Farmers Market Favorite | Easy Broccoli Mushroom Stir Fry

During the holiday season, I'm always on the hunt for a quick, healthy meal between epic indulgences. With that in mind, I showed up at the farmers market this weekend looking for the best and the brightest farmers and vendors had to offer in order to prepare a wholesome, all-local option for market-goers to try. I found that keeping it simple, with fresh ingredients, all from the market, yielded a nutritious meal perfect for a Meatless Monday.

With the basic bones of the dish in place, there are any number of ways to switch things up to keep it interesting. Try a little minced garlic or grated fresh ginger tossed in with the broccoli. Swap out the scallions for chopped shallots. Peel and chop the broccoli stems and give them a few extra minutes at the beginning of the stirfry before adding scallions, sweet peppers and mushrooms to up the antioxidant ante. Omit the salt for a no sodium version, but give a finishing squeeze of lemon juice, a good substitute for salt. You might even dust the finished dish with a little freshly grated Parmesan cheese or to keep it vegan, nutritional yeast, which can be found in bulk sections and/or health food areas of your supermarket.

This dish was even simple enough for my brother to try! He saw my post from the market on Instagram, and tackled it that evening, adding a genius dash of soy sauce. And he doesn't even cook! (Also, aren't we totally 21st century siblings?)

So easy and so satisfying. Give it a try! Find my Texas Farmers' Markets sources, below, if you're in the Austin area, or seek out a farmers market in your own community to find the freshest food local farmers have to offer.

Farmers Market Favorite Broccoli Mushroom Stir Fry

2 +/- tablespoons lemon infused olive oil

I bunch scallions sliced

3 Italian sweet peppers, chopped

16 oz crimini, shitaki, and or button mushrooms, sliced (a mix, or one of your choosing)

1 head broccoli, broken into small florets

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)

Salt, to taste

Cover the bottom of a large skillet or wok with a scant layer of lemon-infused olive oil. Bring to a shimmering heat over medium high flame. Transfer scallions, chopped sweet peppers, and mushrooms to hot pan (listen for the sizzle) and cook, stirring frequently, until mushrooms are limp. Add broccoli to pan (adding more olive oil if necessary to keep vegetables from sticking) mix well, and stirring occasionally, cook until broccoli is crisp-tender. Season with hot pepper flakes and salt. Serve at once.

Lemon Infused Olive Oil-- Texas Hill Country Olive Co.
Sweet peppers and broccoli-- Johnson's Backyard Garden
Scallions and red pepper flakes-- Gray's Gardens, Buda
Mixed mushrooms-- Kitchen Pride

I'll be back at the Texas Farmers' Markets later this month, sharing seasonal bites for holiday entertaining at TFM Lakeline on December 16, and TFM Mueller, December 17, 2017. I'd love to see you there!

Soup Weather | Turkey Bone Gumbo with andouille sausage

Down here in Central Texas, the climate has lulled us into a quiet confidence that cold weather may never arrive. It's this way every year. We have a little cold snap that makes us feel like we're one of you guys, only to have temperatures reach the mid-eighties the week of a well known AUTUMN holiday.

It's a little depressing.

But just when we lose all hope of ever having seasonal weather, another cool breeze comes along and we pull out our woolens and unpack the down comforters and change the menu. It's soup weather.

In my tiny little kitchen in my charming, old, drafty house, it's a matter of necessity. The steaming, fragrant, simmering pot of soup serves to warm both my body and soul, and by dinnertime, my tummy, too.

The secrets to really good post-holiday turkey gumbo
Maggie C. Perkins, Austin American-Statesman 
Last week, I had the honor of talking turkey with the Austin American-Statesman. Turkey Bone Gumbo, that is. You can read the article in its entirety here, including my secrets for creating a rich, hearty gumbo any day of the year that will have friends and family, alike, clamoring for more. Be sure to refer to the article for the best tips, tricks, and steps to create a savory simmering pot all your own, and the story behind mine, the recipe for which you'll find below.

