Monthly Archives: October 2015

A Southern Classic with an Italian Twist: pan fried okra with fennel and Parmigiano Reggiano

Back in Britain I would occasionally encounter okra, usually on the menu of Indian restaurants, but it certainly wasn’t as popular as it is here in the American South.

Pan fried okra with fennel and Parmigiano Reggiano from britinthesouth.comIt crops up with great regularity in our CSA box so I have learned to love it over the years and discovered it is a versatile vegetable, working well when roasted, baked or steamed.

Pan fried okra with fennel and Parmigiano Reggiano from britinthesouth.comThe classic southern preparation is fried, with little nuggets of okra encased in a crisp cornmeal shell. This is a great recipe for experimentation: by tweaking the seasoning in your cornmeal mix you can turn up the spice or add interesting layers of flavour.

Pan fried okra with fennel and Parmigiano Reggiano from britinthesouth.comOn this occasion I went in an Italian direction, throwing crushed fennel seeds and grated Parmigiano Reggiano into the mix.

Pan Fried Okra with Fennel and Parmigiano Reggiano

0.5 lb Okra

0.5 cup cornmeal

0.5 tsp salt

0.5 tsp freshly ground black pepper

0.5 tsp freshly crushed fennel seed

1 tsp grated Parmigiano Reggiano

4 tbs olive oil

Pan Fried Okra with Fennel and Parmigiano Reggiano from britinthesouth.comWash the okra and slice it into half inch pieces.

Mix together the cornmeal, salt, pepper, crushed fennel seeds and Parmigiano Reggiano.

Give the okra a quick rinse in a colander. I find this helps to get rid of some of the gloop and also helps the cornmeal mix stick. After draining the okra add it to the cornmeal mix and make sure it is well coated.

Heat the olive oil over medium high heat and then add the okra pieces. Fry, stirring regularly, until it is gold and crispy, about 6 to 7 minutes.

Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon, place briefly on paper towel to soak up any excess oil and then enjoy while hot.




Strawberry Bourbon Chocolate Pots

This is not the recipe I originally intended to write about.

Instead it is the tale of how I achieved a very satisfying result despite one of my kitchen experiments not going to plan.

I set out to make truffles. Strawberry bourbon cream truffles to be exact. I still hope to make them but that particular recipe needs a bit more tweaking and trial and error in the kitchen before it comes to fruition.

It all started with a slushy pile of bourbon infused strawberry pulp that I was left with after straining and bottling¬† a batch of strawberry bourbon a couple of months ago.¬† I’m not a fan of food waste and try to make the most of all the ingredients that pass through my kitchen.

Strawberry Bourbon Chocolate Pots from britinthesouth.comIt was not the most appealing thing to look at but smelt wonderful and it would be a crime to waste all that bourbon and strawberry goodness. The obvious solution was to whip up a batch of truffles to make the most of the glorious taste but hide the slightly unattractive appearance with copious amounts of chocolate.

Over the years I’ve made all sorts of boozy truffles so I had high hopes for this variation on the theme.

I started by whizzing the pulp to a smooth puree in a food processor while I melted white chocolate. I then added the pulp to the melted chocolate along with a pinch of salt and a little heavy cream.

Strawberry Bourbon Chocolate Pots from britinthesouth.comThe next step would be to chill this mixture until it sets, roll it into balls to form the truffle centres and then coat those in yet more chocolate. Just one problem: this mixture wouldn’t set. The alcohol content was simply too high. I tried freezing it and although it firmed up nicely as a result, as soon as I tried to handle it the mix just reverted to a sloppy mess.

I would clearly have to revisit the truffle recipe, but what to do with my batch of pink gloop?

Inspired by the French pots de creme I decided to turn my truffle faux pas into an elegant little dessert.

Strawberry Bourbon Chocolate Pots

1 cup strawberry bourbon chocolate mix (which I made by melting 8oz white chocolate and stirring in 4oz of pureed bourbon infused strawberry pulp, 3 tbs heavy cream and a pinch of sea salt)

0.5 cup whole milk

0.5 cup heavy cream

3 egg yolks

2 tbs sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Gently warm the milk and cream over medium heat.

Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until they become pale and thickened.

Strawberry Bourbon Chocolate Pots from britinthesouth.comGently stir the strawberry bourbon chocolate mix into the milk and cream.

Remove from the heat and slowly add the whisked eggs to the mixture.

If you are the proud owner of a set of little pots de creme cups you can pour the mixture into those, or alternatively you could use small ramekins or 4oz mason jars as I did.

Strawberry Bourbon Chocolate Pots from britinthesouth.comCook in a water bath: I used a large roasting pan with hot water added to come about halfway up the sides of the jars.

Strawberry Bourbon Chocolate Pots from britinthesouth.comCook for about an hour until the mixture is set but still slightly wobbly. Allow to cool and then chill in the refrigerator for at least a couple of hours before enjoying.