Green tomatoes are just red tomatoes en route to becoming red. Picked before they mature, these green tomatoes are beyond wonderful. A really old great recipe, I started making them in the late ʼ70s. That’s the 1970s!

I prefer slices about 1/4 to 1/3 inch thick, from a medium large green beefsteak tomato.  Using a serrated knife, slice a pinch off the bottom end. Then proceed to the top, carefully slicing each tomato.  Allow about four slices for each serving.

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Arrange tomato slices on a paper towel lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle tomato slices with salt, both sides. Let them sit for several minutes to drain any excess liquid.

Dip each green tomato slice in buttermilk, then in regular flour sprinkled with fresh ground pepper and a bit of sweet paprika powder. Shake off excess flour, then dip in egg wash and then in fresh coarse breadcrumbs to which you have added a mixture of (Kraft) grated dry Parmesan cheese granules and Kraft Romano granules, half and half.

While the tomatoes are salting, fry several rashers of good quality bacon in a large skillet. Remove the bacon strips using tongs. Keep the bacon fat in the skillet. Add a couple of tablespoons of butter and Mazola corn oil. Increase heat to hot, being careful not to burn the fat.

Place each individual breaded green tomato slice into the medium hot skillet. Don’t shake the pan or move the slices around. Watch carefully. Turn and fry the other side. When each side is just barely golden they are ready to eat.

For an extra special gourmet touch, drizzle each slice of fried green tomato with a tiny bit of your fig jar cognac marinade juice, or a drizzle of high quality maple syrup. And/or build a sandwich using two slices of fried green tomato with a bit of minced chopped cognac marinated fig in-between.

Remove slices using an egg turner with holes to let any excess fat drip free. Place the fried green tomato slices on brown paper to drain further.

Keep warm on an oven-proof serving platter. Decorate with fresh handfuls of curly parsley and lemon curls. If you prefer a dip, stir a bit of mustard and maple syrup into homemade mayonnaise. Serve in a dipping dish for each person.

Soup’s on! Don’t miss this recipe.

This is really, really special: dried split green pea soup with pork hocks.

When foodstuffs were in short supply during the war, dry goods staples from the pantry were often the order of the day. This recipe harkens back to those days when cupboards were sometimes bare but tummies were kept full with recipes such as this.

I’ve modified my soup over the years and this is the result. It doesn’t get easier than this.

Here is just one more thing to keep in your dry goods pantry – a few bags of dried split green peas. Nothing beats a bowl of homemade soup as an après ski or skate or toboggan thaw-me-out treat. Or even after a long cold weather rainy walk with the pup. This treat can be breakfast, lunch or supper food.

Start by sautéing a medium large chopped Spanish white onion. Chop quite small. I use butter. Add a bay leaf, a couple of whole cloves, salt and fresh ground pepper. Toss in a small piece of garlic that you will mash when softened (the garlic gets so mild and only enhances other flavours… don’t remove it) and add a pinch of dry thyme.

Add a whole bag of dried split green peas or two bags if you have a very large pot, because this soup freezes really well. It’s always useful to make extra.

Note: dried split yellow peas are also available and are the base for French Canadian split pea soup. Other than using the different peas, the recipe remains the same.

You always have homemade chicken stock in your freezer, right? I know it comes in a box or a can, but it is often so briny and overly salty. I can’t recommend using it, even in a pinch.

It costs absolutely nothing to save chicken bones and boil them over with a stick of celery, a carrot, an onion and toss in your favourite herbs. Strain and freeze.

Boil the chicken bones, gently, for about 15 minutes or longer if you have extra time. Strain and freeze. Instant chicken broth, always ready to use in many recipes. It is the base for many soups. Served alone, this broth is wonderful if someone is under the weather and doesn’t feel like eating.

Back to the dried split green pea soup. Cover the onions and peas with chicken broth. And add a few extra cups of broth. (You can make this soup with plain water; it’s just not as rich).

Add at least 4 (most recipes call for 2) medium size pork hocks. Always have them in your freezer. You just never know when the urge will hit to sate your craving for this pot. Cover the pot on very low heat.

Gently simmer, stirring occasionally (you don’t want stuck-on bits at the bottom of the pot to burn), until the dried split peas are mashable with a fork and the pork hock meat is falling off the bone. Discard the heavy skin, or roast it as crackle.

Serve hot, freshly made. But the soup gets better as it rests in the pot. Add a tiny dollop of sour cream to each serving and a quick grind of pepper.

Serve with fresh made hot buttered toast, or buttered crostini, for dipping. It’s the ideal time to enjoy home baked fresh buttery biscuits.

Whether served in an oversize cup or in a bowl, dried split green pea soup is a winner that will appear on everyone’s best of list.

You haven’t lived until you have tried this simple supper. The thick pea soup freezes well, but the pork hocks, not so much, after they are cooked. But keep plenty of raw ones in your freezer. There won’t be leftovers anyhow.

This is a great recipe to have on hand for teenagers to help themselves after school if dinner is going to be delayed. Or for sports kids who always have their own schedule to deal with. Keep this soup handy.

The soup reheats well in the microwave, but the pork hocks do not. It’s best to slowly reheat on the stove top. Be careful not to burn it because the soup thickens. If it gets too thick, add just a tiny bit of chicken stock.

From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks.

