More eggplant

October 12, 2009

Saturday at the farmer’s market, I was half-frozen, browsing through the produce, when these two women walked by and I overheard one of them say “Oh, eggplant. I’m so over eggplant.” And I wanted to yell, “I’ll take your share! I’ve only just begun to love it!”

Last week, I went out on a limb an had some in a stir fry, but what I’ve really been wanting to do is recreate some of the delicious eggplant dishes I’ve had at Indian restaurants.

Enter Mollie Katzen.

eggplant curry

eggplant curry

Let me tell you about this recipe. Not only is it delicious, but it’s from a cookbook that we’ve had around the house for the last 6 years but that I’ve never actually used – The New Moosewood Cookbook. Matt introduced me to it a few years ago, and I’m prone to flipping through it and saying “oh! that sounds good!” and then never following through. Until now!

I served it with peas, per her instructions, even though I’m not a huge fan. And, I have to admit, they do add a pop of freshness to this curry. The curry itself is probably the most authentic-tasting that I’ve ever made – maybe the base of mustard/cumin/sesame seeds did the trick. Just when you think it’s under spiced, the heat of the cayenne hits and BAM! All in all, delightful.

I really wanted to go out to eat tonight, as I haven’t been feeling 100% for the past few days, but I’m glad I fought it, because this was well worth the effort.

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Killer tofu

October 7, 2009

Miss me?

Rhetorical question!

Did you ever watch Doug? It reminds me of sleepovers at my friend Cassie’s apartment in elementary school. Her apartment had Zax lightswitch plates and her dad made breakfast on Saturday mornings. It was awesome and made me really want to live in the apartment. On an unrelated note, I also aspired to be a cashier at that point in my life. Having now lived both of those dreams, I know they both suck. But I still had a lot of fun walking up and down the cash register aisles at Office Depot.

Anyway, one of those Saturday mornings I spent at Cassie’s, we watched an episode of Doug featuring awesome mythical band The Beets’ seminal hit, “Killer Tofu,” which I loved, even though I probably didn’t eat tofu until maybe a dozen years later.

Take note of awesome lines like “I can eat my sugar cereal, but it makes my teeth bacterial.”

There’s a point to this, beyond random childhood memories.

Tonight’s dinner had some killer tofu in it.

sweet and spicy stirfry

sweet and spicy stir fry

This was an eggplant, red pepper, and tofu stirfry with a generous helping of crushed red pepper and garlic, balanced out with a little rice wine vinegar and ground ginger. I was pretty nervous about the eggplant, but since I’ve been enjoying it so much roasted and baked, I had to give it a shot. Success! I’m looking forward to having it again for lunch tomorrow.

It more than made up for yesterday’s disappointingly bland chili, and left me with enough room for a slice of this awesome apple cake I made last night. I’d share a picture, but they’re fairly awful. I need more light bulbs, stat. But, seriously, I’m two for two with cakes from The Food Librarian, and I keep finding more recipes I want to try. Food + librarians = obviously a good match.


Saucy baked eggplant

September 30, 2009

We’ve been really giving eggplant a lot of love these days, which is something so new and so delicate I’m almost afraid to talk about it in case that curses us to a slew of bad eggplants whose bitterness can neither be salted nor pounded away.

But, what the hell. I’ve been really wanting eggplant parmesan, but I am about 98% spent by dinnertime on a given weekday, so there’s none of this salting, then pounding, then dredging in eggwhites and breadcrumbs, then frying or baking, and so on. This hit the same general notes with maybe a quarter of the effort, which is a win. Plus, during the lengthier segments of prep, I was able to take naps.

saucy baked eggplant

saucy baked eggplant

This was so easy, it’s barely a recipe. I washed a medium white eggplant, sliced it into ~1/4 inch rounds, salted them in a colander over the sink for an hour, took a nap, preheated the oven to 375*, rinsed the eggplant and beat the bitterness out between paper towels, layered tomato sauce and eggplant in a baking dish, topped with some fresh mozzarella, covered with foil, and baked for 40 minutes, taking another nap in the process. While I slept, Matt cooked some macaroni and we served up a delightful meal.

I’ve got ideas for eggplant that extend beyond the pasta realm – homemade baigan bharta, stir fry with eggplant, maybe some baba ganoush. But, for tonight, this was perfect.


Comfort food

September 26, 2009

The temperatures have dropped a bit, and I don’t know if it’s that or the exhaustion I’ve been fighting, but I’ve been heading straight for my comfort foods this week.

I don’t know what it says about the person I’ve become that I’d rather have a giant bowl of roasted vegetables than a piece of cheesecake when I’m tired or in a bad mood, but roasted eggplant is just so good now that I’ve finally developed an effective method to reduce the bitterness (slice, salt over a colander for an hour, then rinse and lay out in a layer between two paper towels and beat the slices to near death with an empty beer bottle. I assume other bottles would work but I’m just going from my own experience here). I guess I just need to embrace it because this pasta with eggplant, zucchini, mini-romas, and garlic was a near-perfect meal.

emotional eating that I can get behind

emotional eating that I can get behind

The pictures in this post are going to be even worse than normal, just to warn you. See above re: exhaustion.

