Panko Fried Green Tomatoes

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During my travels this Summer, I had an opportunity to make a stop along the Gulf Shores, in Biloxi, Mississippi. While staying at the Beau Rivage, I dined at  The Buffet, for lunch and was presently surprised at how fresh and inviting the food was.

Yes, I know what you are thinking…. “all casinos have buffets.” But not this buffet. Forget the tired old image and experience a line-up of creations that rivals the best restaurants on the Gulf Coast. No wonder savvy locals consistently choose The Buffet for weekend brunch and holiday dinners. The variety is unparalleled, and so is the quality.

DSC00485The atmosphere is lively, contemporary and warm ……the décor was that of French Copper Pots DSC00484and Cooking Utensils. How imaginative!– A perfect backdrop to the amazing array of mouth-watering food.

Take your time and sample enticing flavors from around the globe; succulent meats carved or grilled to your specifications; made-to-order pastas and omelets; classic comfort food, including down home Southern-style favorites; plus, the most bountiful fresh seafood and salads available anywhere. And the desserts?  Well, you will  just have to try one. Or several.  Now, this is a  real  buffet!

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Anyways, I have digressed…….

For me, the star of the buffet were the Panko Fried Green Tomatoes. They were absolutely to die for. Panko bread crumbs have a coarser texture than ordinary bread crumbs, which you can also use to coat the tomatoes. Yet,  the panko crumbs gave the fried tomatoes a uniquely light and crispy texture and they were seasoned with just the right amount of fresh herbs too.

I  re-created  this quintessential Southern side dish and the results were pretty close to the ones I had while visiting the Gulf Shores.

Enjoy !

Makes 8 to 10 Servings

Ingredients:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup buttermilk
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
12 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
Kosher salt, to taste
Cracked black pepper, to taste
2 cups Japanese panko  bread crumbs
5 medium green tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch slices
Canola oil, for deep-fat frying

Directions:
In a large bowl, combine the , flour, garlic powder, black pepper, salt,  parsley and thyme together.

In shallow bowl gently beat the eggs and the buttermilk together.

In  another shallow bowl, add  the panko bread crumbs. Dip  the tomato slices in flour, followed by the egg mixture, and then coat  the tomatoes with  the panko bread crumbs,  gently pressing the breadcrumbs into the slices of tomatoes, coating both sides well.

Heat the oil in a large cast iron skillet, to  375° F. Fry tomatoes, a few at a time, for 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden brown and crispy. Carefully remove the tomatoes and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt. Serve immediately with hot pepper sauce, lemon or ranch dressing.


Brown Chicken Stock

This stock so rich and savory, that it will make your soups and gravies taste so amazing. It will take a little bit work in the kitchen, but it is so worth it. It is also budget friendly allowing you to save up bones in a freezer bag in the freezer for weeks or months until you will have enough to make a stock. This stock recipe is also a great way to use the backs or necks from whole chickens.

Makes About 12 Cups

Ingredients:
8 cups water
2 diced carrots
1 stalk celery
2 red onions, sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 1/2 pounds chicken bones
1 head garlic, peeled and halved
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 Tablespoon cracked black peppercorns

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 450 ° F   ( or 220 °  C).

Arrange the chicken bones on a baking sheet. Roast for about 45 minutes in the preheated oven, or until well browned.

Heat the olive oil in a stock pot over medium heat. Add the onions, celery and carrots; cook and stir until browned. If they scorch, just add a bit of water and scrape up all the bits.

Add the roasted chicken bones to the pot, and fill with enough water to cover the bones by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, and add the garlic, thyme, parsley, basil, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat to low, and simmer uncovered for 2 hours. Add more water if needed.

Strain out all of the solids from the broth, drain off the fat, and refrigerate. You can also remove the fat after it has chilled. The stock will be thick. Use full strength for soups and gravies, or dilute with water for a milder flavor.

If not using immediately, allow the stock to cool and place in freezer bags for long term storage in the freezer.


Apple Pie In A Skillet

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The stove top pizza in a cast iron skillet was such a success, I thought about cooking an apple pie in the skillet.

This recipe is so easy and so amazing with simple ingredients that you can find in your local supermarket, that it will make your mouth water with the taste of apples and spiced whipped cream.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
2 Pillsbury Pie Crusts, refrigerated
One 21-ounce can apple pie filling
2 Tablespoons cinnamon sugar
A pinch of cayenne pepper

For the Spiced Whipped Cream:
2 cups whipping cream, chilled
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
4 Tablespoons sugar

Special Equipment:
9-inch cast iron skillet
Metal Mixing bowl

Directions:
For the skillet pie:
Preheat the oven to 400 °F.

Melt the butter in a 9-inch cast-iron skillet; set aside 1 tablespoon of the melted butter for the top crust. To the melted butter, add the brown sugar and melt them together on medium heat, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and line the skillet with one of the pie crusts. Pour the apple pie filling over the crust and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the cinnamon sugar and pinch of cayenne pepper. Use the second pie crust to cover the filling. Brush the top with the reserved melted butter, then evenly sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon cinnamon sugar on top. Cut vents in the middle of the pie. Bake for 30 minutes.

For the spiced whipped cream:
Chill a large metal mixing bowl and a wire beater attachment in the freezer for about 20 minutes. Pour the cream, cardamom, cinnamon and sugar into the cold mixing bowl and beat until soft peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes; the mixture should hold its shape when dropped from a spoon. Be careful in not to overbeat the cream, or you will have sweetened butter on your hands.

Serve the pie hot, topped with a generous dollop of the spiced whipped cream.

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*Cook’s Note:

Vanilla ice cream can also top the apple pie and served with a slice of cheddar cheese, if desired.