Tomato Head’s Creamed Corn

Ingredients

Prepping the corn

3 tablespoons oil

1/2 cup onion, diced

1 tsp jalapeño pepper finely chopped (optional)

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

3 ears of corn, kernels removed (3 to 4 cups)

1.5 cup heavy cream

On the burner

¾ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onion, jalapeño and rosemary and sauté until onion is translucent.  Add corn kernels and stir until corn and onions are mixed together well.  Add cream and bring mixture to a boil.  Stir and reduce heat to simmer.  Simmer, stirring occasionally for fifteen minutes.  Remove rosemary sprigs.  Serve immediately.  Can be refrigerated and reheated over low heat.

Serves 6-8

Ready to eat

Cucumber Salad

If you’re anything like me, the presence of a large bowl of cucumbers and onions dressed with vinegar and perhaps a IMG_0205little sugar or salt is a sure sign of a well-balanced summer meal.  As long as there’s a platter of sliced tomatoes, some well-buttered ears of corn, and cold hunks of melon to look forward to, it’s a warm weather feast worthy of any country table and any country appetite.

But that bowl of pale green and white has a special place in my heart because it represents some pretty sensible kitchen magic.

The cucumber itself is the perfect summer food because it is truly cool – its interior is about 20 degrees cooler than its surface.  That relates to the fact that the vegetable is 96% water and wears a well-insulated jacket in a fashionable shade of green.  What makes the summer table work so well is the presence of lots of moisture, and cucumbers, like much good, fresh produce, is bursting with hydration.

cuke salad ingredientsWith all that goodness going on, you wonder why on earth you’d want to cover it up with any dressing at all?  But the cucumber salad takes on an additional level of brilliance for the summer table precisely because of that dressing and its slightly sour disposition.

Vinegar’s acidity commends it to the summer diet because of its refreshing quality.  What, you don’t think of vinegar as refreshing?  Perhaps you’d prefer a glass of lemonade or a crisp gold glass of sauvignon blanc?  What makes both of those beverages work in the summer sun is their acidity – think of it as a brightness that acts in the same way as does a squeeze of lime over a taco or lemon over fish.

When the cucumbers dive into their dressing, they are literally bathed in extra refreshment.  It’s a relish, really, that’s light, summery and enlivening and a perfect match to food from the grill. And if you’re a fan of the cold fried chicken picnic, cucumber salad is almost a miracle worker for making the mouth sing after the richness of the crisp and golden-brown main course.

Tomato Head’s version of this Southern staple combines the traditional recipe with a little mint and jalapeno.  The dab of heat actually works to increase the refreshment quality because it wakes up your mouth’s receptors.  And mint adds additional refreshment with an alluring flavor that sets this dish apart from granny’s delicious but predictable version.

It’s quick, it’s fresh, and it’s cool.  Just like a cucumber ought to be.

Tomato Head’s Cucumber Salad

The Finished Product

The Finished Product

For the Dressing:

¼ cup cider vinegar

1 Tbl sugar

3/4 tsp salt

Mix vinegar together with sugar and salt in a small saucepan, and heat just until sugar dissolves. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.

For the Salad:

4 cups cucumber

1/2 cup onion

2 TBL minced jalapeno

2 TBL mint, chopped

2 TBL of vinegar mix

Thinly slice the cucumbers and onion and place in a medium bowl. Add the chopped Jalapeno and mint. Pour the dressing over the cucumber mixture and allow the mixture to sit for 30 minutes.

Serve as a side dish with Fried Chicken, or any grilled meats.

Serves 6-8 people.

Happy New Year!

Whenever I think about superstition, my mind almost always turns first to Tom Sawyer. He and his gang were fierce believers in this almost practical magic that relates certain behaviors to otherwise unrelated outcomes: dead cats and a special chant will cure warts, a dog’s howl signals death, and an inch worm found on the body brings the promise of a new suit. And it’s an enduring part of real life, too. Avoiding black cats, cracks in the sidewalk, and opening umbrellas indoors remain second thoughts in my mind even today despite Stevie Wonder’s admonition:

When you believe in things that you don’t understand,

Then we suffer,

Superstition ain’t the way.

