Sunday, May 31, 2009

Eggplant Rollatini

The other night, my little brother and his girlfriend, Meera, joined us for the evening. I told Meera to decide what to have for dinner- if she could pick anything at all, what would it be? She flipped through a copy of Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, a book I wasn't quite sure how I felt about. Meera chose Eggplant Rollatini with Cappelini, and here is our adaptation of that recipe, below.
I tell you, I was a little bit thrown by the idea of something so soundingly Italian for a Shabbat dinner main course, that I relegated it to side dish to flounder with oregano in parchment. However, it was clear from how quickly these rollatini literally flew off the baking dish that they could have been the main course, no problem. As I sit in bed writing this post, my mouth is watering. I'm thinking of how to serve rollatini for brunch, perhaps next to eggs poached in leftover tomato sauce?
I urge you to try this recipe. The fresh basil makes it truly irresistible.

Eggplant rollatini with fresh basil and cappelini
2-3 globe eggplant, sliced thin, lengthwise (thin enough to be rolled up), salted and set aside for an hour or so.
10 oz cappelini, cooked al dente, and set aside
10 oz fresh mozzerella, diced into small cubes
1/4 c fresh basil, roughly chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
your own tomato sauce (our recipe is below)

1. Rinse salted eggplant and blot with a towel to dry.
2. Mix pasta, cheese, basil, salt and pepper together in a bowl until well tossed.
3. In a 9x13 baking dish, ladel some tomato sauce. To make rollatini, spoon some pasta/cheese mixture on the eggplant slice, and roll to close. Place rollatini, seam-side down, on top of sauce. Repeat with all slices. Cover dish with foil and bake, 30 min at 375.
4. Ladel more tomato sauce on top, and serve at the table, or ladel sauce on individual plates, place rollatini, and ladel more sauce on top, with fresh basil to garnish.

Our Sauce
1 T olive oil
2 T finely diced garlic
1/4 c diced onion
2 28-oz cans diced tomatoes (we used 365 brand)
salt and pepper, to taste
1/3 c roughly chopped fresh basil

1. In medium saucepan or saute pan, add garlic and onions to oil on medium heat. Be careful to not brown garlic.
2. Add diced tomatoes, salt, and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Let simmer until thickened, about 25 min.
3. Towards the end of cooking, add fresh basil. This step is key-- the basil absolutely makes this sauce!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Fiddleheads and other good eats

I just came home from a weekend visiting a dear friend in the Berkshires. Rebecca moved to the Berkshires around the same time I moved back to NY from San Francisco. She also went to Oberlin College with me, where she was an ice cream maker in the coops. These days she is the production manager at SoCo Creamery, a great little ice cream factory with a few shops in Berkshire County. Getting together with Rebecca always means good eats and, on this visit, she treated me to my first time eating Fiddlehead ferns.
I had never eaten them before, only seen and heard of them. For you aspriring foragers out there, these are good ones!
They taste kind of like slightly more bitter and crunchier asparagus, and look like little sprialy caterpillars, or something!
We just roasted them in a pan with a quick drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper, then squeezed on some lemon juice.
They make a great side dish or appetizer, as you can pop 'em in your mouth like popcorn while you wait for your salmon to finish cooking on the grill (that's what we did).
How terrific?
I encourage you all to find your own this summer (or buy them), and have a good roast or sautee!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

More cookies... it's finals week, u know?

So, finals week=craving refined sweets. Hence these cookies, which are the BOMB diggity!!

Chocolate Madness Lurks in this Bite!

16 oz bittersweet chocolate
1/4 c butter

1/2 c flour
1 t baking powder
1/4 t salt

4 eggs
1 3/4 c brown sugar
1 t vanilla extract

1 c toasted chopped walnuts
1 1/2 c chopped toffee candy bars

1. In a double boiler, melt butter and chocolate chips. When melted and smooth, remove from heat.
2. In a bowl, mix flour, bp, and salt.
3. In electric mixer, beat eggs, sugar, and vanilla on high until very smooth.
4. Add flour and chocolate mixture to egg mixture. Mix.
5. Add walnuts and toffee.
6. Put in the fridge, to cool, for about 45 min.
7. Preheat oven to 350, scoop tablespoons of dough onto parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
8. Bake for 12 min.

Monday, May 11, 2009

I <3 Cookies UPDATED

"It's a masterpiece!" read the pad I use to jot down recipes as I create them.

Add to cookie recipe below 2 t ground ginger, 1/2 c more oats, and swap the proportions of chocolate chips and cranberries, chopping both, roughly, before adding.

Cook for the same amount of time on the same heat, and you will know why this recipe... is a MASTERPIECE!

I didn't think it would be such a great idea, but the ginger really makes them wild. If you feel wild...these may be the way to go!

Friday, May 8, 2009

I <3 Cookies

I made these cookies for the same reason I make many things: I was hungry. I tinkered with the ingredients a bit, and one recommendation I'd make would be to reverse the amounts of chocolate to cranberry. The cranberries add a wonderful tartness to a sweet, crispy cookie. I'm not sure if the chocolate is even "necessary", but I love chocolate, so it's not a question of necessity for me.
With trial-and-error baking, there's often error (those are the recipes I do not post). However, this attempt was worth the trial. It resulted in deliciously crisp, but slightly chewy cookies. The oats and the oat flour contribute to a lightness, crunch, and sweetness not evidenced by using solely regular wheat flour. Also, it would be possible to use less butter, too. Maybe 3/4 stick, instead.

