"Food is our common ground, a universal experience." - James Beard

Monday, June 25, 2012

Crunchy Baked Okra - from Melissa

My sister-in-law prepared these for Father's day, and they were SO GOOD!!  They taste like fried okra, just less greasy.  You don't even need to thaw the okra before you cook them - warning:  your hands will get cold while you make this, but it's worth it!

Photo from:  thespottedfox.com
Crunchy Baked Okra
From: thespottedfox.com
bag of frozen cut okra
Italian style bread crumbs
2 egg whites
salt & pepper

In a bowl, toss together bread crumbs, a few healthy shakes of paprika, and salt & pepper.
In a separate bowl, toss a handful of your cut okra in the egg whites until they are nicely coated.
Take each piece of okra and cover with your bread crumb mixture. I usually push each side into the bread crumbs so they stick to the egg whites.
Line your baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the okra on the baking sheet and make sure they aren’t touching one another.
Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes, turning your okra halfway.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Orzo with Artichoke Pesto and Grilled Corn

I've finally had time to try a few new recipes!  I made this last week and really liked it - though I would say that this recipe makes WAY more pasta salad than one or two people might want to eat within a few days, so definitely cut the recipe in half unless you're having lots of guests.  The artichoke pesto was wonderful and a great way to add new flavor to pasta salads.

On a side note, this is one of many of Giada's recipes I have tried.  I was telling someone the other day that one of the things that really helped me to become a better cook was following Giada's recipes in one of her Food Network cookbooks that I got while in college.  The pastas, sauces, and dishes she makes are very versatile - so if you're just getting into cooking Giada's recipes can be a great place to start!

Orzo with Artichoke Pesto and Grilled Corn
by Giada de Laurentiis
Kosher salt
1 pound orzo pasta
2 ears corn, shucked and silks removed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

12 ounces frozen artichoke hearts, thawed (about 3 cups) (*I couldn't find frozen ones, so I just got two jars of artichokes from the Italian section of the store.)
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup walnut halves, toasted (see Cook's Note)
1/2 cup fresh oregano leaves
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic, smashed
Zest of 1 large lemon
1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved (about 28)
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan
Freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and place in a large serving bowl.

Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill.

Brush the corn with the oil, using a pastry brush. Grill, turning frequently, until the corn is tender, about 10 minutes. Allow the corn to cool slightly. Remove the kernels with a large knife and add to the serving bowl.

For the pesto: In a food processor, combine 2 cups artichokes, oil, walnuts, oregano, parsley, lemon juice, garlic, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Blend, scraping down the sides of the bowl, as needed, until the mixture is thick and smooth.

Chop the remaining 1 cup artichoke hearts into 3/4-inch pieces and add to the serving bowl. Add the pesto, tomatoes and Parmesan. Toss until all the ingredients are coated. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Cook's Note: To toast the walnuts, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Arrange the walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until lightly toasted, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool completely before using.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Birmingham Literacy Council Garden Party

In May, my aunt invited me to a wonderful afternoon garden party hosted by the Literacy Council at a beautiful home on Red Mountain that overlooked the city.  Author Susan Haltom was there to talk about her book, One Writer's Garden: Eudora Welty's Home Place.  She discussed the research and writing process as everyone helped themselves to delicious and beautiful hors d'oeuvres on the garden patio.  The book has pictures and stories of Welty's family and family garden in Jackson, Mississippi from the 1920s through Welty's death in 2001 but also goes on to detail the restoration of the garden that has occurred in the two decades.

The Welty House today (EudoraWelty.org)

Eudora Welty and her mother in their garden (gardenandgun.com)

We had a wonderful time at the garden party!  Garden parties are such a wonderful way to entertain outdoors, and since this one was a fundraiser for such a good cause it was the perfect setting for this book talk.  Of course, I forgot my camera at home, but I took a few good shots with my phone.  Thanks so much to my aunt for this wonderful opportunity!

The lovely food table

The guest house

A view of the gardens

Gardens and guest house

The host uses this lawn that overlooks the city to host large outdoor dinners - I'm sure they're gorgeous!

My mother and aunts in front of the pergola

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Summer Vay-cay!

You may have noticed that I've been absent from my blog for a while!  With the end of school, travels, and the start of summer classes I've been very busy - in fact, I haven't had time to try many new recipes.  But, I have eaten lots of wonderful food, so in the next few weeks I'll be posting about some great restaurants and events.  Have you tried any great  new summer recipes??
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