Still, superstition is often rooted in practical elements; walking under a ladder, especially an occupied one, may not be unlucky, but it isn’t particularly smart. Similarly, a broken mirror may not really foretell 7 years of woe, but shattered glass seems to linger longer than the proverbial bad penny – and it’s certainly no fun to find a remaining shard in your big toe.

But with food superstitions, the practical element becomes more elusive. In my family we had the traditional Southern meal for January 1: black eyed peas, collard greens, and hog jowl. It was served without much commentary – it was just good luck for no good reason.

If you google New Year’s superstitions, though, you’ll learn that black eyed peas represent coins (albeit funny looking ones), or that they indicate coming prosperity because they plump when you cook’em. There are plenty of explanations to satisfy the curious. But it’s the money and wealth associations that seem to be the most enduring: greens, because they represent the color of our currency, indicate a flow of cash; and pork, owing to its richness or the pig’s habit of successful and forward rooting, foretells a year of wealth. So, eat lots and prosper.

Naturally, we’re not convinced of that relationship between a good luck meal and a growing bank account (primarily owing to 40-some years of experience), but are a couple of other elements of this superstition, particularly as it relates to black-eyed peas, that have some merit to our way of thinking.

The first associates good fortune with an absence of vanity. Black eyed peas and other pulses are humble foodstuffs that are often associated with the poor, at least that’s true before New Southern cooking elevated them to the food pantheon. My guess is that somebody decided that the meek would literally inherit the earth, so perhaps if you started the year with a little less swagger and ate like the meek then you, too, could qualify for a little piece of earth and a nugget of gold.

That sounds silly; but it’s true that if you’ll start eating better, then your fortunes will improve in a number of ways – even if your purse doesn’t swell up like a slow-cooked pea. Black-eyed peas are good for you.

The other origin story of this little legume’s magic rests in the miracle of gratitude. During and after the ravages of the Civil War, when any foodstuff worth eating was burned or taken, the humble cowpea and its cousins were left alone – by most accounts they weren’t considered fit for human consumption. But starving confederate soldiers, who were sometimes able to make a meal of them, counted themselves lucky to have them.

By the same token, for most slaves sustenance came from food that wasn’t quite suited for wealthier white tables – so it was the likes of the black-eyed pea, along with things like collard greens, hog jowl, etc. that made up the meals of the enslaved. It may be that, like the Seder table, a meal of humble foods celebrates the good fortune of a people freed from bondage. That was especially true in January of 1863 when President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

This January, we’ll celebrate the opening of a New Year and all the hope it brings by filling our bean and rice bowls with black-eyed peas. We’ll also be serving Brunch from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. so you can eat some superstition in style.  While we can’t guarantee any good luck for the entire year, we do promise good taste every day.

Tomato Head’s Yellow Squash Crostini with Pesto

Walking into the Knoxville air and feeling it push back, being caught daily in random patches of heavy rain and lightening, and sweating your ~you know what~ off over the past few weeks of this summer is paying off. Not only did we all sweat out a few pounds and increase our water intake by 200%, but also this time of the year is wonderfully ample in fruits and vegetables. The payout is an abundance of foods like cantaloupe, watermelon, cucumbers, tomatoes, and so many more.

This month’s WBIR recipe for yellow squash crostini with pesto certainly pays attention to the local and available.  Although the origins for this recipe are Italian, the addition of one of the three sisters gives this recipe an American twist.

To cook up this dish, you’ll need:

5 cups yellow squash, diced

5 cups tomatoes, diced

½ cup fresh basil, chopped

⅛ cup olive oil

⅛ cup cider vinegar

1 tsp salt

Place all ingredients into a medium mixing bowl and toss well to incorporate all of the flavors.

