Love Cakes

A yummy vegetarian alternative to crab cakes, these black bean and cornmeal cakes are a favorite at the Flying Biscuit Cafe, one of Atlanta’s favorite brunch spots since opening in a Candler Park bungalow in 1993. This recipe appears on the Flying Biscuit website at www.flyingbiscuit.com.

Ingredients:

2 15 ounce cans cooked black beans
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons minced yellow onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup masa de harina (corn flour)

Rinse and drain black beans in a sieve. In a small sauté pan heat one tablespoon of the canola oil over medium heat. Cook onion, garlic, cumin, and salt until onions are translucent. Place drained beans and onion mixture in a bowl and mash with a potato masher until well combined. Gradually add masa, allowing mixture to absorb it before adding more. Test dough by rolling it in the palm of your hand. Keep adding masa until dough doesn’t stick to your hand and holds the shape of a ball.

Divide dough into 16 small balls and flatten into cakes. Place a large skillet over medium heat and add the remaining tablespoon of canola oil. Sauté cakes until lightly browned on each side, about three to five minutes per side. Top with salsa, feta cheese, and slivered red onions.

Servings: Serves eight (two cakes each).

Fried Green Tomatoes

When the movie of the same name premiered, people became curious. Frying a tomato? Are you kidding? But this delicious side dish has long appeared on Southern tables. It is a great way to use up an overabundance of unripe tomatoes. This recipe is from The South: The Beautiful Cookbook (1996, HarperCollins).

Ingredients:

1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup sifted all-purpose (plain) flour
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
Vegetable oil for frying
3 firm green (unripe) tomatoes, cored and cut into 12 slices
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Sprigs of fresh thyme for garnish (optional)

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 200ºF (93ºC). In a medium bowl, combine egg, milk, salt, and pepper and beat until well blended. In another medium bowl, combine the flour and cornmeal.
In a heavy, deep skillet over medium-high heat, pour the oil to a depth of a half-inch and heat to 350ºF (176.6ºC) on a deep-fry thermometer. Dip the tomato slices in the egg mixture to coat evenly. Then dip in the cornmeal mixture, shaking off any excess and wiping your hands to avoid build-up.

Fry the tomatoes in three batches, turning once, until the coating is crisp and light golden brown on both sides, a total of three to five minutes per batch. Working quickly with a slotted spatula, transfer the tomatoes to a baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain. Then transfer the tomatoes to a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and place in the warm oven until all the batches are ready to serve. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve warm. Garnish with thyme sprigs, if desired.

Servings: Serves four.

Cream of Vidalia Onion Soup

Sweet, ultra-tasty Vidalia onions are grown exclusively in Georgia, in and around the rural town of Vidalia. Atlanta chefs take advantage of the bountiful crop, available late-April through mid-November, in salads, sliced to top burgers, or in savory sauces and soups. This simple, traditional recipe won the 1998 Vidalia onion cook-off.

Ingredients:

3/4 cup butter, divided
3 cups Georgia Vidalia onions, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 1/2 cups half-and-half
Cheese to taste

Directions:

Melt a half-cup of butter in skillet over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until tender. Set aside. Melt the remaining quarter-cup of butter in Dutch oven. Add flour, salt, pepper, and stir until smooth. Cook for one minute over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened. Stir in onions, reduce heat, and simmer. Add cheese to taste and garnish with parsley.

Servings: Serves four.

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