Turkey Bone Gumbo
Serves 6

Perhaps my favorite dish of the holiday season comes the day after each, if I can wrestle the remaining carcass from the family dinner table. While folks line up early to catch Black Friday or After Christmas sales, you’ll find me in the kitchen, humming along to my favorite tunes, stirring a steaming pot of gumbo that will be ready just in time for a favorite football game or an old movie. Over the next few days, the flavors will intensify-- these leftovers are the BEST leftovers.


2 large ribs celery, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
½ cup lard
¾ cup all-purpose flour
2½ quarts turkey stock (see below)
1 pound andouille sausage, sliced on the diagonal
4 cloves garlic, minced
+/- 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
Turkey meat (reserved from making stock, below)
1 bunch scallions, green tops only, sliced
1 bunch parsley, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

It is important to collect and prepare ingredients before beginning cooking. Once the roux is begun, the process goes fast and there is not one appropriate second to look away. So get chopping, and have ingredients ready and set aside, covered, within reach.

Early in the day, or preferably the day before…..

Turkey Stock--
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove any large pieces of remaining turkey meat and reserve, leaving the meat that clings to the bone. Season the carcass with salt and freshly ground pepper. Roast turkey bones at 350 degrees, until bones have begun to brown, and any remaining meat is crisp and golden brown, about 45 minutes. Transfer roasted bones and any roasting juices to a large stockpot. Add 1 onion, 1 rib of celery, 1 bay leaf, 1T salt, 2 teaspoons whole peppercorns, ½ teaspoon ground oregano, and ½ teaspoon ground thyme. Cover all with water, about 3 quarts. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook at a rolling simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, adding additional water as necessary to maintain liquid level. Correct seasonings to taste. Strain through a fine sieve and reserve.

Over medium high heat, melt ½ cup lard. Gradually add ¾ cup flour, whisking constantly to prevent sticking or burning. (Important note: if your roux scorches, toss it and start again. Roux bad, gumbo bad.)

Stirring continually, bring the roux through the darkening stages of brown, about 25-30 minutes. I like mine as dark as you’ll find in a Creole gumbo—mahogany. Some cooks stop at a milk chocolate color. You may want to practice, beginning with milk chocolate brown and working through dark chocolate brown towards mahogany. There’s a sweet spot you’ll come to discover where roux is the darkest brown without scorching at all. (Did you know that the darker a roux, the less thickening ability it holds? Lighter roux thickens more. Darker roux might call for okra in the pot or file powder added to the bowl to aid in thickening.)

Once the roux has developed to the preferred color, carefully add the chopped ‘trinity’ of bell pepper, celery, and onion. This serves to cool the (scorching hot!) roux. Stirring constantly, (this is when I trade my trusty whisk for my trusty roux spoon) cook until vegetables have wilted and are transparent.

Add stock, garlic, andouille sausage, and Cajun seasoning.  Bring to a hard, rolling boil for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and cook at a rolling simmer for 45 minutes. Add the reserved turkey meat, parsley, and green onions to the pot, simmering an additional 15 minutes.  Correct seasoning to taste. Allow to cool a bit before ladling into soup bowls, traditionally over cooked white rice.

FARMERS MARKET FAVORITE | Duck Sausage & Dijon-glazed Sweet Potatoes | Maggie C. Perkins

Autumn has finally arrived in Central Texas, and markets are teeming with favored flavors of fall.

Well, let me qualify that. It's in the upper eighties and we're experiencing stifling humidity this week. But we Texans place our pumpkins on the porch and pray for the occasional cool snap just to keep hope alive. They say we'll have one this week. We'll see.

In the early days of my farmers market and farmstand shopping, I frequently purchased items that caught my fancy, then got home and had no clue how to optimize my selections. Often, they languished until they were tossed. I had the best of intentions, but my follow through was dismal.

It was this repeated experience which encouraged me to utilize my chef demos at the farmers market to help shoppers make the most of their market basket haul. Four times a month, I set out for the Texas Farmers' Markets as their market chef, without a recipe or a menu in mind, scour the stalls for the best farmers and vendors have to offer, and pull together a quick, wholesome seasonal dish on the fly.

