X-mas Gingerbread house cake

3Gingerbread house cake

This post is a part of  the mega Blogging Marathon and A-Z challenge. I have chosen ‘popular American dishes’ as my theme.

The cake was made long time back, around Christmas time. But it stayed in the drafts for a long time and it seems perfect to use it for the alphabet X as X-mas theme cake.

Gingerbread house is usually made with cookies, but I have always wanted to make it with cake. My half hearted trials have always been disappointments until this one here. I baked a hot milk cake for the base, its perfect for the job. Soft, yet sturdy enough for the sculpting. Pound cake is another good choice.

The sculpting was a lot more difficult than I imagined. So was frosting. I have not given any measurements here, because its hard to determine an exact quantity for many things. Decorating was the most fun part. I even tried making impressions of tiles on the roof! So just let your imagination run wild and let a colorful dream take shape :=)

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Bake a cake of your choice in a 9X13 inch pan. Using a long serrated knife or a cake leveler, cut the cake across into two layers. Now with a sharp knife, cut the cake into three equal portions. So you have 6 pieces of cake in all.

With some buttercream frosting as glue, stack the layers on top of each other. Refrigerate or flash freeze for easy handling.

Using a sharp knife, cut out the roof shape carefully. Frost with chocolate buttercream. This is not as easy as it looks, so I took a lot of time with this. Once frosting is done, dip a palatte knife in hot water and run it all over the frosting for a smooth finish.

Use red fondant for roof and door. White fondant for windows. Cookie frosting for snow and candies for decorating. Pretzels for side windows.

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Waldorf Salad

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This post is a part of  the mega Blogging Marathon and A-Z challenge. I have chosen ‘popular American dishes’ as my theme.

Well, after all the big dialogues of yesterday about not being tardy anymore, I am here to tell you all that I have failed miserably before I even started. Coming to think of it, it was more like stating a wish than an actual mission statement :D. So, the next time I declare that I am taking my future into my hands and all that stuff, feel free not to believe a word of what i say. Even I don’t believe it now a days ;-P

The thing is, my family is here (Told you I will come up with good excuses for my tardiness!). My brother is here in the US with his family. My dad is also there with them. I have been so excited about their trip for a while now. I have been shooting down all the invitations of our friends for the two weekends they are here. Yes, I turned down “food included” invitations, can you believe it? But in the end, my brother ended up being busy with some other plans and luckily for me, our friends took us in at the last minute. There is no end to the love that we get in this foreign country. I am blessed to have friends who treat us like family even when my family is visiting :-).

Anyway, I am here with Waldorf salad for W. Not with waffles, not with whoopie pies, not with winter vegetables. Waldorf salad for W.

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Recipe source: Simply recipes

This salad can be modified a lot according to your preference. This is what I used – 1 apple, 1 stick celery, 1/2 cup grapes, 1/4 cup walnuts, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 3 tablespoon mayonnaise (or thick yogurt), salt and pepper as needed. In a small bowl mix mayonnaise with lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Core and chop the apples into bite sized pieces. Halve the grapes. Thinly slice the celery. Add everything in a big bowl. Add the dressing. Mix well and refrigerate until serving time. Serve on lettuce leaves, with some freshly halved grapes on top.

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Veggie Burgers

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This post is a part of  the mega Blogging Marathon and A-Z challenge. I have chosen ‘popular American dishes’ as my theme.

I can’t believe we are at the last leg of our journey here. My catching up with others journey will happen only next month, but yeah, for most part, we are almost there at the end. Four more posts and its over! The first thing I am going to do is schedule posts for the next three days. At the moment, the plan is to put everything up in the blog and be as prepared as you can be. Be ready! That’s the motto. I can already feel the change!

And you can already guess my intro for tomorrow. Its going to be about the forces in nature that prevented me from being on time. Why I was not able to schedule the posts or even get around editing the pictures or worse…what prevented me from getting the cooking done! Ah well.. I have always been a “last minuter” (I am coining that term if there isn’t one already) and I don’t see things changing anytime soon. It hasn’t changed for almost four decades now and we don’t have to rush and assume its going to change from tomorrow :D.

While I am getting ready with excuses for tomorrow, you can check out a fabulous veggie burger recipe. Nailed that ‘V’, didn’t I? ;-)

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Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a pan.Saute one chopped medium red onion and one chopped red bell pepper. You can add carrots or any other veggies if you prefer. Set aside once its cooked. Mash 1.5 cups cooked black beans(or beans of your choice) with a fork or in a food processor. You want most of it mashed, but not all.

