Friday, September 11, 2015

September 11th, again - Okra Fritters, Beta Version

September 11th. I hate this day.

In past years, I have written blog posts to address the events of September 11, 2001, all full of passion and fury, pain and righteous indignation. This year, I just can't do it.  If I start, I'll get angry, and you wouldn't like me when I'm angry.

My thoughts are with you, Denise.

Rest in peace, Mike. 

And that's all I am going to say about that.

Today would have been former Florida Governor Reubin Askew's 87th birthday. One of the few honest politicians any where, any time. Rest in peace, sir.

Right to Left: Her Serene Highness, Princess Chelsea Rose, Reigning Queen of Everything; Ninja Husband; Jedi Knight and Sometime Dark Lord of the Sith Anakin Skywalker, Darth Kitten

It's a lazy day - the office of Taxman USA is closed, and Robert is out helping his mom with a doctor visit.  I am finishing the bake off of the hermit cookies; looks like the yield is 35 cookies, just under 3 dozen.  A night in the fridge did not harm them in the least.

My biggest problem today, if you can even call it that, is what to do with the okra pods I've been religiously harvesting this past week?  I really have to use them or lose them, and the time is now.  I don't want to stew them, maque choux them, or gumbo them. I don't want them playing second fiddle to tomato, corn, or butter beans; I want the okra to shine. This is their last hurrah, as the okra bush is reaching the end of its season. So I give you:

Okra Fritters, Beta Version

1 cup fresh okra pods, halved and sliced (about 3/4 cup sliced)
2 tablespoons finely chopped red bell pepper
2 tablespoons minced onion
1 cup Bisquick
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
cayenne pepper, to taste
1 extra large egg
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup milk

In a medium bowl, combine the Bisquick, dry mustard, nutmeg, salt, pepper, basil, granulated garlic and cayenne pepper, and whisk until the spices are evenly distributed.  Set aside. In another bowl, whisk the egg, Dijon mustard, and milk together. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and whisk until smooth. Refrigerate covered for an hour or more.

Hold off cutting the okra until just before you are ready to add it to the batter.

Start heating about an inch of canola oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Fold the okra, red bell pepper and onion into the batter. Lower the heat to medium. Using whatever size scoop you like, carefully drop the okra batter into the hot oil, flatten them out a bit so that the okra will cook inside and fry them on each side until deep golden brown. Break one open to make sure the fritter is done all the way through. Drain on paper towels. Serve warm or at room temperature with a dipping sauce of sour cream mixed with some Gold's horseradish with beets (the red stuff).

I designated this recipe as a beta version, because it needs more work.  Developing a new recipe is an odd thing, and there are no guarantees, no matter how carefully you consider the flavor contributions of each ingredient. These fritters are good, but right now remind me of my ideal okra fritter's timid first cousin.  They are the offspring of the marriage of Bert Greene's recipe for "Ole Miss Okra Fritters" (from his book Greene on Greens and Grains - unfortunately the book is way out of print) and my ever-reliable corn fritter recipe, which I found in a Hadassah cookbook in 1977. A very good first start, and you are welcome to try them, but I know they can be even better.

Next time: Some more of the seasoning from Greene's recipe, a boost from paprika as recommended by my son, who assisted with the taste testing, a good bit more of okra because this batter can handle it, switching out the onions with green onions, and a brief sauté of the onions and red bell peppers and perhaps even the okra before adding them to the batter.

Since my okra plant is now denuded of ready-to-pick pods, this necessitates a trip to Publix for the store-bought variety.  Needless to say I will be planting more okra plants this new season.

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