Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Friendly Table Returns: The Best of Both!

Hi All!  It's been awhile (almost 3 years!), but I'm so happy to be starting up "The Friendly Table" again!  I developed some trouble with osteoarthritis and it became so difficult to type that I had to stop the blog.  At my daughter's suggestion, I took up Bikram yoga, and now I can type away again!  Sounds crazy, I know, but whatever....!
Anyway, what a fun time to begin a food blog-- the beginning of summer (at least in Texas) with all the delicious fruits and vegetables of the season!  I went to the Farmer's Market Saturday and one of the growers had the most beautiful blackberries I'd seen since I'd left Colorado (sorry, Texas!) !  They were plump, juicy blobs of yummy, so I had to buy a couple pints.  I also bought some gorgeous red tomatoes, "vine ripened", but in the greenhouse.  It's too early for the real vine ripened tomatoes, even for Texas.  There also were lovely green tomatoes, so I had to have those also.
Now, the dilemma.  What is better:  the fresh taste of an uncooked blackberry, or the more pronounced, complex flavor of cooked berries in a pie?  What's better:  freshly sliced, red ripe tomatoes, or the slightly tart, scrumptious, crispy fried green tomato?  These are tough decisions!  The season for blackberries is fleeting in Texas and the good tomato season isn't much longer.  We don't have the luxury of making them all kinds of ways for months and months until we're tired of them.
So, why not get the BEST of BOTH?  Why not make fried green tomatoes and serve them with fresh, red ones?  Why not make a pie that incorporates fresh and cooked blackberries?  Yay!  Yum!

Here's what to do!

"Best of Both" Blackberry Pie
1 9-inch, very slightly under-baked pie crust
1 beaten egg
2 pints fresh blackberries
3 Tbl. sugar
1 Tbl. cornstarch

Preheat the oven to 425F.  Brush the inside and rim of the pie crust with the beaten egg.  Put it into the oven for about 5-7 minutes, or until the crust has a golden, glazed, shiny look.  This glaze helps the pie crust from getting soggy and will keep it crispy even with the juiciest berries.  Set aside to cool.
Put one pint of blackberries into a small saucepan.  Add the sugar and the cornstarch.  Add about 1 Tbl. water.  Stir over medium heat, smashing the berries as they cook.  Let the mixture come to a boil.  Mash the berries with a potato masher or a large spoon if necessary.  It should look like syrupy blackberry jam-- maybe a little thicker.  Let the mixture cool to room temperature.
Stir in the other pint of berries.  Fold very carefully to keep the fresh berries as whole as possible.  Turn into the pie shell.  Refrigerate a couple hours to make sure the filling is "set".  This will give you nice slices that hold their shape, but the pie will have both a deep blackberry taste and a lighter, fresh quality all at once!

"Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla" ice cream, optional........but not really!  Ben said this might be the best pie he's every had!  Might....

Fried Green and Fresh Red Tomatoes
2 medium sized, green tomatoes (under-ripe, not the green heirloom variety)
1.5 cup cracker crumbs
1 beaten egg
3/4 cup flour
cayenne pepper, salt, granulated garlic
2 ripe red tomatoes

You need a wire rack that fits over a cookie sheet and a deep frying thermometer.

NOTE:  Be very careful when deep frying.  Don't plan on doing anything else at the time.  It requires your undivided attention to be safe.  If you have young children, lock them out of the kitchen (not an exaggeration) and ask someone else to watch them for a few minutes!
Slice the tomatoes into thick slices cross-wise.  I learned that they were supposed to be thick by watching the movie "Fried Green Tomatoes".  They ate them like cookies and they were big!  Anyway, season the flour with about 1/4 tsp. cayenne, 1 tsp. salt, and 1 tsp. granulated garlic.
Put the cracker crumbs into one shallow bowl, the beaten egg in another, and the seasoned flour in another. 
Dip the tomato slices, one at a time, into the flour.  Shake off the excess,  dip into the egg, then into the cracker crumbs, making sure to coat completely.  Repeat with each slice and put on a wire rack.
Heat about 1 inch vegetable oil to 350F.  Fry the slices in the oil for about 1 minute each, or until golden brown and crispy.  Stay at the stove the whole time.  You can't walk away for anything when deep frying, so plan accordingly!
Slice the red tomatoes, not quite as thickly as the green, but almost.  Alternate on a serving plate with the fried green tomatoes.  A final sprinkling of sea salt is a tasty touch.  Serve at once!

So fun to be back!  Happy cooking!


  1. Ann,
    I'm so glad you shared this! I look forward to more recipes from you!!

  2. You're back!!! Yay! That blackberry pie looks fabulous! Thanks for sharing!!

  3. Any recipe of yours is one I want to try!! I'm So excited to follow and learn!!