Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Eggplant Parmesan--the rich version

Since June, I've been going on and on about the Texas heat. It's still going and that brings the diversity in the boxes down considerably. This past week we got probably 2 or 3 pounds of eggplant in our box.

It was time to find the eggplant parmesan recipe. My last attempt at eggplant parm (as I like to affectionately call it) was alright, but I thought a better recipe must be lurking somewhere.

Sure enough. What really makes this recipe is the cheese: bufala mozzarella. Bufala (buffalo) mozarella is a fresh mozzarella. It comes in a ball, soaking in a milky brine. It is soft, difficult to slice and impossible to grate. If this isn't easily available you can use fresh mozzarella, or even simpler just plain ole' mozzarella. There will be difference, but I don't doubt this will still be a good recipe.

We enjoyed this. To be honest, I can't remember if M ate this at all--M is my total eggplant boycotter. The boys both did though. This will be the eggplant parm I make again and again. You can just ignore the older recipe. :)

This serves 6. Hands off cooking time and resting time will be at least 1 1/2 - 2 hours, so plan accordingly. (Hands on time is significantly less....there's lots of resting, simmering, and baking time.)

Eggplant Parm
adapted from Nancy Jo on Food52

3 lbs eggplant, peeled and sliced lengthwise into 1/4" thick slices
1 c flour
olive oil
1 c Parmesan, grated
1/2 - 1 lb bufala mozzarella, sliced (or equal amount of other mozzarella, also sliced, not grated)

2 28-oz cans whole peeled tomatoes (or equal amount of diced tomatoes)
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

Place a layer of eggplant in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Continue to layer, sprinkling each layer with salt until all the eggplant is in the colander. Weight with a heavy pot or a cookbook or tea kettle filled with water. Let the eggplants sweat for 30 minutes or more.

Meanwhile, cover the bottom of medium saucepan with olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant (don't brown). Add the canned tomatoes with their juices and a bit of salt. Stir and coarsely chop with a potato masher. Simmer until reduced by almost half.

Remove eggplant from the colander and pat dry. Put the flour in bowl or small baking pan. Dredge the eggplant slices through the floor, shaking off any excess. Place floured eggplant on a baking sheet covered with a coating of olive oil (you may need two pans. I did). Drizzle the eggplant with a little more olive oil. Bake in preheated 450 degrees oven for 15 minutes, or until browned on one side. Turn over and brown the other side, about 10 - 15 minutes.

Spread a thin layer of sauce in a 7 x 11 baking dish (don't use a 9 x 13"---it's too big). Cover the sauce with a layer of browned eggplant. Sprinkle with some parmesan. Add another layer of sauce, then eggplant and parmesan. When you are a two layers from the top (maybe the 3nd or 3rd layer you've made), add a layer of sliced mozzarella (this will be the only layer you use the mozzarella on). Continue to layer the eggplant, sauce, and parmesan (yes, this is in a different order than you started. The last layer should be the parmesan.

Bake in the upper third of a preheated 400 degrees oven for 30 - 35 minutes. Check the eggplant parm after the first 20 minutes. If it looks really juicy, drain some of the excess liquid off carefully with a spoon. Let stand 15 - 20 minutes before serving.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Blackberry Popsicles

The summer popsicle love continues!!

I took a shortcut on this recipe. I think it made the difference between M eating them and her not. I didn't strain the blackberry puree to get rid of the seeds. I just left the seeds in the attempt to save time and effort. The seeds didn't bother the boys, my cousins, or I, but M found it unpalatable. I guess next time, the decision to strain the seeds will also depend on the time I want to spend making a popsicle recipe.

Other than that, this recipe is great--also using yogurt!!! which increases its benefits as a healthy summer snack. This recipe does have more sugar than the other popsicles, thanks to the simple syrup. The blackberries are also more tart than peaches, so they need more sugar. My cousin found these were a great follow-up to a 30 minute run in the 80+ degrees heat of Austin mornings.

This will make 10 popsicles.

