Tag Archives: tomato

Outdoor Dining: Crab Cakes with Citrus Avocado Cream, Spicy-Sweet Corn and Watermelon Salad

21 May

Crab Cakes with Citrus Avocado Cream and Spicy-Sweet Corn

Once spring/summer arrives bringing with them warm weather and sun, New Yorkers really embrace outdoor dining.  For the next four months or so, sidewalks outside restaurants become cramped with tables and diners enjoying an al fresco dinner in the warm summer air.  I love walking through the West Village on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, people watching (and puppy-watching – outdoor dining is pet-friendly after all!) at all of the brunch spots in the neighborhood.  D and I are no different in this respect – as soon as it becomes nice out, we try to eat any dinner we prepare on our roof deck.  This gave me this idea to write a series of posts this summer on Outdoor Dining.  These posts will be grill-friendly and/or refreshing meals for when you’re eating outside (read: no heavy pastas or super hot meals).  They will also be focused on ingredients that are freshest in the summer months (think corn, watermelon, tomatoes, etc.).  For my first post in this series, I wanted to make crab cakes with two refreshing summer sides: spicy-sweet corn and a watermelon salad.  Two recent blog posts inspired me in coming up with my recipes and also meal combination.  (You can see their posts here and here.)  These are “healthy” crab cakes because they use less breading, light mayo and are not deep fried.  I pan fried mine in a skillet, but you could also bake them in the oven if you wanted to be even healthier.  For those watching their sodium intake, crab meat IS high in sodium so this is something to be mindful of.)  In addition to the spicy-sweet corn and watermelon salad, we also served this meal with a refreshing campari cocktail (recipe here).  This was one of my favorite meals I’ve made recently and D agreed – he told me this meal was in my “top five” if not the best and has requested that I make this meal on a weekly basis.  Fortunately, the crab cakes and the corn both taste great cold so it won’t be that difficult to make extra and then have a second helping later in the week.  That is, if there are any leftover from your original batch – there weren’t when I made them! 🙂

Healthy Crab Cakes
Serves 6

Ingredients
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup skim milk
3 tbsp. light mayonnaise
1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. fresh dill, chopped
1/2 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
1/4 tsp. dried tarragon
1/4 tsp. chili pepper flakes
Zest and Juice from 1 lemon (do the zesting first!)
3 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup bread crumbs (I used panko)
3 tbsp butter, divided
1 pound cooked crab meat OR 3 cans (6 oz. each) of white crab meat (Note: I used canned because Whole Foods was out of fresh and rinsed the crab meat with water to try and remove some of the sodium brine)
Arugula (for crab cake bed/garnish)

Directions
1. In a large bowl, whisk together all ingredients except for last four (bread crumbs, butter, crab meat, arugula).
2. Fold crab meat into mixture.
3. Place bread crumbs in a shallow dish.
4. Gather approximately 1/6 of the crab meat mixture and form into a ball in your hands.  Roll in bread crumbs until covered.  Then press/form into a 3/4″ to 1″ thick patty.

Crab Cakes Pre-Skillet

This is what your crab cakes should look like before you put them in the skillet.

5. Repeat with remaining crab mixture.  You should have six crab cake patties when you are finished.
6. In a large skillet, melt 2 tbsp. butter over medium-high heat.  Place all six patties in skillet and cook for 3 minutes.  Don’t touch them once you put them in the pan!
7. Flip crab cakes over and cook on other side for three minutes.  If the pan is starting to burn, add remaining 1 tbsp. of butter.

Crab Cakes Cooking

Crab cakes cooking in the skillet

8. While the crab cakes are cooking, rinse some arugula and place a small amount on six dinner places.  When the crab cakes are finished, place each crab cake on top of a bed of arugula.  Serve immediately with citrus avocado cream (recipe below).

Citrus Avocado Cream
Adapted from Texana’s Kitchen
Serves 6+
Note: I would recommend making fish tacos  later in the week and using this as a garnish instead of guacamole.  It would taste great with mahi mahi!

Ingredients
1 ripe avocado
Juice of 2 Naval oranges (a little more than 1/2 cup)
Juice of 2 limes (about 1/4 cup)
2 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 jalapeno
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp. agave syrup
1/2 tsp. salt

Directions
1. Mix all ingredients in a food processor until smooth.
2. Set aside.  If preparing in advance, chill in refrigerator.  Take out 30 minutes before serving so the garnish can reach room temperature consistency.
3. Drizzle on crab cakes or on side of plate before serving.  Try with fish tacos!

Spicy-Sweet Fried Corn

Spicy-Sweet Fried Corn
Adapted from Texana’s Kitchen
Serves 2

Ingredients
2 tbsp. butter, divided
4 ears fresh corn, cut from the cobs
1 jalapeno, finely diced
2 green onions, sliced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
3 tsp. sugar

Directions
1. Heat 1 tbsp. butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.
2. Add corn, jalapeno, green onions, salt & pepper.
3. Saute for about 10 minutes.  If corn begins to burn, add an additional tbsp. of butter.
4. Add sugar and stir well.  Continue to cook until the corn begins to caramelize (about two minutes).
5.  Reduce heat to simmer and keep warm until ready to serve.  Note: I would consider adding diced red peppers and/or tomatoes to this dish next time around.

