Posts Tagged ‘eggplant’

6
May

Quiche two ways, both dodgy and delicious

   Posted by: Livia    in dinner/lunch, Recipe

The past couple weeks, my friends and I have been having collaborative dinners.

Yesterday, it went like this:

NoCounterspace: if you want to have dinner at my house (dining out is fine), I have: more potatoes, more asparagus, bell peppers, onions, eggs, cooked zucchini of dubious virtue. I could make a frittata or possibly a pizza (never tried before, but I think I can buy pre-made dough at the coop sometimes).

geeksdoitbetter: i have roasted eggplant, mushrooms, onions wanna make a quiche?

NoCounterspace: There could be quiche!

geeksdoitbetter: shall we pitch the communal cooking idea @ Lulu?

And the pitch went like this:

Lulu –

Geeksdoitbetter has concocted a quiche dinner idea. It could be cooked your house, or at mine if you want some but not until 7pm.

ingredient options from me include:
more potatoes
more asparagus
bell peppers
onions
fresh or roasted garlic
cooked zucchini of dubious virtue (just means they need checking, not that they are necessarily bad)
raw yellow squash of dubious virtue
radishes

cheddar
rustic cheddar of eww
blue cheese
parmesan
homemade soft cheeses

ingredient options from Geeksdoitbetter include:
roasted eggplant
mushrooms

And we decided to make two quiches (for 4 people). One full of tasty things that Lulu’s husband (G) hates, and one full of things he could eat. G was included in the emails and could have been in on the decision making process if he’d answered them, so there’s no gender discrimination here.

So first on pie crust. I’m new to baking, yeah? I’ve never made pie crust. On the other hand, I really like the Pillsbury refrigerated crust that you just pull out and unroll. I think it tastes good and would be aiming to have any crust I made at home taste like that one. So why not buy that one? (note: I am considering changing this attitude now that I both own a food processor and have been introduced to Lulu’s pie crust, which is indeed better than Pillsbury’s – maybe over the next few months, but not this night)

I really wanted to use up some of my potatoes, so the first thing I did was to wash two handfuls (small red potatoes), cut out any bad parts, and throw them onto a baking sheet. I added 2 teaspoons of olive oil and put them on the low rack of the oven. Then I started the oven heating up to 350F, where I’d be baking the quiches.

I tasted Geeksdoitbetter’s roasted eggplant leftovers (eggplant, onions, some herb mix that included rosemary), and they were going to be delicious with the potatoes, so that was planned. If I hadn’t found anything to go with the potatoes, they would have made a good side dish, anyway.

Then I pulled a pound of bacon out of the freezer (because the pieces in the fridge had gone off). Open the package, cut the strips in half width-wise (because they fit in a round skillet better that way) and forcibly separated about half of the half strips (quarter of the pound) out to cook (and put an eighth of a pound into a half pint takeaway container in the refrigerator for easy use later). Put that in my little cast iron skillet and popped it into the oven next to the potatoes, with the slices still all frozen together.

Now for the pie crust. I selected my two 9″ pie plates, unrolled a crust into each of them, settled it into the shape, tucked the edges under and pressed them into place, and took a fork and pricked the shells thoroughly. Then I cracked two eggs into a bowl and brushed the crusts with just the egg white bits (but no need to get another dish dirty – and you can just scramble the eggs for the filling in this bowl). Pie crusts go into the 350F oven (which had reached temperature by now) for 15-20 minutes – they’ll be golden, but not brown.

I pulled the skillet with the bacon out of the oven and started cooking it on the stovetop where I could watch and micromanage. By now the pieces were easy to separate, so I moved everything apart.

Then I took a bunch of asparagus, trimmed the bottoms, sliced them into 1cm pieces, and pre-cooked them on the stove in 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Over fairly high heat (7-8 on a knob with numbers) they got a nice bit of roastiness in 8 minutes. I could have put them in the oven, too, but I wanted to be able to look them over.

From my freezer, I pulled out the tomatoes I had grown and Geeksdoitbetter had dehydrated 2 summers ago and sliced them into small pieces.

Right – so here’s the plan.