Blackberry Popsicles
from Bon Appetit

2/3 c water
2/3 c sugar
3 (6-oz) containers fresh blackberries (3 1/2 - 3 3/4 c)
1 c plain yogurt (we prefer nonfat to keep the popsicles healthier)
5 t honey
4 t lemon juice

Bring the water and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Transfer to simple syrup to small bowl and chill for 1 hour.

Puree blackberries in a food processor until smooth. If you have the time and energy (I didn't), pour the puree through a strainer set over a medium bowl. Using a spatula, press the solids through the strainer. The seeds should be left in the strainer and discarded. Measure 2 c puree (the rest can be used for another purpose, like spooning over ice cream or pancakes or waffles or angel food cake) and combine with simple syrup, yogurt, honey, and lime juice. Stir to combine.

Place in popsicle makers. If using a Zoku, these will take 8 - 10 minutes (slightly longer than popsicles without yogurt in them). Otherwise, freeze the popsicles at least 8 hours or overnight.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Mock Manti with Eggplant

This summer, as I looked for eggplant recipes, I discovered they fell into two camps: a baked moussaka type dish or a tomato sauce/pasta type dish. Those recipes just seemed so last year to me. I wanted something different, something new.

I was excited to find this recipe. Manti is a Turkish/Armenian dish with homemade dumplings. The recipe I used substituted pasta for the homemade dumplings, a substitution I appreciated. Authentic manti also doesn't have eggplant, however the recipe also used that. I've never had real manti so I had no problem using this version of the recipe. It was exactly like I had expected it to taste, so no disappointment about it meeting any expectations. If you are a lover of true, authentic manti, maybe you shouldn't make this, or make it and call it something else.

I risked it and followed the recipe, using ground lamb instead of ground beef (Curtis isn't a lamb fan). It was worth the risk. We both loved it with the ground lamb and the different flavor the lamb gave it. The kids weren't excited about it, but I have yet to get them to eat eggplant in anything but baba ganoush consistently. I think it's the consistency.

I will definitely make this again.

This will serve 4.

Mock Manti with Eggplant
adapted from In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite by Melissa Clark

1 lb eggplant, diced into 1/2 " cubes
5 T extra virgin olive oil
1/2 t salt
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 c onion (or 1 large shallot), minced
1 1/2 T fresh mint, chopped
1/2 lb bowtie or other thick, chunky pasta
6 T unsalted butter
2/3 c plain Greek Yogurt

Toss the eggplant with 1/4 c oil and large pinch of salt. Spread on a baking sheet and roast until crisp and brown, about 15 - 20 minutes. Stir gently once to help even browning.

After the eggplant is browned and crispy, heat remaining 1 T oil. Add 3 cloves minced garlic and onion and saute until garlic is fragrant. Add the lamb, a little salt, and a dash of black pepper, to taste. Saute until the lamb is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Stir in the mint and cook another 2 minutes. Stir in the eggplant. Taste and add more salt or pepper as desired.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta until al dente. While the pasta cooks, melt the butter in a small saucepan. Watch closely and cook until the butter is browned and smells nutty (the nutty smell is the easiest way for me to tell). In a small bowl, stir together the yogurt and a pinch of salt.

To serve, drain cooked pasta and place on serving platter. Top with lamb-eggplant mixture. If you know your kids won't eat the yogurt sauce (like mine wouldn't), spread the yogurt sauce over half (or however much you want to eat). Pour the melted butter over top of yogurt.

Add roasted pepper flakes if desired.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Peaches and Cream Popsicles

While the kids loved the peach mango popsicles, my mom and I loved the peaches and cream popsicles. I plan to keep serving these to my kids, in hopes that they'll eventually like them.

The fact that these have Greek yogurt in them thrills me. I like the idea of getting some calcium and protein with the fruit.

Can't say much more about them than that. Great popsicles!

Makes 6 popsicles.

