Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Breaded Eggplant

A lot has changed in my life where food is concerned since I last wrote.  I have taken the plunge and gone fully vegetarian for ethical reasons.  I have also dramatically reduced the amount of processed cane sugar I eat.  It has not eliminated sweet things from my diet, but it amazes me that cutting out just one type of sugar has so significantly decreased my sugar intake.  I feel great, and that was the point.

I am going try to post here more regularly, so that when people ask me, "But what do you eat?"  I can point them here.  With my new lifestyle choices I am going to be posting recipes that are a little different from what I have posted up to this point.  I'm not going to delete the archive, but if I duplicate a recipe I have posted before I'm not going to worry about it too much as the new one will probably be different from the old.

I have been making breaded eggplant for years, and like most of my recipes, the method and ingredients have changed over time.  My current version is neither vegan, nor gluten free, but can be easily modified to be either or both.

My current method includes salting the eggplant after I cut it, but before I start the breading process. This pulls the liquid out and with it any bitterness the eggplant might have.  When I first stared to make these, I would lay out the eggplant after salting between layers of towel and place books or pans on them to press as much water out as possible.  I have stopped doing that, and now opt to simply press then with my hands to remove a bit more liquid.  This, and dredging them with flour effectively dries them enough to allow the egg and breading to stick and the eggplant to be tender and sweet inside.

Breaded Eggplant
(makes about two half-sheet pans of the cutlets)

3 medium eggplants
kosher salt
1/2 cup all purpose flour (if gluten free, I recommend oat flour)
4 pieces of toast or two cups of bread crumbs (a gluten free bread or crumb will work here)
1/2 cup oats
3/4 cup sunflower seeds
2 tbsp garlic powder
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tbsp salt, if your sunflower seeds are salted, you will need less salt.
1/2 tsp pepper
3 or 4 eggs (if vegan replace with Ener-G egg replacer or one of your choice)
olive oil

Cut the eggplants into round slices between 1/4 and 1/2 inch in thickness.  I leave the skins on, but if you want less fiber, skin the eggplant before cutting.  Toss the slices in a generous amount of kosher salt and leave them in a strainer over a bowl for about 30 minutes.  During this time, you can prepare the bread crumb mixture.

Rip your toast into chunks before putting it into the food processor with the oats.  Blend them until they are sandy with slightly larger chunks.  Add the sunflower seeds, garlic powder, nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper.  Blend until the sunflower seeds have all been cut at least once, but not so far that the mixture looks homogeneous.  Leave some sunflower seed chunks.

Oil your sheet pans and preheat the oven to 375° F. Once the half hour has passed, lay the slices out on a kitchen towel.  Cover with another kitchen towel and press with your hands to force some more liquid out of the eggplant.

The dredging can be done in a big bowl, or the way I do it, in a gallon plastic bag.  Add the flour to your bag, and generously salt and pepper it.  Put about 8 slices of eggplant into the bag and gather the top.  Shake the bag to coat the eggplant, then repeat the process to dredge all the pieces.

Put some of the bread crumb mixture onto a large plate.  Crack two eggs to start into a shallow bowl and whip them up.  You will add more egg as you run out. Dip each piece of dredged eggplant into the bowl to coat them, flipping to coat the top and bottom.  You do not need to worry about coating the edges.  Next, dip the slices in the bread crumb mixture, making sure that crumbs stick to both sides.  Lay the slices on the pan and once they are all laid out, drizzle the top with some more olive oil.

Bake about 30 minutes before flipping and 25 minutes on the second side.  How long you leave them in the oven will depend on how crisp you like the breading to be.

The photo I am sharing today is these babies served with pasta, tomato sauce, and Kite Hill Almond Ricotta.  It was fantastically delicious, but far from the only way I eat them.  I like to make a big batch of these on the weekend and eat them during the week while it is hard to fit in cooking with work.  I love them on a bagel as a sandwich, or just eating them as a snack.  I have also cut them up and thrown them on top of a salad.

What's your favorite way to eat eggplant?

Sunday, January 4, 2015

My Favorite Granola

I have been making this recipe for years now, modifying it a little more every time I make it.  Recently, I have been making it more and my best friend tried it and loved it.  She wanted the recipe, so I thought I would share it with all of you too.

