My first trip to New Orleans in July with my two sisters – a city that never goes to sleep… I cannot even imagine how it is during Mardis Gras! If you are looking for something different and full of action pay a visit to this historic city. Of all the traveling I have done over the years I have only driven by New Orleans but never stopped.
For the first time also I tried a new southern veggie called okra and I loved it! It is a flowering plant in the mallow family and is valued for its edible green seed pods. It is known as ladies’ fingers, bhindi, bamia or gumbo. Not a plant I can grow in the North as it can get 4-5 feet tall (not good for a raised bed) and we do not get those warm temperatures over a long period of time.
See below for recipes for “Okra and Tomatoes”, “How to Peel Tomatoes” and How to Make a “Hurricane”.
One of the many things we did during our two night stay in this historic city besides walk, walk, walk was to take a 2 hour lunch cruise on the Natchez Steamboat on the Mississippi River. There were quite a few dishes served and one of the side dishes on the buffet was Okra and Tomatoes. I love just about anything with tomatoes and this dish was no exception.
By the way I apologize for the photos but I had my small Cannon camera with me instead of my nice Nikon – did not want to carry anything heavy around. There is a picture of the skyline, Saint Louis Cathedral, a building with the saying “You are Beautiful”, lunch on the steamboat and a mime (who really was not a mime – he just stood there and did not move) when we departed – he was very good by the way. Never did take a picture of the steamboat itself but I did buy a bag.
As I do not have any recipes for cooking with okra I searched online and came up with one by Paula Deen – you cannot find a better Southerner! I also bought a cookbook (yes, another one) Gumbo Shop which is a quaint Creole restaurant on Saint Peter Street in New Orleans. Then with my own additions such as homegrown veggies, homemade bouillon it turned out to be a great recipe made with 3 contributors!
Needless to say this is tomato season right now so I decided to substitute my own tomatoes (some are from a sister who brought the seeds back from Italy), used my own chicken base, my jalapenos and my homegrown garlic that I planted last Fall. The one ingredient that was not mine was the okra and that was hard to find here in Michigan; finally found some at my local Buschs store.
Okra and Tomatoes
- 4 slices bacon, crisply cooked and torn into small pieces for garnish
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced (from my garden called Italian Garlic)
- 2 (15 oz.) cans diced tomatoes (I used my homegrown tomatoes, peeled and seeded instead – see below for instructions on how to peel tomatoes)
- 1 tbsp. chicken base (find my recipe for chicken bouillon cubes here – much better than what you can buy!)
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- 2 cups fresh okra, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 jalapeno, minced or to taste (optional – I added as this is from my garden)
- black pepper to taste
- rice or noodles (as I made this a main dish and not a side I served it over Kluski noodles – I know not the traditional rice!)
Cook the bacon until crisp and set aside. Add the onions to the drippings and cook until soft; add the garlic the last minute or two. Add the tomatoes, chicken base, sugar and pepper. I used a bunch of tomatoes (all of the ones in the pictures) which was enough to make a good sauce. Stir well and let simmer for about 20 minutes. Wash okra and and cut into slices. Add and simmer for another 20 to 30 minutes. I prefer to not have the okra crunchy at all so I did cook it longer.
Recipe by cooking with aunt juju https://cookingwithauntjuju.com/2014/08/18/new-orleans-okra-and-tomatoes/
How to Peel Tomatoes
First make a shallow X in the end (opposite the stem) and place in boiling water. Count to 25 to 30 seconds and remove the tomatoes with a slotted spoon to a bowl full of ice. Do not leave the tomatoes in too long as they will begin to soften and cook. Chill and you can easily peel them with a knife starting at the X.
Cafe du Monde – had some beignets here…
Sure was hot – celebration birthday drink with a Hurricane at the famous Pat O’Briens. You can buy a mix online from them or make the recipe below. This recipe comes from New Orleans Cuisine (only 1 of 4 cookbooks I bought on my trip).
- 2 oz. amber rum
- 1/4 cup passion fruit juice
- 1/4 cup pineapple juice
- 1 tsp. superfine sugar
- 1/2 tsp. grenadine
- 2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
- crushed ice cubes
- orange slice and maraschino cherry for garnish
Combine the rum, pineapple and passion fruit juices and sugar. Add the grenadine and lime juice; stir to combine. Add the ice and shake; strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with an orange slice and maraschino cherry.
My two sisters sipping away celebrating our birthdays – I had my Merlot 🙂 There are two more locations in Orlando and San Antonio.