This particular dish, a FARMERS MARKET FAVORITE, showcases duck from Belle Vie Farm, vegetables from Johnson's Backyard Garden, and seasonings from Stellar Gourmet, Austin Honey Company, and Hill Country Provisions & Iron.

While these favorite staples are available at local Central Texas markets only, I encourage you to both reach out to the links provided to inquire about mail order availability, and seek farmers, producers, and vendors in your area to support. Buy Local, Eat Local.

Duck Sausage with Dijon-glazed Sweet Potatoes
Market Chef Maggie Perkins

1 T duck fat
1 package Belle Vie Farm Charles’ Picnic Duck Sausage
1 large sweet potato, sliced in thin rounds
1 bunch scallions, sliced
1 small head cabbage, leaves separated
2T Stellar Gourmet Fig Dijon Mustard
1T Austin Honey Co. Pure Honey
Hill Country Provisions & Iron Vaquero Sol seasoning to taste

In a shallow skillet over medium heat, melt duck fat. Brown sausages on each side over medium until golden. Remove from heat and reserve.

Add sweet potatoes to pan and increase heat to medium-high. Sauté slices until slightly crisped, turning frequently. Add scallions to pan and continue to sauté until scallions are limp. Nestle sausages into bed of sweet potatoes and onions, reduce heat to medium, cover with cabbage leaves.

Allow cabbage leaves to steam until limp. Remove to a serving plate. Remove sausage and set aside.
Add mustard and honey to the pan with sweet potatoes and onions. Stir together and allow to simmer with potatoes over medium heat for 4-5 minutes, or until glazed, stirring frequently. Season with Vaquero Sol, to taste.

Slice duck sausage. Plate sweet potatoes and onions onto the cabbage-lined plate. Nestle sliced sausage into bed of potatoes.

And speaking of cooler weather cooking, check out my drawwwl chatting up food columnist Addie Broyles about biscuits, soups, stews, and GUMBO in the recent I Love You So Much podcast, for the Austin American Statesman. You'll be treated to some of Austin's favorite icons as well. Author Jesse Sublett and Esther's Follies co-founder and performer Shannon Sedwick talk about their new book about the 40-year-old Austin institution, Out & About (Michael Barnes) gives a peak of the new Central Austin Public Library, and Eric Webb chats all things Stranger, season 2. Find it on iTunes, your podcast app of choice, or here on Austin360.

Salad greens are truly at their peak during cooler days of autumn and their peppery herbal finish is complemented by the in-season frutis and vegetables available now. Persimmon gives this salad a sweet, earthy nudge, while fig flavors lend a sweetly acidic note. On Sunday last at Texas Farmers' Market, I tossed together luscious freshly-cut field greens, radishes, scallions, and shaved fennel with a Vanilla Fig Persimmon Dijon dressing that pleased eager market samplers. Check back tomorrow for the details on Notes from Maggie's Farm.

Thirsty Thursday | Golden Milk with Turmeric

Yesterday I met the TFM team for lunch at Thai Fresh, which is conveniently located in my 'hood. I go there quite a lot; I have favorites, and for dessert, it is the Golden Milk. It reminds me of my childhood favorite - egg custard, with that nutmeg-gy sprinkle atop.

It also happens to be good for you! The golden hue is derived from turmeric - a traditionally Indian spice known for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and some believe, anti-cancer benefits. I've taken turmeric capsules for several years in concert with other holistic approaches to inflammation. I'm a believer.

I decided it was high time I made it myself. I started with this recipe (where I learned a whole lot about turmeric!), and tweaked it to suit my tastes and nutritional needs.

Did YOU know that by mixing turmeric and black pepper together, you increase your body’s absorption of the turmeric by 2000%? And it doesn't even take that much. I love black pepper and I think it's underutilized, especially to balance sweet flavors, so I'm all over this. Needless to say, black pepper did make the cut.