Chewy Granola Bars
Adapted from smittenkitchen

2 cups old fashion oats
1/3 cup raw sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder (like this one)
3 cups dried fruits and nuts
          my favorite mix is almonds, pecans, cherries, cranberries, figs, dates, sunflower seeds, flax
          seeds, and just a small amount of semi-sweet chocolate chips.
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon water
3 tablespoons almond butter

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Put a piece of parchment paper in a 13" x 9" pan perpendicular to the pan so it hangs over the two long sides.  Grease this and the sides of the pan that remain uncovered with vegetable oil.  

Blend 1/3 cup of the oats in a food processor until it is a rough flour.  Stir together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  The oat flour will coat the fruits and keep them from sticking together in a lump.  Pour the oil and water over the mixture and toss gently.  Add the maple syrup and mix until the mixture is a consistent wetness.  Stir in the almond butter.  Turn the mixture into the oiled pan and make sure to press it down in the corners.  

Bake in the 350°F oven 40 minutes or until the liquid is bubbly and the edges are browned.  Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack at least 10 minutes.  Carefully lift the parchment out of the pan and place it on a cutting board, the granola should stay together more or less.  Allow the granola to cool between 15 minutes and a half hour before cutting into bars.  Enjoy!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Valentine's Treat

Happy Valentine's week!  I know the holiday is a big deal to a lot of people, but John and I like to go small for Valentine's.  We usually have a nice meal together followed by some chocolate.  This year, I am going a little further, but not much.  We love the old classic, strawberries and chocolate, but I also remember strawberries and cream as a kid.  My dad and I would go pick strawberries (not a Valentine's obviously, Connecticut springs don't start that early) and we would clean them and put them in a bowl, sprinkle them with powdered sugar, pour a little cream over top, and eat them with a spoon.  It was one of my favorite treats.  Being dairy-free now, and wanting to cut down on the sugar, I went with a slightly different twist.

Strawberries with Coconut Whip Cream

Strawberries, cleaned and sliced if you like
one can full fat coconut milk refrigerated, I used organic Thai kitchen and it worked really well
two tablespoons maple syrup

Make sure the coconut milk has been refrigerated long enough to be cold. Take it out, and carefully, without shaking, open the can from the bottom (upside down).
The cream will have solidified on top, so by opening from the bottom, you can easily pour off the coconut water at the bottom.  Dispose of it, or save for smoothies.  Scoop out the cream and put in a medium sized bowl.  Using an electric mixer, whip until it starts to fluff up.  Add the maple syrup.
Continue to whip until the maple syrup is mixed in completely and the cream is light and fluffy.  No harm taking a few tastes, just to check it is whipped enough.  In the end, you will have a bowl of whipped cream and some strawberries, go at it!

Make sure you have some chocolate for the non-coconut lovers out there.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Eggplant Pizza

As you all likely know by now, John and I are big fans of pesto.  This pizza is just another option for enjoying it.  It is a very filling pizza, even without any meat.  Like most of the things I have been making recently, I use kale in this recipe.  I have made it with spinach and it is good, but I really do prefer the kale.

Eggplant Pizza

Pizza Crust (I use the Joy of Cooking recipe, but any recipe or store bought would do just fine)
One medium eggplant
two medium zucchinis
one recipe of pesto
three garlic cloves, minced
one half bunch kale

Turn on your broiler.  Peel the eggplant and cut it into long slabs about a half inch thick.  Brush both sides with olive oil and place on a broiler pan.  Broil about seven minutes on each side or until golden brown.  Set aside.
Slice the zucchini into long thin strips and saute with your minced garlic until the zucchini is starting to show color and the garlic is fragrant.  Saute the kale in the same pan.

Preheat your oven to 475 degrees.  Stretch out your dough and if you have a pizza stone, put it in the oven to preheat as well.  Build your pizza on a peel, sprinkle the peel with cornmeal and put the dough on it.  If you do not have a stone and peel, sprinkle a baking sheet generously with cornmeal and build your pizza on that.  Cut or tear your eggplant into long strips and place over the surface of the dough.
Spread the pesto onto the pizza.  The combination of eggplant and pesto will make everything hold together nicely.  Top with the zucchini and put in the oven, either from the peel onto the stone, or put the whole baking sheet in.  Bake about ten minutes and then add the kale.  Continue to bake until the crust is golden.
(I love this pizza just as it is, but for you not non-dairy people, I would recommend putting cheese over the eggplant and pesto and under the zucchini and kale.)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Veggie Bowl

I have been inspired by the single bowl movement.  If you can call it a movement.  Anyway, I love the idea of a meal based entirely around the concept of complementary flavors.  Here are my two top bowls.