Peaches and Cream Popsicles

2 -3 peaches, pureed (equal to 1 c of pureed peaches)
1 peach, diced (equal to 1/2 c of diced peaches)
6 T milk
1 (5.3-oz) container of Greek vanilla yogurt
2 t agave nectar or sugar (or more depending on sweetness of peaches)

Mix together pureed peaches, milk, yogurt, and agave nectar until smooth. Stir in diced peaches. Fill popsicles molds and freeze, 7 -9 minutes in the magical Zoku popsicle maker or 4 hours in the freezer.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Mexican Cabbage Salad

One of the beauties of our CSA this summer has been the cold storage vegetables we are getting on these 107 degrees days. (Yes, days is plural). Thus, I get to have some nice cabbage salad to go with my meals, making the summer feel more summery sometimes.

Part of our summer craziness was having about 4 weeks worth of guests staying at our house this summer. All of those were family, but family or not, that's a lot of cooking, entertaining, and runs to the airport. When my cousins came, they got in late afternoon on a weekday, which made it difficult to plan or prepare for supper. I decided to do pulled pork tacos in the slow cooker and decided to have cabbage salad to go with it. Although this summer, I am mixing and matching cuisines on a regular basis, I decided to keep it kinda on a Mexican theme. Thanks to Jamie Oliver for calling this cabbage Mexican and letting me use it. (I see the humor in that sentence).

All the teenagers and adults enjoyed this. I believe my boys tried it. M didn't, but she's not a cabbage fan. It was a nice light salad, good with tacos. It was a nice change from my usual Asian cabbage salads or my other cabbage salads (this will be number 7 and I just discovered another favorite hasn't made it yet).

Serves 4 (maybe 6 if people aren't cabbage fans)

Mexican Cabbage Salad
adapted from Jamie Oliver

1 small cabbage (or 1/2 red and 1/2 white small cabbage), about 4 - 5 cups, thinly sliced
small bunch of radishes (optional--we have no radishes these days), thinly sliced
2 carrots, finely sliced
a large bunch of cilantro, finely chopped
1 -2 jalapeno or other chiles, thinly sliced (optional)
juice of 2 - 3 limes
extra virgin olive oil

Mix together cabbage, radishes, carrots, and most of the cilantro. If you are using red cabbage, you may want to wait until the very end to stir it in so the red color doesn't bleed into the white of the cabbage and radishes. Stir in the jalapenos, if using and a little olive oil. Add most of the lime juice, a fat pinch of salt, and toss. Taste, adjust seasonings, adding more olive oil, lime juice, or salt as necessary.

You could also add a thinly sliced red onion if you are a raw onion fan (I'm not).

Friday, August 19, 2011

Peach Mango Popsicles

Did you know that the 8th year wedding anniversary is popsicles? OK, maybe officially it is bronze, but bronze schmonze. In our house, it was popsicles! For our anniversary I got Curtis a Zoku popsicle maker.

Maybe this was one of those gifts that was as much for me as it was for Curtis. Maybe I loved the idea of having healthy popsicles for our kids in 7 minutes (how long it takes for popsicles to freeze). Maybe this was the first anniversary gift I had ever gotten Curtis. Maybe I won't get him another one for another 8 years, say for our 16th anniversary which I hear is an expensive saute pan year. :)

We've enjoyed many popsicles many times this summer. The kids' favorite (besides straight up orange juice popsicles) are the Peach Mango Popsicles.

Peach Mango Popsicles
from Whole Foods Market website

1 mango, peeled, seeded, and pureed (it should equal 1 c pureed)
2 -3 peaches, pitted and pureed (it should equal 1 c pureed)
1/4 c water
2 T sugar (or agave nectar would work too, use less agave nectar than you would sugar)
lime or lemon juice, to taste

Combine fruits in a medium bowl. In a small pan, heat water and sugar, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add to the fruit. Add lime or lemon juice to taste.

Fill popsicle molds. (Magical Zoku molds take 7 minutes to freeze! Otherwise, freeze until set, 3 - 4 hours).

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Cheesy Summer Squash Gratin with Parsley Pesto

Oh friends. I've missed you.

My blogging has been slim this summer, I know. I've been cooking though and I have a whole slew of recipes to post. Last summer, my unofficial theme was Eastern Mediteranean cuisine---mostly Greek with some Middle Eastern thrown in. This summer, any theme, official or unofficial has been thrown aside. I went through a no tomato sauce phase---tired of pasta with roasted eggplant. Homemade pita has seemed too time consuming this summer, so the mezze meal and souvlaki has been less frequent.