I also added some metabolism-boosting spices: cayenne pepper and fresh, grated ginger, along with cinnamon and cardamom. I used coconut milk as the base, and just a few drops of maple syrup-- I found the golden milk sweet enough without a lot of added syrup or honey; I primarily sweetened it simply to temper the bitterness turmeric can sometimes impart. Your mileage may vary.

Ayurvedic practitioners recommend consuming this golden milk every evening before bed. They hold that it promotes relaxation and good sleep. I'm not sure about that, but I'm willing to give it a try.

Have you incorporated Golden Milk into your diet? I'd love to hear about your experience in the comments below.

Ahhhhhhhh. Sweet dreams.

Classes & Events | August 2017 | Maggie Perkins

Geeze it's HOT out there. August brings some scorchers, so beat the heat and bring your recreation inside with me as we learn new skills and polish off some old ones, and preserve the last gasps of the garden. Below, find classes and events for Maggie of From Maggie's Farm for the month of August. Click on the Ticket & Info links for more information. You can also find this information at the Classes & Events link in the navigation bar. And even when I fall behind on the fancy listings (because the cooking comes before the blogging part, a LOT), you can always see what I'm up to on the Google calendar below, and also on the Classes & Events page. 

Keep it cool, my friends!

Learn to Bake Bread
August 9, 2017--Tickets & Info
August 22, 2017 -- Tickets & Info

Home Cheesemaking 101 | Ricotta
August 10, 2017-- Tickets & Info

Mezze: Small Plates from Greece to the Middle East
August 11, 2017-- Tickets & Info

Home Breadmaking | No Knead Caraway Rye
August 15, 2017-- Tickets & Info

Home Cheesemaking 201 | Mild Feta Cheese
August 17, 2017-- Tickets & Info

Spanish Tapas: Healthy Wholesome Spanish Snacks and Appetizers
August 18, 2017-- Tickets & Info

Texas Farmers' Markets Seasonal Best series
TFM at Lakeline August 5, 2017-- Info
TFM at Mueller  August 6, 2017-- Info
TFM at Lakeline August 19, 2017-- Info
TFM at Mueller August 20, 2017-- Info

Canning 101 | Water Bath Canning and Pickled Summer Vegetables for Antipasti
August 23, 2017-- Tickets & Info

Home Cheesemaking 201 | Herbed Cheese Logs
August 24, 2017-- Tickets & Info

Beginnning Pasta-making: Ravioli | Herbed Cheese Ravioli with Summer Sauce
August 25, 2017-- Tickets & Info

Farmers Market Favorite | Summer Melon Salad

In this kind of oppressive heat, I know I don't feel like cooking over a hot stove, and frequently, I don't even feel like eating. Certainly nothing too heavy, or it will sit like a lead balloon, fueling nothing more than lethargy and lassitude. Fresh and light are the orders of these days-- short prep work and wholesome foods are the ingredients of dog day dinners, here in hot, hot HOT and sunny Hell Central Texas.

Farm fresh produce from Johnson's Backyard Garden
Recently at the Texas Farmers' Markets, I prepared a few versions of a Summer Melon Salad which is as filling as a main entree as it is delightful as a side. Market farmers are bursting at the seams with melons of all kinds, and this dish can be made with any of your favorites, or a combination of several. Crenshaw melons, cantaloupe, honeydew-- all are great choices. I keep a few of the small Korean melons around the house to toss into smoothies, create granitas, or enjoy a chilled half, simply, with a sprinkle of salt and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar or a scoop of homemade cottage cheese. It's cool, it's easy, and it's perfect.

If I'm hungry for a little more excitement and variety in my bowl, I'll throw together salty, spicy, sweet, sour, herbal, and crunchy textures in a quick salad, dressed lightly with a few of my favorite market vendor flavors. If I'm feeling carnivorous, I'll toss in the sublimely salty punch of Belle Vie Farm duck prosciutto-- you can find that recipe here, or perhaps occasionally find the saline tang of homemade feta cheese to be a great addition.