To assemble the Crostini, you’ll need:

Flour Head Bakery Knoxville Sourdough or Baguette*

Olive Oil

Tomato Head Pesto**

Slice the bread to the thickness you desire. Brush lightly with olive oil on both sides. Place on a cookie sheet and bake in a 400° oven until toasted. Remove the toasted bread from the oven, spread each piece with a liberal amount of pesto, and top with a generous portion of the squash mixture.

A Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, or even a Vino Verde that is not overly effervescent, would pair nicely as white wines. If you would rather have red, consider an Italian red that is both bright and slightly earthy, such as a Chianti or Barbera.

Although this dish does not seem to be compatible with beer for most, it is possible. Belgian ales pair nicely with the strength of pesto, as the herbs and spices of the ale complement the pesto.

*Flour Head Knoxville Sourdough and Baguettes can be found at Three Rivers Market and Kroger in Bearden

**Tomato Head Pesto can be found at both Tomato Head locations, Three Rivers Market, Butler and Bailey Market and the following Kroger stores:  Fountain City, Cedar Bluff, Farragut, Bearden and Northshore

 

Tomato Head’s Quinoa Cakes with Yogurt and Sriracha

I was so excited when I read Mahasti’s recipe, I let out an audible “yasss” complete with the hand-motion you are probably imagining. Quinoa was the reason behind this. Quinoa is a good source of protein, as well as vitamins B, B6, and E, amino acids, potassium, and a healthy list of other minerals. It is a pseudo-cereal that is vegan-friendly and can be consumed in low quantities by those with celiac disease. The inside of the seeds also happen to taste great when cooked, otherwise it is an unpalatable, bitter seed. To get to the tasty part of quinoa, it needs to be cooked. Luckily, that’s easy to do.

To start, you’ll need:

½ cup Quinoa

1⅛ cup water

Place the quinoa and water into a small saucepan over high heat. Boil until almost all of the water has been absorbed. Then turn the heat down to low, and place a lid on the saucepan. Steam the quinoa until the seeds are soft and splitting open. Remove the quinoa from the stove, and pour the cooked seeds into a large mixing bowl.

In order to turn the seeds into Tomato Head’s quinoa cakes, you’ll need a few more ingredients:

⅛ cup oil

⅔ cup onion, diced

½ cup walnuts, chopped

¼ cup almonds, chopped

½ tsp. salt

1 Tbl Dijon mustard

1 egg, lightly beaten

½ cup breadcrumbs

In a small saucepan over medium heat, saute the onions in the oil until the onions are translucent. Add sautéed onions and all of the remaining ingredients to the quinoa bowl and mix well with gloved hands. Allow the mixture to sit for about 5 minutes. Next, scoop the mixture into balls, then flatten the balls into disks.

Heat ¼ cup of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Fry the quinoa cakes in the oil until the bottoms are golden, then flip and fry the other side until it is golden as well.

Top them with plain yogurt and sriracha, if you so choose. They could also be served on top of your favorite salad or mixed greens. They can be served hot or cold.

The raw quinoa cakes can be refrigerated for up to 3 days and fried when needed.

This would be a fantastic dish to keep on hand for a quick lunch, or serve well for an easy dinner. As far as pairings go, this dish would pair well with a Beaujolais wine, low in tannin, fresh and nutty. If you’re adding the cakes to something with a tomato-base or similar flavors, try a Chianti or Barbera.  If you don’t drink red, try a Sauvignon Blanc, especially from New Zealand. As far as beers are concerned, try a nutty porter or nutty brown ale rich with roasted malts.

Certainly be sure to give this recipe a try, especially if you’ve never tried quinoa. It is both healthy and delicious. I hope you enjoy it!

Click the photo below to watch Mahasti’s recent WBIR cooking segment.

