If you were to ask me about my favorite tomato, I’d probably spend an eternity of words on the particulars of fried green tomatoes, especially the ones from the Flying Biscuit Cafe, though I’m sure they don’t make them like they used to. At least, the last flying biscuits I ate at The Flying Biscuit Cafe are not as good as they used to be, and that’s half of the experience. The other half is waiting in the tortuous lines whilst punctuated with the pangs of hangover hunger for fried green tomatoes.
Of course there’s that excellent book about fried green tomatoes and its television adaptation which aired on my southern television screen nearly every year of my sweaty, southern life. I loved them both, independently, for different reasons, though now that I am eagerly sticking my foot outside of my roaring, boisterous twenties, it’s the joy of growing older that makes Fried Green Tomatoes more tender.
I don’t often get to eat fried green tomatoes through the glow of sweat anymore, but it’s regularly on my mind. The idea is charming, if you like southern charm. And of course, it’s a steady fall tradition, when tomatoes are hanging on those brittle, browning bushes, awaiting their first taste of frost. I don’t have my own tomato vines any longer, but I’ve always managed to find at least one vendor that sells the pale, emerald gems. Last year there were only tiny cherry tomatoes. This year, there are only large apple sized globes. With my market bounty of green tomatoes, I’ll eventually make green tomato relish, also known as chow chow or piccalilli – whatever you want to name it. It is a spicy postcard from summer that hangs around the middle shelf on the refrigerator’s door. A spoonful is good with nearly everything and you get it call it chow-chow, which I alone must enjoy for its silliness and reference to chou, un petit nom d’amour: mon chou!
For now, I am enjoying this sandwich, which takes all of those southern bits and bundles them between two warm, buttery slices of bread. It’s a recipe for remembering, or waking – depending on how nourished you are on Sundays when Saturdays might have exhausted your capacity for aqua vitae. It’s also handy when you feel like eating fried tomatoes with no forks.
Fried Green Tomatoes with Cashew Relish: Adapted for two hefty sandwiches from the Flying Biscuit Cafe. We can only stomach this mucn, but if you’re feeding more, make the original portions, go here: Foodnetwork.
frying oil – enough for 3/4 ” of oil in your skillet
2 green tomatoes, sliced thick if making sandwiches
1 1/2 c. ap flour
1 1/2 c. corn meal
pinch of cayenne
pinch of paprika
1 TB salt
1 c. milk
scant 1/4 c. cilantro leaves
1 jalapeno, chopped
3/4 c. roasted cashew
6TB honey (use agave if you are feeding someone that’s allergic honey or vegan)
2 1/2 TB apple cider vinegar
8 oz goat cheese (this is a perfect recipe for vegan, cashew goat cheese)
Pain au levain loaf
+ Prepare relish by coarsely grinding cilantro, jalapenos, and cashew in a food processor. I like it semi-coarse for sandwiches, but you can make it however you want – more coarse means more crunch! Remove mixture from processor and add in honey and vinegar in a separate bowl and allow to sit while you fry tomatoes.
+ Heat oil in a skillet while preparing the coating. Preheat oven to 350 F and place a drying rack on a cookie sheet so you can keep tomatoes warm after frying.
+Prepare dry mix: flour, corn meal, spices, and salt. Prepare wet mix: whipped eggs and milk.
+ Coat tomato slices in dry mix, then wet mix, then dry – being careful to use separate hands for each bowl.
+ Fry tomatoes in hot oil until golden, then place in hot oven.
+ Next, butter slices of bread on both side, toasting the inside until it’s lightly brown, then removing and building your sandwiches. Spread a layer of goat cheese and a hefty tablespoon or two of relish onto the bread slices and sandwich the fried tomatoes inside of the smear. You should have cheese and relish on both side of the tomatoes.
+ Then, grill on a buttered skillet until it’s golden on both sides. The cheese/relish should be warmed but won’t be goooey.