Monthly Archives: September 2008

eggplant and sausage stew

I love love love eggplant, but sometimes the consistency overwhelms me. I was, still, intrigued by an eggplant stew from my favourite cookbook, Anatomy of a Dish. It turned out to be surprisingly simple for the pretty complex flavours going on. So far I am seriously in love with this book: it’s gorgeous, builds full, complimentary meals and I’m pretty consistently surprised that things turn out so well, given how simple (read: calls for hardly any ingredients) they are. (Like this chicken, but especially the spinach sauce!) Anyway, this eggplant stew was pretty awesome. The downside is that sometimes stew is ugly. And then I’m stuck debating whether or not to take a picture, and whether or not to even include the picture:

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Anyway, this ended up taking a bit of time, but I love multitasking while cooking, so it worked out alright.

  • 3 large eggplants
  • olive oil
  • coarse salt (I love coarse salt!)
  • 1 pound sausage (upon checking the recipe, I realize now that I’m pretty sure I doubled this and made it a bit too meaty for my liking… whoops)
  • 1 large onion, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup apple juice (or, white wine if you don’t drink entire bottles…)
  • 1/4 cup vermouth
  • 8 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 6 cloves roasted garlic

Fill a large tea ball (best purchase ever!) with:

  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds

First, roast the eggplant. Preheat the over to 425 F, and cut the eggplants length-wise and place them cut side up on a baking sheet. Cut the eggplants in a crisscross, stopping short of the skin. Drizzle the eggplant with olive oil, add salt, and bake for an hour.

While the eggplant is roasting, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot. Remove the sausage from it’s casing and cook until it’s browned. Remove the meat and put it aside. Cook the onion in the same pot until it’s softened and browning, then add the juice/wine, vermouth and sundried tomatoes and simmer until everything cooks off.

When the eggplant is ready, scoop the eggplant out of the skin and add it to the onion mixture. Add the soup stock and garlic and let it simmer for about 10 minutes. Use an immersion blender to purée the eggplant and garlic, not completely but to a good consistency, then add the sausage.

Warning: this makes a lot of stew, but it’s pretty excellent.

risotto

Even though it’s still basically summer, I’ve been craving comfort foods lately. This week we made a pretty awesome risotto featuring two of my favourite things: leeks and sun-dried tomatoes. There were shrimps, too, but they weren’t as amazing as the sun-dried tomatoes. Seriously, lightly frying sun-dried tomatoes is maybe the greatest thing ever. Someone should turn them into chips.

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Risotto is great, but it is definitely a two-person job. I cut and fried everything while Natalie took the much more difficult task of stirring the rice. For about half an hour. If you are going to make risotto, try to nab the chopping job!

  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup apple juice (shockingly, we were out of white wine, which works better!)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cups leeks, finely sliced
  • 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups shrimp
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese

Fry the rice in the butter and oil for about a minute, making sure the rice is nicely coated. Gradually add the chicken stock, in increments of about 3/4 of a cup, stirring constantly. When the stock is absorbed, add more. Then, add the juice/wine, making sure it’s absorbed. When everything is being added and stirred, someone else should chop the veggies, peel the shrimp, and fry it all. When the rice and extras are ready, stir in the cheese, then add in the leek, tomatoes and shrimp. Those three ingredients can of course be whatever you want, this recipe is pretty straight-forward and much, much less rich than this insane risotto! But, I am going to try to maybe merge the two into a delicious light(er) trufflier risotto…

edamame salad

I am really into edamame these days. It is delicious and green and I find popping the beans out of the pod so satisfying. But, The Kitchn mentioned an edamame salad awhile ago, featuring shelled beans, and it seemed like an awesome idea. And it is. I decided to throw in an avocado, because I don’t really believe in avocado-less salads, which worked well.

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Basically, cook about a cup of shelled edamame for about five minutes in boiling water. While the beans are cooking, dice an avocado, shave off a few thin slices of red onion, and roughly chop a tablespoon or so of mint. Cool the edamame with cold water and toss it all together. I’m pretty sure that what actually makes this recipe work is the coarse salt. I love love love coarse salt these days. Throw in a few pinches, and add some balsamic vinegar.

ice cream cupcakes

I have a bit of a problem in my life. Basically, Zack is not such a fan of sweet treats. I have been able to work past this bizarre character flaw by always eating double dessert. But, I was a bit at a loss when his birthday came around. Usually I bring cupcakes to birthdays. It makes sense: no cutting, no one feels weird taking some, they’re delicious and festive. Anyway, though Zack doesn’t really like cupcakes, he told me I should bring them anyway since it would be “embarrassing” if I didn’t. Really, this is a long build up to say that some (not many, but some) people expect cupcakes, and I really want to deliver. Fastforward to Thea’s birthday, which was so so fun and featured soccer-baseball, my new favourite sport. Sorry, treading water and laying on pool noodles! Thea’s party was excellent but it fell in the middle of an insane insane heatwave and I couldn’t possibly imagine turning on the oven, though I don’t think Thea expected much from me given my 110% effort on the soccer-baseball field.  I wanted to make treats, though, but I needed a serious compromise and so made ice cream cupcakes.

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Frankly, two main selling points of cupcakes, for me, are that they aren’t too messy and they are very pretty, and these two things make them good for parties. Sadly, these ice cream cupcakes are kind of sloppy-looking and definitely sloppy.  But, they are cold, which in 35 degree hot hot humid heat is very important.  They are embarassingly easy, too, and you can really do anything you want to them.  I went with oreo crumbs on the bottom, a layer of chocolate ice cream, another layer of oreo crumbs, and more ice cream, topped with mini chocolate chips and very ripe raspberries…

The important things to note are that the ice cream has to be very very soft (I think mine would have looked better had the ice cream been even softer) and to line the cupcake tray with small squares of saran so you can get the cupcakes out.  They need to sit in the freezer for as long as they can, and to get them out just warm up the capcake tray with your hands and they come right out.

rosemary lemonade

Oh, it’s good to be back! September is totally the new August for me, as I lost my last official summer month somewhere between an archive and a Subway franchise. Yes, it was a month of six-inch Veggie Delights. But! Not anymore! I actually made this lemonade weeks ago, before heading to Alberta, and it’s part of my new “do not waste fresh herbs” goal.

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Stuck with two days and a bunch of rosemary for the zucchini soup, I opted to try out a fresh lemonade. Bonus: I made more than I could drink in four days, and it’s still good, weeks later (I hope!).

Anyway, super easy, very pretty, also delicious.

  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 5 or 6 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 6 lemons
  • ice

Boil the water and the sugar together to make simple syrup, which basically just means dissolving the sugar entirely. While the mixture is heating up, add the rosemary, pulled from the sprig. Once it’s boiled, take the rosemary out – it should smell very strongly of rosemary. Juice the lemons while the heated mixture cools, then add the juice and the simple syrup and ice.
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