Eggplant with Mustard Seeds and Yogurt

5 08 2011

August’s Currypalooza recipe, chosen by Margie of More Please, features eggplant, which is appropriate considering we’re really at the height of eggplant season these days.  Like last month, it’s a Madhur Jaffrey recipe, and again features yogurt in the sauce, which has an unfortunate tendency to break and make the dish look rather unappetizing.

This was the best I could do.

It tasted great, though.  Not too spicy, nor overly mustardy, but with a rich, complex flavor.  The mustard seeds offered a nice textural contrast with the yielding eggplant.  There were some interesting techniques in the recipe, too – crushing mustard seeds and mixing them with lots of water and a little cayenne to use as the base for cooking the eggplant was certainly an unexpected step, but I think it helped to infuse those flavors right into the vegetable.

To increase the spice factor of our dinner, I also made a spicy vegetable dal with green beans and carrots, and rounded out the meal with some steamed basmati rice.

Margie has posted the recipe on her site, along with her take on it.  Rocquie of Sage Trifle has hers up as well, and check Needful Things later today for Grapefruit’s Currypalooza post.

I’m having a lot of fun with this Currypalooza so far.  I love getting a new Indian recipe to try every month, and it’s interesting to see how everyone else fared with the same recipe.  We often discuss it over email, sharing problems, ingredient questions, and the like, so it’s been educational, too.  If you want to join us, let me know, and I’ll be sure to get you on the email list for next month – when I get to choose the recipe!

On this day in 2009: C’est Moi Le Chef! Strangely enough, I had a similarly frustrating experience today, where I had to wait for TWO HOURS after finishing my work before the sales rep came so I could place my order for next week.

Originally published on Croque-Camille.

 





Just Call Me Little Miss Masala

25 06 2010

Much like the breadbaking question, one might wonder why, living within walking distance of Paris’ most Indian-centric neighborhood, I would feel compelled to cook up an Indian feast of my own.  Well, one reason is that the more esoteric ingredients are much easier to come by.  Another is that you can’t go out every night, and besides, isn’t it nice to have a fridge full of amazing, somehow still-improving leftovers?

The internet seems to be full of little synchronicities.  In this case, my friend Ann also got the craving for home-cooked Indian food, and wrote up her adventures in spice hunting.  Fueling the fire, she also happened to have a giveaway for a new book called Miss Masala: Real Indian Cooking for Busy Living by Mallika Basu. 

Real Indian Cooking for Busy Living

Basu also writes a blog, called Quick Indian Cooking, which I am looking forward to exploring in depth.  The book is thoroughly enjoyable, and after I won Ann’s giveaway, I felt even more inspired to go on my own spice-shopping spree and get cooking.

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Beefy Caponata Baked Penne

15 05 2010

So there I was, standing in front of a 2-for-1 organic Italian pasta display, when my phone rang.  It was Nick, and he, like me, had no idea what he wanted for dinner.  Except that given the unseasonable cold and rain, it had to be warm and hearty.  The words “pasta bake” came out of my mouth, and were enthusiastically received.  I grabbed two boxes of penne, and when I looked up, I was faced with jars of Sicilian caponata.  Hmmm… eggplant, olives, capers, onions, tomato… that sound pretty good.  The jar was halfway to the basket when I decided I’d rather make it myself, fresh.  Many circles through the grocery store later (it’s an adjustment getting used to a new supermarket, too), my basket filled to the brim with pasta, eggplants, canned tomatoes, ground beef, a jar of green olives, a block of mozzarella, a container of ricotta, and a couple bottles of chianti, I made my way home under increasingly gray skies.

Browning

I arrived home and started cooking immediately. What better way to warm up a chilly apartment?  I browned the beef in olive oil, then threw in some chopped onion.  Next came a few cloves of garlic and two small eggplants, diced and lightly salted and drained.  When everything was nice and brown and roast-y smelling, I deglazed the Dutch oven with a splash of the aforementioned chianti, scraped up the tasty fond, and poured in the tomato products and a canful of water.

Meanwhile, I whisked the ricotta, an egg, and some cream with salt, pepper, and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

"Alfredo"

When the beefy eggplant sauce was nearly done (that is to say, reduced but still a bit watery so as to finish cooking the parcooked pasta in the oven), I roughly chopped some olives and added them to the mix.  Then I quickly boiled a pot of water (yay induction!) and cooked the penne for about five minutes.  (If I didn’t have the stupid induction top, I could definitely have been doing these things simultaneously.  It’s a mixed blessing.)  I drained the still-slightly-crunchy pasta and poured the ricotta concoction into the empty pot.  I stirred in about half of the eggplant sauce, then the pasta and some mozzarella cubes.  This was then divided between two baking dishes (if you’re going to make something like this, it really doesn’t take any more tie to make two, and then you have an emergency dinner just waiting in the freezer) and topped with the remaining red sauce.  More mozzarella cubes and a grating of Parm finished them off.

