Friday, May 24, 2013

Cristina's Fried Green Tomatoes

Its Mid- May here in Vegas, which means that one of our growing seasons is almost over before the harsh, sizzling clutches of summer starts. My garden is coming along nicely. I've already harvested a couple of Artichokes, some peppers, and a lot of radishes. Unfortunately the Brussels Sprouts were a bust, even though they grew to be quite large and aphid infested.
I noticed that a lot of tomato plants have been popping up in the garden. I bought one plant from the nursery, and purposely planted another from seed, but there's tomato plants all over the place. I think this has to do with the fact that last fall I just let the dead plants lay where they may, and the seeds have germinated. So I'm anticipating tomatoes coming out of my ears this year, which makes me reallllly happy.

I went out to the garden this afternoon to grab some herbs for dinner, and was struck with a thought- I have a few green tomatoes, why not make up some Fried Green Tomatoes? So I did, loved it, and decided to post the recipe here.

Cristina's Fried Green Tomatoes


  • A green tomato or two, depending on how many you're feeding. One tomato is enough for 2 people as a side dish. 
  • Egg whites (for one tomato I used 2). whip them up a little bit with a fork. 
  • Bread crumbs. I ended up having a lot left over, so I would suggest using approximately 1/2 to 3/4 cup. 
  • Corn meal. I would use about a 1/4 cup. Adjust to how crunchy you want your breading. 
  • fresh or dried herbs. I didn't measure, and neither should you. At this moment I added chives, tarragon, oregano, and dill from the garden. Use whatever amount or types you want. 
  • Seasoning salt. I added a couple of shakes of Lawry's Seasoning Salt, and then twice that of Tony Chachere's original Creole seasoning (love this seasoning!). You can use any kind of seasoning you like.
  • Garlic Salt (or regular) Salt and Pepper. 
  • Frying oil. I used peanut because it's what I had on hand. Enough to line the pan and fill it about a 1/4 inch. 


  1. Before you get started, stick the tomato in the freezer. Leave it in there while you get the other ingredients ready, or about 15 minutes. 
  2. Chop up the herbs if you're using fresh. Then squeeze them in a paper towel to make sure they're dry.
  3. Combine the bread crumbs, corn meal, dried herbs, and seasoning into a bowl. 
  4. Set up a work station next to the stove- first a bowl with the egg whites, then the bowl of dry mixture closest to the pan. 
  5. Cut up the tomato (I went with 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick), and sprinkle garlic salt and pepper on both sides. 
  6. heat the pan on medium/ medium high heat, then add the oil. (might need to adjust the heat during the cooking process if the slices are turning too dark brown)
  7. When the oil sizzles when you throw in a couple of flakes of bread crumbs, its ready. 
  8. dunk a tomato in the egg white mix, let it drain a bit, then put it in the bread mix. Make sure it is well coated. 
  9. Carefully put the tomato in the hot oil. Repeat with other slices, until the pan is full but not crowded. 
  10. when the mixture is golden brown on the bottom, flip the slices over. 
  11. As soon as the slices are browned on both sides, take them out with a spatula and drain them on a paper towel. 
  12. Repeat until all slices are cooked. 
Eat them while they're nice and hot! I love that they were tangy and slightly crunchy. I had so much leftover mixture and egg whites, that I decided to cook a yellow squash the same way, which also turned out delicious!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Homemade Pepper Sauce

Last year I planted about 5 pepper plants. A couple of Pimento, a couple of hot ones I don't remember the name of, and I believe an Anaheim. They did so well, I had peppers coming out of my ears. I credit the hot Las Vegas sun, as well as the fact that I sprayed them once with an Epsom salt/water solution when they were young. I should have harvested them periodically through the summer, but I thought the pimentos would get bigger (they didn't). Which means I had A LOT of peppers at the end of the season. I did try a couple of peppers in recipes throughout the summer, which is how I realized that the pimentos were pretty darn spicy. Must have been cross pollination. . . .

I realized when I had all these peppers at harvest time that I wanted to make a hot sauce, like a Tabasco type. So I started researching pepper sauces on the Internet, and came up with a wide variety. I decided to try a couple of different ways, and see what I came up with as an end result. The reason why I'm posting this now and not when I had a new finished product is because I wanted to make sure it was good, and would last. (It did, I still have some in my fridge. Delicious!)

Homemade Pepper Sauce

Peppers. Any variety. Type depends on how hot you want your sauce. Amount is up to you.
garlic cloves, husk taken off but whole (amount depends on your taste)
Pickling salt

Type 1: Brine, Peppers, and Garlic
Into a pint sized jar, stuff as many whole peppers as you can (and by whole, I mean stem and all). Add a clove of garlic or two. add 2 1/2 tsp of Salt, and then fill to the top with water. Screw on lid, shake well to dilute the salt into the water, and leave on your pantry shelf for at least 2 weeks to ferment. At the end of fermentation, skim off any scum on the top, and dump everything in a blender and blend. Store in the fridge.

