Oven Skillet Peach Crisp

I happened to come across a big Farmer’s Market the other day, and bought up as many peaches as I could carry home.  Of course, this then brought on the dilemma of what to do with allll the peaches.

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After having this as a dessert, I was surprised to find a recipe for it that was categorized as brunch… but who says that brunch can’t be dessert and vice versa?  I heavily cut down on the sugar for the peach mix, and upon reflection, were I to make this recipe again I would barely sprinkle sugar on the peaches.  After all, if the peaches are good, they’re so naturally sweet that the sugar is sort of unnecessary.

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Suffice to say, this made for a delicious late summer brunch!

Ingredients

Topping

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Assembly

  • cups pecans
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • pounds peaches (about 7 medium), cut into ½-inch wedges
  • 1/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • 1/8 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

Directions

  1. Butter a skillet lightly.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cut up the peaches into about 1/2″ wedges.  Toss with the pecans, brown sugar, granulated sugar, lemon juice, and salt to combine.  Layer into the skillet.
  3. Assemble the topping by combining the flour, brown sugar, salt and butter in a small bowl.  Rub the butter with the dry ingredients until a “crumble” forms.
  4. Sprinkle the topping in an even layer over the peaches in the skillet.
  5. Bake for about 40 minutes or until the top layer is golden and the peach juices are bubbling.
  6. Serve and enjoy!

Serves about 4

Adapted from Bon Appetit “Iron Skillet Peach Crisp”

Crock Pot Short Ribs

As my friend recently told me, crock pots are a gift to the modern, working woman who is still getting delicious meals on the table.  My crock pot was one of the first things I purchased once I had enough space and it has served me so well over the years.  From chilis to stews to braises like this, it saves so much time, and you wake up in the morning to glorious smells of dinner already done!

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I made a few additions to the original Bon Appetit recipe that only called for mushrooms, and added a mix of onions, carrots and celery and wow, did this turn out delicious as always.  You can serve this over polenta, couscous, or just with a side of mashed potatoes.  I happened to have some polenta left over (in the freezer, no less) and so just heated that up and topped it with the beef.  Let’s be serious, the real star here is the braised short ribs!

Ingredients

  • 4 1/2 pounds 3-inch-long beef short ribs
  • Coarse kosher salt
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1 6-ounce package sliced button mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 6 fresh Italian parsley sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Crusty bread

Directions

  1. Sprinkle ribs with coarse salt and pepper. Place in even layer in slow cooker. Add next 9 ingredients, cover, and cook on low heat until meat is tender, about 8 hours.
  2. Using slotted spoon, transfer ribs to serving bowl. Discard parsley and bay leaves. Spoon fat off top of sauce and pour sauce over ribs. Serve with bread.

Serves about 4

Adapted from Bon Appetit “Braised Short Ribs”

Baked French Toast

Brunch may be my favorite meal to cook, mainly because it’s usually synonymous with a lazy morning where I’m taking it easy after sleeping in, and then getting ready for a leisurely day reading the paper.

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While I have a great French Toast recipe, every once in a while it’s fun to try a new variation on an old classic.  We were traveling around Lenox, MA a few years ago while hanging out at Tanglewood and came across an excellent brunch place that happened to have “baked French toast.”  It was the first time I had come across it, but it looked so decadent and filling that I promised myself I would try to make it one day.

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Three years later I have *finally* gotten around to it!  Since it was only for two, I ended up just halving the recipe and using a regular loaf pan (about 9″ x 4-5″) instead of the 9 x 13″ in the original recipe.  However, I used just as much bread from the original recipe.  (The following is for two portions using the loaf pan.)

Ingredients

Butter, for greasing
3 eggs
1.5 cups whole milk
1/3 cup maple syrup, plus extra for serving
1 teaspoons ground cinnamon, plus 1/2 tablespoon
pinch kosher salt
1 lemon, zested
8 ounces day-old challah or sourdough bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cups (6 ounces) fresh or frozen, thawed, and drained blueberries
1.5 tablespoons granulated sugar

Directions

  1. Place an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9 by 4-inch baking dish. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the eggs until frothy. Add the milk, maple syrup, cinnamon, salt, and lemon zest. Add the bread cubes and mix until coated. Stir in the blueberries. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the remaining cinnamon and sugar. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the egg mixture in an even layer.
  4. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes until the top is golden and the filling is set.
  5. Spoon onto serving plates and drizzle with maple syrup.

