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  • Meatless Monday – Fried Okra

    fokra

    In keeping with my home cooking, comfort food bend of mind, another favorite dish from you youth. Some people just rebel at the thought, but young orka, rolled in corn meal, and allowed to firm up, then deep fried is a sweet taste treat of a side dish.

    Background
    The name okra is most often used in the United States, with a variant pronunciation, English Caribbean okro. The word okra is of West African origin and is cognate with ọkwurụ in the Igbo language spoken in Nigeria. Okra is often known as “lady’s fingers” outside of the United States. In various Bantu languages, okra is called kingombo or a variant thereof, and this is the origin of its name in Portuguese (quiabo), Spanish (quimbombó or guigambó), Dutch and French, and also possibly of the name “gumbo”, used in parts of the United States and English-speaking Caribbean for either the vegetable or a stew based on it. In India and Pakistan, and often in the United Kingdom, it is called by its Hindi/Urdu name, bhindi, bhendi, bendai or “bhinda”. In Tamilnadu ,India it is called as Vendaikai.

    The products of the plant are mucilaginous, resulting in the characteristic “goo” or slime when the seed pods are cooked; the mucilage contains a usable form of soluble fiber. Some people cook okra this way, others prefer to minimize sliminess; keeping the pods intact, and brief cooking, for example stir-frying, help to achieve this. Cooking with acidic ingredients such as a few drops of lemon juice, tomatoes, or vinegar may help. Alternatively, the pods can be sliced thinly and cooked for a long time so the mucilage dissolves, as in gumbo. The cooked leaves can also be used as a powerful soup thickener. The immature pods may also be pickled.

    Okra is richer in potassium than bananas and has nearly twice as much calcium gram for gram as milk. 100g supplies a third of the recommended daily intake of magnesium (needed for energy release and healthy nerves) and more than 10 per cent of the RDA for iron. Okra is also a source of fiber – stir-fried okra contains much fiber as whole wheat bread. In addition it is quite a good source of vitamin C and the antioxidant betacarotene, which has a range of benefits, including protection against cancer and heart disease by helping to neutralise free radicals.

    Okra is one of those “binary foods” where people seem to hate it or love it, just like mushrooms, seaweed, and tofu. The hate is usually because of the gooey slime that coats the okra, but that is not a preordained fate

    Okra becomes slimy when cooked with a moist method—in a stew, curry, gumbo (in all these the sliminess helps to thicken the overall dish), or a steamer basket. Stir-frying or sauteing in hot oil, in contrast, keeps the slime within the okra pieces, or perhaps causes the moisture in the mucilage to evaporate, thus improving the pods’ texture.

    There are cooking techniques tol prevent your okra dish from being slimed. Indian food has many techniques of okra preparation, and I have three recommendations from my Indian friends.

    1. Trim just the very tip and the end of the okra and pan fry the whole okra pods until tender.
    2. Trim and round the pods then saute with onions and spices
    3. Trim SMALL okra pods, dredge in spices and corn meal / flour, and deep fry

    Note : After you wash the okra pods, wipe them dry with a paper towel. Controlling moisture is the key to controlling the slime.

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  • Sunday Chicken

    A rainy, dreary Sunday. A long unwelcome trip from upstate, an empty fridge, and three hungry cats. I am just so happy..

    Off to the store, where chicken is on sale, and I get to watch people paw over the boneless, skinless, tasteless, anemic breasts. But off to the side is family packs of legs and thighs… Good, rich, flavorful, dark meat, perfect for frying or baking. As I have the deep fryer out, it looks like fried chicken fo rdinner

    Fried chicken is a dish consisting of chicken pieces usually from broiler chickens which have been floured or battered and then pan fried, deep fried, or pressure fried. The breading adds a crisp coating or crust to the exterior. What separates fried chicken from other fried forms of chicken is that generally the chicken is cut at the joints and the bones and skin are left intact. Crisp well-seasoned skin, rendered of excess fat, is a hallmark of well made fried chicken.

