Monday, June 20, 2011

Roasted Okra

I've been on an okra kick lately.  I'm not sure how it started.  Growing up I only ever had fried okra at school (yes, in the south, fried okra is a school lunch vegetable) and when I lived in Houston I got to know it as a component of gumbo and some Indian veggie dishes, but I wasn't really partial to it and I have no idea what possessed me to buy some at the grocery store the other day, except for the fact that I don't think I'd ever seen in my Cambridge grocery store.

Once I got it home I wasn't sure what to do with it, so I did what I do to all new vegetables [and most of my favorites]: I roasted it.

It was fantastic.  The okra flavor was rich and earthy, and the roasting made it not at all slimy. [Okra is boiled in gumbo and curries because the goo it releases acts as a thickener.]  I wanted more, but a week later the store seemed to have the same batch of okra sitting out and they were no longer green and firm but soft and spotty brown... I guess when you don't usually carry a product and your customers aren't too familiar with it, you can get away with letting it go bad in full display?

I was bummed until I discovered something wonderful.  I went to little Indian convenience store on the corner for a quick gallon of milk and down on the bottom shelf of their refrigerated section was a giant box of fresh okra for half the price per pound I'd paid at the big grocery store.  Of course!  I think of it as "Southern", but it's native to Africa and grown throughout India... and Indian food is much cheaper than Southern food in Yankee Land. The ethnic store wins again!

Recipe: Oven Roasted Okra

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Granola Cookies

These guys are a variation on my Flourless Oatmeal Cookie.  I was making them for a friend and wanted them to be a sort of homey power food, so I was looking to give them a little more nutritional value and nuts and seeds seemed like a logical way to go... and then I realized I was basically making granola bars in cookie form, except they use egg as a binder [more protein!].

I'm rather pleased with the results.  I decided with the Flourless Oatmeal Cookies that processing the ingredients into tiny bits made them stick together better,  but I missed having chunks of things, so this time I reserved a little of everything and combined them by hand at the end.  Much better.  I also upped the egg to oat ratio, which means they don't have to be pressed flat; they'll spread of their own accord more like a normal oatmeal cookie.

If you have a serious problem with gluten, be sure to get rolled oats specifically labeled "Gluten-Free" since most commercially produced oats will have cross-contamination from other grains processed at the same facility.  If you just have an intolerance, you're unlikely to notice the trace amounts in standard oats.

Recipe:  Granola Cookies