Serves 2

Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis from the Food Network.  

Best Baklava

Baklava

As you read in my previous post, I made two desserts for Erev Rosh HaShana and because my brother and niece both keep kosher and I made a meat main course, my desserts had to be vegan. I’m a pretty harsh critic when it comes to using substitutes for things like butter and cream and simply refuse to make something unless I feel it will not suffer for their lack. Both the Apple Frangiapane Tart and the Baklava were truly amazing. Now, of course, YOU can make them with butter if you wish but if you don’t eat dairy either for health, religious or ethical reasons, these desserts are sure to wow anyone who is lucky enough to eat them.

Unlike the tart dough, working with phyllo dough requires speed and a little skill. Once you get the hang of working with these thinner than paper sheets of puff pastry, there are so many wonderful things you can make with it – everything from appetizers to main courses to dessert.

Whenever I am going to make something for the first time or its something I haven’t made in awhile, I read and re-read the recipe. When you are working with something as tempermental as phyllo dough, you need to have EVERYTHING ready or your efforts are doomed before you start. I’m not trying to scare you away – this is not rocket science – but you do need to be mindful. Follow these directions exactly and you will never think of baklava in quite the same way again.

Best Baklava adapted from The New Jewish Holiday Cookbook by Gloria Kaufer Greene

Yields: About 40 pieces, depending on how you cut it

Ingredients:

9 x 13 x 2 inch baking pan (I like to use glass – it doesn’t seem to stick and it bakes evenly)

2 tea towels (or thin dish towels) soaked in warm water and rung out

Filling:

4 cups (about 1 pound) finely chopped walnuts, pistachios or blanched almonds (I used walnuts)

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 rounded teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Honey Syrup:

1 cup water

1 cup granulated sugar

Zest of one large lemon

1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons honey (I used Atika Greek honey, but a nice orange blossom or clover honey would work. Do NOT use anything as dark in flavor or color as buckwheat.)

Juice of one large lemon (about 3 Tablespoons)

Pastry:

1.5 sticks of Earth Balance Vegan Margarine, melted (you can use butter if you prefer)

1 pound of phyllo sheets at room temperature

Directions:

  1. In a medium sauce pan combine the sugar, water, 1/2 cup of honey and lemon zest. Slowly warm themixture over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Then bring the syrup to a boil (watch it here!) and boil it gently, uncovered and undisturbed (no stirring) for 10 minutes. Remove the syrup from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and remaining 2 Tablespoons of honey. Set the syrup aside to cool to room temperature.
  2. It is easiest to finely chop the nuts in a food processor. They should be at room temperature and if you mix them with the sugar and spices, you will not form a paste with the nuts. Chop by pulsing so you can control how finely they are chopped. Set aside
  3. When you are ready to asemble the baklava, heat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  4. Carefully remove one packet of phyllo dough (mine comes in two packets per pound) and unroll in onto one damp towel. Immediately cover it with the second damp towel.
  5. Brush the bottom of your baking dish generously with melted margarine. Now quickly and carefully peel off one very thin layer of phyllo, cover the rest and place the thin sheet in the bottom of the dish. Don’t get hysterical if the sheet breaks. You can patch it with another sheet. Only the very top sheets should be whole and by the time you get there, you will have figured out how to handle the stuff. Trust me! Carefully brush the sheet with melted margarine. Repeat this until you have 5-7 sheets of phyllo. Do not be lazy – you must brush EACH sheet with the margarine for it to be flaky.
  6. Now take 2/3 cup of the nut mixture and spread it over the phyllo in the pan. You can use your hands (they are impeccably clean, right?) to make sure that it is evenly distributed.
  7. Stack 2-3 more sheets of phyllo on top of the nut mixture, brushing each sheet with margarine. Remember to keep the phyllo that you are not immediately working with covered with the damp towel. It dries out VERY quickly.
  8. Spread 2/3 cup of the nut mixture over this. Keep repeating steps 7 and 8 until all of the nut mixture has been used. Top th efinal layer of nuts with 5-7 sheets of phyllo dough, brushing each layer with margarine. Pour any remaining margarine over the entire top.
  9. With a very sharp knife, carefully make a large “X” across the pan of dough. Cut about half-way down into the layers. To make the traditional diamond shapes, then make parallel cuts about two inches apart. YOU will have a few triangles along the edges but that’s fine. People will still eat them.
  10. Sprinkle a few drops of water (or use a misting bottle) lightly across the top of the pastry. Bake in the oven for 1 hour.
  11. AS SOON AS the baklava comes out of the oven, pou the syrup all across the top. Everything will sizzle and you will think you have ruined it or have way too much syrup. You are wrong. Again using your sharp knife, now cut through carefully all the way to the bottom of the pan along the score lines that you made before it went into the oven.
  12. Leave the pan to cool and rest at least 4 hours but preferably overnight. Once it has cooled, lightly cove rit with aluminum foil until you are ready to use it. It will last for up to one week. Actually I really can’t imagine that anything will be left after a couple of days, but in theory, it will last up to a week.

