Pickled Okra Recipe

Canning…. I should be excited about this in the spring, but I never seem to get around to it until the fall.
Canning has a weird backstory. In a nut shell, Napoleon wanted to be able to better feed his troops during war. By better feed, I don’t mean quality. It was hard finding enough food to make sure large groups of soldiers could eat while on the road and it was equally irritating to have to haul a bunch of live animals and dried staples around to prepare meals. So, the French government offered a cash prize for someone who could figure out a cheap, fast and effective way of preserving food that could be taken on the road. In 1809, a brewer figured out that food cooked inside a jar didn’t spoil unless the jar leaked or broke. He worked on a method to use jars to seal in food, and won the 12,000 franc prize (about $175,000 today). So, what are we making today? Hot pickled okra. Yum!

 

okra-preserve

Materials:
1 big pot for boiling water
1 medium sauce pan for your pickling brine
Canning Jars, lids and bands (Half pints are fine as long as you don’t have okra that is extra long.)
3 cups of distilled white vinegar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
4 -6 cloves of garlic – peeled.
4 – 10 fresh hot peppers
3 tablespoons of whole yellow mustard seeds
3 tablespoons peppercorns
1 to 1 ½ pounds of okra
Sieve
water
What I refer to as a “canning jar lifter”. It’s this thing :

canning-jar-lifter

Procedure:
1. Clean your okra by rinsing it off under running water and shaking it dry. Set it aside for a minute.
2. Clean your canning jars and then put the okra top down into the jars. Try to get them as full as possible without smooshing the okra.
3. On top of the okra in the spaces, add your peppers and garlic cloves. This is one of those things where you do it to taste. Like it hot? Use hotter peppers and more of them. Want just a hint? Use a halved jalapeno that has been seeded.
4. In your big pot, boil a bunch of water. How much water? Not sure. To test this out, put one of your canning jars in the pot. You want the water level to be about an inch and a half or two inches from the top of the jar. Bring this to a rolling boil as well.
5. In your sauce pan, combine your vinegar, mustard seeds, peppercorns, sugar, kosher salt and about 4 cups of water. Heat all of that until the sugar and salt have been dissolved. After that, bring everything to a rolling boil.
6. Pour the hot brine into the jars, filling them so that there is about a half inch of room left. Try to keep it all on the INSIDE of the jar. If you spill, you will just have to do more clean up later. NO ONE WANTS THIS. You need to tap the jar gently to let any sneaky air bubbles rise to the top, but beware. You just put boiling liquid into a glass jar. It will be hot. I like using a dish towel wrapped around the jar as a hot pad for this part as you can grip it a little better.
7. If all of the above was theoretically done correctly, you should be good to seal your cans. I don’t trust myself, so I am going to reheat everything for a minute. To do this….
8. Turn your boiling water down to low and let the water settle for a bit. Then, using your canning jar lifter, put the canning jars (now filled with okra, peppers and pickling brine) into the hot water. The water level SHOULD NEVER REACH THE TOP OF THE JARS. The water will be displaced as you put more jars into the big pot, so you may need to scoop out a little bit of water as you go to keep the water level from rising too high.
9. Let everything get nice and toasty in the hot water bath. After a few minutes, use the canning jar lifter to pull the jars out. Set them on a towel or heat proof surface. Use a clean towel to wipe and dry the lips of the jars. Place a lid firmly on the jar and wait. After a few minutes, if the can seals, you will hear a “thwip” as a vacuum is created. Once you hear that noise, put on the bands, wipe everything clean and wait for them to cool to store in the pantry. The pickled okra can last several months!
10. BUT WHAT IF THE JARS DON’T SEAL? Stick them in the fridge and eat them in the next week or so.
11. The final step? Come to the OKRA Charity Saloon before the end of September to help support educational programming at the Museum. For more information, visit hmns.org/okra.

Happy National Pancake Day Breakfast For Dinner

 

In honor of National Pancake Day, A Fare Extraordinaire is celebrating with our favorite party trend – Breakfast for Dinner! Whether it’s a birthday celebration, a baby shower or intimate date night for two, we love incorporating breakfast food items during dinner time.

BRUNCH seems to be everyone’s favorite meal, so why not bring the brunch to dinner? Breakfast foods are fun to incorporate into any menu because it is easy to turn them into cute, petite bites. One of our favorite brunch items are our Petite Pancake Stacks.