One for now, one for later

Both got covered in foil, and one went straight into the oven.  The other I left to cool a bit before freezing for a future dinner.  After 30 minutes in the oven, I took off the foil and let the top get toasty.

Browned and delicious

And let me tell you, tucking into the gooey, beefy, steaming hot bowl did wonders for my outlook.  I mean, if cold, gray days mean food like this, who am I to complain?

On this day in 2008: How to Make Vinaigrette

Originally published on Croque-Camille.





Eggplant and Eggs

15 10 2008

You could say that I eat a lot of eggplant, and you would not be wrong.  I am going to miss it in the coming months, so I thought I’d give it one last hurrah before being replaced in my pantry by winter squashes and mushrooms.  I bought one while Nick was gone and ate half of it roasted, on a pizza with an improvised roasted garlic tomato sauce. 

Browning diced eggplant

Cooking for one almost always means leftovers, so the other half of the eggplant and the remaining tomato sauce languished in the fridge for several days, since I had used the last of the pizza dough and wasn’t really inspired to do anything else with them.  In an attempt to clean out the fridge, I noticed that I had some eggs that needed to be eaten.  Below them, lying forgotten in the vegetable drawer, was the leftover half-eggplant.  Eggs, eggplant… they must go together!  But what will bring them into perfect harmony?  Aha!  Roasted garlic tomato sauce!

Ragout/Ragù

I fashioned a ragoût using the eggplant and a shallot (I was actually running low on onions, plus I just wanted a subtle hint of onion flavor, so a shallot fit the bill nicely).  I seasoned it with red pepper flakes and oregano, and thought that an anchovy would be a nice touch if I had one.  Not wanting to dirty an extra dish, I scooped the eggplant directly into my serving bowl, dug a little well, and cracked an egg into it.  Covered with foil, it went straight into the oven to bake.

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More Pizza Ideas

18 07 2008

Since I’ve decided my pizza/calzone dough recipe is a keeper, I’m finally going to share it with you.  But first, a couple more things I’ve done with it.  The first isn’t exactly revolutionary, but I was pretty proud to have made such a fine pizza from stuff I found lurking in the fridge.

Chorizo, Caramelized Onion, Tomato, and Goat Cheese Pizza

I think we can all agree that I have a slight addiction to caramelized onions.  I’ve taken to using them on my pizzas in place of tomato sauce.  Not that I have had any complaints.

This next pizza is an absolute stunner.  I breaded and fried eggplant slices and placed them on the pizza with a simple tomato sauce (courtesy of Nick), slices of fresh mozzarella, and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.  Voilà!  Eggplant Parmesan Pizza!

Before - Nick thought this was too pretty NOT to photograph.

After - Drool-worthy, isn't it?

It was seriously the best pizza I’ve ever made.  The eggplant was deliciously crunchy with meltingly tender insides, and the cheese and tomato sauce complemented it perfectly.  Now I want more!

Doesn’t that just get your creative juices flowing?  Then I guess it’s time to give up the recipe:

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Nick’s Provençal Eggplant

12 06 2008

Coming home after South of France day in the cafeteria, Nick had an idea for this eggplant dish.  He had seen it on his neighbor’s tray and wished he had chosen it himself, because he thought it looked particularly tasty.  He told me the basic ingredients: eggplant, olives, rosemary, and a bit of tomato sauce or paste.  I said I’d do what I could.

After procuring the necessary ingredients at the market, I had a pretty good idea of what to do – keep it simple.  Sauté some onion, garlic, and herbs, add eggplant (after a little salting and draining time).

Eggplant - raw

Let it cook down until tender and significantly reduced in volume, thusly:

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Aubergines Farcies à la Bolognaise

21 05 2008

What to do with leftover Bolognaise sauce?  This is what I found myself wondering after Nick pulled the remaining Bolognaise out of the freezer earlier this week.  I wasn’t in the mood for pasta.  But wait!  I just bought an eggplant at the épicerie across the street.  I had no plans for it, but it was so beautiful and perfect that I just had to buy it.  What if I were to stuff this eggplant with the Bolognaise?  That sounds pretty tasty… with a little green salad, maybe some goat cheese… I’m doing it.  I’ll just make it into a filling with some breadcrumbs, Grana Padano, and an egg.  Piece of cake.  Except I don’t have any breadcrumbs.  Nor do I have a food processor.  Or even a half-eaten baguette to grate.  Hmm.  I’ll just get a cheap baguette, tear it up, dry it out in the oven, and smash it with a rolling pin.

Pre-breadcrumbs

This plan actually worked pretty well.  It would have worked beautifully if the plastic bag I put the bread in to contain the crumbs wasn’t so darn flimsy.  After cleaning up the mess I made, I still had plenty of breadcrumbs to make my filling.

First, however, there was the matter of the eggplant.  I cut it in half, then scored around the edge of each cut side to create about a 1/2 inch-thick shell.  I scored the centers into cubes and cut/pulled them out and placed them in a colander.  I salted the shells and placed them face-down on a paper towel.  I salted the extra flesh as well, and left it all to drain for about half an hour.

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