Add the mashed beans to 3/4 cup cooked rice. Now add the cooked bell pepper mix, along with 1 teaspoon chilli powder, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, salt and pepper. Combine everything well with your hands or a wooden spoon. Depending upon the moisture of the bean mix, you can add 1/4- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs.

Add 1/4 cup oats if desired. It adds some texture to the patty. Divide the mixture into 4-­5 equal parts. Shape each one into a nice flat patty. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a pan and cook the patties on medium­-low heat. Cook both sides and drain on a kitchen napkin when done.

Flip over, cook both sides and drain on a kitchen napkin when done. I made more smaller patties compared to 5 bigger patties. For sauce, mix 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise with 1 teaspoon each of ketchup and yellow mustard. At the time of serving, spread the sauce on the burger buns. Layer it with cucumber slices(you can make pickle out of it and use, I didn’t!), the patty, slices of tomatoes and onion and then top with the other half of the bun. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 tablespoons oil, divided
  • one medium red onion, chopped
  • one medium red bell pepper, chopped
  • one medium carrot, chopped fine
  • 1.5 cups black beans(or beans of your choice), cooked
  • 3/4 cup cooked rice
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 1/4 -1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt and pepper

To serve:

  • a sauce made of mayo, ketchup and mustard
  • burger buns
  • sliced cucumber, tomato and onions

Method:

  1. Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a pan.Saute one chopped medium red onion and one chopped red bell pepper. Set aside once its cooked.
  2. Mash 1 cup cooked black beans with a fork or in a food processor. You want most of it mashed, but not all.Add the mashed beans to 3/4 cup cooked rice. Now add the cooked bell pepper mix, along with 1 teaspoon chilli powder, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, salt and pepper.
  3. Combine everything well with your hands or a wooden spoon. Depending upon the moisture of the bean mix, you can add 1/4- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs. Add 1/4 cup oats if desired. It adds some texture to the patty.
  4. Divide the mixture into 4-­5 equal parts. Shape each one into a nice flat patty. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a pan and cook the patties on medium-low heat. Cook both sides and drain on a kitchen napkin when done.
  5. Flip over, cook both sides and drain on a kitchen napkin when done. I made more smaller patties compared to 5 bigger patties.
  6. For sauce, mix 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise with 1 teaspoon each of ketchup and yellow mustard. At the time of serving, spread the sauce on the burger buns. Layer it with cucumber slices(you can make pickle out of it and use, I didn’t!), the patty, slices of tomatoes and onion and then top with the other half of the bun. Enjoy!

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Uncrustables

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This post is a part of  the mega Blogging Marathon and A-Z challenge. I have chosen ‘popular American dishes’ as my theme.

Yes yes yes, I hear you…and I agree. This is no recipe. What I wanted for the ‘U’ was a classic American cake -the Upside down pineapple cake. I wanted to make it in the cast iron skillet like it was made long ago. But unfortunately, I didn’t have any of those beautiful red cherries to brighten up the cake. Or pineapples. Or eggs. Or flour.Or any other fruits in fact. All I have is, erm…the cast iron skillet :D.

Its time for grocery shopping, but before that I have to face the alphabet ‘U’. And that’s when I saw the last two slices of bread. Well, no lunch for my son tomorrow, but hurrah… I have something for you, I mean ‘U’!

More than desperation, a good reason for me to post this particular recipe is that I wanted to feature  peanut butter and jelly sandwich somewhere in this marathon. After all, that is one of the most popular food here! I wanted it somewhere in the list. I couldn’t leave it out from the marathon.

Uncrustables is a product from the brand Smuckers. Its a round sandwich with crust removed and sides sealed. There is a whole lot of Disney food art theme with these in the internet. My inspiration was from the space Like Mother Like Daughter.

The sandwich was a breeze to make, but I took a lot longer cutting/carving the our last apple in the house :-). Read on for this “recipe” before my grocery list grows any more longer!

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Idea inspired from Like Mother Like Daughter

  • Using a cookie cutter or a sharp lid, cut out circles from two slices of bread.
  • Add peanut butter on one slice and jam or jelly on the other.
  • Sandwich them together and press the edges with your fingers to seal it.
  • Cut out heart shaped pieces out of an apple and use them as balloons.
  • Cut out more slices for string, legs, hands and hips.
  • Use blueberries or chocolate chips for eyes and body.
  • Oreo cookies for ears.
  • Enjoy!

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Tiramisu

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This post is a part of  the mega Blogging Marathon and A-Z challenge. I have chosen ‘popular American dishes’ as my theme.

