Friday, August 27, 2010

Guest Chef Darrel Voelker

Today, we had our first guest chef! Mr. Darrel Voelker of Slow Food Avoyelles, brought some fresh okra from his Bunkie garden to make okra fritters. {Notice in the photos how the kitchen is becoming more colorful and exciting?}
The 8th grade boys were diligent in their work, adventurous in their tasting, and they all came back for seconds~ A new classic Southern dish & sooo delicious!!!

The 8th grade boys class helped make the fritters and a romesco dipping sauce (recipes below). They also learned some okra history, such as how the dried seeds can be roasted and used as a coffee substitute. They also learned that okra is a member of the cotton family and was discovered in Ethiopia dating back 3500 years.

Jonah gives it a taste~

Zachary is pleased with their work~

Okra Cornmeal Fritters
1/2 pound fresh okra, trimmed and chopped
1/2 large Vidalia or other sweet onion, finely chopped
1 large egg
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 cup white cornmeal (preferably stone-ground)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
4 bacon slices
1 cup vegetable oil for frying

Preheat oven to 200°F with rack in middle.
Cook bacon in a heavy medium skillet over medium heat, turning occasionally, until crisp. Drain bacon on paper towels, reserving fat in skillet. Finely chop bacon. Add onion and okra to fat in skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring, until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in bacon.
Whisk egg in a medium bowl, then whisk in buttermilk, cornmeal, sugar, cayenne, and 1 tsp salt until smooth. Stir in okra mixture.
Wipe skillet clean. Add enough oil to skillet to measure 1/4 inch and heat over medium heat until it shimmers. Cook rounded tablespoons of batter (6 to 7 fritters per batch), turning once, until golden, 2 to 3 minutes per batch. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Keep warm in oven while making remaining batches. Serve immediately.

Romesco Sauce
1 c. blanched almonds
1 piece stale bread
4 large garlic cloves- minced
2 med. tomatoes- diced
2 roasted red bell peppers- diced
1 cup EVOO {extra virgin olive oil}
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 c. red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. cayenne
1 tbsp. paprika

Put a few drops of the olive oil in a small skillet and pan-fry the bread. Take bread out & let cool. Put tomatoes & garlic in skillet with a few more drops of EVOO for a few minutes. Let cool. Pull bread apart and put pieces in a food processor along with almonds. Pulse a few times. Then add rest of ingredients & blend! Store remaining sauce in refrigerator.