Simply Fried Okra

 

This recipe for fried okra is about as simple as you can get.  There is no batter and no cornmeal. The result is like an okra chip:  crispy, full-on okra flavor, and very addicting.

 Simply Fried Okra

 Fresh okra, trimmed (I remove the stem end)

canola oil

salt

Heat about 1 inch of canola oil in a frying pan (I use a cast iron skillet)  over medium-high heat.  If you have a thermometer, you are looking for a temperature of about 360 degrees.

Thinly slice okra lengthwise.  You will get 4 – 8 slices per okra, depending on size.

Fry the okra in the hot oil in small batches until golden, about 2 minutes. Remove from oil, drain, and place on a plate lined with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and serve.

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Bacon-Corn Chowder with Shrimp

This is a super fast and super delicious soup.  It is worthy of  a special occasion, but easy enough to do anytime. Pair it with a nice BLT sandwich and you have a great weeknight dinner. This recipe makes about 4 servings.

Bacon-Corn Chowder with Shrimp

6 slices bacon, chopped
1 cup chopped  onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 garlic clove, minced
4 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 pound peeled and deveined medium shrimp
1/3 cup half-and-half
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add bacon and saute until the bacon begins to brown and get crisp. Remove about 2 slices-worth of the bacon to be used as garnish later and drain on paper towels. Add onion, celery, and garlic to the pot, and saute for 2 minutes. Add corn, and cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add broth; bring to a boil, and cook for 4 minutes.

Place 2 cups of corn soup mixture in a blender. Remove the center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape), and secure lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in the blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Return pureed corn mixture to pan. Alternatively, use a hand-held blender to partially puree the soup, leaving some of the soup chunky.  You will want to be able to see whole corn kernels.

Stir in shrimp; cook 2 minutes or until shrimp are done. Stir in half-and-half, pepper, and salt. Ladle soup into bowls and crumble reserved bacon over soup.


Double-Chocolate Bundt Cake with Ganache Glaze

This cake is amazing! I’ve made it several times and it always turns out light and moist. It is deeply chocolate, but not too sweet. This cake is easy and fairly quick to put together. The recipe calls for bittersweet chocolate, but I have used semi-sweet chocolate with delicious results. I like to use Ghiradelli bittersweet chocolate chips, which are inexpensive and easily found at most grocery stores.

Double-Chocolate Bundt Cake with Ganache Glaze

Vegetable oil spray
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cu Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup strong-brewed coffee
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 tablespoon corn syrup
1/2 tablespoon butter

Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray a 12-cup Bundt pan with vegetable oil spray. In a small saucepan, melt 2 ounces of the chopped chocolate over low heat, stirring constantly. Scrape the chocolate into a medium bowl and let cool slightly. Whisk in the oil and sugar until smooth, then whisk in the egg.

In a small bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Add half of the dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture along with 1/2 cup of the coffee and 1/2 cup of the buttermilk; whisk until smooth. Add the remaining dry ingredients, coffee and buttermilk and whisk until smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the lower third of the oven for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Let the cake cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then turn it out and let cool completely.

In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil. In a heatproof bowl, combine the remaining 3 ounces of chopped chocolate with the corn syrup and butter. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let stand until melted, about 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth. Let the ganache glaze cool until thick but still pourable, about 5 minutes.

Pour the ganache over the cooled cake. Let the cake stand until the glaze is set, at least 30 minutes, before serving.

Recipe by Kate Neumann.


Fresh Fig and Vanilla Custard Tart

I have never eaten a fresh fig before last week.  Publix had a buy-one-get-one-free special on them and I got a carton of Brown Turkey figs and a carton of Black Mission figs.  I liked them but no one else in my family would eat them. I needed a way to use them so that they didn’t go to waste.  I adapted this recipe from a couple of different ones I found online.  I think it turned out well.  I rolled the tart pastry fairly thin and had enough left over to make a couple of little fig tartlets as well.
Fresh Fig and Vanilla Custard Tart

For the crust:
11/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon. salt
1 teaspoon sugar
8 tablespoons chilled butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 to 3 tablespoons ice water
For the filling:
12 to 16 ripe figs
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
To make the crust

Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor and then add the butter and pulse until the mixture forms very fine crumbs. You can also do this in a bowl, cutting in the butter with a pastry cutter or fork. With the machine running, add the vanilla and 2 tablespoons of the ice water (adding more if needed) and process until the dough comes together.  Remove dough from food processor bowl and shape it into a disk. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill for about 15 minutes. Roll the dough into an 11-inch circle and put it in a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Gently press the dough evenly into the tart pan. Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to look perfect. Prick the bottom of the tart shell with a fork in 8 or 10 places, and then put the pan in the freezer for 20 minutes while you heat the oven to 425°F. Put the chilled tart shell on a baking sheet, line the shell with foil, and fill with beans or pie weights. Bake until it’s lightly colored, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the tart and reduce the oven temperature to 400°F; remove the weights and foil.


To make the filling

Cut off the stems of the figs (leave the skins on) and slice the figs in half ( if they’re large, you may choose to quarter them).

 

Arrange the figs, cut side up, on the tart shell. Whisk the egg yolk, sour cream, brown sugar, and vanilla until combined.

Carefully spoon the custard around but not over the figs.

Bake the tart on the baking sheet in the 400°F oven until the custard is lightly colored and set, about 30 minutes. Serve slightly warm.