Quinoa Cakes

Tomato Head’s Marinated Zucchini and Mint Pasta

The redeeming grace of summers in the South boils into just a few fine points that prove enough to justify intensely hot summer days. For me, these points can be counted on one hand. Largely, this period of late spring summer multiplies our vegetation options, meaning we have so many delicious options to choose from!

Via the farmer’s market or your own garden, fresh vegetables and herbs are easily available. Fresh ingredients change a dish entirely for the better. Take Saturday’s recipe for Tomato Head’s pasta with marinated zucchini and mint for example; almost all of these ingredients can be found fresh at the farmer’s market.

The ingredients for this recipe include:

2 Large Zucchini, washed and diced to fill 8 cups

⅓ cup Oil

1 tsp Salt

½ tsp Black Pepper

¼ cup Olive Oil

⅛ cup Cider Vinegar

½ tsp Salt

¼ – ⅓ cup Fresh Mint, chopped

½ cup Spinach, chopped

Toss the zucchini with oil, salt, and pepper, then place on a large cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes at 400⁰. Remove the tray and allow the zucchini to cool.

Toss cooled zucchini with olive oil, cider vinegar, salt, and mint. Allow the mixture to marinate for 2-4 hours.

Cook a ½ lb of your favorite shape of pasta according to package instructions. Drain the pasta and toss with 2 cups of chopped fresh spinach and marinated zucchini. Top with parmesan cheese, and this dish is ready to serve.

This recipe for Tomato Head’s marinated zucchini and mint pasta will serve 4-6 people of your choosing, and will pair well with a Bordeaux or a Californian Cabernet Sauvignon. For beer lovers, the pasta will pair nicely with a Belgian-style Saison. Come see us when you visit the farmer’s market.

Click on the photo below to watch Mahasti’s recent cooking segment WBIR Channel 10.

Tomato Head's Summer Vegetable Pasta

Tomato Head’s Spinach Salad with Fennel, Candied Walnuts and Pomegranate Vinaigrette

For Candied Walnuts:

1/3 cup Light Brown Sugar, packed

¼ cup water

2 Tbl butter

½ tsp salt

½ tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp allspice

1 ½ cups Walnuts

Place brown sugar, water, butter, salt and spices in a medium saucepan. Bring mixture to boil and boil for 1 minute. Add walnuts, and reduce heat to medium. Cook the walnuts in the syrup, stirring, for about 3 minutes until the walnuts are heavily coated. Pour the walnut mixture onto a greased paper lined cookie sheet. Divide the walnuts up with a fork and allow to cool.

For the Dressing:

2 cups Pomegranate Juice

1 cup Cranberry Juice – preferably Knudsen Just Cranberry

1/3 cup Sugar

1 cup Balsamic Vinegar

2 Cups Oil

1 Tbl Dijon Mustard

1 tsp salt

Place the Pomegranate juice, cranberry juice, sugar and balsamic vinegar in a stainless saucepan. Bring the mixture to boil and boil until the liquid has reduced by ½ . Remove from heat, pour juice mixture into a small bowl, add remaining ingredients and whisk until smooth.

Dressing can be kept refrigerated for 7  – 10 days.

For Salad:

fresh spinach

fennel bulb, thinly sliced

granny smith apples, cored and thinly sliced

candied walnuts

onion, thinly sliced

dried cranberry

blue cheese crumbles

Place the spinach, fennel, apples, and onion in a large bowl. Pour dressing, according to your taste, over the spinach and toss well. Divide the salad up between bowls. Sprinkle each bowl with blue cheese crumbles and dried cranberries.

If you missed Mahasti’s cooking segment, click the photo below to watch her appearance on WBIR.