For the second time in this series, I am here with a recipe that’s not originally from America but one that is extremely popular here. Tiramisu, a cake that tastes very light, is  not quite light on calories. This cake from Italy is relatively a new recipe (55 years or so). It is one of the best cakes I have ever had.

I remember trying to make this cake when I was in Chennai and giving up because it was difficult to get mascarpone cheese there. The cheese can be made at home or substituted with cream cheese which is more readily available. The cake is served chilled and tastes absolutely divine.

Tiramisu is not difficult to make, but it is rather time consuming. It has two main components : a mascarpone filling with whipped cream or eggs in it and a base cake (or ladies finger) soaked in a coffee concoction. Once the cake is all filled and frosted, it needs to be refrigerated overnight. The long refrigeration makes a significant difference to the flavor of the cake. I told you it was time consuming!

I had made this cake for a special occasion in our lives, but didn’t get enough pictures to do it justice. I might be making this soon again, in which case I will be updating the pictures here. I should update a picture of mine too, to show you all how much I am also “growing” with each of these recipes :-))

I have used Aparna’s recipe here which is eggless and alcohol free.

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Ingredients:

  • 9″ cake of your choice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder for dusting
  • chocolate or wafers for sides, optional

Espresso syrup:

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Instant coffee powder

Mascarpone filling:

  • 1.5 cups Mascarpone cheese
  • 1/3 cup Icing sugar
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method:

  1. Bake the cake, let it cool completely. Cut it into two even layers and set aside.
  2. Prepare the espresso syrup. Bring the water and sugar to a boil, turn off the heat. Add coffee powder, mix and set aside to cool completely. Refrigerate until needed.
  3. Whisk the cheese, sugar and vanilla extract in a bowl. Whip the heavy cream separately using a hand mixer. Carefully fold in the cream into the mascarpone mixture.
  4. When its time to assemble,place the base layer of the cake in a plate or cake board. Sprinkle some espresso syrup evenly all over it. Add a layer of mascarpone filling. Top with the 2nd layer of cake. Sprinkle with espresso. Cover the top and the sides of the cake with mascarpone and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
  5. At the time of serving, dust with cocoa powder and cover the sides with chocolate wafers or chocolate if desired.

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Sloppy Joes

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This post is a part of  the mega Blogging Marathon and A-Z challenge. I have chosen popular American dishes’ as my theme.

When the month started, I was pretty confident about seeing the A-Z journey through pretty easily. But what I didn’t count was the visits we were making and the visits we were receiving. So out of the window goes the “smooth sailing” plan and now, I am just struggling to keep up the pace. Its a case I have lost already, but you just have to keep trying harder and harder, right?! Kind of like the candy factory scene from I Love Lucy.

There are recipes that I have cooked and clicked for this month, but not transferred to the computer and edited. More worrisome are the recipes that are yet to be clicked, or in other words, to be cooked. Luckily, they are few in number, but that doesn’t help. Because I am dragging my feet through the ones that are all ready. The ones that just needs to go out into the world with an introduction and the recipe details. Boy! I do hate that part :-((.

When it comes to blogging, the planning of dishes and researching recipes interest me, cooking and clicking excite me, editing is something I manage without whining, but its the pen that kills me at the end! I hate the part where I have to sit and write the recipe (least favorite) and the introduction (don’t like it if there is no personal touch to it – which is what happens when I am in a hurry to send it out. Not enough love for the post, get what I mean?! ).

Its all sloppy at the moment now. Just like these sandwiches. Sloppy Joes! Its a popular meat based sandwich, the vegetarian version is made either with lentils or beans of your choice. The dish was there in almost all cookbooks about American cuisine and in the internet as well. Sloppy though it is, it is quite popular. So here it is for the alphabet ‘S’.

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Pictorial:

Cook 3/4 cup dry green lentils (whole masoor dal) or beans of your choice with enough water. Drain and set aside. Heat one teaspoon olive oil in a pan. Saute one medium chopped red onion and one small yellow bell pepper.

Once the onion and bell pepper is cooked, add 1 teaspoon yellow mustard, 2 teaspoons tomato ketchup, 1 teaspoon paprika/chilli powder, 1 teaspoon vinegar, salt and pepper. Mix well. Now add one can of crushed tomatoes or 4 medium juicy tomatoes chopped into fine small pieces.

