Monday, November 03, 2008

Presidential Dinner III: The Appetizers and Desserts

Choices. Lots of voters wish they had more of them at the ballot box. And that's what I often find that I have at any restaurant: too many choices for appetizers and desserts. For this final installment of an all-American election day dinner, I'm choosing some tasty dishes to represent the home states and regions of some of the third party candidates. I haven't bothered including all the candidates from all the third parties: just some of the most prominent ones.


ROBERT BARR (Libertarian - GA; born - IA)

representing the South - sweet Georgia peach salsa; fried green tomatoes

Southern cuisine is one of the most well-known and prominent cuisines in the United States, but I had a difficult time thinking up anything other than entrées and desserts. Since I'm saving the dessert for the next entry, I wanted some nice and tasty Southern appetizers. It's easier than I imagine, because there are just too many options available. But among the many different hush puppies, savory cornbreads, cheese straws, pimiento cheese spreads and - again - seafood, I'm honing in on two Southern fruit dishes, one a more pan-Southern creation, the other using one of Georgia's best-known exports (since there are two third-party presidential candidates from the Peach State, it made perfect sense to have two recipes from Georgia).

Yes, I know we treat it like a vegetable, but you and I both know that the tomato is indeed a fruit. Picture linked from the Like to website

Atlanta native Cynthia McKinney is the first woman to lead any party's ticket with another woman as her running mate. Since McKinney is doing this on the Green Party ticket, it only makes sense to suggest fried green tomatoes as one of our Southern dishes. Unlike scrapple, which I bemoaned in an earlier post, I love fried green tomatoes. You can dredge them in just about anything - flour, cornmeal, panko (I used that once), hell you can use ground up saltines if you want. Southern Living Magazine suggests binding it together with egg, and adding buttermilk to the batter. I usually use a combination of cornmeal, flour, bread crumbs and Old Bay (can't stay away from that Old Bay). My one problem with frying green tomatoes is that I always skimp on the oil in which to fry them, so too much of the breading comes off. I really need to use more oil. Fry them for a few minutes on each side, then dry them out on a paper towel-lined plate.

Photo linked from the Gourmet Girl Magazine website

Libertarian candidate Bob Barr was born in Iowa, but since I've covered the Midwest already, I'll just focus on the favorite fruit of Barr's current home state of Georgia. It isn't known as the Peach State for nothing. Recipes abound for different ways to use peaches. Almost all of the ones I have found include them in some dessert-y form, but there are a few that are just "out there". Pickled peaches anyone? I'd try that, but I'm not quite sure I'd like it.

A more appetizing recipe in my opinion is this Sweet Georgia Peach Salsa, offered as an accompaniment to grilled chicken salad by the Georgia Peach Commission. It's a fruit salsa not too unlike the watermelon salsa I made for a friend's housewarming. Mix together 2 cups of peeled and chopped peaches with various amounts of red bell pepper, cuke, green onion, jalapeño, honey, lime juice and cilantro, chill and serve. Painfully simple and tasty.

RALPH NADER (Independent - CT)

representing New England - apple pandowdy

Lobster, clam, nutmeg, maple syrup, cranberries and apples all evoke images of New England in my head. A region I have visited outright once and passed through twice more, I am not what you would call an authority on the cuisine of New England. Consumer advocate and perpetual presidential candidate Ralph Nader is born and bred in Connecticut, so he should have a much better idea of what New Englanders eat on a daily basis. And no, I'm not thinking about Dunkin' Donuts.

Photo linked from the Recipe website

Apples are often showcased in the desserts of New England. Though apple pandowdy makes the tummies of people all over the country say "Howdy" (had to go there, sorry), it is very much a New England dish. And Yankee Magazine has one of the easiest recipes for it that I have found. Just line a baking dish with crustless white bread (wow, that's difficult to find) dipped in melted butter, fill with apples slices, cinnamon, brown sugar and a little bit of water, and then cover all that with more buttery bread and brown sugar, bake at 350 for 1 hour and serve with whipped cream. A perfect New England dessert. I bet maple syrup would go great with that, too. Of course, Nader's Consumer Reports Magazine would have to field test several brands of maple syrup to see which would go best with it. Sprinkle nutmeg on top, just because it is the Nutmeg State we're talking about.

Image of Bob Barr linked from the website. Image of Cynthia McKinney linked from Wikipedia. Image of Ralph Nader linked from the New York Press website.