NOTE: If you had any remaining phyllo dough and it hasn’t dried out, you can use it for something else or you can try rolling it up between waxed paper or plastic and freezing it.

Vegan Dessert to die for – Apple Frangipane Tart

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This past week was a series if highs and lows and highs again. We all attended the funeral of my husband’s father and Matthew’s grandfather. It was a time to celebrate a long life, well-lived and of the sadness to know that he was no longer there.

We are now at the beginning of the High Holidays, a time of great excitement and hope for the new year to come – a time when we each hope that we are sealed in the Book of Life.

While our Matthew and Frances do not live near us, we are nevertheless fortunate to have some very close family nearby. Last night we hosted Erev Rosh HaShana with my 92-year old mother, my sister, brother and his wife, cousin and my niece, nephew and our two wonderful godchildren. Our diningroom was burstsing at the seams, but we would have gladly made room for Matthew and Frances had they been able to join us. Instead, we texted photos of our goodies back and forth. This post will only include recipes for my apple frangipane (almond cream) tart, but over the week, I will include other recipes from our joyous holiday dinner. For menu ideas and for a preview of posts to come, I’ve included the full menu here.

My holiday menu:

Greek red lentil soup

Antipasto al sole

Eggless challah crowns with raisins

Roasted eggplant dip

Homemade pickled cauliflower and red cabbage

Kale sunshine salad

Brisket in BBQ sauce with Oatmeal Stout

Sweet potato, carrot, butternut squash and fruit tzimmes

Apple frangipane tart

Homemade walnut Baklava

Apple Frangipane Tart

Yields: 10-12 servings (This is a very rich dessert so only small amounts are VERY satisfying)

Ingredients:

For crust:

1.25 cups, unbleached all-purpose flour

8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted Earth Balance buttery vegan margarine, very cold

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

2 Tablespoons blanched almonds – whole or slivered

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (if you have it, use lemon thyme) or French lavender (optional)

2 Tablespoons Soy milk (vanilla or plain)

5 Tablespoons ice water

For the filling:

1 recipe of eggless frangipane (there will be some left-over which can be used up in small tarts or if you are into making almond croissants or as a filling between two simple shortbread-type cookies or even stuffed into dates after the pit has been removed)

2 flavorful baking apples like Golden Delicious, peeled, cored, rubbed with lemon to keep from browning and thinly sliced

1/2 lemon for keeping the apples from browning

2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 Tablespoons Earth Balance buttery margarine for dotting the apples

Apple jelly for glazing, melted in a microwave or gently on the stove

Frangipane:

1 stick of Earth Balance buttery vegan margarine, room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

2.5 cups of finely ground blanched almond meal (I like Bob’s brand)

6 Tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt

1 teaspoon pure almond extract

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

4 Tablespoons vanilla soy milk

Directions:

