Adventures in Comfort Food

50 MPH Tomatoes-Good Year Round!

by Anne Maxfield on November 5, 2015

Accidental Locavore My 50 MPH TomatoesKnowing that these are one of my husband’s favorite appetizers at Cafe Miranda, being the proud owner of their cookbook, Adventures in Comfort Food, and having a big bowlful of tomatoes, the Accidental Locavore needed to take this recipe for a test drive. Luckily, this actually works better on less-than-perfect tomatoes, so go for it! Serves 2 as a large appetizer or side dish:

For the sauce:

  • ½ cup mayo
  • 1 tablespoon hot pepper relish
  • 2 teaspoons sweet pickle relish
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried onion or minced fresh onion
  • 2 pinches dried dill

Accidental Locavore 50 MPH SauceFor the tomatoes:

  • ½ cup cornmeal
  • Salt & pepper
  • ½ pound (1 large) tomato cut into 1” slices (horizontal)
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Scallions, sliced for garnish

Mix the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

Put the cornmeal, salt & pepper in a shallow bowl. Coat tomatoes with the cornmeal mix, pressing slightly to make sure they adhere.

In a heavy 12” frying pan (cast iron is ideal) over medium heat, heat ¼” oil until hot – don’t let it smoke. Fry the tomatoes for 5 minutes until golden brown, carefully flip and fry another 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

Smear the dressing on a plate. Plate tomatoes side by side on the dressing so they stay crisp. Sprinkle with scallions, serve and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore 50 MPH TomatoesMy verdict: Delicious! Not as good as being at Miranda (this photo is from there), but not bad for a first attempt. The sauce is a great version of Russian dressing with a little heat! I didn’t have any hot pepper relish, so I used slightly less than 3 tablespoons of India relish (and a little squirt of Sriracha in Kerry’s honor), the juice of half a lime and fresh dill in place of dried.

Kerry says this is a good way to use less than perfect tomatoes, so remember it for when you’re a bit discouraged by the tomatoes in the market. When I made it, it was tomato season, and we used a couple of big, beautiful beefsteaks, so they just needed about 3-4 minutes a side. The cornmeal crust was nice and crunchy, we just needed more of it, so next time I’m just going to eyeball a dish full so they get a better crust. Chives made a good garnish as there were no scallions.





What’s Your Go-To Comfort Food?

by Anne Maxfield on July 27, 2015

Accidental Locavore Kerry's BookAfter thoroughly perusing Kerry Altiero’s new cookbook Adventures in Comfort Food, the Accidental Locavore started thinking about comfort food. While there are some foods that would be almost universal, on every list there are bound to be others that just don’t appeal. For me, chicken (or any other kind of) pot pies don’t even make the top 100 and there’s a reason for that. When we were kids and my parents went out we would get pot pies. Not the good ones (if there are such things), the frozen kind that were three-for-a-dollar. Play-Doh like crusts, requiring a jack-hammer to open them, revealing a sludgy beige mess with the occasional pea, carrot chunk and once in a blue moon, a horribly overcooked morsel of chicken.

Frank on the other hand, puts pot pies much higher in the ranking. “If it’s done well, it can be thoroughly enjoyable – a meal in itself.” Also on his list, meatloaf, liver with onions and bacon, chicken, mashed potatoes, pasta – especially spaghetti and meatballs and lasagna. He thinks some form of pasta is on almost everyone’s list.

Raw liver on wooden boardLike pot pies, liver would never be on my list of comfort foods. We agree on mashed potatoes, and spaghetti and meatballs. I’d have mac and cheese right up there – actually almost anything with cheese, or potatoes, or pasta. All that really-bad-for-you white food. Toast. A good roast chicken is a great meal, but I’m not sure it’s comfort food to me, but corn on the cob sure is (as are perfect tomatoes). Polenta?

Accidental Locavore Noshis BurgerAs much as we love a good burger (and fries), that doesn’t make the list either. Ditto pizza. Frank has a good point when he says that comfort food requires sitting down and enjoying it, however, there are lots of really memorable meals that we’ve sat down and enjoyed that were truly memorable but hardly comforting.

Don’t you think nostalgia plays a huge roll? I’d probably put apple sauce on my list because it was something we always got when we were sick. Not Jello – too artificial, but definitely ice cream cones, especially in silly flavors like peppermint stick or loaded with what we knew as jimmies (sprinkles to the rest of you). For many people, peanut butter fits that bill, but I’ve baited one too many mouse traps for it to have any appeal.

Comfort food is often food our mothers cooked well. Frank’s argument for liver is because it was one of the dishes his mother mastered. My mother cooked a lot of things well, but some of them, like her tiny noodle casseroles, just showed up on the plate one night too often.

Accidental Locavore CokeAnd beverages definitely fall into the comfort category. Besides hot chocolate, and maybe tea, the king of the comfort food drinks has to be what their competition calls “Big Red from Atlanta” a classic Coke, really cold, in a glass bottle.

Accidental Locavore Chocolate Chip Cookies IIWhat have I forgotten, or what do you want to defend? Chocolate chip cookies? Twinkies? Post a comment and let us know your list. Enjoy!