Friday, August 27, 2010

Fried Green Tomato Stack with Irish Blue Cheese and Peach & Onion Jam

As I mentioned to you all last week, we just returned from Savannah, Georgia after having a wonderful time in that beautiful Southern gem. And, whilst there, we dined at a delightful spot that served the most delectable 'Fried Green Tomatoes'. (Yummy y'all!) good in fact I just had to experiment with this in my own kitchen and write about the experience, so , here goes....

So, what is it about 'Fried Green Tomatoes' that makes them sooo good? After all, at first glance they're unripened tomatoes and cornmeal, no big deal, right? Ah, but when you consider the genius of this dish you will think again. The tomatoes, as I said, are unripened so they remain quite tart and crunchy, which works perfectly in harmony with the egg, cornmeal & buttermilk batter. The firmness of the fruit helps to hold it all together, and the result is a crunchy, tasty, tart perfection.

Now, the question to serve them?

In pondering this question I decided to introduce a little Irish Blue cheese into the recipe, and used a wonderful new product I've discovered from 'File Mile Town Creamery' in Northern Ireland called 'BallyBlue'. I tied this explosively tasty cheese with the tomatoes in a stack and sat everything on a bed of my own 'Peach & Onion Jam'. Again, the balance of flavors here work wonderfully. The savoury fried tomatoes serve as a wonderful foundation of flavor to showcase the tangy blue cheese, contrasting with the sweet/savory peach & onion jam. Wonderful as a summertime lunch, or a more traditional 'Southern style' starter (with an Irish twist!), just add some reduced balsamic syrup for that gourmet touch, and viola!

So let me invite you to give this southern belle a spin. Pick up some green tomatoes, along with the other ingredients below...and have a go!

Enjoy (y'all!)

Judith, the Irish Foodie

Fried Green Tomatoes
(serves 4)

• 4 green tomatoes
• coarse sea salt and pepper
• 1/2 cups stone ground cornmeal
• 1/2 cups all purpose flour
• 1 egg (beaten)
• ½ cup buttermilk
• vegetable oil (to fry)
• 2 Tbsp basil (chopped)
• 4 oz Ballyblue cheese

Balsamic syrup
1 cup dark balsamic vinegar

Peach and Onion Jam

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion (1 cup finely chopped)
2 Lbs peaches (2 ¼ cups peeled and diced)
3 Tbsp white wine vinegar
3 Tbsp brown sugar
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp sale
¼ tsp ground black pepper


1. To make peach and onion jam heat oil over medium high heat and gently fry onions for 3 minutes or until soft. Stir in peaches, brown sugar, vinegar and spices. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow cool.
2. To make the balsamic syrup place vinegar in small saucepan and gently boil until reduced by 75%. Remove from heat and set aside.
2. Slice tomatoes in to generous ¼’ pieces and season with coarse sea salt and ground black pepper.
3. Beat eggs and buttermilk together with a fork. Mix flours together in a small bowl. Dip each slice of tomato in to wet mixture shaking off excess and then coat in dry flour mixture.
4. Heat oil in heavy cast iron skillet to medium-high temperature. Avoiding crowding place a few slices of tomato at a time in skillet frying for about 3 minutes on each side. Place on a warmed plate.
5. Assemble by placing a little peach and onion jam in center of plate. Stack tomatoes with a slice of blue cheese between each tomato layer ending with a little cheese on top and a teaspoon more of the peach and onion jam. Sprinkle over a little freshly chopped basil.
6. Best served immediately.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

O Savannah!

So, we just returned from a weekend in beautiful and historic Savannah Georgia, and I was certainly inspired by the city, I must say. We were in Savannah as vendors at an Irish dancing event and my curiosity was very much piqued by the experience...

Savannah is indeed an architectural and cultural gem, with beautiful period squares, oak lined streets, old brick facades, wrought iron porches...and, a quirky Irish tinge to the place that I found intriguing. At first glance you would not normally associate such a genteel place as Savannah with all things Irish. After all, the city has an 'air' about it of 'old South'. Horse drawn trams, live oaks, shrimp & grits, but around every corner you find either an Irish pub, or place name, or flag, or something of the 'ol sod that wouldn't be out of place in south Boston or Chicago. So, what gives?

The amazing thing is that Savannah's St. Patrick's day parade in March in the 2nd largest in the US, right after NYC. Thought it was Boston? No, think again y'all, it's Savannah! It appears to me that what Mardi Gras is to New Orleans, St. Pats is to Savannah, and they have literally built a culture around it..(long may it continue I say!)