  1. Prepare the crust using a food processor. Pulse the flour, sugar and Earth Balance, salt, herbs if used and almonds (you can make this with butter if you prefer) until the buttery pieces coated with flour are about the size of frozen peas. Whisk the soy milk into the water and add to the flour mixture while the processor is running. Mix just until the dough starts to form a ball on the end of the blade. Do not overmix. Form into a ball and then flatten into a disk and wrap in waxed paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight.
  2. When ready to bake the tart, make the frangipane. In a food processor or powerful blender, add all of the ingredients for the frangipane and pulse until smooth and everything is incorporated. Do not refrigerate.
  3. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. I used a rectangular fluted tart pan with a removeable bottom, but you could use a 9 or 10-inch round tart pan. If you have the room and like making tarts, it is worth making the small investment in a rectangular pan.
  4. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured board or pastry cloth to be about 1 inch larger than the pan you are using.
  5. Generously and carefully spread about 3/4 of the frangipane across the bottom of the pastry. In an attractive pattern, lay the apples, slightly overlapping, on top of the frangipane, covering the entire tart. Apples will shrink in baking so be sure to cover the entire filling.
  6. Sprinkle the apples with the sugar and cinnamon.
  7. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet in case any of the buttery goodness oozes out.
  8. Bake for 10 minutes at 425 degrees F and then reduce the temperature to 375 degrees F. Bake for another 45 minutes or until golden.
  9. Remove the pan to a cooling rack and brush carefull with melted apple jelly. It is worth finding apple jelly, but you can also make your own glaze using the apple peels and cores, cooked in water with about 2 Tablespoons of sugar until it is thickened and fragrant. Strain the liquid and you have a glaze to use.
  10. Allow the tart to cool in the pan entirely. When ready to serve, carefully remove the tart from the pan and place on a covered cutting board or plate.

apple frangiapane tart

AMAZING! Preferably do not refrigerate left-overs. Lighlty cover the cut end with foil or plastic wrap.

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Roasted Rata-shuka

I’ve been leaning vegetarian for my dinners lately, mostly because they’re filling and I’m left with a feeling of “healthfulness.”  This week I decided to make a roasted ratatouille dish that I love, but modified it a bit so that it ended up being a mix between a Shakshuka recipe that I love and a roasted ratatouille recipe that I love.

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This tastes delicious in leftovers, as well, and whenever it needs a bit of pizzazz, I just add an egg on it.

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To be honest, I would probably add a fried egg to anything — to the point that I’m just waiting for someone to parody the excellent “Portlandia” episode of “Put a Bird on It” to just “Put an Egg on It.”

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This recipe with the roasted veggies and the egg make for a very hearty and rustic dinner. Serve with crusty bread (or not, tasted fine without it too!)

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika, smoked or sweet
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1, 28 oz box of diced or crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon red wine or cider vinegar
  • 2-4 eggs
  • 4 bell peppers, red and yellow
  • 4 small zucchini, green and yellow
  • 4 long Asian eggplants, Japanese and Taiwanese
  • 12 cippolini onions
  • 6 large tomatoes, seeded and diced

Directions

  1. Turn oven on broil.  Place peppers on a rimmed baking sheet. Broil peppers 5 minutes per side until black and blistered.  Transfer peppers to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap for a few minutes to allow steam to loosen skins. Remove skins by rubbing peppers with paper towels. Remove stem and seeds. Chop peppers and add to a large bowl.
  2. Turn oven down to 450 degrees F.
  3. Cut zucchini into thick rounds and toss with a good drizzling of oil on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast, flipping halfway through, until golden, about 12 minutes. Repeat with eggplant and cippolini onions. Add both vegetables to the bowl with roasted peppers. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Warm a few tablespoons of oil in a sauté pan set over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until soft, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes.  Simmer vegetables until mixture has thickened and resembles sauce, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Pour over bowl with peppers, zucchini, and eggplant. Toss gently to combine and check seasoning. Transfer to a warm serving bowl.
  5. In a wide skillet, add the spices and let them cook until fragrant.  Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, honey, and red wine vinegar and cook on low, stirring until the mixture resembles a thick paste.
  6. Poor the sauce over the bowl of roasted vegetables.
  7. Fry and egg and serve on top of the roasted vegetables.  Serve immediately!

Serves 4.

Adapted from the Gastronomer’s Guide and David Lebovitz.

Light Salmon Salad

Sometimes all this cooking means that I end up feeling like I just need something very light and healthy, and at those times this very simple salmon salad hits the spot.  We had one of those weekends where we met up with friends and ate delicious Korean BBQ, but of course this meant that we felt stuffed even the next day and needed something to cleanse the palate.

