Thoroughly Yummy Thursday – two eggplant recipes

Two very different recipes for eggplant are offered for you.  It is high summer and things like squash, tomatoes, beans, eggplant are coming in fast and furious.

For the Japanese sautéed eggplant – 茄子 Nasu, you can use regular eggplant.  Japanese eggplant I think has a less acidic taste and it just the right size to slice into “coins” dust with seasoned flour and fry or for stir frying.  I was given this recipe from an engineer from Osaka. It is tasty and a bit exotic and takes simple eggplant to another level.  Good side dish with chicken or pork or on its own.

For the homey and spicy Creole Eggplant recipe, regular eggplant is used.  You can use the Japanese eggplant but it will be skinnier and baking times adjusted.  This recipe utilizes fresh summer tomatoes and is an excellent vegetarian meal.  Leave off the cheese for vegan.  When I was doing a stint in Nawlins as a chef, one of the kitchen workers invited us all to his aunt’s home for Sunday Supper.  This was one of the dishes served. This is not one of those highly seasoned, luxurious recipes. It is earthy, basic and excellent with a good French bread slathered with butter, a glass of Southern style sweet tea, and a slice of buttermilk pie. (HINT) I do not always cook in the eggplant shell but add foil to the baking dish so I can remove the casserole, allow to cool, and then wrapping well and freezing. While eggplant, tomatoes, bell peppers are cheap; this is a good use of end of summer bounty.

Eggplant #1
茄子 Nasu
5 Japanese eggplants (long and thin cut shortwise into “coins” about ½ inch thick or: 1 medium
regular eggplant diced into similar size pieces.)
1 – 3   cloves minced garlic – to taste
1   quarter sized slice fresh ginger (I use a fresh ginger that is grated and sold in a tube
produce section – about ¾ tsp. This way I always have fresh ginger on hand)
¼ c.    soy sauce or low sodium soy sauce
2 tsp.  mirin, more if you want it sweeter
2 tsp. sake
1 tsp.  sesame oil

Combine Soy sauce, mirin, minced garlic and ginger in a bowl. Slice the eggplant thinly. Toss eggplant into hot pan with small amount of vegetable oil and add the sauce mixture. Saute’ at a medium heat until tender, about 10 minutes. Add a little water if necessary to keep the eggplant moist if needed. Garnish with finely cut green onion and toasted sesame seeds. Serve with steamed rice or udon, or not!

eggplant - Japanese

Eggplant #2
Matant Livia’s Baked Eggplant
Eggplant – depends on size and how many you want to feed (One medium can serve 4 regular folk or two hungry ones)
The Creole Holy Trinity – onion, bell pepper, celery, chopped finely
Fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 c. Grated parmesan cheese
Few dashes of Tobasco
1/2 tsp of fresh lemon juice
1 – 3 Chopped tomatoes Depending on size and taste preference. I use at least two. (fresh summer tomatoes are
always best for everything!)
1 – 3 tsp Worcestershire sauce (Lee and Perron’s as they say)
Cooking spray

OPTIONAL: Seasoned or unseasoned bread crumbs are good tossed with a bit of butter/margarine and the parmesan cheese, sprinkled on top for last 15 minutes to get all toasty

Take an eggplant, wash well and pierce skin with fork all over. Cut the eggplant in half and spray with cooking spray. Place both halves, cut side down on a cooking sheet sprayed with cooking spray and bake at 350 until tender. Amount of time varies with size of the eggplant.

Remove from oven and carefully scoop out cooked eggplant and coarsely mash. Add to this the Holy Trinity, parsley, peeled and chopped tomato(s), parmesan cheese, some shakes of Worcestershire sauce, Tobasco, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Let sit a few minutes and taste. Adjust seasonings to taste. Pile back into eggplant shells (or into a sprayed baking dish) and bake until warm and steamy. Add some grated parmesan cheese over top. NOT: Start with smaller amount of seasonings and add more to taste. Creole cooking frequently is “add this, some of that, splash of that.”  Use your taste buds.

creole eggplant

 

Summer Yum – Homemade Key Lime and Peach Ice Creams

Summer!  Visions of cold things go through my head in this heat and humidity:  popsicles, salads, watermelon, lemonade, ice cream….I scream, you scream, we all really do scream for ice cream.

Back in the home days, Sunday afternoons were the time of sitting on the porch, watching our neighbors slowly walking past or sometimes, we’d be the ones walking.  On the front porch in one of the big ol’ porch rockers – back and forth, back and forth.  The occasional sweet trill of a cardinal, smell of flowers heavy in the air, desultory conversation, head droops, snaps back up, droops again…down for the count.  Out like a light but then….

Sounds coming through the house: the ice cream churn being hauled out, milk and cream being beaten together, Papa backing the car out to go to Durham Ice Company to purchase a big bag of ice for ice cream.