Quiche 1 (with things G does not like): Roasted eggplant and onions with roasted potatoes and goat cheese

Quiche 2: Asparagus, dried tomatoes, bacon, cheddar cheese

Pulled the first cooked crust out of the oven… and, well, it has sagged a bit and isn’t all that pretty. Luckily, that’s the opaque pie plate, too. So because Geeksdoitbetter is dating him, she decides that G gets to have the pretty quiche, and I load up the less pretty one with the eggplant and roasted potatoes. I pull out my 5 ounce log of chevre, and I manage to fit all of it in the quiche (in nice rustic chunks). The pie is pretty full!

I mix up 4 eggs (two of which have had some of their whites used on the crust already) and pour in about a cup and a half of whole milk – not all of the liquid fits in the pie plate… let’s say I only got 2/3 of the mixture in. Set that up to bake.

Take the other pie crust, which has stayed in place and is lovely. I dump in the asparagus and tomatoes. And it’s really not taking up nearly as much space. So I do quickly sautee a smallish onion (cut into quarters and them thin crescents) and drizzle about half a teaspoon of balsamic over them at the end. Add them in, too!

So we have asparagus, 2/3 of the cooked bacon (crumbled), onions, dried tomatoes, and 3 ounces of sharp yellow cheddar cheese, thinly sliced into short pieces. I added the rest of the egg mixture and then quickly scrambled two more eggs and a bit more milk.

They should probably bake about 40 minutes, but quiche is never done when I expect it to be. I suspect it’s because there’s such a range int he possible density of fillings and that I freehand my ratio of liquid dairy products (milk or cream or whatever) to egg.

But we had it cooking for about 25 minutes when 8pm hit. By then things were not sloshy and we could relocate to Lulu’s kitchen.

The asparagus one was not as pretty as desired. My last egg scrambling could have been more thorough and patches of egg white were visible. No problem! I’d already planned to top that one with the rest of the bacon, so I gave it a quick dusting of paprika and then crumbled the bacon on top.

We relocated, put the quiche’s back into an oven, and settled down for a pot of tea and chatting. And it had to heat up from scratch, so the heating times are complete bunk here.

But 25 minutes later, both quiches could pass the knife test. We pulled them out of the oven and ate them while hot. Because hot quiche is even more delicious than room temperature quiche.

And they did not suffer one bit for all of the dodginess in the preparation. The texture was smooth and the appearance was lovely… well, lovelier on the asparagus one because the eggplant one was clearly overstuffed and abundant, so still sexy but not as elegant.

Everyone went back for seconds, and they were still tempting once we were full. Quiche is amazing!

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Many of my food experiments are directly the result of instigation from my friend Meghan. And her latest blog post about eggplant sludge, though not attractively named, was also inspiring.

Luckily, another friend had recently gifted me with an eggplant from her organic produce delivery service, which was getting on in days and needed to be eaten quickly in a dish where appearances didn’t matter.

Eggplant and Pasta

In 1 teaspoon of olive oil, I sauteed 1 diced yellow onion and then 3 minced cloves of garlic.

Once the onions cooked to translucency, I peeled the eggplant and cut out any brown spots, and then I took my box grater and just grated it right into the pan.

In reference to my friend Meghan’s post, I’d been chatting with her about whether or not salting eggplants was useful, and there was googling. The end conclusion was that pre-salting doesn’t ‘draw out bitterness,’ but saltiness does counteract bitterness.

So I salted the hell out of this dish. Erm, buy which I mean that I took three chunks of fancy pink Himalayan salt and ground them down into regular powder and added that to the dish such that I was pleased with the saltiness and there was not noticeable bitterness.

I also cut small and added two dried peppers – one cayenne and one other one I dried, which memory tells me was a red jalapeno but could have been something else similar, too.

When it looked a little dry, I peeled and cut in the edible half of the tomato my friend had also given me for urgent consumption.

And then I cooked it until the eggplant was not only soft, but also releasing liquid, then seasoned with a generous amount of cinnamon and black pepper.

Shamelessly (well, mostly shamelessly), I then added about half a cup of jarred tomato sauce. (Yes, I’ve had bad jarred tomato sauce, and I see why you don’t like it. But Classico rarely has off flavors, has a wonderful product as a base for sauces, and I love the jars for reuse.)

Mixed in 4 ounces of cooked macaroni (selected because that box was in front of the queue, but it was a good pairing for the sauce), and that made two generous portions.

Because I’m back on the Weight Watchers wagon, I topped it with 2 thinly sliced scallions and about a teaspoon of freshly grated parmesan.

So please explain to me what to do with this fancy Himalayan Pink Salt.

The crystals are too large to sprinkle on top to finish.