    Generally, chickens are not fried whole; instead, the chicken is divided into its four main constituent pieces: the two white meat sections are the breast and the wing from the front of the chicken, while the dark meat sections are from the rear of the chicken. To prepare the chicken pieces for frying, they are dredged in flour or a similar dry substance (possibly following marination or dipping in milk or buttermilk) to coat the meat and to develop a crust. Seasonings such as salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, or ranch dressing mix can be mixed in with the flour. As the pieces of chicken cook, some of the moisture that exudes from the chicken is absorbed by the coating of flour and browns along with the flour, creating a flavorful crust. Traditionally, lard is used to fry the chicken, but corn oil, peanut oil, canola oil, or vegetable oil are also frequently used. The flavor of olive oil is generally considered too strong to be used for traditional fried chicken, and its low smoke point makes it unsuitable for use.
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  • Meatless Monday – Hush Puppies

    HushPuppies

    Ok, the loyal fan club, (read that whiny critics, who can not boil water, much less an egg), have asked, “What’s those round things on the plate?”

    I had shown these in my post on Fish Fry, and I had made them at that time but, neglected to add the recipe to the post.

    Background

    Hushpuppies are a distinctly Southern food, although they are now available in many areas of America on the menus of fried-fish fast food restaurants. The name “hushpuppies” is often attributed to hunters or fishermen who would quickly fry corn meal and feed it to their dogs to “hush the puppies” during cook outs or fish frys.

    Two other legends surrounding the hush puppy date back to Civil War days. Southern soldiers would sit beside a campfire, preparing their meals. When Union soldiers came near, they would toss their barking dogs some of the fried cakes with the command “Hush, puppies”.

    A common explanation for the name in Charleston, South Carolina is that slaves returning into the homes of their masters carrying food recently prepared in the outdoor kitchens would throw the batter balls to the barking dogs, telling the “puppies” to “hush.” Also, during the time of the underground railroads, escaping slaves would feed these to the dogs tracking them while coaxing them with hopeful commands such as “hush, puppies.”

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  • Fish Fry …

    I went into the grocery store looking for some beef to make chicken fried steaks, but was less than pleased with the offerings. About to walk out, I walked by the fish counter, and saw fish fillets. I inquired as to the species, (I do so love fried catfish), and was told they were whiting… Given my recent experience, with a fish and chips food truck, I am not THAT fond of whiting… The proprietor sensed my reluctance, and chatted with me about the fish, after I explained my hesitance, he offered to fillet some fresh for me.

    Now I am a southern boy, and I do love fried fish, I was amazed to see it there, and even more amazed at the price. Needless to say 4 lb of fish left with me, as well as corn meal and all the fixin’s. Guess it’s time to fry up a mess of fish.

    Fried fish has always been a southern delight, some of my fondest memories from growing up in Texas are associated with the fish fries the family would enjoy after returning from a all day expedition during a fish run out on either the Lampasses or Cowhouse creeks. But even when we didn’t have time to fish we could always depend on the numerous roadside cafes featuring all the fish and hush puppies you could eat for a dollar.

    What I will do is take out a bit of “funk” insurance and soak these in a bit of buttermilk.

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  • Meatless Monday – Breakfast Fry

    It’s coolish/ warminsh / coldish / hotish, in short mid spring, I am quite busy, and have a yen for some comfort food. The original comfort food was the potato, crisp on the outside, creamy on the inside. But I want a bit more flavor and texture…

    Maybe I’ll par-boil some potatoes, slice or quarter them, and fry them up in my heavy cast iron skillet, maybe adding some cheese and a Jalapeño, along with some spices to kick up the flavor a notch.

    Home fries, house fries, or cottage fries are a type of basic potato dish made by pan or skillet frying diced, chunked, wedged or sliced potatoes (sometimes unpeeled) that have been par-cooked by boiling, baking, steaming, or microwaving.

    While it is possible to make “home fries” without par-cooking the potatoes, these are technically raw fries. The texture will be more chewy, and the longer cooking time increases the likelihood of burning the potato pieces. Home fries are also made, as the name suggests, as a simple homemade potato dish and can be prepared even by people with modest cooking skills as a meal or a snack.