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While I love making salad, it always feels like a “boring” dish to make, so I started avoiding making it as a main when Matt and I got married.  I assumed that Matt would need to have hearty, large meals, but had forgotten that this was healthy Matt we were talking about.  After he asked me the other day about why we weren’t making salads anymore, I decided to put this back into the rotation.  Is it very exciting and amazing and new? Not really, but sometimes the simple dish is all you need for a workday dinner.

Ingredients

1 lb salmon
1/2 bulb of fennel, thinly sliced (optional)
parmesan cheese for grating
slivered almonds (even better if toasted)
EVOO
1 tsp bread crumbs
salt, pepper
1 bunch of arugula
1 tbsp lemon juice

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Put salmon flesh side up on a baking sheet.  Drizzle with some olive oil, sprinkle about 1 tsp of bread crumbs, and a dash of salt and pepper.  Bake for 15 minutes.
  3. While salmon is baking, take a medium sized bowl and toss the arugula with fennel, shaved parmesan, lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper.
  4. Serve on a dish and top with salmon, and serve.

Serves 2

Horta Salata: Fancy Salad

While I love eating kale prepared by someone else, the thought of prepping kale always made me sigh and then shrug and then pass in favor of arugula, spinach, or another green leafy plant to base my salads on.  Also because whenever I would discuss prepping kale with friends, it sounded so laborious: “you have to massage the kale and then let it rest.”  After a few of these conversations, I decided that any leaves that needed this much TLC was not worth working with in my kitchen.

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This weekend however, I was at a restaurant with Lisa that advertised “Tuscan Kale Salad” and I had to order it, and it was gobbled up very quickly by everyone at the table.  I also ranted about how hard it was to prepare kale given all the steps I described above, and Lisa reassured me that I really didn’t need to do all that.

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Re-inspired, and thinking that perhaps I shouldn’t let kale get the better of me, I decided to try a kale salad recipe that I had come across some time ago in a lifestyle magazine.

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While there were a lot of steps to making it, the end result was a very filling salad thanks to the pureed split peas, and I fell back in love with kale.

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup dried yellow split peas
  • 2 tbsp minced onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/8 tsp saffron
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper, plus more for seasoning
  • salt
  • 7 tbsp fresh lemon juice, and zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch kale, stemmed and rinsed
  • 3 dill sprigs, stems removed
  • 2 tbsp thinly sliced red onion
  • 2 tbsp roasted walnuts
  • 6 Kalamata olives, tossed with paprika

Directions

  1. Add split peas to a small bowl and cover with cold water and soak for 5 minutes.  Drain and add to a small pot with 2 cups of water.  Bring to a simmer, skimming froth from the top.  Add onion, garlic, saffron, cayenne, and a pinch of salt and cook until soft, about 10 minutes, adding more water if necessary.  Drain and reserve cooking liquid.
  2. To a food processor, add cooked peas and blend, drizzling in 3 tbsp lemon juice, 2 tbsp olive oil and cooking liquid as needed until smooth and thick.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, remaining 4 tbsp lemon juice, a pinch of salt and a bit of pepper.  Continue whisking while drizzling in remaining 1/2 cup olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Spread the split pea puree on the bottom of a bowl.  Toss the kale, dill and onion together with the dressing and place on top of the puree.  Garnish with walnuts, olives, and lemon zest.

Serves 4.

Adapted from Shape magazine’s “Horta Salata from Zaytinya in Washington, D.C.”

Greek Eggplant Dip: Melitzanosalata

While traveling through the Peloponnese, we were always surprised by how delicious the food was.  Which… after the first three places we ate really should not have been a surprise.  However, we discovered early on that there was a tasty eggplant dip that seemed so simple in nature that we decided we had to try making it when we came home.

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I avoided eggplants for years.  Growing up in a Korean-American household, we often would fry the eggplants with some batter (which actually was delicious) but we more often would just steam the eggplant.  The minute I walked down to dinner and saw the steamed eggplant, the ungrateful teenager that I was, I would grumble and denigrate the unassuming eggplant.

Then Lisa introduced me to the world (a better world) where eggplants were steamed and diced and chopped with red peppers and the like, and a newfound stage in my eggplant relationship began.

In Greece we frequently came across the English menu that said “Aubergine salad.”  Being ignorant of what that could be, I could only think… well… I’ve bought some “Aubergine” colored clothing, so by similar process of elimination that must be… Eggplant?   And sure enough it was.

