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Henderson County cook tops tomato contest again

Betsy Tankersly (right) won first place with her “Tomato Cobbler” recipe. Betsy Tankersly (right) won first place with her “Tomato Cobbler” recipe.

FLETCHER —A cook from Henderson County won first place for the second year in a row in the N.C. Tomato Growers Association-sponsored tomato cooking contest during the 25th N.C. Mountain State Fair.

Betsy Tankersly, who took top honors in last year’s tomato contest, won over the judges again this year with her “Tomato Cobbler” recipe, earning a blue ribbon and $100. Sharon Gates placed second and earned $75 for her “Tomato Upside Down Cake.” A recipe for “Smokey Mountain Creamy Tomato Dip” won Gina Sprinkle a third-place finish and $50. In addition, an honorable mention and $25 was awarded to Abigail Young for her “Southern Tomato Pie” recipe. Gates, Sprinkle and Young are all from Buncombe County.
Four Buncombe County residents received awards in a trout cooking contest sponsored by the N.C. Aquaculture Association. Justin Pegg’s “Fish and Chips Cakes” earned him a blue ribbon and $200. Sharon Gates came in second with her dish, “Beer City Trout,” and earned $150. In third place, Sylvia Robinson earned $100 for her “Trout Burger with Kale Slaw.” An honorable mention also went to Connie Pegg for her dish, “Trout Nachos,” earning her $50.

Following are the winning tomato and trout recipes:


1 1/2 cup tomatoes, diced

1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar

3/4 cup cornmeal

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

1 white onion, chunked

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided

2 cups cherry tomatoes

1 tablespoon baking powder

6 tablespoons butter, melted

3/4 cup buttermilk

Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat oil in a skillet. Add onions and 1 teaspoon salt. Sautee until onions are browned and softened. Add garlic powder and pepper to taste. Then, add Balsamic vinegar. Add 1/4 cup of flour and cook until roux-like consistency forms. Remove from heat and add remaining salt. Fold in both diced and cherry tomatoes gently. Pour mixture into 9-inch pie pan.

In a bowl, mix together remaining flour, cornmeal, baking powder and baking soda. Stir in melted butter. Next, fold in 1 cup Parmesan cheese. Gently stir in buttermilk until dough forms. Pour batter over tomato mixture.

Bake in oven for 40 minutes. Remover cobbler, top with remaining cheese and return to over to bake an additional 5 minutes.


1 pound cooked trout, skinless and flaked into small pieces

1 cup uncooked hash browns

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup minced onion

2 eggs

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoon mayonnaise

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1/4 cup chopped chives

1/4 cup chopped dill

1 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup vegetable oil for frying

1 cup crushed plain potato chips

            Over medium heat, cook onions and butter in a small pan until translucent, but not browned. Remove from pan and let cool.

            In a large bowl, combine remaining ingredients, except oil and potato chips. Form cakes with hands slightly smaller than your palm. Let cakes sit in refrigerator for about 30 minutes to help firm.

            Heat oil in large, wide pan over medium heat. Remove cakes from refrigerator and coat outside of cakes with crushed potato chips. Place cakes into frying pan, making sure the sides do not touch. Cook for 4-6 minutes per side, until golden brown. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.