    The frying is typically done in vegetable oil or butter. Other ingredients may be added. If chopped onions and bell peppers are added to diced potatoes it creates a dish referred to as Potatoes O’Brien. If sliced potatoes and sliced onions are sautéed together with seasonings it can create a dish referred to as Lyonnaise potatoes.

    The consistency depends on the type of potato used. Although various types of white potatoes are the most popular base, sometimes waxy (usually red-skinned) or sweet potatoes are used.

    In the United States, home fries are popular as a breakfast dish and are sometimes served in place of hash browns. Home fries may be served with a condiment such as ketchup or maple syrup.

    Patatas bravas or papas bravas is a dish of the cuisine of Spain, often served as a tapa in bars. It typically consists of white potatoes that have been cut into 2 centimeter irregular shapes and then fried in oil and served warm with a spicy tomato sauce. This dish is commonly served in restaurants and bars throughout Spain, where it is traditionally accompanied by a shot of orujo or a glass of wine.

    The potatoes are boiled in brine for several minutes to tenderize them. They are then rubbed dry and fried in oil in a manner similar to the preparation of potato chips.

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  • Seared Divers “Dry” Scallops

    searedscallops

    So the great push to “Eat More Fish” is on. Bad thing is the only way I like fish is “Deep Fried”…, not in the top 10 Most healthy ways to cook.

    So the hunt for a fish I can eat, and that will be healthy. While examining the wild caught salmon for Madam Bad Wolf, I notice some large “Divers” Scallops, a quick mental review of menus I have seen, and I decided on Seared Scallops for dinner. Little did I know just how easy and simple this would be.

    From Wikipedia:

    A scallop is a marine bivalve mollusk of the family Pectinidae. Scallops are a cosmopolitan family, found in all of the world’s oceans. Many scallops are highly prized as a food source. The brightly colored, fan-shaped shells of some scallops, with their radiating fluted pattern, are valued by shell collectors and have been used as motifs in art and design.

    Scallops are characterized by having two types of meat in one shell: the adductor muscle, called “scallop”, which is white and meaty, and the roe, called “coral”, which is red or white and soft.

    Sometimes, markets sell scallops already prepared in the shell, with only the adductor muscle intact. Outside the U.S. the scallop is often sold whole. In Galician cuisine, scallops are baked with bread crumbs, ham, onions, etc.

    Scallops that are without any additives are called “dry packed”, while scallops that are treated with sodium tripolyphosphate (STPP) are called “wet packed”. STPP causes the scallops to absorb moisture prior to the freezing process, thereby getting a better price per unit of weight. The freezing process takes about two days.

    In Japanese cuisine, scallops may be served in soup or prepared as sashimi or sushi. Dried scallop is known in Cantonese Chinese cuisine as conpoy.

    In a sushi bar, hotategai is the traditional scallop on rice, and while kaibashira may be called scallops, it is actually the adductor muscle of any kind of shellfish, e.g. mussels, oysters, or clams.

    Scallops have lent their name to the culinary term scalloped, which originally referred to seafood creamed and served hot in the shell (Rombauer 1964). Today it means a creamed casserole dish such as scalloped potatoes, which contains no seafood at all.

    To be more specific in choosing scallops, look for a designation of U5 or U10, this link the similar designation in shrimp refers to the number of scallops per pound. The lower the number the larger the scallop. As per “Divers” scallops, the term “diver” does not itself imply a size, but these divers generally pick the largest scallops they can find, so diver scallops tend to be in the 10/30 range. Also diver scallops are more ecological because the divers only pick the bigger, more mature scallops, while leaving the younger ones, which allows the population to replenish; whereas dragging with chains is indiscriminate and sweeps up other shellfish besides just scallops.

    In searing scallops, two words are paramount, Heat and speed. One looks for a heavy sear, and a medium rare center, so high heat and a brief exposure.

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