Saturday, October 29, 2005

Fried Eggplant with Honey and Mint

Earlier this week, Tom at work got a case of food from an organic farmer in the Capay Valley. In it was a bunch of vegetables, some fruit, and recipes to cook the foods they sent. One was how to fry eggplants.

Then this morning at the Farmer's Market we picked up some striped eggplants from Fiddler's Green Farms. So the eggplants, the yellow and white chard bunches and the fresh baguette came home with Antonia and I.

Fried Eggplant with Honey and Mint

Cut 1 lb peeled eggplant into 1/8" rings. Place in a salt water solution (2 cups water to 1 tbs salt) for 30 minutes.

In the mean time, combine 2/3 c flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp salt, 2 eggs and 1 c milk in a vessel suitable for dredging.

Once the eggplants have soaked for 30 minutes, drain them and pat dry with paper towels... we can't fry wet food!

Bring 1/2 inch olive oil to medium-high heat in a skillet. Dip the eggplant rounds into the batter and fry on each side for 30-45 seconds, until brown. Do in batches of 4-6, depending on the size of your skillet. I did it in a small skillet and I could do 4 at a time.

Drizzle the fried eggplants with honey and sprinkle with mint.

The original recipe also called for sesame seeds, but I found that the best way to eat them was savory - no honey, no mint; We ate these for dinner. For a brunch, the honey and mint would be super.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

On Its Way

on its way
Originally uploaded by monkeycat!.
On my way home from work tonight I got a cryptic phone call: punch it down. That was it. When I walked in the door and smelled yeast and its delicious byproducts, I knew that pizza was for dinner :)
Antonia had started the dough earlier in the afternoon and had given our friends the yeast hours and hours to rise. More than double, for sure. It turned out to be a blessing.

We ransacked the garden and our pantry to find some toppings. I had (as pictured above) grilled onions from reva, roasted garlic, and spinach from our garden. Antonia had the onions and spinach, plus chicken that I made 2 nights ago (balsamic-honey) and a fresh tomato. Both were wonderful.

The picture above is the pizza in the oven - on its way to becoming dinner!

The pizza was really good: Here is the finished product. Next time maybe a little bit of olive oil on the crust to get it to brown a little bit more, but beyond that, it was damn good. It reminded me of Roman pizza (the best roman pizza, in my opinion, comes from the pizza stand at the entrance to Spagna station, next to the Spanish Steps. Pizza Marco, I think).

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Potato Puffs

Potato Puffs
Originally uploaded by monkeycat!.
Oh potato puff, how I miss thee!

I was in Berkeley over the weekend to visit my brother and my dad at which time we were fortunate enough to enjoy lunch at my favorite take-out only restaurant - Gregoire. Anyone who has ever asked me where to eat in Berkeley has received the answer "Gregoire." Why do I love Gregoire so? Is it beacuse I know Gregoire and feel a connection to the FrancoGreg? Yes. Is it beacuse I was in there 3 times a week when it just opened? Of course. Is it beacuse I am treated to a new and exciting sandwich each time I visit, from chicken with truffles and celery remoulade on pantifolone to lamb with manchego cheese and a balsamic sauce on ciabbata? Mmm hmmm. Is it beacuse I remember every meal that I have every had there. Yup.

But the most unexpected reason that I love Gregoire is the potato puff. The staple of the menu, like the Partobella Fritters at Rivoli, never fails to bring a smile to my face with that first, often far too hot, bite.

With a variety of aioli's unrivalled anywhere (that I have been), the sublime fried puff of potato is heaven. Nine puffs are not enough, yet at the same time too many for anyone daring enough to walk home without thier hands patting thier stomachs and their minds in the world of the octagonal cardboard box, dreaming of next month's menu.


Monday, October 17, 2005

Steak Taco

Steak Taco
Originally uploaded by monkeycat!.
The most satisfying moment I have found in my culinary adventures is watching peoples' faces when they try my food. A distant maybe third most satisfying moment is when I can repackage leftovers into a new meal.
That is what Antonia and I accomplished here tonight. Leftover steak from last night transformed into steak tacos! A little sauteed onion, so chile and a little bit of fresh tomato is all that the steak needed to be forever changed.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Whole-Wheat Waffles

breakfast waffles
Originally uploaded by monkeycat!.
What could be better than getting a full night of rest after a busy week? Waffles! That's what. I woke up this morning with the lingering smell of batter in the air. How lucky I was to discover that it was not my imagination, but in fact whole-wheat heart waffles made especially for me by my sweet Antonia.

