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From the garden, into the skillet

Posted: July 23, 2013 - 12:14pm  |  Updated: July 24, 2013 - 8:22am

Tomatoes are at their height of deliciousness and home gardens and farmers markets are loaded with them. In fact, local farmers markets and produce stands are the best place to buy tomatoes because they tomatoes don’t ship well. Some folks purchase green tomatoes and let them ripen at home, while others specifically hunt them out for things like sautéing, making a sauce, turning into relish – and for making fried green tomatoes. Summer squash are also their peak. When you select summer squash, look for squash that are less than eight inches long (small squash are sweeter and the skin more tender than the larger ones) have bright, glossy skins with no soft spots and are firm, particularly at the stem end. Today we’re looking at recipes for Middle Tennessee-Style Fried Green Tomatoes, a humdinger of a recipe from frequent recipe contributor, Caroline Kennedy, of Bluffton, and for Pan Fried Summer Squash Fritters, which can be served as side dish, or as a hot hors d’oeuvre. Because both dishes depend on proper pan frying to turn out well, it’s good to be up on the proper technique for this method of cooking. The secret here is to use a heavy-bottom deep skillet and to heat the oil to a depth of about ½-inch, until it is hot enough to produce food that is crisp, but not soggy; browned, but not burned. My favorite way to test oil is to heat the oil in a skillet over the heat called for in the recipe you are following. (Don’t be tempted to turn up the heat to high to speed things along.) When the tip of a wooden skewer inserted into the hot oil sizzles, you’re good to go.

 

Sue Ade is a syndicated food writer with broad experience and interest in the culinary arts. She has worked and resided in the Lowcountry of South Carolina since 1985 and may be reached at kitchenade@yahoo.com.

Pan Fried Summer Squash Fritters

2 cups grated yellow summer squash (about 3 to 4 small squash)

1 medium onion, chopped fine

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper

1 large egg, beaten

½ cup all–purpose flour, plus more if needed

Vegetable oil for frying

 

Mix squash, onion, salt, pepper and egg in a large mixing bowl; blend in flour combining well. Heat oil to a depth of ½-inch in a heavy-bottom large, deep skillet over medium-heat. When oil is hot, drop heaping spoonfuls of batter into the skillet and cook on each side for three to four minutes, or until fritters are golden brown and cooked through. (Do not crowd fritters. If fritter is not keeping its shape, add a little more flour to the batter.) Remove fritters from oil and drain on paper towels before serving.

Makes 8 to 10 fritters depending on the size of the drop.

Middle Tennessee-Style Fried Green Tomatoes

1 tablespoon Dijon-type mustard

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon paprika

1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)

2 medium green tomatoes, sliced ¼-inch and refrigerated

½ cup yellow or white cornmeal

½ cup bacon drippingsor canola oil

 

 

In a small bowl, combine first 6 ingredients. Spread mixture on both sides of tomato slices. Place cornmeal in a shallow dish; dip the tomato slices in cornmeal. In a large cast-iron skillet, heat the bacon grease or oil over medium heat and fry tomato slices 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Drain on wire rack placed over brown paper bag. Serve right away. Makes four servings.

*Cook’s note: bacon grease burns easily, so adjust your heat accordingly.

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