And when you grind it down, it only looks pink next to other salt.

Is it mostly useful in a pretty, transparent grinder and then used as you would regular salt?

Or is there a way to take advantage of the pretty without having to buy purely decorative hardware?

note: This salt was given to me gratis for review by Marx Foods as a result of the entry I made for their free black garlic. There were many more things in the new sampler, too, so there will be several entries mentioning them in the near future.

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Friday
So I called out sick from work on Friday. Yeah. It was lovely.

Basically, I had a food blogger potluck, no food, and performance anxiety. And a plethora of sick days available.

Plan A for food: Pita chips and tzatziki.
I’ve started taking that to almost every pot luck type thing, and I wasn’t feeling it this time. I drained the yogurt, but I didn’t even work up to buying the pita.

Plan B for food: Salsa
I’ve got a butt load of tomatoes from my garden, but, again, I didn’t work up enthusiasm. (It’s okay – I think I’ll work up to it next week or so and then can/jar some)

Plan E for food: So I had a two-week old plan to use up eggplants in my fridge in imam bayildi… and two week old eggplants, which ended up in the compost because they were a little fuzzy. But it was a good plan – and one that would help me with my tomato backlog. So I drove off to one of the big Asian supermarkets in south philly to acquire eggplants (of the variety often found near me, but not when I’m looking for them).

food bloggers potluck
Okay, so let me tell you the genius of using Asian (long, skinny) eggplants for this Mediterranean dish: bite-sized imam bayildi!

Not a big pile of mush! No, these were 4-5cm long segments, each one with it’s own little pocket-forming slit and awesome deliciousness. It turned out just as well as I had planned (and better than I’d feared, the big pile of resulting mush would still have been delicious, though, so no worries). And I got the portion right (about 30 pieces) for the gathering, so there was just enough let over at the end of the evening for a lunch-sized portion for me.

And what do you know – someone else had brought chips and homemade salsas and another person has pitas and dip. No one else had mysteriously delicious eggplant with tomatoes and onions and parsley.

Oh, and I also took a fruit salad which I loved

Fruit Salad

watermelon, hand-picked blackberries, and banana slices that had been dosed in lime juice and ginger juice.

I loved it and thought it needed more of the sauce throughout! Those bananas were yummy.

What else was there?

Teagan brought a pasta salad with mint pesto and an indian string bean and carrot dish with mustard seeds. Oh, and she also had a pumpkin and coconut pudding.

Marisa brought a big jar of pickles with delicious onions.

Someone had a plate of traditional pimento cheese sandwiches. Up here, that is an exotic gourmet treat. Yum!

Messy & Picky brought a tasty and simple corn salad.

North Port Fishington Vegan Cookie Factory brought donuts

Someone made little caprese salads on a stick with grape tomato halves framing little mozzarella lumps and basil

someone brought carnitas

There was a fruit tart.

And the host made tasty peanut butter cookies.

There was socializing.

And then I left.

Saturday
yoga!
pilates!
farmers market! – where I achieved my primary goal of acquiring a lot of dubious peaches.
looking at potential houses…

Meeting up with friends for a game night
I took some more of the same fruit salad (but with a slightly higher ratio of lime/ginger to fruit that for the potluck), but the people trying it this time thought it tasted a bit wonky.

then dinner
a failed quest for ice cream
and home

Sunday
first there was kick ass yoga.
then I went on an emergency quest for pectin (only to be found in solid form at the whole foods)
and did laundry

and then I made jam
and then I made a tonne of peach jam.

I started cutting up and sugaring peaches while I boiled the jars.

first project was re-cooking the white peach with lime and ginger from last time that did not set up properly. I just cooked it down more and added some more pectin from the last packet of liquid pectin. I think it turned out better, but I haven’t tried. it. (yield: 4 – 4oz jars)

second project – was making a non-spicy jam for geeksdoitbetter, but I think the 2 parts fruit to 1 part sugar recipe is a bit too sweet for me, and I like spicy to balance that. Also, I’m actually not a bit jelly person, and I quite like jam from the supermarket. I’m not trying to make something I will enjoy from any ole source, so I might as well get wacky. So a simpler recipe was hard. I ended up adding about 1/4 cup of the cherries we’d picked together and that she’d dried with quite a lot of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and possible allspice. When those cherries were finished, she was quite sure they were way too heavily seasoned, so I only used that many for about 6 cups of fruit and 3 cups of sugar – and then I added cranberries when I decided it was a little too sparsely populated with fruit (if you are going to have random dried fruit chewy bits, then there should be enough to pop up reliably, instead of as surprise chewy). No other seasoning. For this one, I added 3 teaspoons of dried pectin, and it seemed like it was going to set up rather solidly. (yield: 3 – 4oz jars; 3 – 8oz jars)