More often than not, though, in this heat, I prefer a vegan version to keep things light and aid with digestion. I dress this particular salad with another digestive-- ginger, in the form of SoCo Ginger Beer. I combine that with a slow, thin drizzle of Texas Hill Country Olive Company balsamic vinegar, and enjoy a combination of rich and lively flavors without animal products, fat, artificial additives, or a sweat storm of a hot kitchen. Boom! Summer-perfect.

1 summer melon, peeled, seeded, cubed
1 red onion, small, halved, sliced thinly
1 small pickling, Persian, or English cucumber (no wax), halved lengthwise, sliced thin crosswise
1 bunch basil, de-stemmed, leaves chopped small
5 small shishito peppers, de-stemmed, de-seeded, minced
1 cup SoCo Ginger Beer, honey orange
cracked black pepper & kosher salt
Texas Hill Country Olive Company blackberry balsamic vinegar

Toss the melon, onion, cucumber, basil, and shishito peppers in a large bowl. Pour ginger beer over all. Toss lightly. Season to taste with pepper and salt. Cover and chill for 15 minutes or more.

Remove from the refrigerator and toss again. Plate individually. Drizzle balsamic vinegar over salad in a light stream, correct seasonings as necessary, and serve.

Meet me at the markets next, on Saturday, August 5, and Sunday, August 6, 2017, for a fresh taste of the seasonal best farmers and artisans have to offer at Texas Farmers' Markets Lakeline and Mueller, in Austin.

Disclosure: I work as a contract market chef for Texas Farmers' Markets, and the food provided for chef demos is given free of charge for promotion.

Potato Salad Politics | Blackeyed Pea Potato Salad

Earlier this week, THIS happened!

I'm so honored to have my first lead story published in the Food section of the Austin American Statesman. I've been a loyal reader and unapologetic fan girl for many years, and my association represents a goal and a dream fulfilled for me. I am so honored that I'm at a loss for words.

Of course that won't last long.

You can find that article online, too, right here. I had a little fun with it.
I might not be able to remember all of my ex-husbands’ middle names, but I remember their mamas’ potato salads.
One of the recipes I included in the article was so intriguing, and so darn southern, I had to share it here, too. It's a pretty little thing I think would make a fine impression among your holiday table this July 4th. It's as if my grandfather's summer garden was mined for a bowlful of family favorites.

Black-eyed Pea Potato Salad

Spring House Press, $16.95

Serves 8

½ cup thinly slivered red onion
Juice of 1 lemon
1 jar pickled okra, ¼ cup juice reserved
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
¼ cup diced celery leaves from the tops of stalks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups thawed or canned black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
6 cups cooked red-skinned potatoes, cut in 1-inch chunks
1 teaspoon ground paprika for garnish

1. Toss onion with lemon juice and set aside for 15 minutes
2. For the salad dressing, mix together the okra juice, mayo, mustard, and celery leaves, plus salt and black pepper to taste.
3. Place black-eyed peas and potatoes in a large bowl and add onions. Toss well.
4. Drizzle mixture with dressing and toss to coat. Serve in a shallow bowl, topped with a dusting of paprika and pickled okra pods.

Tip: Do you like onions but not the way they can overtake all the flavors in a dish? Soaking the onion pieces in lemon juice will take away the bite, sweetening them just enough to complement the dish you’re making rather than overpowering it.

For 4 more of my favorite potato salads, along with the family politics that form and inform them, check out Potato salad with a side of family politics in the Austin American Statesman.

SOUTHERN COMFORT | Buttermilk Fried Chicken & all of the fixin's

Southern Comfort | Buttermilk Fried Chicken & all of the fixin's
TUESDAY, JUNE 27, 2017
6:30--8:30PM  | AUSTIN
Tickets available at Kitchen Underground.

Frying chicken always makes me feel a little better about life.
— Minnie, The Help

Though possibly the most cherished dish of our past, and the one that reminds of us most of sweet grandmothers, aunts, uncles, or whoever prepared the BEST in our families, frying chicken has become a lost art.