The working title for Carolyne’s Gourmet Recipes cookbook is From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks. This kitchen-friendly doyenne has been honoured and referred to as the grande dame of executive real estate in her market area during her 35-year career. She taught gourmet cooking in the mid-70s and wrote a weekly newspaper cooking column, long before gourmet was popular as it is today. Her ebook, Gourmet Cooking - at Home with Carolyne is available here for $5.99 US. Email Carolyne. Scroll down to the comments at each recipe column. Carolyne often adds complimentary "From Lady Ralston's Kitchen" additional recipes in the Recipes for Realtors Comments section at REM.


  1. “Headcheese Special Plate du Jour”

    First a little history (see Google):
    “What is head cheese? This ingredient is a delicacy that originated from Europe, dating back to the Middle Ages. It’s traditionally made from chopped and boiled pig’s head meat, which is then formed into a jellied loaf…”

    Sülze in Germany; indeed a delicacy. But one that isn’t reserved just for upper-crust enjoyment. Although think about those high-end restaurants charging six hundred dollars a plate for marrow bones, and that just might apply to this special dish also.

    At your butcher or supermarket meat counter, check out headcheese. They will slice it fresh for you or you can buy a loaf which is ideal for this use; if you are serving a large group you might note that 2kg log is currently about thirty dollars locally and will present about twenty half-inch slices; plan 3-4 slices per plate. So order ahead (made by Pillars). Often you can buy prepackaged as sandwich meats but they are not for this recipe use.
    Google: Serious Eats says: “In Scandinavia, head cheese is known as sylte and often served at Christmas lunches. In France it’s called fromage de tête. Italians know it asformaggio di testa, while the Dutch call it preskop (literally meaning pressed head)…”

    A delightful mix made from all pig parts not typically used in other dishes has a solid gelatinized aspic base prepared by meat packers that supply in a sausage salami-like roll or a square log from which sandwich slices are often pre-packaged. With a smear of dijon, coarse or plain, the headcheese product has endless appeal for enthusiasts.

    But here’s a different way to serve the headcheese (not the pre-packaged products). Cut quite thick slices from the log, maybe a half inch thick and drizzle with a just a drop of reheated reserved marrow bones broth cooled, laced with cognac. You don’t want the gelatin to break down. Using a large slotted spoon, spider, or egg turner, carefully put the headcheese thick slices onto a white paper towel lined resting rack to absorb any excess moisture. Save the broth.

    Spritz the headcheese thick slices with just a whiff of Asbach Uralt cognac to heighten the already wonderful flavour. Maybe use an eye dropper.

    Arrange three or four thick slices slightly overlapping on an oversize dinner plate. It’s meant to be a light entree, but could be an extra large size Hors d’Ouvres, as a build up to maybe a big soup plate of my Split Green Pea Soup made with pork hocks (not smoked), for a cold weather meal. Hint: The hocks are sometimes difficult to find so when you locate, stock up on the unsmoked hocks. They freeze well and last for months.

    If you enjoy horseradish keep a little horseradish cream dish handy on the large serving plate and also serve with the soup hocks.

    Add a generous quenelle of whisked to lighten Celebrity brand goat cream cheese mixed with a little full fat sour cream. Add a sprinkle of fresh chives, snipped very fine using scissors, and a grind of fresh pink peppercorns.

    Sprinkle the cream cheese quenelle with loads of crushed beautiful green pistachios. Such eye-candy! No pistachios? A nice alternate is crushed homemade candied hazelnuts from your pantry storage jar.

    Off to the side on the oversize plate, place a tiny dish of my Watercress Hazelnut Pesto.

    My first encounter with headcheese was as a child, at the giant farmer’s market deli area. Samples were offered and of course I tried it. Just plain, gelatinized, sold in blocks weighing about a pound. Cut in one-inch cubes, stuck on a swizzle stick makes a handy Amuse Bouche at a buffet table. A little salty, a little sweet but in a kind to the palate way, and it just melted in my mouth. I was hooked. We’re talking maybe 1948. Other children turned it down. Give me their portion. I didn’t know I already had the makings of an adult sophisticated palate.

    Over all the years not much has changed in the fresh headcheese composition. I can always taste cloves and bay leaf, not unlike in my fabulous green pea soup made with (cousins) pork hocks.

    On each serving plate flutter a handful of delicate fresh light pea greens on the grouping. Over top of everything on the plate scatter a few grains of crunchy Atlantic Ocean finishing sea salt flakes.

    To complete your brunch plate or four o’clock tea, serve a grilled or toasted crostini bread smeared with any of your butter coins from your frozen reserve collection.

    © Lady Ralston’s Compound Butter “Coin Reserve” ~ because Butter makes it Better. A different kind of currency

    For those whose palate is insanely in love with garlic, you might enjoy a smear of my delicate homemade oven-roasted golden garlic purée from your sterilized glass refrigerated jar, spread evenly over the buttered crostini bread slice, cut on the diagonal from the loaf.

    You might find that one of your favourite beers pairs well with this plate arrangement. Maybe served in a cold thick ceramic handleless glass. Don’t forget real beer drinkers add a pinch of salt before pouring.

    No it’s not too European. Canadian farmers make headcheese, sell it, and love to eat it. You just might appreciate the introduction or reminder.

    © Spirits in My Kitchen: Lady Ralston – Canadian Cooking with Bouquets and Aromas – Good Food Made Better Adding Spirits


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