During fruit season, strawberry and peach were the hands down favorite. No argument from anyone. Vanilla was perfectly acceptable as well and sometimes, crushed pineapple and juice would be added along with freshly grated coconut and coconut milk. The churn would be filled and carefully placed in the tub. The lid with the paddle (dasher) would be inserted and the lid put on. Then the churner would be fitted over top and latched down. Now comes the science magic part: crushed ice in a small layer, a good sprinkling of ice cream salt, another layer of ice and on up to the top. The last layer would just be ice to keep any salt from sneaking into the tub. Now the churning. The crank would be cranked and soon, ice would form inside the tub. You could tell because it would not move as quickly. Slower turning now. harder to turn – tip slightly so water could be poured from the water hole and then carefully tipped back. More ice, more salt. We’d all take turns with the turning but at some point, it would get so hard to turn, Papa or Grandpa had to do it. Finally, they’d grunt and say, that’s it. Clean ice would be placed to cover and a towel draped over all. The hard part: letting it rest and continue to harden for about 20 more minutes.

Now?…Now??…WHEN??????? and the magic moment. Towel taken off, parts removed and carefully, the lid lifted off. it was always magical to look and see the tub full of ice cream – thick and rich and fragrant with vanilla, fruit, lemon, lime…A special large, long handled spoon was used to dip out the ice cream into eagerly proffered bowls. Then the ritual settling about in the rockers, porch swing, porch steps. Sometimes a next door family would be invited or a couple of passersby. My aunts and I used to quarrel over who got the dash to lick and scrape clean. My great grandfather would settle the argument by taking it for himself. As an adult, when I purchased my first ice cream churn, I took the dash for myself.

Some things to know about home made ice cream: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Let the ice cream mixture thoroughly chill in the fridge for 2 – 4 hours. Acids added to the milk/cream (strawberries, lemon juice, lime juice) will cause it to naturally thicken. Because homemade ice cream does not have the stabilizers, artificial additives, of store ice cream, it will get hard in your freezer and maybe get icy. My advice is: eat it all up!!!! The higher the fat content, the softer it may be. More cream than milk might just get you a fluffy, buttery textured ice cream. Use fruits in season for best taste. Frozen fruits can be used. If using a low acid fruit like peaches or bananas, add some lemon or lime juice for that thickening effect.

WARNING: Homemade ice cream will ruin you for store bought. Homemade gelatos, sherbets, Italian ices, ice milk, ice cream are all able to be made in the home ice cream churn. Good ones can be bought for not as much money as you think. I’ve included recipes for Key Lime Ice Cream and for Peach Ice Cream. Use your imagination. But always let chill and taste to adjust for flavor. If using an ice cream maker that that has the opening to add ingredients, save some of your pureed fruit to add at the last for a different texture and layer of flavor. Some ice creams have a custard base. I do not use a custard base for my ice cream. If I do, then I am making frozen custard, not ice cream.

Key Lime Ice Cream (or Lemon)
2 c. sugar
½ cup lime juice (or lemon)
Zest of one/two limes – 2 tbs. worth
4 cups buttermilk (can use fat free)

Stir sugar, lemon juice and peel in medium bowl. Add buttermilk; stir until sugar dissolves. Chill until cold, about 4 hours. Process mixture in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to container with lid; freeze. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Keep frozen.)

Peach Ice Cream
3 cups fresh ripe peaches, peeled and crushed
Reserve 1/2 cup peaches
4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1-1/2 cup sugar, divided
1-1/4 cups whole milk
2-3/4 cups heavy cream
1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Instructions
In a small bowl, combine the peaches with the lemon juice and 1/2 cup of the sugar. Stir gently and allow the strawberries to macerate in the juices for 1/2 hour. In a medium mixing bowl, use a hand mixer on low speed to combine the milk and remaining granulated sugar until the sugar is dissolved, about 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream, mashed peaches, and vanilla. Put the mixture into fridge and let chill for 2-4 hours. Stir and taste. Adjust flavors if necessary. Pour into freezer bowl and process according to manufacturer’s instructions. Five minutes before mixing is completed, add the reserved peaches and let mix in completely. The ice cream will have a soft, creamy texture. If a firmer consistency is desired, transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and place in freezer for about 2 hours. Remove from freezer about 15 minutes before serving.

Photo credit:  public domain images: peach ice cream

Photo credit: public domain images: peach ice cream

 

 

 

Heavenly Yum-Hummus

Heavenly hummus? Really? I make my own and it is excellent. However, some time ago, I went to a new restaurant in town and had their hummus. Oh my, oh my. It tasted great but what blew me away was the texture. It was so silky smooth and not as grainy as most hummuses (hummi?) I have had or made. It was….heavenly – smooth, fluffy. I asked the waitress how it was made. She was clueless. She asked the chef in the back. He said no way was he giving it up. So, me being me and me being an excellent food sleuth, I determined to reverse engineer his hummus. Chick peas, garlic, lemon juice, tahini, good virgin olive oil….basic. But the method was what lifted this hummus from ho-hummus to Yum-Yummus.

