Green tomatoes, even tomatoes that are half-ripe, make wonderful pickles in any degree of sweet and sour. This is a nice little recipe to prepare in advance of any summer gathering, and you can have fun varying the basic ingredients as well as the spices and flavorings. Make it your own. You can call this a chow-chow if you like, you can call it a piccalilli, too, even a chutney if you really want to be stuffy about it, but let’s simply say it’s a relish and be done with it.
Finely dice 6-8 green tomatoes (enough to make a quart), one very firm cucumber, a red bell pepper—you can chop up one or two cayennes or a jalapeno if you want—and a large sweet (yellow) onion into a large bowl, add a tablespoon salt and a half cup brown sugar, stir and let sit for an hour or two (overnight is better). Drain the juices from the vegetables into a large saucepan, add 2 cups white vinegar, another half cup of sugar, and two tablespoons pickling spices. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer for about ten minutes, then strain, add vegetables and cook over medium for another ten minutes or so. Drain excess liquid, transfer to jars to cool, top with a screw-on lid and chill. You can use this as soon as it’s cold, but it’s much, much better the next day. It will keep in the refrigerator for a week.
Why don’t today’s chefs create dishes in honor of performing artists like those who gave us Melba toast and turkey Tetrazzini? Where’s the Bowie sundae, the Madonna cupcake or the Star Wars souffle? The need, as I see it, isn’t so much for the dishes, which are admittedly key components, but for the stories they may tell, like this one.
In 1923, George Arliss took the stage as the Rajah of Rukh in The Green Goddess. Arliss was at the height of his career. He went on to repeat his performance in the film version of the play and received an Academy Award nomination for the role, ironically losing to himself that same year (1930) when he played British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli in the eponymous film.
While in San Francisco, Arliss stayed at The Palace Hotel, and for a banquet in Arliss’s honor, the executive chef of the hotel, Philippe Roemer, himself a celebrity, created an original salad dressing with an assortment of finely chopped green herbs to suggest the name of the play. The dressing is a signature recipe in the hotel’s Garden Court Restaurant, most often served with the Dungeness Crab Salad.
The classic Green Goddess recipe usually includes anchovies, mayonnaise, vinegar, green onion, garlic, parsley, tarragon and chives in some form or quantity. Some cooks add sour cream or yogurt, and a popular contemporary version includes avocado (wouldn’t it just?). Served with steamed vegetables or seafood. Combine and mix in processor or blender:
1 cup parsley leaves
1 cup packed spinach leaves, stemmed
½ cup tarragon vinegar
1 cup mayonnaise
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
3 anchovy fillets
¼ cup vegetable oil