Yes, I made the boy waffles. I love him! I can't help but try to stuff whole grains into him at every opportunity. He's got to last me a long, long time. Plus- I figure this freshly made breakfast thing might mask, at least for a while, my propensity for awaking before 7 am on the weekends.
I think it's working so far ;)

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Lemon Cucumber Sandwich

Lemon Cucumber Sandwich
Originally uploaded by monkeycat!.
With fresh-baked bread just out of the oven, I can think of nothing better to accentuate the taste of the bread than a cucumber sandwich. This one was assembled with lemon cucumbers from the Farmer's Market and Antonia's fresh whole-wheat bread.

1 slice whole wheat bread
1/2 lemon cucumber, sliced thin

It's a pretty easy sandwich to assemble - bread, margarine, cucumber.

Maybe some salt on top, but that's up to you.

Not once have I had one of these sanwiches when I didn't think, "Those English know what they are doing with tea sandwiches." Lemon cucumbers are great because they have those big, beautiful seeds!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Zucchini Curry with Basmati Rice

As I came home from work I was greeted by a backpacked girl exclaiming that it was time to cook dinner. At first I was not convinced as I was dreadfully tired from work; I thought it was nap time. Nevertheless, I was briefed: Zucchini curry. At once my heart quickened and I had to race her into the kitchen - it was time to cook!

3 lb zucchini, sliced into round chunks
1 large onion in thin half moons
3 tbs vegetable oil
1 can light unsweeted coconut milk
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tbs curry powder
2 tsp salt
2 tsp finely grated ginger
1 tsp redp pepper flakes
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds

Toast mustard and cumin seeds in a dry pan - when you can smell the spices, they're done!
Make a paste out of the garlic, ginger and salt. If you have a mortar and pestle, bully for you. If not, I achieved a paste by mashing the ingredients with the side of a knife - I used Frederique (he got a name today). Stir the curry powder, coriander and toasted seed combination into the paste.
In a stockpot, heat the oil over med-high heat then saute onions until golden. Add the paste and drop the heat to med-low and stir for a few minutes.
Add in the zucchini and cook until it softens. Add the coconut milk and bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. After 10-12 minutes, it will be done! yeah!

We accompanied it with basmati rice, which was great. We fried the rice in a little bit of butter before adding the water which gave it a little bit of richness.

Scoop the curry over the rice then garnish with the cilantro and cashews.

It was great! I could not have bought better thai food at Thai Basil in Berkeley. No complaints, no changes. MMMMMMMmmmmmmmmm

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Turkey Sandwich with Heirloom Tomatoes and Arugula

It's just about time to rename Sunday to Sandwich Sunday. Yesterday at the Farmer's Market we picked up a Pugliese loaf and a couple of heirloom tomatoes; Wednesday I picked up some arugula. Today a sandwich was born.

1 loaf of pugliese bread, tapered ends cut off, then cut in half
1 heirloom tomato, sliced thin
1/2 lb deli sliced turkey, or whatever bird you choose

Well, its a sanwich - assemble it however you like! I put the mayo on the bottom, then turkey, then tomato, then arugula.

This batch of arugula was particularly peppery and the bite gave the sandwich an extra dimension of flavor.

The best part was the fresh bread - Even Nugget Pugliese, which I think is great, could not even come close to this bread. On Wednesday when I go to the FM, I will find out who the baker is and thank him/her.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

White-Chocolate Chip Chocolate Cookies

In honor of Saturday, I announced to Greg that we had to bake cookies. I had, of course, announced this to Greg each day of the preceeding week- but with my days spent with the preschool set, and his protecting the rights of the voters of the world- we were just too tired. So- Saturday it was, and is- and they're good enough to quit your job over. -Antonia

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Parties!, 2001, Clarkson Potter/Publisher

1/2 lb margarine
1 c light brown sugar, packed
1 c granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2/3 c unsweetened cocoa powder
2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 bag white chocolate chips (12 oz)

Heat oven to 350ºF

Cream butter and sugars. Add the vanilla, then the eggs, one at a time. Add the cocoa powder and mix (be careful not to go to high on the mixer - you will be wearing the cocoa). Sift the flour, baking soda and salt together, then add and mix until just combined.

Stir in the chocolate chips (the best part)

Place tablespoon-sized balls on a cookie sheet and lightly smush down into rounded discs.

Bake for 15 minutes - don't worry how they look when you take them out, they will set up nicely.

Once they are cool, eat! Or, don't wait for them to cool and eat!

We turned these into ice cream sandwiches after we made these about a year ago. They stand up well to ice cream and are the best tasting sandwich of the dessert kind.