I used canned chickpeas which is perfectly acceptable and in my various experiments, there was no difference in the long way of cooking your own as opposed to dumping out of the can. I did however discover there is an expensive organic brand that is bland and tends toward mush. Regular store brand worked just fine.

I mashed the chickpeas and sieved them and mixed with ingredients. Still grainy and dense. I put in a blender and then strained the pureed beans and mixed. Nope. Not that either.

I put the beans and some extra liquid in my food processor and then mixed. Smoother, but my tongue said, Girlfriend, you still have work to do. I continued. I ate enough hummus in a couple of weeks to mortar a brick wall around our property. Made my family crazy as well.

Reliving the texture in my mind, I had an epiphany – Eureka! Emulsion! Like mayonnaise – mixing together elements that normally do not mix such as an oil and a liquid to make a creamy smooth something else: Emulsion. I learned it as a pharmacy tech and I learned it in culinary school. I was about to make hummus history.

So—-below are the instructions for method. Add more or less seasonings to your taste, but do the emulsion thing. After a couple of tries, I hit on the right method. I dug in with a spoon to test the texture and taste. Oh be still my heart! Heavenly Hummus was now available at my house.

RECIPE
3 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
¼ c. water
6 tsp. tahini, well stirred
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, good quality
1 14 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 garlic clove, finely minced
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground cumin
Pinch or two of cayenne
1 Tbs minced fresh cilantro or parsley for garnish
4 tsp. pine nuts
Additional olive oil for garnish (Optional)

Combine lemon juice and water in a small bowl. Whisk together tahini and olive oil in another small bowl until smooth and blended. Process chickpeas, garlic, salt, cumin, and cayenne in food processor until almost fully ground. Scrape down bowl. Then with machine running, add lemon juice/water in a steady stream through feed tube. Scrape down bowl again and continue to process for a minute. With machine running, add oil/tahini mixture in a slow steady stream through feed tube; continue to process until hummus is smooth and creamy, about 15 seconds.

Transfer hummus to serving bowl. Stir in pine nuts reserving a few for garnish. Sprinkle minced herbs over surface and cover with plastic wrap. Let stand at least 30 minutes for flavors to blend and develop. Remove plastic wrap, drizzle lightly with olive oil, sprinkle on reserved pine nuts, and serve.

hummus1

(free public domain image)

Matant Livia’s Baked Eggplant

Creole and Cajun foods are sooooo good.  Different, but kinda sorta similar.  I spent a year in Nawlins..New Orleans to those who don’t know what Nawlins is.  I visited various parishes as well.  I collected many wonderful recipes and how-to’s while there.  All of them are “Take this, do that, add this….”  Most of them begin with “First you make a roux.”   If you are an inexperienced cook and not sure about amounts or methods, you’d best leave Cajun and Creole food alone.  I would suggest though, you learn how to cook without a recipe.   Make it individual, make it with joy, and like all good Southern food, make it with lots of love!

Eggplant – depends on size and how many you want to feed
The Holy Trinity – onion, bell pepper, celery, chopped finely
Fresh parsley, chopped
Grated parmesan cheese
Chopped tomato (fresh summer tomatoes are alway best for everything!)
Worcestershire sauce (Lee and Perron’s as they say)
Cooking spray 
OPTIONAL:  Seasoned or unseasoned bread crumbs are good tossed with a bit of butter/margarine and the parmesan cheese, sprinkled on top for last 15 minutes to get all toasty

Take an eggplant, wash well and pierce skin with fork all over.  Cut the eggplant in half and spray with cooking spray.  Place both halves, cut side down on a cooking sheet sprayed with cooking spray and bake at 350 until tender.  Amount of time varies with size of the eggplant.

Remove from oven and carefully scoop out cooked eggplant and coarsely mash.  Add to this the Holy Trinity, parsley, peeled and chopped tomato(s), parmesan cheese, some shakes of Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper.  Let sit a few minutes and taste.  Adjust seasonings to taste.  Pile back into eggplant shells (or into a sprayed baking dish) and bake until warm and steamy.  Add some good shakes of parmesan cheese over top.

This is not one of those highly seasoned, luxurious recipes.  It is earthy, basic and excellent with a good French bread slathered with butter, a glass of Southern style sweet tea, and a slice of buttermilk pie (recipe coming soon!).

(HINT) I add foil to the baking dish so I can remove the casserole, allow to cool, and then wrapping well and freezing.  While eggplant, tomatoes, bell peppers are cheap; this is a good use of end of summer bounty.

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