The eggplant and zucchini that we had in the crisper were both huge, so the pan of vegetables I roasted (375* for 45 minutes) was actually full to overflowing. So we had a whole glass dish of leftovers to complement another comforting favorite: barley risotto. Just plain this time, as the mushrooms we were going to use were green-tinged and slimy. Awesome!

I was going to put the picture in, but I just can’t. I respect you too much. It’s terrible. If you want to see some barley risotto, here’s one I don’t find completely embarrassing. I’ve also made it about 28 other times if you’re looking for recipes. I was getting into arborio rice but we’re on a grocery budget again and barley is less than 1/2 the price, pound for pound, so it’s back in our lives.

Today, we finally opened this jar of tomatillo salsa that we’ve been trying to open for literally weeks and had some black bean chilaquiles to celebrate.

chilaquiles!

chilaquiles!

These were easy and warm and comforting – a perfect Saturday night meal. I just cut up two tortillas and burned them again on 450* for 10 minutes. I turned the oven down to 350* and cooked a diced green pepper and a small diced onion in a skillet with some olive oil on medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. I turned the heat down and added about a cup and half of black beans, just to heat them up for a minute or two because I didn’t defrost them. Then, I layered the chips, beans/peppers/onions, and about a cup and a half of roasted salsa verde into a baking dish and baked for about 25 minutes, until the chips were really soft. Chilaquiles aren’t traditionally baked but I needed my one large burner to cook some chickpeas and so in the oven it went. On the side, some tomatoes from my favorite kid at the farmer’s market who keeps a really careful tally of how many pints of his tomatoes have been sold so that his dad knows how much he’s going to have to pay him out later.

And now, for more comfort, there’s TV on DVD waiting for me. Between Netflix and Hulu, I think I actually watch more TV now than I did when we had cable. Today, I even made Matt go to the video store to rent two discs of 24 because I’m completely addicted to it (I know – is it 2001 already??) and even though we already pay 20 dollars a month for Netflix I was somehow able to justify it because we walked to the video store so we were saving money on gas.


Bon appetit

October 21, 2008

I took a break from bok choy to try out a recipe that a co-worker, Antoinette, shared with me a few weeks ago after seeing my failed attempts at eggplant preparation. This was her healthier version of a Bon Appetit recipe from 1994, and it was excellent!

Pasta with eggplant and tomatoes

Pasta with eggplant and tomatoes

I think I inadvertently selected some sort of strange setting on the camera, because I couldn’t get a normal-looking picture. Anyway, for this I used some skinny little farmer’s market eggplants, diced tomatoes, parm, and a mixture of whole wheat penne and rotini. The recipe called for rigatoni, but grocery store sales dictate my eating life, so we had this pasta instead. I think it probably came out about the same. The only sad part was that we didn’t have any fontina cheese, which the recipe also called for. We just subbed extra parm, which was good, too.

Looking around the Bon Appetit website for the original recipe, I stumbled on this article about Durham and Chapel Hill. I got all caught up in it, and I never found the recipe. It’s a good article, but it makes me feel like I missed a lot in the six years I spent living there. I’ll chalk it up to a learning experience.

I’m feeling better today, but, in an effort to get a head start on my self-care New Year’s resolution, I think I’ll be heading to bed early tonight. Like, about now. I’m halfway through a good book and I need to rededicate myself to it.


Finally

September 14, 2008

What a day. I recently introduced Matt to the The Spoon Theory, which is a really interesting and, to me, pretty apt metaphor for day to day life with a lame chronic illness. We’ve been using it a lot around the house. Basically, I have a limited number of “spoons” every day. So, this morning, I used up all of my spoons doing four loads of laundry and then running a few other errands, got home at noon and immediately had to get back in bed. I’m going to blame it on the change of season we’re experiencing, but my fatigue has been out of control for the past few days, and nothing seems to help it. I was in and out of bed for most of the day, but miraculously managed to go to a class at the gym, which helped temporarily.

I wanted a really carby dinner so that I could help convince my body that sleeping all the way through the night was an awesome idea. Mondays are hard enough without waking up six times the night before. So, we had spaghetti with eggplant and zucchini marinara. The most exciting part: I finally got eggplant to taste like food instead of, I don’t know, shoes. I did some research and had Matt do the prepwork while I was at the gym. He diced the eggplant and salted it for 15 minutes, then rinsed. It cut the bitterness way down. And brought the deliciousness level way up.

Donna taught me how to make marinara back in the spring, and I should’ve written down her method because it was really good. Now, I kind of improvise based on what I remember. Tonight, I cooked the zucchini and eggplant pieces until soft over medium-high heat. Then I added tomato paste (~1 tbsp, I think) and stirred that around for a minute or two. Then came a can of crushed tomatoes. When that heated through, I added a few tablespoons of dry white wine, cooked until it evaporated, added some rosemary and called it done.

I also had a salad with mixed greens, a Cherokee Purple tomato, about 1/4 of a big cucumber (thanks, Livia!), some feta, and a quick lemon vinaigrette.

I took the pictures on the stove, sorry they look extra weird.

Oh, this nut butter discovery of mine is going to be a problem. Today I found some raw cashews in the refrigerator, immediately made cashew butter, and it seems to have mysteriously disappeared. And I feel extra full. SUSPICIOUS.