Sarah from mynewroots Winter Abundance Bowl
Kathy from Healthy. Happy. Life.  Green Goddess Bowl

And of course, my own.

The base of this bowl is roasted veggies.
I then add some chicken sauteed in vegetable oil (my oil of choice is coconut).  And finally top it off with kale sauteed with garlic in vegetable oil.  The combination of flavors is really satisfying.  If you are a vegetarian, or vegan, I am sure that this would be great with spiced lentils or chickpeas.

Veggie Bowl (with optional chicken)

one large white yam, cut into wedges or fries
one medium head cauliflower, cut into florets
three large carrots, cut into sticks
one boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into strips
one half bunch of kale, torn
two cloves garlic, minced
oil of choice (I like coconut, but canola or olive would work as well)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Toss the cauliflower, yam, and carrots in salt and oil (about two tablespoons, more if necessary to cover the vegetables).  Lay them on a cookie sheet, turning every ten to fifteen minutes until the cauliflower shows some browning and the yams and carrots have dark spots about 45 minutes.  While the vegetables are roasting, saute the chicken until cooked through and slightly browned.  Set aside, saute the garlic until fragrant and then toss in the kale and about three quarters of a teaspoon salt.  Saute until the kale is thoroughly wilted.  Serve with the vegetables on the bottom, chicken in the middle, and kale on the top.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Ken Forkish

I have been using a new regular bread recipe, thanks to my sister.  I bake bread frequently, and have done all sorts of more complicated recipes as well as some no-knead varieties.  This new recipe that I am using you can find at Ladles and Jellyspoons, a food blog, or in Ken Forkish's new book, Flour Water Salt Yeast.  It has been turning out beautiful loaves full of flavor.

One of the reasons that I love this recipe is for the same reason as Lucy (from Ladles and Jellyspoons).  She likes that it allows a home baker to create an artisan loaf without too many expensive tools.  I also appreciate the reason my sister recommended it to me in the first place.  Forkish employs a mixing/kneading technique that is easy on the wrists.  As an artistic person, I have struggled with pain in my wrists, something I am sure a lot of people can commiserate with.  The technique employed in making this bread is a nice rest from the normal kneading that can sometimes irritate the area.
This recipe alone is a fantastic addition to my repertoire and I have added the book to my amazon wishlist.  Why not give it a try?

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Turkey Tart

Do you still have Thanksgiving leftovers?  I imagine by this point you are looking for some variety to mix in with your turkey sandwiches.  One of my solutions was a tart with a puff pastry crust.

Turkey Tart

one sheet of puff pastry, homemade or storebought
leftover turkey
bread, torn into bite sized pieces
walnuts (optional)
stuffing seasoning (sage, parsley, thyme)
cranberry sauce
mashed potatoes
whatever other vegetables you have on hand

Chose your size of springform pan.  I suggest a 5" round pan for about 4 servings, or a 7" round pan for more like 6.  Butter the sides and bottom of the pan.  I lined the bottom with parchment paper to help the tart brown on the bottom.  Roll out your puff pastry and cut two rectangles half the circumference of your pan and as wide as the sides are tall.  Join them to line the sides of your springform pan.  Cut a circle to cover the bottom of the pan and join it in the pan as well.

Layer your ingredients starting with the bread on the bottom.  This will protect the bottom pastry layer from the moisture dripping down from your higher layers. Then add the optional walnuts and stuffing seasoning.  Next come the vegetables.  I used roasted root vegetables, including delicata squash, onions, garlic, and sweet potatoes.  Turkey is layered under the cranberry sauce and I found this keeps the turkey moist.  I added a layer of green beans between the cranberry and the mashed potato to avoid color seepage.  The potato layer goes in the center of the tart with about an inch around the outside.  I roughed up the top with a fork and added a little butter to the top to help the potatoes brown.  I then folded the side pastry down around the edges, folding it together to make the top look clean and neat.
Put your constructed tart in the refrigerator while your oven preheats to 425 degrees.  It is important that the tart get this time in the refrigerator before baking.  Bake the tart about 40 minutes or until the top is golden brown.  Carefully remove the springform pan and allow to cool at least 30 minutes before serving.