The city welcomes over 400,000 (yes, that's four hundred thousand!) visitors to take part in the week long St. Pats festivities,and it has obviously transformed the culture of this Southern gem. Can you think of any other city in the US that attracts almost three times it's population to watch a parade outside of Mardi Gras? Wow...indeed.

So, Irish in Savannah it is, and we felt so welcomed and enjoyed our time there so much that we will be back. A lot!..and certainly every March 17th if we can spare it!

That said though, this is a food blog after all, so let me indulge you with one of Savannah's culinary treats.

On one of the nights we were there we walked along the River Walk and dined in a wonderful spot called 'Vic's on the River'. Very Southern, very authentic, and everything we had was fresh and delicious. I would recommend it, and for my blog entry next week I'll be posting a creative 'fried green tomatoes' recipe that I've been perfecting that was inspired by my Savannah, tune back in next week!

And there it is...if you have time and the inclination please make sure you visit Savannah, and if you don't mind mucking in with 400,00 of your closest Irish friends, let's visit on March 17th!!

'till next time!

Judith the Irish Foodie x

Monday, August 9, 2010

Full Irish Breakfast- Ireland part 3

Part of the joy of being in Ireland is waking up every day and relishing an Irish breakfast yet to come. Granted, breakfast is done very well in America, I love our coffee & donuts, but there's just something about the Irish cooked breakfast that fires you up for the day, and sets you out in your pursuit of all things green....(if you've ever been to Ireland, and stayed in a hotel, or guesthouse, or B&B, you will know what I mean!)

What I'm referring to is known around the world as the 'Full Irish Breakfast', and I so enjoyed our breakfasts whilst in Ireland that I just had to include a blog entry on the subject, and introduce you to my spin on this Irish classic.

Perhaps it's the colder climate that makes you appreciate a hot cooked breakfast. Or perhaps it's the quality farm produce behind the fry. The thick cut Irish bacon, the sausages, or the scrumptious Irish breads. Or perhaps it's the nostalgia that a full Irish breakfast brings...whatever it is, I loved it and enjoyed several during my trip, accompanied with a lovely cup of Punjana, and I'm sure you will too!

Of course, each hotel or guesthouse will have their own spin on what makes a cooked breakfast special, and below you will find my 'take' on the subject. You see, In Northern Ireland, we know the breakfast as an 'Ulster Fry', and the addition of potato bread and soda bread to the list of ingredients makes ours very 'northern' in flavor. So, along with the fry, I'm going to give you pointers on how to make 'Soda griddle bread', an essential ingredient.... (you'll love it)

Let me invite you then to go the extra mile, see if you can pick up the ingredients, conjure up this wonderful soda bread and you too can create the feeling of an Irish morning right there in your own kitchen...(umm, just don't look out the window, or you will ruin the effect!)

So, here it is, another 'taste' of Ireland, specifically from Northern Ireland...

Judith, the Irish Foodie.

(serves 4 people)

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
4 slices of bacon
4 large breakfast sausages (sliced in two)
4 cage free eggs
1 large tomato (cut in four slices)
sea salt and pepper
4 slices potato bread (substitute with another bread)
2 soda farls (sliced in two length ways)
2 Tbsp parsley (chopped)

Soda Farls

Griddle (preheated)
2 cups plan flour
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda (sift)
1 Tbsp shortening
1 cup buttermilk


1. To make the farls preheat griddle to medium high heat. Measure dry ingredients and sift soda. Rub in shortening. Add buttermilk and bind together with large metal spoon.
2. Knead very lightly with floured hands. Use a floured rolling pin to roll dough in to a circle ¾ “in diameter. Cut in to quarters with a floured sharp knife.
3. Place each quarter on griddle and cook for about 10-12 minutes on each side. (I like to cover farls with a clean, dry tea towel when cooking on the griddle). Farls are ready when bread is golden brown and the sides are firm to the touch.
4. Fry the bacon in a large skillet with a little vegetable oil until crispy. Remove bacon from pan and place on a warmed plate in low oven. Drain off some excess grease from skillet and fry sausages, adding to plate with bacon in low oven when cooked.
5. Drain and clean the pan or use a new nonstick pan to fry the eggs. Add a little vegetable oil to the pan and place on medium heat. Crack the eggs carefully in to the pan, and add a little water to steam a little. Continue to cook for about 2 minutes for ‘sunny side’ up or turn if you like them ‘over easy’.
6. Season tomato with sea salt and pepper and add to skillet, cooking to soften on each side.
7. To stack fry begin with a slice of freshly baked farl, slice of prepared potato bread (optional), fried egg, tomato, sliced sausage and bacon on top. Sprinkle a little parsley over stack!