My site has been all about the baby showers this week!  First I celebrated Amanda’s baby girl in real life, and now I’m honored to take part in a virtual shower for my dear, sweet friend Courtney.  Courtney and I met through our love for food and blogging about it, and now I’m proud to call her a friend in real life as well.  Though we live over six hundred miles apart, we don’t let that stand between us.  She hosted my virtual baby shower last year.  Then she came to visit me in Indiana back in the fall.  Last weekend myself along with some other blogging girlfriends surprised her with a mini shower/get together (more on that later).  I can say from firsthand experience that she is undoubtedly one of the most genuinely nice and thoughtful people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.  Her husband Eric is just as kind and friendly as she is, and they are going to be incredible parents.  Of course we wanted an opportunity to celebrate with all her other blogging friends as well, so a virtual shower was in order and Josie graciously offered to host us.  Be sure to check out Josie’s and Courtney’s posts to see everyone’s contributions!

Since so many other participants made desserts for the occasion, I opted to go savory.  Courtney has Southern roots having grown up in Alabama and living in Virginia now, and she has a deep love of Southern cuisine.  I wanted to make something that would be a nice, bite-sized appetizer appropriate for passing at a shower or party that was also inspired by Courtney’s Southern background.  I turned to the latest edition to my cookbook collection, Basic to Brilliant, Y’all (a gift from Josie – thanks dear!)  Since okra was being delivered in our produce bin, these okra cornmeal cakes seemed like a great starting point.  Though certainly optional, I decided to cut them all with a biscuit cutter after cooking to give them a more uniform, finished look.  Then I finished them off with a thin spread of herbed chèvre and a few roasted grape tomatoes to elevate them to party-worthy status.  Whether for a party or get-together or just for a regular ol’ meal, this combination was killer.  I knew these would be good but they definitely exceeded my expectations.  Courtney, I hope you enjoy these and try them at home sometime.  And if not, we’re definitely making them next time we get together!

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

  • 01

    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.

  • 02

    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.

  • 03

    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.

  • 04

    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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