Add the cooked lentils. Mix well and bring it to a simmer. Taste test and adjust the seasoning per taste. Serve as a filling for burger buns.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup green lentils (or lentils/beans of your choice)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • one medium red onion, chopped
  • one small bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 2 teaspoons tomato ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon paprika/chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes or 4 medium tomatoes, chopped fine
  • burger buns for assembling

Method:

  1. Cook 3/4 cup green lentils (whole masoor dal) or beans of your choice. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat one teaspoon oil in a pan. Saute one medium chopped red onion and one small yellow bell pepper.Once the onion and bell pepper is cooked, add 1 teaspoon yellow mustard, 2 teaspoons tomato ketchup, 1 teaspoon paprika/chilli powder, 1 teaspoon vinegar, salt and pepper. Mix well.
  3. Now add one can of crushed tomatoes or 5 medium tomatoes chopped into fine small pieces. Add the cooked lentils. Mix well and bring it to a simmer. Taste test and adjust the seasoning per taste. Serve as a filling for burger buns.

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Red Velvet Cake

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This post is a part of  the mega Blogging Marathon and A-Z challenge. I have chosen ‘popular American dishes’ as my theme.

Red velvet cake is a Southern classic. This cake was a big rage in the recent years, but its a recipe that date back to a long time before. It was apparently around WWII, because Wiki says that’s when people started adding beet juice to get the red color.

Around Valentine’s day, you get to see red velvet cake parade all over the internet. It adorns all kinds of desserts- cakes, cupcakes, trifles, pies, donuts, cheesecakes and what nots! Personally I have never been a big fan of red velvet cake, because color is the only factor in it that makes it different. But hey, that’s just me!

The recipe here adds a good amount of food coloring. But the presence of coffee negates some of the red color. My bright red batter turned back brownish-red the minute I added the coffee. The site insists on not skipping the coffee, so I would go with it if I am making it again. The cake tasted absolutely delicious – the texture was soft and spongy with a tinge of red color. There are many recipes with out the use of artificial colors if you want to stay clear off it. Beets are again the most common source for color then.

I used this cake for another post to show how the chocolate lace collar is made. You can check it out in case you are interested.

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Recipe source: Divas Can Cook

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon each baking soda and baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-2 oz. red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • ½ cup hot coffee (1/2 cup water with 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee powder)
  • 2 cups heavy cream plus 1/4 cup powdered sugar, whipped for frosting
  • Chocolate, if making the lace around the cake

Method:

  1. Heat oven to 350F/ 180C. Grease and line two round 9″ cake pans with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a big bowl, add oil and sugar. Whisk well. Add eggs, buttermilk, vanilla and red food coloring. Mix until combined.Add the coffee and vinegar.
  4. Add the flour mix in 3-4 batches to the wet ingredients. Mix until no streaks of flour remains. Divide the batter evenly into the prepared pans.
  5. Bake for about 30-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted in center of the cake comes out clean. Once its out of oven and let the cake rest in the pan for at least ten minutes before taking out of the pan. Let it cool completely.
  6. Red velvet cake is traditionally decorated with cream cheese frosting, but I have used whipped cream here.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 63

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Quesadilla

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This post is a part of  the mega Blogging Marathon and A-Z challenge. I have chosen ‘popular American dishes’ as my theme.

Quesadilla (pronounced keisadiya) is not an American dish. It has Mexican origins, but its part of American cuisine in a big way. Mexican food as such is very popular with enough changes to suit the American palate.

Recipes as simple as this can be modified anyway you want. What I have here is a very basic and very simple quesadillas.  I usually prefer veggie and beans filling for quesadilla, but my son loves it this way with only cheese as filling and nothing else.I have used ready made flour tortillas, but you can make your own at home. Even better, use a whole wheat chapati. Cheese filled chapatis do sound good to me!

Fun thing about this post is the textiles used here. Its from my blogging friend Pavani. Last week, we had a mini BM meet. Pavani, Usha and Mireille had come over and we had a wonderful time which included a photo session and small shopping trip to Christmas tree shop near by. Any meet that includes food prop shopping is fun and this was no exception. But Pavani sent me on a sugar high when she gave all of us some textiles from her collection. I was so happy that I don’t even remember whether I thanked her at that point of time! Given that my current prop obsession is kitchen napkins for taking pictures, it was a timely and well appreciated gift.

Thanks a ton girls, you make my life so much better with your company and now, with textile pieces as well :-)!

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Pictorial:

Place a pan on medium heat. Add one tortilla with 1/3 cup shredded cheese it. Cover it with another tortilla.

Cover with a lid (optional, but it helps melt the cheese better) and flip when the bottom side is lightly brown. Take off the heat when both sides are lightly brown. Cut into eight triangles and serve with salsa. Recipe below.