Margaret Calhoun may not have been a holy roller, but she sure could fry the Hell out of a chicken.-- Steven Norton
Join market chef and southern food aficionado, Maggie Perkins to learn the secrets to proper golden, crispy Southern Buttermilk Fried Chicken and enjoy the best heirloom dishes to accompany it. You’ll master breaking down a whole bird, preparing chicken by brining, seasoning, and dipping and dredging, tips and techniques to include and/or avoid, and frying for light and crispy crust and succulent, fully cooked interior.
And when church was over they would go home to Heavenly dinners of fried chicken, it might be, and creamed new potatoes and hot biscuits and butter and cherry pie and sweet milk and buttermilk. And the preacher and his family would always be invited to eat with somebody and they would always go, and the preacher, having just foresworn on behalf of everybody the joys of the flesh, would eat with unconsecrated relish.— Wendell Berry
At the end of the demonstration, sit down with classmates for a full meal with all the fixings. Depending upon what is freshest and most abundant from the fields, that might include sliced garden tomatoes, okra, squash, definitely potatoes in some form or fashion, fresh peas, sweet corn, or anything else that shows itself off that morning. And of course, cold iced tea to wash it all down.
Nothing rekindles my spirits, gives comfort to my heart and mind, more than a visit to Mississippi...and to be regaled as I often have been, with a platter of fried chicken, field peas, collard greens, fresh corn on the cob, sliced tomatoes with French dressing...and to top it all off with a wedge of freshly baked pecan pie. -- Craig Claiborne
This is THE MEAL of southern childhoods and beyond, and you’ll be the talk of the table and town when you make it YOUR specialty.

Minnie don't burn chicken.
-- Minnie, The Help

About Maggie Perkins: When food writer, former farmer, and market chef Maggie Perkins isn't preparing seasonal dishes on the fly at local farmers markets, you might find her at a backwoods barbecue joint in Mississippi, comparing chargrilled oysters in the Big Easy, or trading food folklore with a fishmonger on the coast. Her true north is in her home kitchen, puttering about, spinning vintage vinyl, perfecting her creole cooking techniques, and developing recipes she shares in print, and on her blog, Notes from Maggie's Farm.

Southern Comfort | (Not) Fried Green Tomatoes

A healthier version of the South's favorite starter, these (Not) Fried Green Tomatoes are the perfect solution for those not-ripe beauties that fall off in a rainstorm, or perhaps when you get a little too antsy waiting for that coming tomato harvest.

Farmers and gardeners in the South know a thing or 10 about growing tomatoes. Once daytime temps reach 90 degrees, tomatoes will cease to flower, so tomato plants are set out the very first days after the last frost is expected, and sometimes earlier, relying on crossed fingers, the help of hothouses, and upturned milk cartons to protect the plants in case of a late frost. I've strung large bulb Christmas lights from the house, extension cord connected to extension cord connected to light string and strung down the rows close to the base of the plant, then plant and bulb covered with opaque overturned jugs. From the road, it looked as if miniature alien spaceships had taken over the tomato plot.

Plantings and harvests are staggered every few weeks, so as not to overwhelm the market, or the preserving farmer, as was my case. It's all over midsummer or so for the first tomato season in the South. As the mercury stretches toward 100 degrees, rangy plants produce little, and it's time to pull them to give room for more heat-friendly options, or to plant a quick cover crop-- but quick it must be for there are only weeks until time for the late summer planting seasoning. It sounds like a lot of work, and some complicated timing, and of course it is, but dang it, we get 2 seasons of fresh tomatoes down here and I can't think of a reward more precious for which to work.

I've got a thing for tomatoes, for sure.

Right now, you'll  find green tomatoes all around the country, and in many parts, the beginnings of salmon, pink, blush, orange, then RIPE. I love them all-- all colors and all stages from the tartest green to the deepest purples and black-reds, and I use them and preserve them in many ways. For that deep dark Cherokee tomato, it's Hellmann's mayonaisse, a Noonday onion slice, and homemade sourdough. For a year's worth of sauce, it's the bell-shaped, scant-seeded Roma. For tarts, tartines, gallettes-- heirlooms of every shape, size, color and variety. For the explosion of cherry tomatoes, a bowl on the table all day long-- they get snacked on often with a flourish-- tossed in the air and caught by my mouth. It keeps me agile.

