

About 15 years ago, a little group of friends, including Kevin and I, started a tradition of spending a weekend together, out of town, cooking, eating, drinking wine, visiting garden centers, golfing, biking and any other activities that we found to do in that town.  We love the tradition and have had so much fun together and made many fun memories over the years.  This year, to celebrate our 15th (or so) anniversary we decided to venture further away from this area, to a place none of us had been to previously.  All of us are well traveled; so finding a place was a challenge.   One person suggested Savannah, Georgia and almost immediately we decided that was the place to go.

We all came up with ideas for activities but one idea was of interest to everyone:  A Southern Cooking Class, Lecture and Demonstration by Chef Joe Randall.  Check him out here




The menu consisted of:
* Savannah Crab Cakes with Herb Mustard Aioli, 
* Warm Fried Green Tomatoes on Bibb Lettuce with Buttermilk Dressing, 
* Roasted Rack of Sage-Rubbed Pork with Madeira Jus Lie, 
* Savannah Red Rice, 
* Southern Fried Corn, and for dessert 
* Brown Butter Peach Cinnamon Pecan Tart with Bourbon Custard Sauce.
Needless to say, when we were done, we were stuffed!  Everything was absolutely delicious! 

My personal favorite, and a good thing to make at this time of year, is the Salad of Warm Fried Green Tomatoes on Bibb Lettuce.  


In case you aren't sure, green tomatoes are simply unripe red tomatoes.  Why wait until they are red to eat them?  Extend the tomato season!  Here's the recipe which consists of three main parts - Buttermilk Dressing,  Fried Green Tomatoes,  and the other salad ingredients:

BUTTERMILK DRESSING.  Makes 12 servings.
*  1-1/2 cups mayonnaise
*  3/4 cup buttermilk
*  1-1/2 cloves garlic, minced
*  2-1/4 tablespoons Vidalia onion, or any sweet onion, minced
*  1-1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar
*  2-1/4 teaspoons fresh parsley, chopped
*  3/8 teaspoon salt
*  3/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
In a bowl, combine the mayonnaise, buttermilk, garlic, onion, vinegar, and parsley.  Season with salt and pepper.  Refrigerate until ready to serve; will keep 2 to 3 days.

FRIED GREEN TOMATOES.  Makes 8 servings.
*  1/4 cup buttermilk
*  1/4 cup milk
*  1 egg, beaten
*  1/2 cup cornmeal
*  1/4 cup all-purpose flour
*  1 teaspoon salt
*  1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
*  1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
*  3 large green tomatoes, sliced 1/4-1/3" thick
*  1 cup peanut oil for frying
In a bowl combine buttermilk, milk and egg.  Mix well.  In a separate bowl stir together cornmeal, flour, salt, black and cayenne peppers.  Dip tomato slices in milk and egg mixture, then dredge in cornmeal and flour mixture.  Coat well.  Heat oil in a skillet over medium high heat and cook tomato slices 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels.  Serve hot.

WARM FRIED GREEN TOMATOES ON BIBB LETTUCE WITH BUTTERMILK DRESSING.  Makes 8 servings.
*  2 heads Bibb lettuce, torn
*  16 prepared Fried Green Tomato slices (Recipe above.)
*  2 tablespoons sliced green onions
*  2 cups Buttermilk Dressing (Recipe above.)
Chill 8 salad plates in the refrigerator.  Arrange the Bibb lettuce in the center of the chilled salad plates and arrange two sliced fried green tomatoes on lettuce.  Pour a little buttermilk dressing all over the salad.  Garnish each serving with sliced green onions.

Trust me, this salad was DELICIOUS!!

If you make the trip to Savannah, talk to Chef Randall about a class.  It was great fun, and a wonderful meal.  

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

RHUBARB CURD.

I bet I have more rhubarb recipes on this blog than any other kind of recipe, but my rhubarb plants are prolific producers and I can't imagine not using the rhubarb.

A couple members of my cooking club were interested in the recipe for Rhubarb Curd in Rhubarb Renaissance, by Kim Ode.  I said that I would send the recipe to them but since I had a lot of rhubarb on hand, I thought I would also make the recipe.  I made two substitutions: 1) grape juice instead of cranberry juice, and 2) salted butter instead of unsalted.  These substitutions seemed to work well.  Here is the recipe as shown in the book.

