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Food editor Heather Garvin wows crowds with delicious okra recipes

Did you make it to the Wine + Food Festival this weekend? It seems like all of Charleston (and beyond!) came out for the affair, including Charleston Home food editor Heather Garvin. She delivered one of the freshest cooking demos around, whipping up delicious okra dishes inspired by a spring veggie article in our upcoming Spring/Summer issue (due on newsstands in just two weeks! Keep an eye out.). Her crispy Buttermilk Fried Okra took under ten minutes to prepare and, as we learned from a few members of the audience, was just the thing to turn self-professed okra-haters into big-time fans. And yet the Quick Okra Succotash might have been an even bigger hit. A sauté of lima beans, corn, and tomatoes had Wine and Fooders coming back for seconds. 

For those of you who missed it, check out the recipes below. But first, I want to share one little anecdote: a gentleman in the front row of Heather's demo was one of those unabashed okra haters I spoke of. His wife said that when he was in nursery school, he was made to eat the Southern veggie at lunch. Naptime followed, and his teacher—noting something strange about his appearance—leaned down to where he was curled up. “What is in your mouth?” she asked. He pulled his lower lip down to reveal the okra, which he just couldn’t will himself to swallow. End of the story? Heather’s recipes were a game-changer for him. He ate up everything we passed his way. Of course, I didn’t ask him for proof.

Enjoy our all-star okra dishes, and be sure and look for these and more recipes for your fresh veggies in the upcoming issue.

Buttermilk Fried Okra
{Serves 4-6}

1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground mustard
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
Fresh whole okra (about 24 pieces)
Canola oil, for frying

Sift all of the dry ingredients together. Whisk in the buttermilk and use batter immediately.

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat (do not let oil smoke), heat enough oil to submerge okra. Dip okra in batter one at a time, leaving tops exposed, and coat well. Drop into preheated oil and cook for 30-40 seconds, until pale brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve immediately alongside a creamy herb or remoulade dipping sauce.

Cook's note:
This is a versatile batter delicious with any garden fresh veggie. Try it with zucchini, squash, or eggplant sliced no more than 1/2-inch thick to ensure the vegetable cooks all the way through.

Quick Okra Succotash
{Serves 4-6}

3 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into small pieces
1 Tbs. butter
1/4 cup diced yellow onion
12 pieces okra, both ends trimmed, sliced thinly crosswise
1/2 cup shelled butter (or lima) beans, cooked
1 ear of corn, cooked and kernels removed
1 ripe tomato, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon for two to three minutes until lightly browned. Stir in the butter and, once melted, add the onion and okra. Cook for an additional three to four minutes until vegetables are tender, lowering the heat if necessary to avoid burning the bacon. Fold in the beans, corn, and tomato, stirring until heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.