Meatless Monday – Fried Orka
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.
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.
- Trim just the very tip and the end of the okra and pan fry the whole okra pods until tender.
- Trim and round the pods then saute with onions and spices
- 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.
Meatless Monday – Fried Yellow Squash
Again a dish from my youth. Fresh from the garden squash, (yellow, summer, crook-neck, or zucchini), sliced thin, tossed in seasoned corn meal and quick fried, usually served hot. (actually, we just stood around the stove grabbing pieces off the plate as they came out for the frying pan.)
Squashes generally refer to four species of the genus Cucurbita native to Mexico and Central America, natively grown in parts of North America, Europe, India, and Australia. In North America, squash is loosely grouped into summer squash or winter squash, as well as autumn squash depending on whether they are harvested as immature vegetables (summer squash) or mature vegetables (autumn squash or winter squash). Well known types of squash include the pumpkin and zucchini.
When used for food, squash are usually picked when under 8in/20cm in length and the seeds are soft and immature. Mature squash can be as much as three feet long, but are often fibrous and not appetizing to eat. Squash with the flowers attached are a sign of a truly fresh and immature fruit, and are especially sought by many people.
Tacos Con Carne
Tomorrow is Cinco De Mayo, and I will be (hopefully) recovering from a weekend of high pressure ops. That said, perhaps a little bit of Mexico can creep onto my plate .. I am thinking Tacos… But not just any tacos, soft tacos with strips of steak, grilled peppers, onions, fresh cheese, a tangy dipping sauce, perhaps guacamole and some form of lettuce salad on the side.
A taco is a traditional Mexican dish composed of a corn or wheat tortilla folded or rolled around a filling. A taco can be made with a variety of fillings, including beef, pork, chicken, seafood, vegetables and cheese, allowing for great versatility and variety. A taco is generally eaten without utensils and is often accompanied by garnishes such as salsa, avocado or guacamole, cilantro, tomatoes, minced meat, onions and lettuce.
These come in many varieties:
The Hard Taco
Beginning from the early part of the twentieth century, various styles of tacos have become popular in the United States and Canada. The style that has become most common is the hard-shell, U-shaped version. Such tacos are crisp-fried corn tortillas filled with seasoned ground beef, cheese, lettuce, and sometimes tomato, onion, salsa, sour cream, and avocado or guacamole.
The Soft Taco
Traditionally, soft-shelled tacos referred to corn tortillas that were cooked to a softer state than a hard taco – usually by grilling or steaming. More recently the term has come to include flour tortilla based tacos mostly from large manufacturers and restaurant chains. In this context, soft tacos are tacos made with wheat flour tortillas and filled with the same ingredients as a hard taco.
The Double Decker
Comprised of a hard taco wrapped in a similarly sized flour tortilla with a layer of re-fried beans or guacamole between the layers
Since I am getting nostalgic, perhaps another taste from my past..
It may be I am still a Central Texas boy at heart, or it maybe the heart burn that makes me crave any form of cold dairy, but the Triple French Vanilla Ice Cream I made last year, literally has me fantasizing, (about the ice cream!)..
And since I have made a fair batch of ice cream, (which immediately disappeared in to a number of culinary black holes), so I made another (DOUBLE) batch. I can now experiment with other things…. Like Ice Cream Malted’s…
A soda-fountain drink, also called malted, that is a thick, rich mixture of malted-milk powder, milk, ice cream, and a flavoring such as chocolate or vanilla.
A milk shake is a blended combination of milk, ice cream, and flavored syrup, or fruit.
Now a malt is what I want, a rich buttery, creamy, ice cold glass of goodness and love..
Lettuce and Bacon
It is spring and the first heads of lettuce are coming in, I so must have a dish from my youth. I can not count the number of nights dinner was thick strips of bacon, fried, with a salad of lettuce and onion, or spinach greens wilted with a hot bacon and vinegar dressing, served with a big wedge of corn bread and butter.
One can “class” this up and use spinach greens with a “Hot Bacon Dressing”, but I’ll always think of this as wilted lettuce.
These are the things that memories are made of, (some times, you wish to go back for just one more meal)
As said before
Bacon is a cut of meat taken from the sides, belly, or back of a pig, then cured, and smoked. Meat from other animals, such as beef, lamb, chicken, goat, or turkey, may also be cut, cured, or otherwise prepared to resemble bacon. Bacon may be eaten fried, baked, or grilled, or used as a minor ingredient to flavor dishes.
Sarah Hepola, on Salon.com, suggests that eating bacon in the modern, health-conscious world is an act of rebellion: “Loving bacon is like shoving a middle finger in the face of all that is healthy and holy while an unfiltered cigarette smolders between your lips.”
It is a funny half hot / half cold day, where in the morning you want a hefty jacket, in the afternoon you want a t-shirt, and by early evening you are back in the bomber jacket…
My tastes are that way as well, I wanted a heavy breakfast, a light lunch and a meal with staying power for dinner.
I remember a wonderful dish I had at a local french restaurant, it was a chicken, broken down and browned then simmered in a broth along with Spicy Sausage, “Cajun Trinity”, sinful spices, meaty mushrooms and fresh vegetables to make a really wonder full sauce. Think similar to a beef stew with really big chunks of meat and veggies… The gravy was so thick and wonderful I was soping it up with the french bread on the table. (Yes, I know it sounds soo uncivilized, sooo unsheik, but it seems everyone else at the table was doing the same thing….)
Do note: Do not try this with boneless chicken breast, it just does not work well…
Fricassee or Fricassée is a catch-all term used to describe a stewed dish typically made with poultry, but other types of white meat (like veal, rabbit, or Cornish game hen) can be substituted. It is cut into pieces and then stewed in gravy, which is then thickened with butter and cream or milk). It often includes other ingredients and vegetables.