Occasionally, I'll make a batch of fermented green tomato pickles or charred green tomato chow chow, but only occasionally because my one true love of green tomato prep is the darling of the Southern menu, Fried Green Tomatoes. Only Not. I mean they're still green tomatoes, they're just not fried.

But DANG, they're still as good.

Better, I might say. Better because they're easier. Better because they're tidier. Better because I'm inclined to make a custom-sized batch for one, where I might not bother with the traditional preparation. Better because taking a spin in the oven instead of a dunk in the fryer means less mess, less fat, and better flavor, I think. The delicate herbs in the breading, the layers of flavor in the tomato are all showcased best without having been drowned by hot grease. Save the bacon drippings for another day-- and enjoy this quick, wholesome option.

(Not) Fried Green Tomatoes
Yield: 4 servings

4 green tomatoes
Sea Salt
2 whole eggs
2 T water
1 cup seasoned fine bread crumbs (see note below)
1/4 cup Panko Japanese-style bread crumbs
2 whole lemons (see note below re: seasoned bread crumbs)
1 cup Parmigiano Reggiano grated cheese, separated
Freshly cracked black pepper and sea salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. While silicone spray or a mat will suffice in a pinch, I've found parchment to work the best, without losing any coating, and clean up is a breeze, for extra benefit.

With a sharp knife, slice stem and blossom end of tomatoes and discard. Slice remaining tomato in 1/3" slices, approximately. Place in a single layer on a paper towel-lined plate or sheet pan, sprinkle each slice with salt, and set aside for 10 minutes.

Whisk whole eggs, cracked, with 2 tablespoons tepid water in a bowl large enough to accommodate one flat slice.

Combine fine seasoned bread crumbs, Panko crumbs, and 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese in a larger bowl (see note, below, regarding bread crumbs). You'll need a little room to bread them well on each side.

Pat dry tomato slices. Transfer one by one to 1) egg wash, dipping each side in then, 2) transfer to breading, coating each side (use your fingers of one hand for egg, and other hand for breading, and you won't get all goopy like I did), then 3) transfer to parchment-lined sheet pan. Dribble tops with a few scant drops of freshly-squeezed lemon juice.

Place pan in middle rack of preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove, gently invert each slice, top with a scattering of Parmigiano Reggiano, and return to oven for 10-20 minutes, or until golden brown, and fork-tender. Season with freshly ground black pepper and sea salt, as necessary. Allow to cool slightly (the interior flesh can be napalm-hot when first removed from the oven), about 5 minutes, then serve.

I like mine drizzled with this Homemade Southern Buttermilk Dressing. LOTS of folks do. But these are equally as intriguing served with warmed marinara sauce, topped with a dreamy, creamy seafood imperial sauce, or even in their nekkids.

About seasoned bread crumbs: The bread crumbs I used for this dish were homemade, from a day-old loaf of Asiago Lemon Thyme foccacia I baked that was ground finely in a food processor. The bread was enriched with lemon infused olive oil, minced parsley, and fresh thyme. You could replicate those flavors with some dried thyme, dried parsley, grated parmigiano reggiano and lemon zest added to plain fine bread crumbs, or simply purchase seasoned bread crumbs available on store shelves and add the grated cheese to the mixture. Should you choose the lemon zest route, zest the whole lemons called for before cutting and squeezing lemons for juice.

I'm happy to be hanging out with the fine farmers, vendors, staff and shoppers of the Texas Farmers' Market this weekend where I'll be demonstrating how to prepare traditional Fried Green Tomatoes. Stop by TFM Lakeline on Saturday from 10-12, and TFM Mueller on Sunday from 11-1pm to learn more, grab a bite, and shoot the breeze. I'd love to see your smiling face among the crowd.

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