I started to do this, but then realized that the brine was escaping, and I didn't have the patience. So I let it sit for a couple of days in a bowl (to catch the escaping juices) then took off the lid, added a glass cup to weight down the peppers until fermented to my liking, then blended them up. turned out really well, had a good flavor.

Type 2: Peppers, Garlic, Water, and Vinegar
Well, right off the bat I didn't do exactly what the directions said. I only added vinegar to a quarter of the jar, then filled the rest of the jar with water. To start from the beginning: Cut stems off peppers. Stuff a quart jar with peppers, adding a clove or two of garlic. fill the jar with vinegar a quart of the way. Add water to the rest. Add a glass cup or weight to the top of the jar to weigh the peppers down and keep them immersed in the liquid. Ferment to your taste.

Type 3: Peppers, Garlic, and Brine, Fermented open air from the beginning
Her Sriracha
Now the author from this website didn't grind up her chilies, but by now I got the idea of what I needed to do. So I took out my trusty fermenting crock, threw in a bunch of different chilies and peppers (by now my Grandmother had given me some sweet Hungarian Paprika peppers, so I added some of those as well) and made a brine. The brine I used was 1 cup of water: 1 tbsp salt. I mixed up enough brine and chopped up the chilies (make sure you use gloves!!) trying to take out most of the seeds and discarding the stems (which took a lot of work!). I then threw the chilies into the crock, and filled it up above the chili line with the brine. I added my plate and weight, and waited. I checked it every day or so, making sure if there was any scum on the top of the brine that I skimmed it off and rinsed my plate and weight.

End Result

I let my different experiments ferment for about a week and a half, which is not very long. This year I'm going to shoot for at least 2 (preferably 3) weeks (Keep in mind the longer you ferment your chilies, the more sour they will taste). I then took out the standard blender (if you want finer blending, I would recommend a baby blender) and blended each different experiment and put them back into their jars. What I also did, within each experiment, was have jars that had more hot peppers or mild peppers, and kept them separate.

When I had finished blending everything and labeling, I got to tasting. My taste buds took a couple of hours to recover, so I would recommend having some milk or cheese on hand between tastings. Type 1 and 3 were similar, mostly because they ended up being made the same way. Type 3 was much more mild because I had the Hungarian Sweet Peppers in that one. Type 2 was HOT! I think the vinegar brought out the heat of the chilies.

So now I had a couple of different heat levels of hot pepper sauce. I decided to combine them in a way that would make them hot or mild. I combined them into small decorative jars that I gave out as Christmas gifts, and kept the rest in my fridge. I've been eating the pepper sauce as a sort of salsa with ruffles chips, pouring it on my eggs in the morning, or adding it to stir fries to add heat. You can pretty much add it to anything.

Please let me know in the comments if you have tried any of these recipes, and how they turned out. Thanks!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Smoked Salmon Snacks

Wow, it really has been quite a while since I've written in this blog. A couple of culprits are at work: 1. Getting an Ipad. The blogger app on it is not great, and I sort of stopped using regular laptops for a while there. 2. Pintrest. Why try my own recipes when I can drool at what other people have made instead? 3. (Mostly this one) Laziness.

Oh well its never too late to end a stretch of no-posts. So here goes; a snack that I made up a couple of weeks ago.

Smoked Salmon Snacks

I love lox and cream cheese. I grew up eating it as a special breakfast treat that I enjoyed with my dad. We would make it with onion bagels that were nice and toasty, a hearty helping of cream cheese, the smoked salmon, and some sliced onions. Delicious!
Every now and then I like to replicate this childhood treat; sometimes I add ingredients to the pile. I recently bought a huge package of Atlantic Smoked Salmon from Costco, and realized when I went to make lox that I did not have any bagels! So in a round about way I came up with this concoction, which can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or as an appetizer!

Salmon snacks, step 2

Crackers, your choice (I used a small multi-seed type)
smoked salmon
cream cheese
preserved lemon (or the pulp from a Meyer lemon, I haven't tried it with a regular lemon which might be a little more sour than you'd like)
French Fried Onions
(I'm not giving exact measurements, because you can make as big or as small a batch as you'd like)
Salmon Snacks, Step 4
1.line the crackers up all along a plate or serving dish.
2. Smear a dollop of cream cheese on each cracker.
3. Depending on your taste, put a couple of capers on each cracker (press them into the cream cheese so they won't roll around).
4. Chop up the lemon bits and add a little bit of lemon to each cracker (again based on your taste, I liked the taste of lemon to be barely there).
5. Tear off a piece of the smoked salmon and place it on top of the cracker.
6. add a piece or two of french fried onions to the top.

Voila! you have a delicious snack! Let me know in the comment section of you've added or subtracted anything.