Flounder with Green Tomatoes and a Radish Salad

Seasonal cooking is ideal for the easily bored: if you don’t eat some things all the time, you get the chance to appreciate them anew every year.

Right now, we’re appreciating green tomatoes, as well as radishes, turnips, and their accompanying greens.

At $2.00 – $2.50 a bunch, these radishes from the Durham Farmers Market are costly little beauties. So I suggest you use every last bit and add the greens to a salad. I posted a simpler recipe for radish salad back in the spring, but the dressing here has a little more heft and can stand up to fall’s richer foods.

Radish Salad (Makes 2 large salads)

4 cups cleaned and dried radish and/or turnip greens, torn into bite-size pieces
6 radishes or small white turnips, thinly sliced


1 tsp. olive oil
3 tsp. white wine vinegar
1 tsp. brown mustard
1/2 tsp. honey
Salt and pepper to taste
1 small clove garlic, crushed or grated with zester

Whisk dressing ingredients together. Toss with greens to coat; add more salt and pepper if desired and toss again. Top with radishes and serve.

As for the green tomatoes: Every decent Southerner knows that you’re supposed to slice them and fry them up in bacon fat. But my fried green tomatoes are often abject failures– slimy green discs with bits of charred breading sliding across them. So I’ve turned to other methods.

Green tomatoes, it turns out, are wonderful accompaniments to fish. Their tart, citrusy flavor is perfect with any mild white fish that you’d pair with lemon–like this beautiful flounder from our CSA.

Baked Flounder with Green Tomatoes
1 whole flounder, 1 – 2 lbs, headed and gutted, skin and tail on
4 cups chopped green tomatoes
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 extra large cloves garlic (ours came from the Durham Farmers’ Market)
1/4 c lemon juice
1 tsp. red pepper flakes, or more to taste

1/4 cup olive oil

Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

(Special Note: If you are The Cat, pretend that you do not want to wrestle the flounder to the floor and gnaw its bones. )

Preheat oven to 350. Lay flounder in broiler pan. Brush with enough olive oil to coat fish. Salt and pepper both sides. Stir together remaining ingredients together in large bowl. Pour over fish.

Cover with foil and bake for 20 – 30 minutes. To serve, scrape top layer of fish from bone, set on plate, and cover with tomatoes. Peel off bone and serve remaining fish. Be sure to let a piece or two fall to the floor so The Cat can take it with dignity.

CSF Saves Griller

The CSF previewed on this blog over the summer has arrived, and it is delivering great happiness to our home. Called Walking Fish and started by a group of Duke students at the Nicholas School, it is now delivering fish caught by North Carolina fishermen to members once a week. (Shares are sold out; watch the site for opportunities for next year.)

CSF stands for “community sponsored fishery.” It works much like a CSA (community sponsored agriculture), in which you purchase a “share” in advance and receive weekly deliveries. (We pick ours up at the Sarah P. Duke Gardens.) The advantage for the fishery is that they are guaranteed a certain level of income. The advantage for us is fresh fish at a decent price. For $11.67 per week, Fred and I receive between 1 and 2 pounds of fish, or roughly $7.78 per pound.

Fred forgot to pick up the first week’s delivery, but I have begun to forgive him. After that disaster, however, we have so far received shrimp, yellow-bellied spot, and mullet

which we prepared like this

The side dishes are mashed potatoes with roasted squash, zuchhini, onion, and tomatoes. But those are unimportant. The important thing here is that the fish is GRILLED–deliciously, beautifully, wonderfully grilled.

My days of embarassingly inept grilling may be drawing to a close. Thanks to a Saturday spent watching my friend Bebe, an expert griller, prepare salmon, I quickly discovered a painfully obvious reason for my failures.

I was excited when Bebe invited me over for fish one Saturday, and even more excited when I realized I’d have a chance to watch someone who knew what she was doing work the grill. I had planned to watch her technique closely: how she laid out the fire, whether or not she covered it, how much she opened the vents once lid was put on.

I stood in her backyard, wine glass in hand, ready to take notes as she gathered her charcoal and implements.

“I’m really glad I have the chance to watch you do this,” I said. “I just can’t figure out why I can’t get my food to cook right on the grill.”

“Well, there’s nothing to it,” she said. (All grillers say that, but if there were nothing to it, poor Fred would not have suffered through multiple servings of simultaneously charred and raw steaks.)

“Maybe for you,” I said, and blathered on as I watched: “I wonder if I’m putting the lid on too soon? Oh–I see you’re opening those vents underneath. I do that too, but it doesn’t seem to matter. And you’re using self-lighting charcoal–well, we can’t do that with our grill because it has the option of using a propane tank to light the charcoal and if we ever want to do that we can’t use the self-lighting grill or we’ll blow ourselves and the entire neighborhood sky-high.”

Then she put a pile of charcoal on the grill. A big pile.

“You use THAT MUCH charcoal?”

“Yeah, you need to make a pretty big fire. And it needs to get hot–wait until the flames die down and all the embers are red.”


So for the mullet, I got me a big pile of charcoal–roughly three times what I’d been using before. I completely filled that damn starter and fired ‘er up. And the mullet was great.

Goat Kidneys

I seem to be the only person in Durham–or perhaps the nation–who is excited about the goat kidneys I found at the Durham Farmers’ Market a couple of weeks ago through Meadow Lane Beef farm. The near-universal response to the news that we’d tried them was a wrinking of the face, followed by an “Euw!” or an “Ugh!” or the occasional polite “Oh.”

The horror, though, was inevitably followed by curiosity: “So . . . what did they taste like?”
Fred described the flavor as “what you wished a giblet tasted like.” I said they were a cross between liver and a chicken thigh. The texture closely resembled that of liver, just firmer and with no tendency to crumble.

Unable to find a recipe for goat kidney even on my overburdened cookbook shelves, I turned to James Beard’s recipes for lamb kidney in his American Cookery.

Beard sure does love his offal. True, he devotes only a small section of the book’s 850 or so pages to the subject–but then again, he doesn’t even offer a recipe for cheesecake. Describing cakes, cookies, and other typical confections, he shows about as much enthusiasm as someone about to clean a bathtub: “This is a popular cake for church picnics.” “This cookie has an unusual flavor that is not unpleasant.” But when it comes to lamb’s tongues, he speaks as he would of a long-lost love or a beloved, recently departed parent:

There was never a time, it seems to me, when there were not some pickled lamb’s tongues on the shelf of our family larder. They were used for a quick snack, for a cold supper, for sandwiches, or for picnics. And how tender and delicious they were . . . . I fear that lamb’s tongues are lost to most people today, who won’t take the trouble to prepare them and don’t know what eating pleasure they are missing.

His descriptions of lamb’s kidneys were equally rhapsodic, so Fred and I eagerly anticipated trying the goat.

The kidneys were very easy to prepare. First, I removed the little tube in the kidney and the white gristle-y parts. Then I soaked them in milk for about an hour.

I brushed them with olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, and broiled about 5 minutes, turning once. The most important thing, it seems, is not to overcook them.

They were not as rare as James Beard suggested, but that was fine with us on our first try.

The verdict? We’ll try them again. And if anyone knows where we can get lamb’s tongues, please let me know.