third project – so then I went looking for savourier options, and started with 5 Spice Powder. A lot of 5 spice powder. And then some ginger juice. And a wee little bit of black pepper sauce. Stir cook stir. And then it didn’t seem to have a distinctive enough flavor, so things went a bit wacky. I added a little rice vinegar and some soy sauce, and then I added some sambal oelek for kick, and the hot version finally tasted right. (yield: 5 – 4oz jars; 3 – 8oz jars)

Fourth project – So I have a coconut, and I was thinking of adding shredded unsweetened coconut meat to one, but at 10pm it was a little much work to start on. So I went for a peach masala theory. I added a lot of Penzey’s garam masala. And I wanted a few more savory notes, so I added a shake or two of Penzey’s Rogan Josh. Oh, and this one got just 1 teaspoon of solid pectin for about 6 cups (maybe more) of peaches. Cook cook stir cook. And then when it was near thick enough, I melted some coconut fat in another pan and fried up a generous quantity of mustard seeds and nigella seeds (and added three drops of mustard oil when the coconut fat seemed to be toasting more quickly than the seeds). Add to jam. This one tasted awesome hot, and I have high hopes for it being my favorite. yield: 6 – 4oz jars; 2 – 8oz jars; and 2 wee tiny jelly jars because I couldn’t bear to leave the little scrapings in the pot to be washed down the drain)

Fifth project – And I liked the peach chipotle jam I made in the first experiment so much, that I tried to replicate that batch. By this point my tastebuds were so blown with sticky peach that I suspect I made it spicier, but hey. Same ingredients at least. (yield: 6 – 4oz jars; 1 – 16oz jar)

project 4.5 and while I had just started cooking down the peaches for batch 5, I threw my Green Tomato Salsa in a pint jar and boiled it for the entire length of the cooking process and all because I couldn’t bear a 6th round of heating stuff before canning it. I’m storing it in the fridge in case that wouldn’t be sufficient to make it shelf stable, but it should at least slow down the aging process. (yes, there’s lots of vinegar in the salsa)

Oh, and I went out to dinner
Oh, and I went out to dinner. With a boy. Yeah, it’s my co-worker on whom I have a vague crush, but I’m pretty sure it’s doomed.

So we tried out the new Tampopo near me. The dumplings were exceptional – with a light skin and filling with flavor. Pan fried to deliciousness. He ordered the hot, spicy tofu – which was tasty. The tofu had nice crispy edges. I ordered hot, spicy squid, and my tentacles were not too chewy. Same sauce really was used for both. And the portions were small, but it was a full meal’s worth and sized right for the price. No service and free water.

And the place was chock full of the most stereotypical west philly people, and I kept getting distracted from my barely coworker level of intimacy conversation by the wacky west philly people discussing their accupuncture and tattoos.

Monday
a little more house shopping before work…

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12
Nov

Playing with eggplant

   Posted by: Livia    in experiments, Food, hors d'oeuvres, Recipe, salad, vegan, vegetarian

So I liked the Imam Bayildi so much that I started making vows such as, “I shall never use any other method to prepare eggplant!”

And I immediately set out to bastardize the recipe. And since they are chinese eggplants I’ve got, I was thinking something vaguely chinese in flavor. Especially since I was reminded of the buttery texture of the stuffed and fried eggplant in black bean sauce at my current asian restaurant.

But I wasn’t about to start messing with pork mince and shrimp… actually, I could even be bothered to thaw a hamburger patty of (nothing but) ground turkey and repurpose it… but I did have a zucchini looking for a home.

So I actually ended up jumping out at bed at 2am after I made the Imam Bayildi to jot down notes for modifying it. But let me spoil the ending of the story and tell you that it just didn’t end up as perfect. I don’t know if it just needs tomatoes to have the perfect synergy of flavors or if it would have been perfect if I’d just added more sugar (or oil!), but I’m still liking the result enough that I will be tinkering with this recipe some more – even the disappointing version is entirely edible.

