Bye, bye brunch

OK now, ACC. I have tried my best to accept that you have added teams who can’t see the Atlantic Coast from their houses. And that the tournament will now last  longer than a midseason replacement series.

But this is too much. What in the world am I supposed to serve for a Saturday night final?

All of my ACC Tournament recipes are for brunch. For years, I had a civilized gathering of like-minded sports fans, a time to sip of morning nectars and enjoy quiche and seven-layer salad before the battle began. Something that a dowager countess might not be embarrassed to attend, provided she was wearing the correct shade of light blue.

Now what? I can’t possibly serve bloody marys after 5 p.m.

Blazing chicken wings, tubs of salsa, cold beers, these are the foods of nighttime game viewing. Less elegant, but welcome to the new ACC.

However, I refuse to give up without a fight. This recipe from my cookbook “Fan Fare: A Playbook of Great Recipes for Tailgating or Watching the Game at Home” published by Harvard Common Press, will bring a touch of a Southern brunch to a munchie-central experience.

Marylynn’s Okra Roll-Ups

1 (16-ounce) jar pickled okra, well drained

10 ounces thinly sliced deli ham

1 (9-ounce) tub soft spreadable cream cheese

Pat the okra pods dry. Trim the stems and tips from the pods.

On a cutting board, spread 1 ham slice flat without tearing it. Gently spread a thin layer of cream cheese on the ham. Place 1 trimmed okra pod at one end of the slice and roll the ham up around it, pressing gently to make a tight roll. Trim any overhanging ham to fit the pod, the slice the roll into approximately 1/2-inch slices. Repeat with remaining okra pods. Keep chilled until ready to serve.

Note: These can be made the night before and refrigerated. Store in airtight containers in a single layer or in multiple layers separated by waxed paper to prevent sticking.

Embracing the pod

I heard from a lot of people after my column on okra. Most of them spoke with relief at finding out they were not alone in their adoration of the pod – in some cases, slime and all.

Self-described okra fan James McEntire of Chapel Hill, N.C. offered his recipe: “To avoid the slime, blanch the okra in salted water for five or six minutes until crisp-tender, toss with lemon and butter and enjoy. For a dinner, get small pods with more stem and serve them as a first course with hollandaise for dipping. Says summer to me.” Ooh-la-la, I say.

Jacqueline Blaeske of Raleigh, N.C. totally embraces the slime: “I love it! Even with the slippery sap. I simmer it lightly until it is a bright emerald green, put a little salt on it and pig out! It’s interesting, too – it soothes dry mouth.” No prescriptions needed here.

Alas, there’s always an okra-phobe. My friend Jean Anderson of Chapel Hill, a wonderful cookbook writer and general fount of food wisdom, inherited her dislike of okra: “My father, a Yankee with a good sense of humor, used to say, ‘When I become dictator, no farmer will be allowed to grow okra and every farmer will be required to grow an acre of sweet corn every year.’ ”

At least I can’t argue with him about the sweet corn.