Instead, I have cooked whatever I have felt like---Turkish one day, Hill Country Texan the next day, Italian the next, and Vietnamese the following. I've been all over the place.

This recipe falls in the Hill Country Texan category, coming from Food52 via someone named Paula who is a chef in Austin (that narrows it down, doesn't it). It features summer squash, chiles, parsley, and mint, which all grow copiously in Austin (except for this year---our year of excessive heat and exceptional drought).

Curtis, my mom and I liked it. It was a way we could handle summer squash, one of our least favorite of all summer produce. Unfortunately, I made this in beginning of July and here it is the middle of August, the recipe on my iPad so I didn't scribble notes about the changes/adjustments I'd made. Sorry.

This will serve 4.

Cheesy Summer Squash Gratin with Parsley Pesto
adapted from Amanda Hesser on

1 t fresh oregano leaves (1/2 t dried)
1/4 c fresh mint, thick stems discarded
1 c parsley
1/2 - 3/4 c extra virgin olive oil
1 small clove garlic
1 anchovy
1 T capers, drained
1/2 lemon

2 lbs summer squash, slice 1/8" thin
1 1/2 c breadcrumbs
3 T butter
3/4 c sliced shallot, green onion, or regular onion (I used a regular onion)
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 T fresh thyme leaves, minced
1 green chile (Hatch or Jalapeno, depending on how spicy you want it, choose your chile accordingly), seeded and finely chopped (the chile is optional, too)
1 c grated Gruyere or Swiss cheese

To make the pesto: Using a food processor, process the oregano, mint, and parsley to a paste. Add some olive oil and process a little more. Add the anchovy and garlic and pulse a few times to incorporate with the pesto. Add the capers a pulse a few more times---you don't want the capers smashed to smithereens. Transfer to a bowl and stir in more of the oil, adding a couple of tablespoons at a time, until the pesto is somewhat runny and pourable. Taste and season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice.

To make the gratin: Toss the sliced summer squash in a bowl with 1 t salt and let set 10 minutes. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small pan heated over medium heat. Cook the butter until is browned (it will smell nutty). Put the breadcrumbs in a bowl, pour browned butter over top, scraping the pan to get all the browned bits stuck to the bottom, and toss well. Drain the sweated squash (it's called sweating because the salt draws the water out of the squash, making it look like it has, in fact, sweated) and transfer it to a large mixing bowl. Add the onion (shallot, green onion, etc), garlic, thyme, chile (if using), 1/2 c of the pesto, and some pepper. Toss to combine. Add the cheese and half of the breadcrumbs. Toss again. Place the squash in a 9" round gratin dish or cast iron skillet (that's what I used). Top with the remaining bread crumbs and bake in a preheated 400 degrees oven for 35 - 40 minutes, or until the squash is tender and the top is crisp.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Slow Cooker Pork Tacos

Every time I make this, I scour this blog looking for where I posted this recipe. I never find it. I guess I've never posted this before.

This is quickly becoming my go to slow cooker recipe. I make it when I have a late afternoon airport run and am not at home to make supper. I make it when we have a play date/supper date and I don't want to spend time making supper. I make it when I need an after swim practice meal. Yep. It's one of those go to meals.

A 4lb bone-in, boston butt will serve 6 - 8. If possible, make the onions, the day before you want to eat.

Slow Cooker Pork Tacos
adapted from Merrill at Food52

3 - 4 t cumin seeds (2 t ground)
1 - 2 t coriander seeds (1 t ground)
3 - 6 t chili powder (I like New Mexican because it has good flavor but isn't spicy)
1 t dried oregano
4 lbs bone-in, bost butt, very large pieces of fat trimmed
olive oil
1 medium onion chopped
1 poblano pepper, chopped (optional)
1 serrano or jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (15-oz) can diced tomatoes, with their juices
1 c water or chicken stock (fill the tomato can half up with water and use that)
2 large limes

corn tortillas
2 - 4 avocados, peeled and cut into thin slices
sour cream

Pickled Onions
1 medium red onion, sliced thinly
1 T kosher salt
2 T sugar
1/4 medium beet, peeled
handful cilantro
a lot of cider vinegar

For the onions: Put the onion in a microwaveable container. Add the salt, sugar, beet, and cilantro. Cover everything with 1 part water to 2 parts vinegar (in other words, 1 c water to 2 c vinegar). Microwave 1 minute, stir, and microwave another minute. Cool, cover, and refrigerate overnight (or until serving).