Tinkered Imam Bayildi

Peel 2 chinese eggplants in stripes, cut in half widthwise, and cut deep slits into each of the 4 pieces. Drop them into a pan with 1 Tablespoon hot oil (see, I’m still trying to minimize the oil, and maybe that’s just going in the face of the whole point of the original recipe), and turn them at intervals until the outside is evenly golden.

Meanwhile, fry cleaned leeks in 2 tsps oil until just starting to brown. (And this here is another place I might need to tinker. See – using all the way up the greens of the leeks was great when I was also capturing the chlorophyll taste of parsley, but it ended up being a bit too much damp green leek in this version. Then again, maybe it would have been better if the leeks had gone into the pan drier (or if there were more oil) – this experiment and reading about Orangette‘s perfectly cleaned and dried leeks has my pondering the purchase of a salad spinner.)

Once the leeks are soft, add minced garlic and ginger. A minute later, add zucchini diced a little smaller that 1cm (so it will stuff inside the eggplant nicely, but not so small that it loses justifiability). Cook just another minute or two longer – maybe with a splash of a stir fry sauce, if you have a good one. I had just finished a bottle, so I did without.

Turn the eggplants so they are slit side up, wiggle a spoon into the slit to open it up, and then stuff with the leek/zucchini. If there is any left, pile it on top.

Mix together – the juice of one lime, 1/2 tsp sugar (I ended up using a teaspoon of the lime simple syrup I had leftover), 2 tsp soy sauce (and I still ended up seasoning both versions with more plain salt while eating, but that might just be me), and 1/2 cup of water. Pour the mixture into the pot with the eggplant, put on the lid, and simmer on low for 45 minutes.

~*~

So, as I said, not perfect – nowhere near as exciting as the original – but still decently tasty.

And then I’ve been using the leftovers.

1 day I microwaved a whole stuffed eggplant piece and wrapped it in a piece of bread and ate it as a sandwich. :)

Another day, I made a salad of spring mix, 1 ounce sharp cheddar cheese pieces, a tomato, and a de-seeded and sliced serrano pepper. Topped that off with microwaved (and sliced into smaller pieces) Imam Bayildi. And dressed it with some balsamic vinegar stirred up with half a teaspoon of dijon mustard.

I think tonight I’ll make a salad with carrots and crispy noodles and top it with one of the modified versions (and dress it with black vinegar mixed with a 1/4 teaspoon chinese mustard).

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5
Nov

Imam Bayildi

   Posted by: Livia    in Recipe, vegan, vegetarian

So I had eggplants and a lot of time to kill last night, so I started looking though my cookbooks for something exciting. So I ended up attempting Imam Bayildi for the first time.

I’ve never ordered this is a restaurant, so I have no idea how authentic the taste ended up being, but I liked it.

I used the recipe from Tess Mallos’ Complete Middle East Cookbook. Only I didn’t have any parsley, and I had leeks to use up, so I swapped them for the onions and parsley both. And I added the juice of half a lime because I had already used its zest in popcorn, so it was just going to dry out if I didn’t use it quickly.

So here’s how I made it –

Imam Bayildi

ingredients
1 leek
2 chinese eggplants
roughly 3 Tablespoons of olive oil, YMMV
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
salt
pepper
juice of 1 lemon (+ half a lime – optional)
1/4 tsp sugar
1/2 cup water

Cut off the root bit of the leek, slice it in half lengthwise, and then cut into strips that range from 1/2″ where it is white to 1mm where it is dark green and tough. Dump all of the slices into a large bowl of water and rub them through your fingers to make sure they are as clean as possible. Wash the cutting board, and let the leeks sit in the water while you prepare the eggplants. Then rub them through your fingers some more and lift the floaters out of the water and let drain. Don’t try to get every piece of leek out of the bottom because you’ll stir up the sediment.

Wash 2 long chinese eggplants. Remove the stem, and peel off strips of the skin so that it looks striped (I accidentally peeled 4 stripes consistently, and that really helped to make them nice and square for turning evenly – worth doing again on purpose). Then, so they’d fit in my pot, I sliced them in half widthwise. Cut a deep slit lengthwise in each piece, stopping short of each end.

In a pan (I used my soup pot because I don’t have a lid for any of my deep saute pans), pour enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pot (the recipe called for 1/2 cup for 8 medium eggplants – I used more like 2 Tablespoons). Turn the burner on to medium high, and once the oil gets up to temperature, add the eggplant sections. While doing the next step, check in with the eggplants occasionally to turn them and make sure that the brown (lightly) evenly – but you want them still a bit firm.