Ingredients:

  • 2 ready made tortillas
  • 1/3 cup shredded cheese

Method

Place a pan on medium heat. Add one tortilla with 1/3 cup shredded cheese it. Cover it with another tortilla. Cover with a lid (optional, but it helps melt the cheese better) and flip when the bottom side is lightly brown. Take off the heat when both sides are lightly brown. Cut into eight triangles and serve with salsa.

For fresh tomato salsa, mix finely chopped tomatoes(2 medium) and red onions(1/2 medium). Add salt and pepper to taste, a squirt of lemon juice if preferred and 2 handful of chopped coriander if you have them (I didn’t!). Top with a dollop of sour cream for a guilty pleasure :D.

2quesadilla

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Filed under Any Time Foods, Break Fast Recipes, Flat breads, This, that and the other

Potato salad

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This post is a part of  the mega Blogging Marathon and A-Z challenge. I have chosen ‘popular American dishes’ as my theme.

This was one of the few alphabets that was overwhelming with choices. Each and everyone of them as popular as it could be! Pizza, pancakes, peanut butter, peach cobbler, pasta dishes, potato dishes, pumpkin pie/cake, pound cake…I can’t make them all, so after a lot of thought I choose the potato salad over everything else.

Potato salad is a classic side dish and appears in every single book that talks about American cuisine. There are many versions to it. Its served cold, so its a great make ahead dish. Its a popular summer dish, but its not shunned aside during the other seasons.

Read on for the recipe and pictorial.

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This recipe is adapted from Hellmann’s.

Chop two hard boiled eggs. Dice and cook 4 medium potatoes cut into 1/2″ cubes. Let it cool completely.

In a mixing bowl, add 1.5 teaspoon mustard, 1/4 cup mayonnaise, salt and pepper as needed and 2 sticks chopped celery. Add one finely chopped red onion(optional), 1 teaspoon vinegar(optional) and the eggs. Mix gently to combine.

Add the potatoes and gently mix everything. Taste test and adjust seasoning according to your preference. Serve chilled.

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Okra, fried

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This post is a part of  the mega Blogging Marathon and A-Z challenge. I have chosen ‘popular American dishes’ as my theme.

The whole idea of American cuisine as theme started when I was going through the index of a book which had some really popular dishes. Going through the index made it easy for me because I could see a lot of options for a particular alphabet before making the final decision. So now, whenever I pick a book and I go straight to the end to see the alphabetical listing of recipes :D.

Coming to the recipe here, fried okra is a Southern classic. I was interested in trying this out and it tasted good – as all fried things do!! But for most part, I will be staying with my Indian way of serving okra which is just sauteing until the sliminess goes off with some salt and a bit of chili powder. You can spice it up more, but this is all that the basic recipe needs. Okra is used heavily in Indian cuisine.

When I started making this, I thought 2 cups of flour mix or even 2 cups of buttermilk is a lot for the quantity of okra used. But in the end, there wasn’t a lot of butter milk left over to be discarded. There was a lot of left over flour mix though, but the quantity was needed to make the dredging part easy. When it comes to the last batch for frying, make sure you have drained the okra well enough before adding to the flour mix. The buttermilk will tend to collect at the bottom and the last batch will have a lot more liquid than the previous ones.

Read on for the recipe and the picture tour!

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Clean and trim tip and stem from 1/2 kg okra. Cut them into 1/2″ thick rounds. Add the okra into a mix of 2 cups buttermilk whisked with one egg. Cover and refrigerate for about an hour.

Combine one cup all purpose flour and one cup cornmeal with seasonings : salt, pepper and garlic powder. Remove a batch of okra from the buttermilk with a slotted spoon so that excess liquid drains off and dredge it in the flour mix.

Deep fry in batches. Drain in paper towels. Serve as a side dish or a snack.

Recipe source: Southern Living

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 kg/ 1 lb Okra
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 egg (optional)
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • salt, pepper, garlic powder – to taste
  • Oil for deep frying

Method:

  1. Clean and trim tip and stem from 1/2 kg okra. Cut them into 1/2″ thick rounds.
  2. Add the okra into a mix of 2 cups buttermilk whisked with one egg. Cover and refrigerate for about an hour.
  3. Combine one cup all purpose flour and one cup cornmeal with seasonings : salt, pepper and garlic powder.
  4. Remove a batch of okra from the buttermilk with a slotted spoon so that excess liquid drains off and dredge it in the flour mix.
  5. Deep fry in batches. Drain in paper towels. Serve as a side dish or a snack.

3okra

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