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.





DIY Dog Biscuits

by Anne Maxfield on November 7, 2013

Accidental Locavor RifAs you may or may not know, earlier this year the Accidental Locavore rescued a dog. He’s a big sweetie named Rif and like most dogs, will do almost anything (like obey) for a cookie. So when my friend Zhu Zhu had a recipe for dog biscuits in a recent newsletter and I happened to have all the ingredients on hand, Rif was going to get some homemade treats. This made about 50 4” bones and took about 45 minutes to get them into the oven. These will keep for a month in a covered container.
For the biscuits:

  • 1 pound bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 13 ounces chicken livers, cut into 1/2-inch pieces.
  • 3/4 cup fine cornmeal
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup chicken or beef stock

For the glaze:

  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon egg-white

Heat oven to 250°.  Take two sheet pans and line them with Silpat or parchment.

In a frying pan over medium heat, add the bacon. Cook until the fat is rendered and the bacon is a rich golden brown color.

Pour off most of the fat, leaving a thin film in the pan, and add the chicken livers. Cook for about 5 minutes, turning them often and smashing them a little, until they are broken down, almost a paste, and cooked all the way through.

Put the bacon in a food processor, pulse a few times to grind, then add the livers, pulse to combine, add the cornmeal and run it until you have a coarse mix.

In a stand mixer with the paddle add the cornmeal, bacon mix and the flour. Mix it to combine. Slowly add the chicken (or beef) stock and mix until the dough begins to gather around the paddle. It should feel moist to the touch. Remove and knead it just enough to combine it all.

Place between two pieces of parchment or plastic wrap and roll it out to about 3/8” thick. Cut out the bones and place them on the lined sheet pans. Knead the trimmings back together and roll them out to use the entire mix.

Bake until ‘bone’ dry. It will take 3 hours in a standard oven, 1 1/2 in a convection oven.

When done, remove and if you’re making the glaze,  lower the oven temperature to 200°

To make the glaze: combine the ketchup and egg whites, this will be quite thick. Brush it over the treats while they are still warm. Return to the oven and bake for another 20-30 minutes, until the glaze is set. Place the pans on a cooling rack and leave for 5-10 minutes, then transfer the treats to the racks to cool completely. Serve and let “Fido” enjoy!

My verdict: With a freezer full of bacon scraps and chicken livers (saved for my husband – oh well), this was an easy treat to make. I decided not to add the glaze, since Rif very happily wolfed down the unglazed variety. Part of this was sheer laziness on my part and some of it was that I didn’t want to add high fructose corn syrup to his diet. And while I have no doubt that my friend Zhu Zhu would work around that by making his own ketchup, it’s for a dog biscuit…

He also calls for a 2 5/8” dog bone cookie cutter. Rif is a big boy so I got a set from Amazon, that had a variety of sizes, depending on the size of your dog (and how big you like the cookies to be). Time to start saving more bacon ends and chicken livers – these biscuits won’t last more than a week or two!