RHUBARB CURD.  Makes about 1-1/2 cups.
*  2-1/2 cups rhubarb, cut in half-inch pieces
*  1/3 cup plus 1/2 cup sugar, divided
*  1/3 cup cranberry juice
*  4 egg yolks
*  Pinch of salt
*  2 tablespoons, unsalted butter, cut in four pieces.

Combine rhubarb, 1/3 cup sugar, and cranberry juice in a saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until rhubarb breaks down into a sauce, about 10 minutes.  Set aside.

Bring about 2 inches of water to a boil in a saucepan over which a medium bowl will fit.  While the water is heating, whisk together the egg yolks, remaining 1/2 cup sugar, and salt in a medium bowl.  Reduce heat to keep the water at a simmer and place the bowl over the saucepan, whisking constantly until the yolk mixture begins to thicken.

When the yolks are quite warm, whisk in the rhubarb mixture, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens.  Add the butter a piece at a time, mixing well, then set aside to cool.  Refrigerate for up to a week.


Rhubarb, grape juice and sugar

Egg yolks, sugar and salt

Rhubarb curd is good with all of the same things as lemon or orange curd:  scones, in desserts, on toast, and so many other things.  The prepared curd will last about a week in the refrigerator.

Monday, June 30, 2014

MINNESOTA GARDEN TOURS (continued)

As you can tell, I've been enjoying spending time with friends, touring beautiful gardens.   Today is another round of photos from those tours, for your enjoyment!

This garden is in Roseville, MN on a large lot.   

Bonsai

Charming garden shed.

The color combination here between the heuchera and the poppy was lovely!



The peonies were in bloom, and so beautiful!




Japanese Garden



Cactus Garden

Another lovely combination.


Larger than life-sized!
  

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

MINNESOTA GARDEN TOURS (continued)

On Saturday, the Garden Club of Ramsey County had its annual garden tour.  Most of the gardens on the tour, however, are owned by gardeners of the Men's and Women's Garden Club of Minneapolis.  Enjoy the tour!

First stop, a garden in Eagan.

A boat filled with coleus and surrounded by a variety of hostas.

Tour organizer extraordinaire, Jerry Shannon, in front of a 15' giraffe.

A lovely combination of colors and textures.


Notice the papasan chair, repurposed as a planter!


LOL!!!
 Our second stop is at a garden in St. Louis Park.  The owner is the President of the Minnesota Hosta Society and, as you would expect, the garden is filled with hostas.

This is not a flower garden but it was spectacular!


The pond off the patio.



Loved this one!

Water feature.


Planter filled with succulents.

The red bamboo stakes add a nice touch to the planter.

A few doors down the street is another hosta garden featuring over 250 varieties of hostas!  Included were hostas from Japan, personally acquired by the gardener, and not available in the U.S..


The hosta at the top is named "Dr. Bob."  It was a hybrid hosta from a well known hybridizer, named and given to the gardener, Bob Olson.

"Bride Groom"

Momma Robin (not her best photo).
 ...to be continued.




  

Monday, June 23, 2014

BEAUTIFUL MINNESOTA GARDENS and FLOWERS, ON TOUR

The gardens are all out here in Minnesota, and they are spectacular!  I love this time of the year since I love gardening and so many gardens are now on tour.  Over the next few days I will be highlighting some of these gardens.  Sit back, and enjoy the tour! 

Our first stop is a home in Minneapolis.  This is a typical sized city lot, but every inch of it was a part of the garden.

The front of the house was beautifully landscaped, but the real fun was in the back!

Back yard with life-size fairy house, koi pond, and so much more.

Koi pond.  Notice the plants...so tiny.


Buddha.





Back to the front yard with a stream!

Now on to the next garden...   This garden is also in Minneapolis but the lot size and shape is not typical.

The gardeners are passionate about iris and have an unbelievable collection.  It was the perfect time to see the garden since the iris are in bloom.

Lovely back yard with more iris, a labyrinth in the top right of the photo,  and the knot garden shown below.

Knot garden.

One of the prettiest iris.

Just a few of the many, many iris.

Another iris... but not as colorful!
On to our final tour of this post.  A friend and I signed up for a class on fairy gardens... not so much to learn about them but more to see the instructor's garden. 
This is bigger than it looks... about 4'x4'.




Come back tomorrow for another garden tour!
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