This is all to say, if you were an anti-Eggplanter as I once was, give it another chance.  It might just surprise you!

Ingredients

  • 4 large purple eggplants
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 125 ml olive oil (1/2 cup)
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped (I used a ton of parsley, but this is really up to you)

Directions

  1. To prepare this super easy melitzanosalata recipe (Greek eggplant dip), start by baking the eggplants. You could either bake them whole or sliced, depending on the time you have available. If you choose to bake them whole, use a fork to make some wholes on the aubergines, place on a tray and bake for about 1 hour. Alternatively for a quicker version of this melitzanosalata recipe, cut the eggplants in slices and place them on a baking tray, lined with parchment paper. Coat with olive oil, sprinkle with fresh thyme, season with salt and pepper and add 1-2 cloves of garlic. Cover with parchment paper and bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, until tender.
  2. For this melitzanosalata recipe you need to use only the flesh of the eggplants. Peel the eggplants and dice the pulp.
  3. Place the pulp and the other ingredients in a large bowl and vigorously mix with a wooden spoon. (If you prefer your melitzanosalata to have a creamier texture, then add the ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse, adding the olive oil gradually on a steady stream. Alternatively mash the eggplants using a fork). Let the melitzanosalata (Greek eggplant dip) cool down and put in the fridge to allow the flavours to mingle.
  4. Serve the melitzanosalata in a small bowl garnished with a whole black olive. Enjoy!

Adapted from “My Greek Dish.

Harvest Food: Rhubarb Cake

So while reading the Financial Times weekend edition, I came across their food column describing the foods that were traditionally served in rural France to all those toiling for the wine harvest.  

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It sounded so idyllic — recreating the “I Love Lucy” sketch to crush the grapes beneath my feet while being fed leg of lamb and this rhubarb cake.  When the reverie was over, I recognized that being out in the fields in the hot September sun was probably not something I would have enjoyed, but it didn’t stop me from making this delicious rhubarb cake in my air conditioned apartment.

When I first read this, I thought, “alas” the rhubarbs have packed up and moved on since they’re more of an early summer kind of act.  However, I then ran across to the grocery store, and lo and behold, and entire stack of rhubarb stems already trimmed of the poisonous leaves (who knew?).

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My husband laughed with me as I hoarded all of the rhubarb stalks in sight, and I’m pretty sure I can now confidently say that I cleaned out the last of the rhubarb.

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When making the batter, I thought — surely I just didn’t measure all the grams out correctly (while also thinking, why do I subscribe to a British newspaper with all their grams!!!) since the batter was so small in volume, and barely covered my 9″ springform pan (or the 23ish cm pan as the recipe calls for).
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However, rest assured, it is just the right amount, and the result will be a wonderful cake where the batter rises and the rhubarb falls to blend into each other with a wonderful, rustic simplicity.

This recipe is supposedly from the Rhône region of France, known for its dry and delectable wines (think Viognier, Cinsault, Carignan).

Ingredients*

110g (3.88 oz) plain flour
60g (2.12 oz) caster sugar
3 tbsp milk
2 tbsp cooking oil (a light olive or sunflower oil is suitable)
1 egg
1 tsp baking powder
750g-1kg (~2 lb) rhubarb, trimmed and cut into short equal lengths
For the caramel sauce:
125g (4.4 oz) sugar
90g (3.17 oz) butter
1 egg

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 445-450 degrees F. Mix all the ingredients, except the fruit, together in a bowl to make quite a soft, almost runny, dough.
  2. Butter a 9″ round springform tin. Sprinkle with flour. Spread the mixture into it. Place the rhubarb pieces on top of the mixture. It is a little difficult to be accurate about the amount of rhubarb, which can give off a lot of liquid — but bear in mind it is a very soft cake. The sharpness of the rhubarb will be offset by the caramel.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes, until golden. (It will rise a little.) Meanwhile, prepare the caramel sauce. Melt the sugar and butter together in a small pan. Remove from the heat, cool a little, then stir in the egg. When you take the cake out of the oven, pour this sauce over it.
  4. Put it under a hot grill for two minutes or until the sauce has caramelized. Watch it carefully, as it burns easily. Leave the cake to cool. It may be eaten warm or cold.

From the Financial Times.

Note: I used a scale and measured everything out in grams, but I included the exact conversion to ounces here.