Okra Cornmeal Cakes with Chèvre and Roasted Tomatoes

I wonder if I somehow have southern blood running through my veins. I love okra, sweet potatoes, collard greens, southern green beans, cornbread and lots of other southern specialties. This recipe is a lovely combination of several of those specialties, and doesn’t it just look spectacular?? Thanks to Annie’s Eats for the fabulous recipe!

Yield: about 14 cakes

Ingredients

For the roasted tomatoes:
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
Generous drizzle of olive oil
Pinch of kosher salt
Generous pinch of sugar

For the corn cakes:
2 cups fine yellow cornmeal
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. sea salt or kosher salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1½ cups water, plus more as needed
8 oz. okra, stems trimmed and sliced ¼-inch thick
1 jalapeño, cored, seeded and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely minced
¼ cup canola oil, for frying

To serve:
About 3 oz. herbed goat cheese
Fresh herbs, for garnish (optional)

Directions

  • To make the roasted tomatoes, preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Combine the tomatoes, olive oil, salt, and sugar on a rimmed baking sheet and toss well to coat.  Bake for about 40 minutes, tossing once or twice during cooking.  Remove from the oven and let cool.  If not using immediately, refrigerate until needed.
  • To make the corn cakes, combine the cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; whisk to blend and set aside.  Combine the egg and water in a liquid measuring cup and whisk lightly.  Add the liquid mixture to the bowl with the cornmeal mixture, and stir just until combined.  Fold in the okra, jalapeño, and garlic until incorporated.  The mixture may seem a bit watery at first, but give it a minute for the cornmeal to soak up the liquid.  If the mixture is too dry, add more water a tablespoon at a time.
  • To cook the corn cakes, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until very warm.  Drop in scoops of the dough mixture, about a scant ¼ cup each, spaced an inch or two apart.  Cook, flipping once during cooking, until both sides are lightly browned, about 3-4 minutes per side.  Transfer the finished cakes to a paper towel-lined rack and repeat with the remaining dough mixture.
  • To serve, place a small dollop of the herbed chèvre on top of each warmed corn cake.  Let it sit for a minute or two to melt slightly, then spread gently over the top of the corn cake.  Top each cake with a few of the roasted tomatoes and garnish with fresh herbs as desired.  Serve immediately.
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Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Cornbread

Deb, you got me again! Smitten Kitchen does not yield up her goat cheese recipes by a simple ingredient search, you have to stumble across them. And stumble I did, finding this delicious recipe for a cornbread so northern and savory, I will just have to have it on my go-to list as an accompaniment to thick winter soups!

This is an incredibly moist nontraditional cornbread with a great flavor and mild sweetness. The goat cheese adds a subtle tang. Not aggressive, just very pleasant!

1 cup (6 ounces) coarse cornmeal (also packaged as “polenta”) but regular old cornmeal will also work.
2 cups (16 ounces) buttermilk
1 to 2 tablespoons oil, butter or a combination thereof
1 cup onion in a 3/4-inch dice (you could also go up to 2 cups, if you’re really into the caramelized onion thing)
1 3/4 cups (8 ounces) unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons (.75 ounce) baking powder
1/4 teaspoon (.05 ounce) baking soda
1 teaspoon (.25 ounce) salt
6 ounce log of goat cheese, at room temperature for a good while, so it’s very soft
2 tablespoons (1.5 ounces) honey
1/4 cup (2 ounces) granulated sugar
3 large (5 ounces) eggs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) unsalted butter, mleted
2 1/2 cups (16 ounces) fresh or frozen corn kernels
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) bacon fat, vegetable oil or butter

The night before baking the cornbread, soak the cornmeal in the buttermilk. Cover and leave at room temperature overnight. [Though this step is optional, you might appreciate it if you use coarse cornmeal or if you often find cornbread on the gritty side.] If you don’t do this in advance, mix them in before you start the next step.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

The next day, prepare the onions. Heat a large saute pan to medium and coat the bottom with 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil, butter or a combination thereof. Add the onions and cook them until they’re well-caramelized with browned edges. Season with salt and set aside.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the goat cheese until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time and scraping down the bowl between each. (It may look a little curdly at this point, don’t worry. It all comes back together in the oven.) Add the melted butter, honey, sugar and cornmeal/buttermilk mixture and mix until smooth. Add the flour mixture and stir until combined and then gently stir in the corn kernels, mixing them until the ingredients are evenly distributed.

Place two tablespoons of bacon fat, vegetable oil or butter in a 10 inch round cake pan (you can also use a cast-iron skillet, 9 by 13-inch baking pan or a 12-inch square pan). Place the pan in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes, until the fat gets very hot. With good pot holders, remove the pan and tilt it to grease the corners and sides. Pour in the batter, spreading it evenly and sprinkle the caramelized onion evenly over the top.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the cornbread is firm and springing (the baking time will depend on the size and type of pan) and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Allow the bread to cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes before slicing it into squares or wedges. Serve immediately.