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CORN-FRIED TOMATO, HERBED CREAM CHEESE, SPINACH, LEMON-BASIL OIL

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CORN-FRIED TOMATO, HERBED CREAM CHEESE, SPINACH, LEMON-BASIL OIL

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Ingredients

Adjust Servings:
2 large vine ripened tomatoes cut evenly into thick slices
1 egg
5 ounces all purpose flour
5 ounces Corn Flour finely ground, Masa works great
extra virgin olive oil to shallow fry
2 handfuls raw spinach
1 teaspoon Butter
1 splash sherry
1/4 cup cream cheese
2 tablespoons sour cream
5 tablespoons fresh garden herbs
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup basil leaves
1/2 lemon peel
  • Serves 2
  • Medium

Ingredients

Directions

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At least I know that someone enjoys these articles. Week in and week out, our dog, Sadie, has an intuition for which dogs are famed.

She seems to know when I am writing an article, and more often than not is the lucky recipient of an unguarded plate of food as I sit at my desk in the other room working on the plate photography. At least I have the picture on-disk when she helps herself to the weekly nourishment.

This week was no different, but I was a bit disappointed when she ate the corn-fried tomatoes, as I was really looking forward to digging in after I knocked the written assignment out.

More and more, fried tomatoes are appearing on menus. Some restaurants stick with green tomatoes, one of my favorites, and others fry ripe tomatoes to serve as croutons to be placed under steaks, replacing the traditional bready crouton of yesteryear.

As southern as it gets, we had amazing fried green tomatoes in the Carolinas at a franchise restaurant spread throughout the Southern states on our way back up from Disney World, a surprise respite after a long and arduous trip on which everyone fell ill on New Year’s Eve.

As far as food on the trip was concerned, it was the tomatoes that still stick out in my mind more than any other food. While all of the food at this restaurant was made from scratch every day (a noble feat for a chain), it was the notion of Fried Green Tomatoes on Creamy Grits that settled my frazzled nerves, and for that I am ever-grateful.

But what is it about a fried tomato that makes it so special? Perhaps it’s the combination of the steamy hot-sweet tomato counter-balanced with the acidity for which these great fruits are known.

The crust, when done correctly, is a welcome contrast to the soft and gooey tomato, which softens considerably in the cooking process (in this case, I used fine corn flour to add a great layer of flavor and texture to the dish).

Maybe it is the lemon-basil oil, made fresh in your kitchen with herbs from your garden. Or, mayhap it is all of these things together in the form of the ultimate comfort food, just waiting to please the palate and soothe the soul after a long push at work or on the road.

At least knowing that Sadie enjoyed it makes me happy, but it was irritating as it usually is. When I get home, at least I know that I can cook this for my wife and guarding it from the dog, sit and relax, and ponder not only the classic simplicity of the dish, but also that of my dog’s mind.

But then again, she eats well every Sunday night, and I keep letting her, so I must be honest and ask which one of us has the simpler wit.

Tomatoes

  1. Set up a breading station in the following order: 1-flour, 2-egg wash, 3-corn flour
  2. Dredge (dust) the tomato slices, one at a time, in the flour
  3. Shake off the excess, drop into the egg wash, and make sure that it adheres to as much surface as possible
  4. Move the tomato over to the corn flour and coat, pressing it on. This does not have to be perfectly sealed, since we are not deep frying it
  5. Heat your EV olive oil in a frypan large enough to carry your tomato slices
  6. Fry the tomatoes on a high heat, making sure not to splash, splatter or otherwise harm yourself with flying smoking-hot grease
  7. Set aside on paper towels, when golden brown, until service
  8. When ready, alternate layers of tomato, spinach and cheese mixture and garnish with the lemon-basil oil

Sautéed Spinach

  1. In a sauté pan, heat the oil and butter
  2. When very hot, add the spinach and stir for about 5 seconds
  3. Pull off the heat and hit with a splash of Sherry
  4. Adjust seasoning and set aside until ready to plate-up

Herbed Cheese

  1. Cream together all ingredients and adjust seasonings to your taste

Lemon-Basil Oil

  1. Add the oil, basil and lemon peel to the cup of a blender
  2. Pulse and then blend until your herbs and peel are well combined
  3. Season to taste

Paul Suplee

Paul G. Suplee CEC, PC III is a private chef, college professor, writer, photographer & blogger who breathes food.

Active in the professional food service industry since 1983, he has worked in a number of locations across the United States. Paul now teaches adult students near Ocean City, Maryland after an interesting four-year career as a high school teacher.

No disrespect to the food stylist world or that of the food writer, but what you see and read from him, love it or hate it, is what you will get at his table. No blowtorches, no crisco-ice cream and no molasses in place of natural glazing, either in photo or word.

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