In a saute pan, add another 2 teaspoons of olive oil and fry down the leeks with a sprinkle of salt. Once they start to brown, add 3 chopped cloves of garlic. Cook 1 more minute, and then pour the leeks and garlic into a bowl with the peeled and diced tomatoes. Mix that together with pepper (since you already salted the leeks, take a taste before adding more salt to the mixture).

Squeeze the citrus into a cup, and mix in the sugar and water so the sugar dissolves.

By now, your eggplants are probable nicely golden. Turn them so the slits are up and wiggle the slits open with a spoon. Now spoon in the tomato/leek mixture (or tomato/onion/parsley mixture, if you were following the real recipe). Any filling that does not fit inside can be piled on top, but all of mine pretty much fit. Add the lemon juice/sugar/water mixture and cover the pan/pot tightly. Cook on gently heat for 45 minutes.

And then, even though it is supposed to be served cool or room temperature, I ate two pieces right away – on bread to sop up the juice. And I put away the other two pieces to have later (maybe with a salad).

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I made a couple delicious sandwiches last week because I claimed some bread when I visited my mother the weekend before.

Step one: Herbed Mayonnaise
Cut up into itsy bitsy pieces (if using a food processor, I would still cut them up a bit first so you don’t end up with stringy chunks) the leaves of:
Rosemary
Thyme
Marjoram
Summer Savory
Chives

And then if you also want to use more distinct herbs, pick one of the following and label the jar with that one – and be careful with your amount (the others, not so careful):
fennel
sage
dill
basil

And then mix with your favorite mayonnaise in a jar and let sit in the fridge for a couple days. Also good as gifts.

Step two: Sandwiches

I really love these steak rolls I claimed from my mother (claimed means that she bought them so my father could make cheesesteaks one night and then they didn’t have any use for the rest of the package).

So one of those. Spread with a teaspoon or less per half of the herbed mayonnaise.

Thinly slice:
1 slightly larger than fist-sized home-grown fresh off the vine already ripened tomato (and cut the slices in half)
1 home-grown salmonella-free sexy serrano pepper also from my mother’s garden
1 super small and cute yellow summer squash from the farmers’ market
1 ounce (well, maybe 2) of Jack cheese made by random amish farmers and sold at the farmers’ market (which is surprisingly tastier than their cheddar)

Step three: Pile only roll. Nom nom nom.

~*~

Stir fried beef & eggplant salad

Well, I promised you more salad recipes

Cold bit
spring mix
a few leaves of kale torn up, too.
a small yellow squash, sliced up (why, yes, I thought they were adorable and bought several of them)
scallions
serrano pepper (was actually too hot – leave this off)

Hot bit
I had pulled some beef I had sliced thinly for stir fry out of the freezer, so add about 1 oz of that, maybe less.
1 long, thin chinese eggplant, sliced into 2mm thick rounds
stir fried in 1 tsp of oil (mixed olive and sesame oils)
with 1 Tbsp of black pepper sauce
And then I tossed in 3 small apples, quartered and sliced crosswise, but not peeled because their skins weren’t particularly thick.

Dressing
1 1/2 tsp chinese mustard (which I had thought was supposed to lose potency over time, but it could have knocked me over when I opened the jar)
1 tsp real soy sauce
2 tsp black vinegar
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
juice of half a lime

Aside from being too spicy, this was a very successful salad.

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29
Aug

thai spring squash

   Posted by: Livia    in non-vegetarian, Recipe, vegetarian

thai-ish eggplants and summer squashes

So this is a hella modified recipe based on one in Nancie McDermott’s Real Thai: The Best of Thailand’s Regional Cooking

Original recipe:

Moo Paht Peht
Pork Sauteed in Red Curry Paste

3 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 Tbsp Red Curry Paste (recipe also in book)
1/2 lb pork, thinnly sliced into strips about 1 1/2 inches long and 3/4 inch wide
2 Tbsp fish sauce
2 Tbsp water
2 teaspoons sugar
12 green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths
1/2 cup diced eggplant (1-inch dice)
a handful of graprao leaves of other fresh basil leaves or mint leaves
12 fresh wild lime leaves
9 long, thin sweet red pepper strips

In a wok or medium skillet, heat the oil over low heat until very warm but not hot. Add the curry paste, which should sizzle gently as soon as it meets the oil, and press and stir it into the oil. Cook the curry paste, mashing it into the oil, until it is well blended, fragrant, and shiny, about 3 minutes. Add the meat and stir-fry to brown it and coat it evenly with the curry paste, about 2 minutes.