For the pork: Put the cumin and coriander in a small pan and set over medium heat. Toast the spices a minute or two, shaking the pan occasionally, until they're fragrant. Grind the spices using a spice grinder and set aside. Meanwhile, heat 1 T oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Season all sides of the pork with salt. Put in skillet and brown on all sides. Transfer to slow cooker. Drain a little of the fat off and saute the onions and peppers, if using, until soft. Add the garlic and saute another minute. Stir in the spice mixture and cook another minute. Transfer the onion and spices to the slow cooker. With the skillet still over the heat, pour the water into the skillet, stirring to loosen all the browned bits and spices on the bottom of the pan. Pour into the slow cooker along with the diced tomatoes and the juice of the a lime.

Cook in a slow cooker over low heat for 6 - 8 hours. Before serving, remove meat from pot. Discard bone and large chunks of fat. Shred the pork using two forks and adjust seasonings (salt and chili powder) as needed. Serve on top of a tortilla with an avocado slice, some pickled onions, a sprig of cilantro, and a dollop of sour cream or salsa if desired. Squeeze a lime wedge over top.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Tortilla Espanola

This is summer is turning out to be the hottest, driest summer I've ever lived through. I've learned that enduring oppressing heat can be just as hard mentally as the long, cold dark winters of the North. Like the harsh winters of the Northern locales, 51 days (and counting, with no end in sight), greatly decreases the diversity of crops in the CSA box.

Thankfully, our farm purchased several milk trucks that they've turned into cold storage. Thus in the midst of the heat that can bring down even the most optimistic person we are still getting BEETS! and POTATOES!! and CABBAGE!!!! All are welcome in tucked in between eggplant, peppers. and okra. (By the way, I have decided I want to buy a wine refrigerator for the sole person as using as a cold store for my root vegetables and winter squash. I wonder if I can convince Curtis?).

I have turned to this Tortilla Espanola (or Spanish tortilla) to help provide some potato variety. Spanish tortillas are nothing like tortilla you find in Mexico and Central America. A Spanish tortilla is more like a frittata----slices of potatoes, strips of onions, a little Spanish chorizo (again, nothing like Mexican chorizo), and lots of eggs. I make mine in a black skillet, both on the stove and finished in the oven.

A note on Spanish chorizo. Spanish chorizo is a cured sausage that will be found with other shelf stable salamis or summer sausage. It will not be refrigerated at the grocery store. If you can't find it, substitute shelf-stable salami.

Tortilla Espanola
adapted from Misskittin and Joy Manning on Food52

1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 lb potatoes
4 oz Spanish chorizo, diced small (shelf-stable, dried chorizo)
6 T olive oil
3/4 t salt
6 eggs, beaten
black pepper to taste

Cover potatoes with water in a pot and bring to a boil. Cook until potatoes can be pierced easily with a sharp knife. Remove from water and let cool. When they are cool enough to handle, slice into 1/8 - 1/4" slices.

In a black skillet (or your choice), heat 2 T oil over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until soft. Add the chorizo and cook until the chorizo renders some of its fat. Add the potatoes and toss gently so the potatoes aren't broken up. Pour beaten eggs over the potato mixture. Season with salt and pepper Allow to cook on the stove, without stirring, until the edges are setting up and the eggs are starting to look cooked on the bottom, between 5 - 10 minutes. Turn on the broiler and place skillet 4" under the heating unit. Broil until the tortilla puffs and is browned, about 5 - 10 minutes (depending on your broiler). Cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature. Add some tabasco, salsa, or a couple of slices of Manchego cheese on the side.