1 stick softened butter
1/4 c brown sugar
1/2 c white sugar
1 egg

1/4 c whole wheat flour
1 c oat flour
1/2 c oats
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt

1/2 t vanilla

1/2 c dried cranberries
3/4 c bittersweet chocolate chips

In medium bowl, mix dry ingredients (flours, oats, baking soda, and salt). In bowl of electric mixer, cream butter and sugars until color lightens from original.
Add one egg. Continue to beat.
Add dry ingredients at once. Mix on a low speed until mixed perfectly.
Add vanilla. Mix.
Add cranberries and chocolate chips. Mix.
Scoop with little spoons or soup spoons onto pans lined with parchment paper.
Bake for 12-14 min on 350 in a convection oven (maybe 375 in non-convection).


Thursday, May 7, 2009


I meant to upload this the other night, but clean forgot. Well not clean, but forgot, for sure.
I originally intended for this first recipe to be butternut squash and red pepper quesadillas, but you know me, I can't follow recipes. I have to veer. I can almost never follow a recipe exactly-- I should say, it's not that I actually can not, but more truthfully will myself away from the recipe. Maybe it's distraction, maybe unwillingness to do what's been done. Whatever it is, though, it keeps me from recreating already-known-to-be-good recipes, leaving me with trial and error, which is a-okay by me, in all honesty.

The recipe is quite easy and does not require any skill. Tools yes, appliances yes, but skills, talent, NO. This one is for everybody. It is vegetarian (not vegan, lo siento from the bottom of my heart), nutritious, and makes use of old squash from the back of the pantry. AWESOME! Resourceful, I might add, too.

Okay, so here goes it: Butternut Squash/Yam/Red Pepper Layered Bake

1 small-medium butternut squash, peeled with a potato peeler, cut in half, seeds discarded, and flesh chopped into 1/2" cubes.
1 large-ish yam, peeled and chopped into 1/2 " cubes
1 onion, peeled and chopped into quarters
2 cloves unpeeled garlic
extra virgin olive oil
6 tortillas
1 red pepper, diced small
1 c jack cheese, shredded

In a shallow pan (I used a 9x13), roast squash, yam, onion, and garlic with a drizzle of oil (no more than 1 T) for 30 min, or until veggies are tender. When done, squeeze garlic out of skin and, in batches if necessary, puree roasted ingredients in blender or food processor.
Lay 2 tortillas in a casserole dish or another shallow pan.
With a spatula, spread 1/2 veggie puree on top. Sprinkle on 1/2 red pepper pieces, and 1/3 c cheese.
Layer on 2 more tortillas, and repeat, then layer final 2 tortillas, and top with cheese, only.

Bake on 375 for 25 minutes covered, 10 uncovered. Let rest 5 min once out of the oven. Then serve.

I should mention that my dad commented that this was "one of those things that tastes better than it looks," and that I had commented that I'd made too much, and then finished it all in three days (it made a good take-along lunch)!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The best I've ever had!

In my family, no one can describe a dish as "the best I've ever had", because my grandpa Harold used to say it all the time. If he ever wanted us kids to try anything, he'd say, "Try it- it's the best I've ever had!". Or if he was just excited about a meal he was eating he'd say it. I remember he took me to Paris when I turned 12. We were sitting outside at a restaurant and he had ordered escargot. He kept trying to convince me to eat it and, of course, he told me it was the best he'd ever had. We finally compromised; he sopped up the garlic butter with my bread. But Grandpa said "It's the best I've ever had" so often that it lost its meaning. Like the boy who cried wolf.

Truly, I never say something is the best I've ever had. So when I tell you that the French Toast I made this morning was the best I've ever had, there's good reason you should believe me. Growing up, the only thing my dad knew how to make was French Toast and grilled cheese. My recipe for French Toast has been the same since I learned to make as a kid: leftover challah dipped in a batter of eggs and some milk, and maybe, if overcome with creativity, a dash of cinnamon, and then cooked in a skillet. Served with honey.

This time, I looked up recipes. I consulted my cookbook section. I settled on an amalgamation of different ideas. And I cannot describe how perfect the results were. The end product was a piece of French Toast so moist, so delicious, it was more like croissant than French Toast. It needed no syrup lubricant--only some fresh strawberries sliced on top. The perfect texture, the perfect flavors...I ate it all day long, actually!

The Best French Toast I've Ever Had

1 organic brown egg
1 c milk
1/2 T melted butter
1 T vanilla (*or almond*) extract-- if you use almond, serve with toasted sliced almonds on top
1/8 c sugar
1/4 c flour
10 1" slices challah bread***

Whisk all ingredients (except bread) together in a shallow but medium-large bowl.
Heat skillet on medium.
Place one slice bread in the batter. Soak on both sides, maybe 30 seconds for each side.
Place battered bread in skillet, and cook about 1 1/2 minutes on each side.
Repeat with following slices.
Serve with maple syrup, honey, or just fresh sliced strawberries.

***I should say, any challah will do, but we in our house, we use Zomick's, which I think made this recipe even better.