Feta Watermelon Salad

Feta Watermelon Tomato Salad
Serves 1

Ingredients
About 10 watermelon cubes or balls
About 10 cherry tomatoes or 1/2 large tomato, roughly chopped
Feta cheese, crumbled
Fresh basil, chopped
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Directions
1. Combine watermelon and tomato in individual serving bowls.
2. Immediately before serving, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.  Then top with crumbled feta.
3. Serve immediately.

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Homemade Ketchup (aka Tomato Jam)

31 Mar

When we want to go out for dinner but still be super casual, we visit the grill at our neighborhood Whole Foods and get their turkey burger.  It’s much healthier than a beef hamburger, not greasy at all and comes with a large side salad.  The best part of the WF turkey burger though is the tomato jam they put on the burger.  It’s thicker than regular ketchup and slightly sweet.  D challenged me to make some for us at home, which seemed like a daunting task until my March issue of Real Simple arrived and there was a recipe for tomato jam inside!  It is super easy to make and tastes so much better than Heinz ketchup (think: no preservatives, super fresh, slightly sweet).  Here’s my recipe adapted from RS.  Since I don’t like to cook with a lot of salt, I used low-sodium whole peeled tomatoes and a very slight pinch of salt for depth.

Homemade Ketchup (aka Tomato Jam)
Adapted from Real Simple, March 2012 issue

Ingredients
1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes (low sodium – you can find at Trader Joe’s)
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch kosher salt

Directions
1. Empty the entire can of tomatoes (and juices – do not drain) into a deep large skillet.  Add sugar and salt.  Bring mixture to a boil, stirring frequently.
2. Reduce heat to medium and cook, mashing occasionally, until thick and jammy.  This should take 20 minutes or so
3. If you don’t like the idea of “thick” ketchup, once cooled, put in blender and puree until smooth.
4. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

We use this homemade ketchup on burgers, fries, anything else you might put ketchup on.  You can even add some spices like oregano and use it as a pizza sauce.  However, our new favorite way to spread this is on slices of lightly-buttered bread that have been toasted then topped with extra-sharp cheddar cheese and melted under the broiler for a few minutes.  (See below for a picture.)

Tomato Jam

Sunday Supper: Low Sodium Chicken Tortilla Soup

11 Dec

Low Sodium Chicken Tortilla SoupThis past summer, my friend Sarah told me about a blog called Sodium Girl that specializes in low sodium/salt free recipes that still taste great.  As someone who is health conscious and also trying to watch my sodium intake, I was immediately hooked on this site!  Last month, SG posted a recipe for Salt Free Chicken Tortilla Soup which you can find here.  I was waiting for the perfect lazy Sunday evening to test it out.  This recipe was so easy to make after a long weekend and really hit the spot now that it’s chilly in NYC.  My adapted recipe is listed below.  I found all of the ingredients no problem at the neighborhood Whole Foods.

Low Sodium Chicken Tortilla Soup
(Adapted from Sodium Girl)
Serves 4

Ingredients
For Soup:
1 tsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup frozen corn
1/4 tsp ground coriander seeds
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
4 ripe hot house tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 tbsp no-salt added tomato paste
3 cups water
1 Whole Foods rotisserie chicken (Note: SG’s recipe provides directions if you want to cook the chicken from scratch.  I was too hungry/tired/lazy to go through this process.)

For Toppings:
4 green onions, sliced
1 small red onion, diced
1 ripe avocado, diced
1 lime, quartered
1 jalapeno pepper, sliced (Note: For less heat, remove the seeds.)
Greek yogurt (0%) or sour cream (Note: Use Greek yogurt if you’re watching calories/fat intake.  You seriously can’t taste the difference)
Tortilla chips, broken into pieces

Low Sodium Chicken Tortilla Soup Toppings

Directions 
1. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the chopped garlic and corn, stir continuously for five minutes.  Don’t stop stirring or you will burn the garlic.  This happened to me on my first try and I had to start over…
2.  Next add the four spices, tomato paste, chopped tomatoes and water to the pot.  Stir occasionally and bring to a boil.  Then cover with a lid, lower heat and let simmer for approximately 10 minutes.
3.  While the soup is simmering, shred the rotisserie chicken into pieces and set aside.  Be sure to remove the skin.
4. Add the shredded chicken to the pot and increase heat to medium-high again.  Bring to a rolling boil then lower heat a bit until it is just bubbling and continue to reduce without a lid for 15 to 20 minutes.  (Note: Don’t skip this step!  If you do, the soup will be watery and not as flavorful.  Letting the soup bubble during this time helps intensify the flavor and thicken the broth.)
5. While the soup is cooking, prep your green onions, red onions, avocado, lime, jalapeno peppers, Greek yogurt/sour cream and tortilla chips that you will have as a garnish.
6. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with garnishes as desired.

