These ladies know their stuff. One of the most memorable dinners I’ve had was here in San Antonio, and it was served by the Dames d’Escoffier… an international group of women who are experts in the culinary arts.
My dear friend, Blanca Aldaco, invited us… it was incredible. Pat Mazurski was one of the hostesses. You probably know Pat from her many years as a columnist with the _Express-News_ – she’s quite an amazing chef!
Pat kindly agreed to let me post two recipes from the _Les Dames d’Escoffier_ cookbook (which will be available this fall) so you could enjoy them too!
If you haven’t already experienced okra, it’s time. Make these Fresh Okra Cakes from Atlanta Dame Gloria Smiley at the height of okra season: late summer, early fall. Select smallish pods with no dark or shriveled spots. Smiley, a veteran food stylist who worked frequently with Julia Child, serves the okra cakes hot off the stove as a cocktail “nibble” or as a vegetable side dish alongside high-summer tomatoes and fresh corn. Or try this: serve hot with grilled pork chops saddled up against the Best Grits (page tktk).
The trick to cooking okra, southern Dames agree, is to cook it minimally as it is in these fritter-like cakes. The result is a clean, green vegetative taste (don’t skimp on salting the cooked rice used to make the batter). Make no effort to keep the spoonfuls of batter in a uniform shape. Let them spread about showing off the intriguing star shape of the sliced okra and its lacy interior.
Prepare ahead notes.
The batter can be prepared 24 hours ahead of frying. The cakes are best served piping hot, within 30 minutes of frying.
In a large bowl, combine okra, onion, garlic, jalepeño pepper, cooked and seasoned rice, flour, eggs, and Tabasco(tm) sauce.
Just before serving, preheat oven to 200°F and heat a 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add vegetable oil and when the oil shimmers and sizzles when a bit of batter hits it, drop spoonfuls of the okra-rice mixture into the hot oil. Do not crowd pan. You can make the cakes any size from tablespoon to ½ cup, depending on how you plan to serve. Sauté for 2 minutes or until nicely browned. Turn and cook the other side for 2 minutes. Remove okra cakes as they are done to absorbent paper towels and keep warm in the preheated oven until all are cooked. _Makes 25 appetizer-size or 10 side-serving-size okra cakes.
- 2 c 1/4 inch slices fresh okra, tips and stems removed (about 1/2 lb okra)
- 1 c Minced onion (about 1 small onion)
- 1 clove Garlic, minced
- 1 Jalapeno or serrano pepper, seeded and minced
- 3 T All-purpose flour
- 2 Large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 t Tabasco(tm) sauce
- 6 T Vegetable oil
- 1/2 c Cooked medium grain rice, seasoned with 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste _OR_ season the rice with the teaspoon of salt _plus_ ¼ teaspoon cumin and ¼ cup chopped cilantro (this stronger seasoning is recommended if the cakes are to be served at room temperature rather than hot off the stove