WBIR Fennel Recipe

 

Tomato Head’s Pozole Verde

Mahasti’s variation on pozole verde is a great excuse to visit some of Knoxville’s Mexican and Latin American markets for the tomatillos and poblano peppers called for in this recipe. Share your version with us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Ingredients

9 cups Water

3 Chicken Breast, bone in with skin

2 Bay Leaves

2 Poblano Peppers

1.5 lb Tomatillo

1 cup Cilantro, leaves and stems

1 cup Onion

3 lg cloves Garlic

¼ cup Oregano

3 – 15.5 oz cans Bush’s Golden Hominy, drained and rinsed

1 Tbl plus 2 tsp Salt

For Serving:

Shredded lettuce

Sliced Radishes

Diced Onion

Cilantro leaves

Thinly Sliced Jalapeno

Sour Cream

Tortilla chips

Rinse chicken breast in cold, clean running water. Place chicken and bay leaves in large pot covered with 9 cups water. In a large pot, bring water to boil. Reduce heat to low and cook chicken for 25 minutes. Remove chicken from pot. Discard bay leaves. When chicken is cool enough to handle discard skin and shred chicken. Reduce heat to low.

While chicken is cooking, rinse, de-stem, and de-seed poblano peppers, set aside. Rinse and de-husk tomatillos, set aside. Wash cilantro, leaving stems attached. Peel and cut onion into medium size pieces. Peel garlic. Pick ¼ cup of oregano leaves. Drain and rinse hominy.

Place poblano peppers, and cilantro in the jar of your blender. Remove 1 cup of cooking liquid from the pot of chicken and add to the blender. Blend the peppers until smooth. Pour most of the blended pepper mixture into a large bowl, leaving about 1 cups worth behind in blender.  Add tomatillos, onions, garlic and oregano to the blender and blend until smooth. Pour tomatillo mixture into poblano mixture.

When Chicken has been removed from pot – add tomatillo-pepper mixture to pot. Add shredded chicken, hominy and salt. Increase heat to medium, stirring occasionally bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer soup for 15 – 20 minutes.

Serve hot with Sides of shredded lettuce, sliced radishes, diced onion, cilantro leaves, jalapeno, sour cream and tortilla chips.

Serves 10 – 12

¡Esperamos que lo disfruten!

Pozole Verde

Tomato Head’s Rye Berry and Winter Greens Salad

December is a wonderful month for using those late-season greens from your CSA, like Swiss chard, mustard greens, arugula and kale. Inspired by our first craft beer dinner, Mahasti visited one of our favorite local farms, Hines Valley Farm, to see what seasonal greens were available and what would pair best with a selection of beers from Oskar Blues Brewery.

The fine folks at Hines Valley had a great selection of tasty kale and collard greens. Both greens partner well with the tartness of the cranberries and the sweetness of the reduced balsamic vinegar. Rye berries offer health benefits such as being low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. They also serve as a source of fiber and Vitamin B6. Although we served this salad as a side to English-style bangers, it could work very well as an entree on its own.

1.5 cups Rye berries

3 cups Water

3 cups Kale

3 cups Collards

½ cup Onion

2 Tbl Vegetable Oil

½ cup + 1 Tbl Balsamic Vinegar

1 Tbl Olive Oil

1.5 tsp Salt

1 ½ cup Dried Cranberries

Soak rye in 3 cups of water overnight. Bring 2 cups of water to boil, drain the rye berries and add to boiling water. Boil berries for 5 minutes, drain , run under cold water and set aside in a large bowl.

Meanwhile dice onions. Cut greens in half lengthwise then into thin strips.

Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add onion and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add ¼ cup balsamic vinegar, bring to boil, and boil for 2 – 3 minutes until reduced by ½ . Add greens and lightly sauté. Add  sautéed greens to bowl with rye berries. Add remaining tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, 1.5 tsp salt and dried cranberries. Toss until all ingredients are mixed together well.

Serve at room temperature – or refrigerate and serve cold.

Mahasti Vafaie, owner of The Tomato Head and Flour Head Bakery, shows us how to make a healthy lunch option: Rye Berry and Winter Greens Salad.

Tomato Head Rye Berry and Winter Greens Salad

© 2016 The Tomato Head Site by: Robin Easter Design