 

pancake4

AFE Petite Pancake Stacks
Short Stack of Three Mini Pancakes
Topped with a Banana Slice
Presented with a Custom Beaded Pick
Dusted with Confectioner’s Sugar
*Chocolate Chips Optional But Strongly Encouraged*
Pancakes are an easy way to add a filling food item to your brunch display. We also love pancakes because you can add a large variety of toppings and sauces to appeal to different palates and tastes. At AFE, we love adding chocolate chips into the mini pancakes and a banana slice as a topper….and you can never go wrong with a little bit of powdered sugar!

 

These mini stacks are as easy, if easier, than normal sized pancakes. Simply mix your batter and pour it into a squeeze bottle or a pastry piping bag – this will allow you to control your batter portion and standardize the size of your stack. Heat you portable pancake griddle and squeeze sandollar-sized pancake batter onto the griddle. Once the batter begins to bubble, it is ready to be flipped! When each pancake bite is complete, you can stack 3-4 pancakes on top of each other with any topping of your choosing. Skewer them with a beaded pic or bamboo skewer. 

 

pancake-1

pancake-2

 

To compliment these precious petite pancakes, we recommend creating a full brunch display. Dinner is always a heavier meal, so incorporating a full display with endless options will be sure to fill your guests for the evening. Be sure to tie on some savory items to complement the pancake sweet tooth. Some of our go-to savory “breakfast for dinner” items include: Bagels and Lox & Chicken and Waffles. Enjoy!!

 

pancake-3

Blog Post by A Fare Extraordinaire, Photography by Meredith Marceau

Okra and Tomatoes

okrA

Okra, photo courtesy of Swallowtail Garden Seeds

As Julia mentioned in our last okra blog, cooking with okra can be a bit slimy. One of the tricks to combat the slime, is to cook it at high heat and really fast. Usually, this means frying okra, but there are other ways to cook it quick! Today’s recipe is okra and tomatoes. The trick, in this recipe, is to sauté the okra in a hot pan for only 3 to 4 minutes. Add some tomatoes and voilà, we have a recipe jam packed with vegetables and a kick of spice!

 

tomato

Photo courtesy of Vodeck

Ingredients:
• 3 medium tomatoes, diced
• 1 onion, chopped
• 3 cups Okra, cut into 1 inch pieces
• 2 cloves garlic
• Pinch of cayenne pepper
• Salt and pepper to taste
• Bacon or Andouille sausage (optional)
• Vegetable oil

 

onion

Photo courtesy of Kim Siever

Putting it all together:
1. In a large skillet, cook the bacon (or andouille sausage) until crispy. Remove bacon from pan and place it on a paper towel lined plate.
2. Pour all but 3 tablespoons of grease into a grease jar. We will be using the remaining grease to cook our onions and garlic.
a. Vegetarian option: use vegetable oil instead of bacon or andouille sausage grease
3. Put the onions and garlic into the pan with the grease. Cook on medium-high heat until the onions are translucent. Add a pinch of cayenne to add some spice.
4. In a separate pan, add vegetable oil and heat on high for about a minute. When pan is hot, add okra pieces in a single layer. Let brown for a minute, and then stir to allow the other side to cook. Sear for about 3 to 4 minutes and remove from heat.
5. Add the okra and tomatoes to the pan with the garlic and the onions. Cook about 4 more minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
6. Remove from heat, add bacon (or sausage) and enjoy!
If this type of okra isn’t for you, join us at OKRA Charity Saloon this month! The Houston Museum of Natural Science is one of four featured charities. You won’t have to eat okra (unless you want to) and you have the opportunity to vote for HMNS!

Happy National S’mores day!

Happy National S’mores day! Do you love s’mores but don’t have a campfire to make one? Try these great ideas from Café Natalie, one of our exclusive Museum caterers.

Did you know these delicious treats are named literally for “some more”?

smores 1

Campfire Cones

1 Cup Mini Marshmallows
1 Cup Chocolate Chips

  • Mix marshmallows and chocolate chips and fill cones
  • Wrap cones in foil packet and place on the top shelf of grill away from heat and cook for 3-5 minutes

smores 2

S’mores Crepes

1 Cup Flour
2 Eggs
1/2 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup Water
1/4 tsp Salt
2 tbsp melted butter
1 cup marshmallow creme
1/2 cup chocolate chips

  • In a large bowl, combine flour and eggs while slowly adding in milk & water
  • Add butter and whisk until smooth
  • Head a lightly oiled small pan or griddle over medium high heat
  • Ladle batter into pan and spread batter into thin layer
  • Cook for about 2 minutes on each side
  • Allow crepes to cool before spreading a thin layer of marshmallow creme and adding chocolate chips
  • Broil for 1-2 minutes and fold before serving 

Our exclusive full-service caterers are trained in the policies and procedures of the Museum – making your event-planning process effortless. Each caterer is full-service and can customize your event to meet your specific needs. Learn more…