Sunday, August 3, 2014

Okra Cornmeal Cakes with Pimento Cheese

Okra season is in full swing, and I’ve been trying some different ways of cooking it thanks to the new book Okra: A Savor the South Cookbook by Virginia Willis. Back in April, I attended a class taught by Virginia Willis at Central Market Cooking School  with a media pass and posted photos on my Facebook page. I’ve been holding onto the book, waiting for the weeks when bags of okra appear in our CSA boxes. The book, of course, shows off several Southern okra dishes, and then there are okra recipes from around the world. I’ve made a Greek-style dish of okra and tomatoes before that’s very similar to the Greek Okra Ragout in the book. Other global dishes include Nigerian Black-Eyed Pea and Okra Fritters, Egyptian Okra and Chickpeas, Indian Spicy Sweet Okra with Peanuts, and Jamaican Curried Shrimp and Okra. The Southern okra recipes include several classics and some new ideas as well. There are different versions of fried okra, gumbos, and stewed okra. A couple of weeks ago, I tried the Oven-Fried Okra which involves dipping sliced okra into a buttermilk and egg batter, dusting the pieces with cornmeal, and baking them on a baking sheet coated with oil. The crispy okra was every bit as good as deep-fried okra and made a great snack with cold beer. The next recipe on my to-try list was the Okra Cornmeal Cakes. Sliced okra was mixed into a cornmeal batter and fried into golden, tender rounds. The recipe suggests stacking the cakes with a pimento cheese filling with sliced tomato and lettuce to make little sandwiches. I served them open-faced with a mound of toppings instead. And, there are options for the fillings or toppings like goat cheese, ricotta, or herbed cream cheese and avocado, microgreens, or sprouts. But, nothing says Southern food like pimento cheese and summer tomatoes. 

To make the cakes, two cups of cornmeal, two teaspoons baking soda, and a teaspoon of salt were combined in a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, an egg was whisked with one and a half cups of water, and that mixture was added to the dry ingredients and whisked until smooth. A jalapeno was seeded and finely chopped, a clove of garlic was minced to a paste, and eight ounces of okra was cut into small slices, and all of that was added to the batter. Oil was heated in a cast iron skillet, and then one-quarter cup of batter was poured into the hot oil to form each cake. They cooked for a few minutes on each side, were drained on a towel-lined baking sheet, and were sprinkled with salt and pepper. I topped the caked with a spoonful of pimento cheese, chopped tomatoes, and thinly sliced basil.

I’ve realized I have a thing for little, vegetable cakes stacked with delicious toppings. I seem to gravitate to this type of dish. But, this was a great version of the concept for summer. I’m already sold on okra and require no conversion. For anyone who still needs some convincing about this healthy vegetable, this new book could hold the inspiration that changes your mind. 

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23 comments:

  1. Omg, okra and pimento cheese are too of my favorite foods! I need these in my life!

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  2. Lovely bites and great flavor combination!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  3. A fantastic appetizer, Lisa. Love the combo of flavours.

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  4. sooo... this is getting added to next weekend's lineup. i love cornmeal cakes and would have never thought to add okra to them. awesome!

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  5. I love okra but it's only in season for such a short time and it's not heavily displayed in our grocers either. You have to be lucky to find it! I love your little vegetable cakes; they're very pretty and would be fabulous at a summer party xx

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  6. These look soo good Lisa! I love them!!

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  7. I have been eating okra since I was a little girl. so these mini cakes look even more inviting :D

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

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  8. Unsure of finding a recipe that would please my family I passed by the okra at the Farmers Market. Now I can't wait to share this recipe with them, what delight!

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  9. I haven't had okra in years. I used to love it when I was small, and then stopped it. But your little cakes look like a great way to use them. This looks delicious :)

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  10. These are gorgeous! Despite living in the south for a while, I have limited experience with okra. This is certainly a new combo for me, but it sounds so good!

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  11. wow, delish healthy cornmeal fritter, great job
    the presentation made it fancy even more!!!

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  12. They look just beautiful! :)

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  13. i will always get more excited about southern food than any other kind of cuisine, and this is awesome! my grandpa might turn up his nose at this 'fancy stuff' but it looks incredible to me. :)

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  14. This recipe looks totally amazing! My kind of food -- thanks.

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  15. Such an amazing way to cook okra...these little cakes look delicious...finger licking!
    Hope you are having a great week Lisa :D

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  16. These look so versatile! I always seem to have cornmeal in my fridge that I can't use up quick enough so this is timely Lisa! :D

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  17. They look like such tasty little nibbles and look good enough for a party as well as with a glass of wine at home.

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  18. Love these okra cornmeal cakes. Now I know what to make with my little okra plant in my garden. Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. I'd love to try growing okra! One of these summers..

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  19. Oh, this looks gorgeous and I would love to try a bite right now.
    Thanks for a great inspiration Lisa!

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  20. These corn cakes are beautiful and I love pimiento cheese!

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  21. Oh my goodness, you have taken two of my favorite southern dishes and combined them into one great sounding bite of goodness.

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