Here’s what the soup looked like before I added the garnishes:
Low Sodium Chicken Tortilla Soup

This meal was met with raving reviews by D.  He didn’t even notice the lack of salt which really speaks to the flavor of the soup!  He likes extra spicy food and suggested using Habanero peppers next time and adding them to the pot during the reducing period to add extra spice to the dish.  Since my mouth is still burning from the few jalapenos I added to my bowl, I probably won’t try that,  but it’s a great suggestion for those who do like it extra hot!

Fried Red Tomatoes: Part 2

15 Oct

seersucker brooklynAs a follow-up to my post from last month where I tried my hand at making fried “red” tomatoes, D and I went to dinner at Seersucker in Brooklyn to test out their fried green tomatoes.  The chef must have known that I was coming to do a taste test between my fried red tomatoes and their speciality, because they weren’t offering fried green tomatoes on the menu that night!  Not to fear though – the trek to Brooklyn was more than worth it for the other savory, delicious Southern comfort foods we tried out.

seersucker brooklynSome of our favorites included deviled eggs, the box of biscuits, house-made potato chips with pimento cheese dip, and the fried chicken.  The deviled egg filling was the perfect creamy consistency and was topped with dill, which is a unique alternative to paprika, the normal deviled egg garnish.  The house-made potato chips were crispy and not too salty and went well with the pimento cheese dip, which was again the perfect consistency and had just the right kick to it.  (They must have an awesome food processor/blender in the kitchen – I wonder what brand it is…!)  The fried chicken was crispy and juicy and came with a generous serving of mashed potatoes.  The portion was HUGE (we split it) and we were stuffed!

In addition to our faves, we also tried the hoppin’ john, collard greens and mac ‘n’ cheese, which were all OK, but not worth a trip out of Manhattan.  Specifically, I should note that Seersucker’s hoppin’ john is not like traditional Southern preparations that I am accustomed to – it was very light on black eyed peas and also contained quite a bit of cheese.  It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t what I had in mind.

For dessert, they were sold out of the cobbler of the day, so we finished with a root beer float.  It was a light, refreshing end to our meal.  We will definitely be back!  Hopefully next time the chef will be serving fried green tomatoes so I can challenge him to a cook off! 🙂

Fried Red Tomatoes?

16 Sep

Earlier this week, one of my favorite blogs, GOOP, had an awesome guest post written by Julia Leach of Chance.  In the post, Julia shared some of her favorite things about NYC and LA in September.  Aside from having great style and tips for how to spend your fall weekends this month, Julia also shared a recipe for fried green tomatoes from Seersucker, one of her favorite restaurants in Brooklyn.  Like any good Southerner, I LOVE fried green tomatoes, but I’ve never tried to make them myself.  So I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to create a little challenge for myself – follow Seersucker’s recipe for dinner on Friday night and then try their version at the restaurant on Saturday.  Below is the recipe and here the the link to Julia’s blog post so you can read the full entry if interested.  Stay tuned for my review of Seersucker and their fried green tomatoes later this weekend.  Despite my local grocery store being sold out of green tomatoes, the red ones I used worked out pretty great.  D and I had not just seconds, but THIRDS of the fried red tomatoes I made so the bar is pretty high!

Seersucker’s Fried Green Tomatoes

Serves 2 (entree size) or 4 (appetizer size)

Ingredients
4 large green tomatoes
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 cup breadcrumbs (Seersucker uses Panko, I used regular)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups of oil and/or bacon fat for frying

Directions
1. Slice the tomatoes into 1/2-inch thick slices and discard the ends or save for making green tomato jam or marmalade.
2. Whisk eggs and buttermilk together in a medium size bowl.  Scoop flour onto a cookie sheet.  Mix cornmeal, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper on another cookie sheet.
3. Dip the tomatoes into the flour to coat.  Next, dip the tomatoes into the buttermilk/egg mixture, then dip the cornmeal/breadcrumb mixture to coat completely.
4. In a large, deep skillet, preferably cast iron, add the oil/bacon fat so that it’s 1/4 to 1/2-inch deep.  Heat over medium flame until the fat is shimmering and hot, but not smoking (this took about five minutes for me).  Place the tomatoes in the pan and do in batches if necessary.  (It depends on the size of your pan.)  Don’t crowd the tomatoes as this will create steam and not allow for good browning.
5. Once the tomatoes have browned fully, flip them over.  Allow the other side to brown completely, then remove and place on paper towels to absorb excess grease.  Season well with salt.  Serve with homemade buttermilk dressing (I used buttermilk ranch dressing) and sprigs of dill.
6. Serve immediately.

I served my fried red tomatoes as a main course with a simple chopped tomato/cucumber salad (seasoned with sugar – a Southern secret!) and maple sausage stuffed apples using a recipe I found on Rachel Ray.  Honestly, neither of us really liked the apples but if I were to make them again, I’d add some cheese and breadcrumbs to sausage so the mixture stays together better.