Add the fish sauce, water sugar, green beans, and eggplant; mix well. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and stir in most of the basil leaves, lime leaves, and red pepper strips, reserving a little for garnish. Transfer to a plate, garnish, and serve warm.

note: omit the wild lime leaves and fresh basil if they are difficult to find

My recipe:

So I started with 1 tsp of olive oil. Into which, I added 2 teaspoons of red curry paste (because this was the third dish I had made from one little can) and an onion, quartered and sliced.

After the onions had started to melt, I added 7 cloves of garlic, coarsely minced, and around 3/4-inch of garlic, finely minced.

Then I added 1/2 cup of concentrated stock (because I thought stock was in the recipe, but I must have been thinking of a different one), 1/2 cup of water, and 2 chinese eggplant (sliced with rolling cut).

When the eggplant started softening, I added 1 yellow squash and 1 zucchini, halved lengthwise, and then sliced into half rounds. I also added 2 teaspoons of white sugar I had with lime and grapefuit zest.

Since I was right out of fish sauce, I poured in some worcestershire sauce and some salt. And since I was out of hot basil, I used regular basil, some fennel, and a dash of five spice powder. At the very end, I squeezed half a lime over it all.

Served over rice, it still needed a bit more salt. Other than that, very tasty.

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I made an amazing breakfast.

The initial plan was to cook down some spinach and tomato and then scramble an egg in it – pretty standard.

And it started out simple enough with about as much fresh spinach by volume as the tomato (so there ended up being a lot more tomato once everything cooked down).

But this was a big, luscious tomato from my mother’s garden, so it released a lot of liquid. So I poured off some of the liquid (into a jar to keep since I could put it in rice or soup or something – and it’d be wasteful otherwise – and don’t judge me because just wait until the depression or the apocalypse hits because then you’ll all want me to be managing your foodstuffs so you won’t get scurvy), and then I poured off some more. And then I realized that it was just willing to cook down into sauce.

I added a bit of 5 spice powder for fun.

So instead of scrambling the egg, I just cracked it in and gave it a lot of channels into the goody and poached it right there, covering the pan occasionally so that the top would steam cook, too.

And I ground some pepper and sprinkled kosher salt on top.

And oh my, it was like pudding – tasty savoury egg, tomato, and spinach pudding. Only sexier.

I have enough spinach to try it again and see if the results are repeatable.

~*~

And there was a salad with za’tar

I went home last weekend, and I ended up cleaning out and organizing my mother’s space cabinet. A while back, she had purchased a tiny container of zatar from Penzey’s because it sounded unlike any of the other stuff in her cabinet (we’ve never cooked with sumac much). A few years later, it still hadn’t been used, and it wasn’t sounding like anything my father would enjoy, so it came home with me.

My initial plan was to soak it in lime juice and then taste it and build a salad dressing from there. Luckily, however, I looked it up online before I started, since apparently it has a sour taste that can replace lime/lemon/tamarind in recipes. So once I knew that was how it slotted in, it became easy and I’ll be able to use it regularly.

Cold bits
spring mix
spinach
sliced tomato
serrano pepper

Hot bits
roasted zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, and bell pepper (rewarmed in the microwave)

Dressing
3/4 tsp za’tar
1/2 tsp crushed mustard
2 Tbsp white balsamic
2 tsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp red wine
3 small scallions, sliced

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11
Aug

my weekend

   Posted by: Livia    in restaurant, Review

My weekend was a little busy…

Friday
I went to play D&D with friends. Some canceled.

Instead, we went out to dinner. We passed by the Jazz in the Park, which we could have listened to if we had sat outside, but opted for the immediate seating available inside, instead. Food was a bit dubious – I had shrimp that had the texture of steak. Later, I ate my back up salad because it was the blueberry salad I’d been planning for a few days.

And then we watched Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, which I had never seen. I caught a whole bunch of references that had been tossed around at nerd camp.

I did not go to Salsa dancing, but I think I shall try to get there on the 22nd, if anyone would like to join me.

