A Private Chef’s Dilemma: Southern Food

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My daughter, Emma is almost 9.  She LOVES to help me in the kitchen and she also enjoys trying new foods which I cook as a private chef.  When I showed her this… (courtesy of The Root! The tomato, not the picture!) she was a bit confused.  Her first reaction was to laugh, because it IS a really funny tomato.  We decided it was two tomatoes that fell in love and all the little tomatoes around it were the babies.  She then begin to question what on earth were we going to do with GREEN tomatoes?  I casually explained to her that she wasn’t a true southern girl until she had eaten them fried…yep, fried green tomatoes…my mouth just waters at the sound of it!  She then helped me slice them up and watched as I prepared them along with some sauteed shrimp with garlic and remoulade and also some cajun seasoned grilled chicken.  As I am writing this I am confused as to why it has taken me 8 years to introduce my southern belle of a daughter to such a edible tradition…the only thing I can think of though is that up until recently her mouth was glued shut and it was close to impossible to put anything remotely healthy or different from spaghetti o’s in it!

And because shrimp with remoulade sauce goes with fried green tomatoes, just like peas go with carrots…although I can’t say that I have ever actually eaten or cooked peas and carrots before…but anyway, you get the point!

Although there is a bit of a mess factor when it comes to preparing the tomatoes, they are pretty easy and so amazingly delicious that any mess is long forgotten after that first bite!  Emma, the chef for hire, tenatively lifted her fork dipped hers in ranch dressing and then she popped it in her mouth.  Her first description was that it sure didn’t taste like a tomato and that she loved how it had just a little bit of a tangy taste to it.  She devoured at least 5 big slices!

 

The recipe is so easy…

  • Fried Green Tomatoes
  • 5-6 green tomatoes, the greener the better for frying
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk or buttermilk if you have any
  • 2 cups of cornmeal
  • Cajun seasoning
  •  Oil for frying

 

On one plate put 1 cup of flour. In a bowl, whisk the eggs and milk together. On another plate mix the other cup of flour the cornmeal and a good dose of Cajun seasoning. Heat the oil. Dust a slice of green tomato with flour, then dip in the egg mixture and finally coat very well with the cornmeal mix. Carefully place in the hot oil and fry until golden, about 2 minutes per side. I drain mine on a wire rack over a baking sheet, if you lay them on paper towels, they sometimes tend to get soggy, just so you know! Serve with shrimp or chicken or both!  Top with the remoulade sauce! I got this idea from good friend from NYC and chef for hire and it has helped me cook some of my best meals yet!

 

  • Remoulade Sauce (Courtesy Emeril Lagasse)
  • Juice from 2-3 large lemons
  • 1/2 cup of chopped green onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
  • 3 tablespoons Creole mustard
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 3/4 cup of olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons of chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper

 

Mix all the ingredients together well and then use an emulsion blender or food processor from a private chef, and add oil and process until smooth.  Toss together with the shrimp and serve alongside.

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Creamy Coconut Bacon Brussel Yumminess

Really, I don’t know what these are called, but that title pretty much summed it up!

I discovered a love for brussel sprouts about 2 years ago at Thanksgiving when my mom made them.  Normally I just stir fry them with a little olive oil, bacon and a drizzle of red wine vinegar, and that alone is wonderful.  Roasted whole in the oven they are also as good…but tonight I topped myself.  These are by far the best brussel sprouts, maybe the best anything I have cooked in a long time, and yes I say that at least once a day!  They are extremely easy and I highly recommend you make them soon, like go to the store and make them tomorrow, soon.  You will not be sorry!

Here is the recipe:

  • 1 Bag of Brussel Sprouts, trimmed and cut in halves or quarters
  • 1 container of sliced mushrooms ( I used the baby bellas)
  • 1 shallot finely diced
  • 1 clove of garlic finely chopped
  • 4 slices of bacon
  • 1/2 cup of full fat coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup of cooking sherry
  • 2 tbsp of butter, melted
  • salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 475, layer brussel sprouts evenly on a foil lined baking sheet and drizzle with melted butter, season with salt and pepper and cook for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile cook chopped bacon until crisp, add mushrooms, shallot and garlic and cook until soft.  Add coconut milk and sherry.  Add brussel sprouts and toss to coat, cook until sauce coats the back of a spoon.

That’s it!  Serve with your favorite steak and make your taste buds happy!

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Simple Food

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I am LOVING my weekly deliveries from The Root!  Not only does my family get a fresh supply of organic, sustainable produce each week, but my kids have gotten so excited to see what kind of new goodies that we have gotten!  The variety changes each week depending on what the farms are producing.  We have gotten an abundance of greens, lots of fresh carrots…some of which are making faces…

There are a couple of challenges with fresh produce that hasn’t been slathered in chemicals.  They go bad faster!  Storage is very important as I have learned, greens need to be stored quickly in a very cold crisper or they will start to wilt and fresh broccoli will do best if eaten in the first days after getting the shipment.  The other challenge is figuring out what to do with some of these new veggies that I have never really cooked before…like turnips…and beets…I wasn’t even sure if I LIKED those vegetables.  Well, me being me, I decided to turn it into a challenge to make something absolutely delicious and I succeeded.  Here are 2 recipes (sorry no pics!) but I encourage you to try them and then I encourage you to contact The Root if you are local in the Houston area and give them a try, I promise for the price and the quality you will not be disappointed!

 

  • Grilled Beets with Roasted Walnuts and Goat Cheese Salad
  • 1-2 bunches of fresh beets, green stems and leaves removed (these can be cooked if you would like)
  • 1 cup toasted walnuts
  • 6-8 ozs. of fresh goat cheese (of course I make my own, but you can use store bought!)
  • Fresh spinach, arugula or other types of tender greens

 

Wrap the whole beets in foil and grill on med-high for about 30-40 minutes.  When finished open them up and let them cool completely.  Once cool, rub the skins, they should peel right off.  I find it easier to cut the top and bottom of the beet off and then peel it.  Yes, your hands will turn “beet red” but do not fear it washes right off, however be careful of white porus cutting boards and clothes…those don’t fare as well!  Once the beets are peeled, chop into slices or quarters.  Toss with the walnuts and crumbled goat cheese.

 

  • Dressing
  • 1/4 cup of honey
  • 3-4 tablespoons of dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons or a good drizzling of olive oil
  • 3-4 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Top the spinach mix with the beet mixture and pour the dressing over the top.  Toss it all together and serve!

Made this yesterday and even those die hard beet haters enjoyed it!

  • Pureed Root Vegetables
  • 1 bunch of parsnips peeled and chopped
  • 1 bunch of carrots peeled and chopped
  • 1 bunch of turnips peeled and chopped
  • 2 cups of chicken stock
  • splash of cream
  • salt and pepper

Boil all of the root veggies together until fork tender.  Drain the water and return to the pot.  I like to start with one cup of the stock and salt and pepper.  Using an immersion blender is easiest; however you could probably get the same effect with a food processor.  Blend until smooth, adding the cream and more chicken broth as needed.  The consistency should be a little softer than mashed potatoes.  You can also add fresh herbs to yours, I added a little thyme, however they are perfect with just salt and pepper alone!  Enjoy!  My kids thought this dish was wonderful!!

We are trying a new trend here in our household, MEATLESS MONDAY…yep, you heard that right!  I am not sure how my husband will adjust but he agreed to give it a shot, SO wish me luck!  I’m waiting on my new shipment of produce right now so I can figure out what will be cooking…I will be sure to let you know how it goes!  Also, there is a rumor that there may soon be some new additions to our household…egg laying kinds!  Be watching for updates on that!

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