05 September 2011

Farmer's Market Finds: Dallas-Style Cornbread and Green Tomato Okra Stew

As you may have noticed, I took a break from this blog for the summer.  Unfortunately, I realized when loading it back up again that a post queued for May never appeared!  In that post, I reviewed Kelapo coconut oil.  Many apologies to the Kelapo team for not posting the review!  Instead of putting that old post up now, I decided to make a different recipe with their product.  I also wanted to bring back Farmer's Market Finds after heading to the Waverly Farmer's Market in Baltimore with my friend Hanne this Saturday and bringing home an impressive haul.  I put together a green tomato and okra stew, adapted from a Mark Bittman recipe, and realized that cornbread was the perfect accompaniment.  In comes the coconut oil!
Kelapo makes a virgin coconut oil that is probably best used as a finishing oil, given the strong flavor.  However, I wanted to add a little to the sweetness of this cornbread, contrasting with the poblano pepper I picked up at the Farmer's Market and substituted in place of jalepeno in the recipe.  I used 1/3 cup coconut oil in place of the canola oil I would normally used, and I thought the coconut flavor contributed very nicely.  This is a dense, moist cornbread, sweet and spicy and perfect with butter melted on top.  (I used South Mountain Creamery butter from the Farmer's Market).  Next time I try this recipe with coconut oil, I'll probably cut the sugar down.

Chou-Chou's Original Dallas Hot-Stuff Cornbread
from The Cornbread Gospels by Crescent Dragonwagon

1-1/4 cups unbleached white flour
1-3/4 cups stone-ground yellow cornmeal
3 T sugar
1 T + 1 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1 t salt
3 eggs
2-1/2 cups milk
1/3 cup mild vegetable oil (or coconut oil)
2 fresh garlic cloves, pressed (I used 2 t Trader Joe's crushed garlic)
1 large onion, finely chopped or grated
1 cup canned cream corn (I used the whole can)
1/4 to 1/2 cup sliced jalapenos (or a diced poblano if you can't take spice)
1-1/2 cups (6 oz) grated sharp Cheddar or Jack (I used a taco blend)
1 T butter

Preheat the oven to 400 and spray an 11 x 15 baking pan with oil.  Sift or stir together the first six ingredients.  Whisk eggs well, then whisk in milk, oil, and garlic.  Combine wet and dry with a few swift strokes, then add onion, corn, peppers, and half the cheese.  Pour into pan and sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Bake 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.  Dot with butter and sprinkle with salt.

I got some really awesome okra, as well as a box of green tomatoes, at the Farmer's Market.  I love okra, but I'm not a big fan of the whole drench-and-dredge fry preparation.  Instead, I went hunting through my vegetarian bible for something else to do with the okra and found Mark Bittman's recipe for okra stew with tomatoes.  The green tomatoes were perfect for this.  It's kind of a Southern taste explosion.

Okra Stew with Tomatoes
from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman

6 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, halved and thick sliced
salt and pepper
1/4 cup flour
1 lb okra, trimmed
2 T chopped garlic
4 cups chopped tomato (can be canned, I used 5 chopped green tomatoes)
1 T minced fresh oregano (optional, I completely forgot it)
chopped parsley leaves for garnish (didn't bother)

Put 2 T oil in a deep skillet or large pot (I used my Dutch oven) over medium-high heat.  Add onion, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, 2-3 minutes or until soft and turning golden.  Remove with slotted spoon.  Add remaining oil to the pot and turn heat down to medium low.  (My stove is a bit wimpy and I actually ended up having to up the heat again at the end because my roux wasn't getting much darker).  Add flour and cook, stirring almost constantly, until the roux becomes tea-colored and fragrant.  This is supposed to take up to 10 minutes and you should lower the heat if it's sticking.  I had to up the heat and it got darker but never tea colored.  When I added the okra though, the oil splattered and it got dark fast.  Add the okra and stir 3-5 minutes or until the okra starts to soften. Add the garlic and cook a minute or so, stirring once or twice.  Add onion and tomato, plus a cup of water (maybe a little more if you're using green tomatoes).  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bring to boil, then bubble gently, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes or until okra is very tender and sauce is thick.  Add oregano if you like and garnish with parsley.