Thursday, July 28, 2011


Since my 1993 entry into New Bern, this Yankee has been watching a sleepy Southern town slowly -- ever so slowly -- rub its eyes and begin its timid entry into 21st century gastronomy.  Upscale grocers emerged and were followed by farm-to-table restaurants.  Grass-fed beef and lamb and free range poultry became available at our local Farmer's Market.  And now, the latest newcomer is The Wild Cupcake.

Nicole, the owner of The Wild Cupcake, sells via the Farmer's Market and her website, and her cupcakes are anything but dull.  Flavors like S'Mores, Blueberries and Cream, Rose Cakes, Fillin' Nutty, Aloha Coconut, PB&J and Cha Cha Cherry are just a small sampling of the many creative concoctions that leave her kitchen on a regular basis.  While most bakeries are just glorified versions of the Wal-Mart Bakery Department, The Wild Cupcake is truly different and unique.

Judging from the line of fans keeping Nicole busy nowadays, I am guessing that The Wild Cupcake will be a New Bern favorite for years to come.

You can visit The Wild Cupcake at the New Bern Farmer's Market, Saturdays, 8AM - 2 PM, or at The Wild Cupcake website.

October, 2012 update:   Nicole has won Food Network's Cupcake Wars with rave reviews from the judges.  Way to go, Nicole!  New Bern is proud of you.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Fried green tomatoes, a Southern staple, taste good whether they're hot from the pan, room temperature or cold.  Served hot with a drizzle of spicy mayo, they could just be the star of your dinner.  Room temperature or cold from the fridge, they're wonderful added to a meat or cheese sandwich or just munched as is.

I've taken a great recipe up a notch to bring some whole grains into the picture.  We have to sneak them in where we can, especially where they will go unnoticed.  If your family is averse to whole grains, please believe me when I say they will never know unless you tell them.  These tomatoes have a crispy, flavorful crust that's sure to please all fried green tomato enthusiasts.

Whole-Grain Fried Green Tomatoes
Rating:  9.5 out of 10

1 large firm, green tomato
1 egg
2 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. Tabasco
1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
1/4 cup whole-grain cornmeal
1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
1 tsp. coarse kosher salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
2 big pinches cayenne pepper
1 cup vegetable oil for frying

Slice tomato 1/2" thick; discard ends.  You should have about 6 large slices.  In shallow bowl, whisk together egg, milk and Tabasco.  On a sheet of wax paper, measure flour.  On another sheet of wax paper, combine cornmeal, Panko and seasonings.  Dredge tomato slices into flour to coat; shake off excess.  Then dip coated slices into into egg/milk mixture.  Finally, dredge slices in Panko mixture to completely coat.  As you coat the slices, lay them on a wire rack.  Pour vegetable oil in a heavy skillet (cast iron works well).  You should have 1/2" of oil in the pan.  Heat oil over medium heat.  When oil is hot, fry slices in batches of 3 or 4, leaving plenty of room for them to fry.  They should not be touching each other in the pan.  Fry till browned, then flip them and fry them on the other side.  Drain on paper towels and enjoy.