Saturday
Got up and made the one reliable thing I have that’s good for a pot luck where I’ll have a few hours without refrigeration before serving: asian pickle (as taught to me by Meghan – thinly sliced onion, carrots, and cucumber, tossed together with some rice vinegar and sugar).

Went to exercise. I missed yoga but caught pilates.

Picked up [redacted], headed up to GeeksDoItBetter, and had an awesome papermaking workshop. I kept trying to make thinner paper, but it wasn’t as well behaved as the thicker ones. Others were disappointed, however, by how much thickness they lost as they drained the water from the pulp on the screen. Despite how new we were, our paper turned out as well as most amateur paper I have seen.

Sunday
Dragged my ass out of bed at 9am and went to my parents’. Had sticky rice, mango, melon, and blackberried for breakfast.

I sewed a couple pamphlets my mother wants to attach to the (now) framed maps they accompany.

Took home some peaches and some tomatoes & hot peppers from my parents’ garden.

Came home. Unloaded.

Met up with [redacted] for Indian buffet (I ordered off the menu).

There was amazing weather. We were getting torrential rain, but in bands with beautiful sunny skies in between. Oddly, it was dry everytime I needed to walk somewhere (but the drive home from my parents’ was a bit treacherous).

While we were at dinner, we got a call telling us to look outside at the double rainbow. By the time we left, however, it was gone. But the sky was just amazing – clear and sunny with late evening’s dying rays lighting up the threatening green half of the sky in iridescent shades of gold. [redacted] rightly said that the tall buildings in the skyline all looked like mica.

Then we went to World Cafe Live to see Bitter:Sweet with and because they had raved about this group. And rightly so. I bought a CD. Go have a look – they have good music *and* awesome stylish performances. They’ll be in Boston tonight (sorry – short notice!) and DC tomorrow, but other than that most of you will probably miss this tour. They were talking about trying for another tour in April. Their soups are always good, so I had that. [redacted] had the eggplant fries, now that the knows that anything (even eggplant) is good if it is sliced thinly and fried – but, really, these are lovely – the eggplant is all mellow, like butter, inside a thick, crispy batter.

And it was so lovely by the time we left (clear and cool – for once in August), that I decided to walk home. A third of the way there, I was distracted by and sucked into a random dance party in the street. So I went in and danced until a little after midnight.

Monday
This morning was pretty amazing, too. I had quit the dancing early because I was worried that my thighs would be sore in the morning and that my knee would get swollen – but no ill effects at all.

We worked extra hard in pilates this morning, and I managed to do an exercise I hadn’t been able to do before (on of the ones where you roll your self up from a completely flat starting position).

And then I sat out on my porch enjoying the unusual cool weather and eating fruit. The property was getting its lawn mowed, too, so I ended up drinking water and attempting to chat with the guy mowing it while he took a break. We were doing really well with the smiling and nodding pleasantries, but he ended up saying he wished I spoke Spanish instead. But I did get him to talk a little bit about Guatemala and could understand his pidgin pretty well – just not so much with producing my own.

And then I went to work, and the world reverted to Monday.

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4
Aug

food list

   Posted by: Livia    in Food, lists

I have way too much meat in the house

food I have
Produce
rapidly aging lettuce (one last meal there, if I pick through it tonight)
broccoli
2 grapefruit
carrots
1 red bell peppers
jalepeno peppers
tomatoes
plums (1 purple/black, 3 green)
pears
2 eggplants
1 yellow squash
1 zucchini
bunch of scallions
1 kiwi
potatoes
yellow onions, 1 purple onion, and shallots

Meat
chicken stock
most of 1 breast of chicken
rapidly aging roast beef leftovers
Harry’s roast beef leftovers
Harry’s beef sirloin leftovers
pork leftovers
leftover meatloaf

menu planning
Monday, August 4
dinner: salad – with pickled carrots, ginger, scallions, maybe some zucchini, and some purple onion – using some of the chinese mustard in the dressing
Also prep for lunches: hash using up potatoes, oldest beef roast, the last of the purple onions, and some garlic. Freeze meatloaf into portions, too.

Tuesday, August 5
try to get to Whole Foods to buy more salad greens before Weight Watchers
dinner: Do something with eggplant, yellow squash, and zucchini. Stir Fry? Ratatouille? Or just roast them and use them in salads for a couple weeks? Turn the eggplant into curry and save the squash for later?

Wednesday, August 6
Think about making a soup.
Also think about what to do with the sexy leftover beef that is not hash

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