Thursday, September 30, 2010

i'm in love with bread

... but we all know that, right?  I mean, don't I talk about good bread about every 3~4 posts?  I think so.  I made some more of my favorite bread the other day so I could make some eggplant toasts.  But I went with a teeny batard shape instead of the typical boule, and made my eggplant toasts more like a healthy variation on eggplant parmesan.  If you don't cook much eggplant, here's a good place to start.  Super simple and delicious.  And you'll fall in love with the perfect, buttery, creamy texture of eggplant.
baked eggplant parmesan toasts
serves 4
 2 large crusty rolls, cut in half lengthwise, like a hot dog bun
1/2 C homemade tomato sauce (I used diced tomatoes, but next time I think I'll use crushed, this was too chunky), or just some chopped up tomatoes with salt and pepper
super thin sliced red onions
4 oz mozzarella cheese, grated (if you have fresh mozzarella, you can freeze it to grate it)
1/2 globe eggplant, sliced about 1/2 inch thick.  You should have 8 slices.
2 slices of stale bread
1/4 C parsley
2~4 T grated Pecorino Romano cheese (or Parmigiano Reggiano)
2 eggs
1/2 C flour
salt and pepper
canola oil spray
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place a cooling rack on top.  Toast the stale bread slices in the toaster and let cool.
  2. Beat the eggs in a shallow dish and set aside.  In another shallow dish, place the flour and season with salt and lots of pepper.
  3. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the toasted bread, parsley, and Pecorino Romano cheese.  Place seasoned breadcrumbs in another shallow dish.
  4. First dredge the eggplant slices in the seasoned flour, then dip in the egg mixture, letting the excess drip off, and then coat with the breadcrumbs.  Place them evenly spaced on the rack over the parchment lined baking sheet.  Spray lightly with canola oil spray.  Bake in the oven until the eggplants are cooked through completely and the crust is golden brown, 15~20 minutes.
  5. Take the 2 tops and 2 bottoms of the loaves of bread, and place them on a baking sheet crust-side down.  Spread 2 tablespoon of sauce, place 2 slices of the eggplant, (and a little more sauce, if you like) then a tablespoon of grated mozzarella and pecorino cheeses, and the sliced red onions on top.  Place under the broiler for a few minutes (depending on your broiler--so keep an eye on it), until cheese is bubbling and browned.  Serve hot.


We have a farmer's market here.  Like a real one.  I know, all of you out there in places like California or NYC or even SLC are thinking, "what?  All this time she didn't have one close by?"  And my answer to you is ... no.  Fortunately, we had cute little farm stands here and there, but you had to go searching for them.  But that's better than nothing.  But here in Bloomington?  We have a REAL FARMERS MARKET!  And I've been addicted since we've moved.  Our weekly Saturday morning ritual is to get up, eat a quick breakfast, get ready, and GO.  And once we're there, the first thing I do is buy a little carton of cherry--or other variety of teeny, snackable tomatoes--for my 2 year old daughter to munch on while we browse through all of the different vendors.  There's one that I feel particularly pressed to visit every week because not only do they sell amazing produce, they are Asian.  And we Asians support each other.  And they're so nice and have stuff that other people don't.  Like nashi (Japanese pears), and Thai basil for $0.75 a bag.  Not kidding.  $0.75 a bag.  A big bag.

Anyway, there I was with a bunch of pretty, colorful cherry tomatoes one Tuesday morning, with no lunch planned for me and the kids.  But thankfully I had made some good bread the day before, and a whole handful of sweet basil from my friend's backyard garden, so I made us a quick cherry tomato bruschetta.  And it was quite satisfying.  It might have been the hearty bread we ate it on.  Whatever it was, I was in heaven.

quick cherry tomato bruschetta
6~8 basil leaves (more or less, depending on what you like.  I like as much fresh herbs as possible--especially when it comes to sweet basil), rolled up and sliced thin with a shaaaaaarp knife.
1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half across the middle, not pole-to-pole
2~4 T extra virgin olive oil
1/2 garlic clove, minced or grated
salt and pepper to taste

2~4 slices of good, crusty bread, toasted
  1. In a medium bowl, combine the basil, tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.  Toss to combine.  The longer you let it sit, the more the flavors will meld together.  Mmm.
  2. Pile on as much or as little of the tomato mixture onto your crusty bread and eat immediately.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

out of it. again.

I've had a crazy few weeks.  That's my excuse, anyway.  We moved from Elkhart, IN to Bloomington, IN.  My kids are doing awesome and my cute husband started grad school.  The crazy stuff included having to move twice because management here put us in the wrong kind of apartment, all sorts of moving truck drama, getting in a car accident (not our fault, thank goodness), and a whole host of other interesting experiences.  But in the long run, it's been exciting and very tiring.  So that's why I haven't been in the kitchen like I should.  I'm sorry, friends!  But now we're settled (well, getting there), and feeling happy about life, and I have been happily cooking and baking away.

So here's a recipe for the last meal I cooked in my kitchen in Elkhart.  Wasn't my favorite space, but I feel like I grew so much in my style and skill, and in a lot of ways I miss it.

Prosciutto and Vegetable pasta
for 1 lb of pasta
1 lb long pasta, such as linguine or spaghetti
2 small zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and sliced thin at an angle
1 small onion, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 ounces of thin sliced prosciutto, about 8 slices, cut into small pieces
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 T finely shopped parsley
zest of 1/2 lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon
parmiggiano reggiano cheese, grated
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add salt, cook pasta to al dente, reserving about 1/2 C of the cooking water.  Drain and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, heat about 2 T of olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic and onions, and cook until fragrant and softened.  Add the zucchini, and cook until softened and very lightly browned.  Add the prosciutto, season with salt and pepper, stir until the prosciutto is curled and a little crispy.  Take off the heat and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, toss together the pasta, zucchini/prosciutto mixture, juice and zest of the lemon, parsley, and cheese.  Serve with an extra little drizzle of the oil.