trigger happy

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Most foodies have a trigger: a food that they love intensely but may not get to enjoy so often. A food that is a determining factor on any menu. Mine is eggplant. As a little girl, I remember the smell of my mother’s ratatouille bubbling on the stove, and I’ve been hooked ever since.   Eggplant parmesan, baba ghanoush, moussaka—if a dish incorporates eggplant, I’m ordering (or making) it.  So when I saw these beauties at my local market, I created this dish just for them (and me). It’s simple, but the flavors, intensified by roasting, speak for themselves.

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For the roasted tomatoes, I sliced mine instead of halving them so that they would roast more quickly. Check out Smitten Kitchen for the method. You will fall in love with the intensity of the tomato flavor in these tasty morsels.

For the eggplant, I used a similar technique, but I salted the slices and allowed them to drain for 30 minutes. (K0sher salt is best. Wipe off any moisture and excess salt with paper towels before cooking.) Then I cubed the eggplant, tossed with olive oil and seasoning (garlic, salt, and pepper), and roasted them for about 45 minutes at 250°F.

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Mediterranean Pasta

from foodie plus four

  • 2 cups roasted tomatoes, sliced into strips
  • 2 eggplant, cubed and roasted
  • 1 large sweet onion, halved and sliced
  • 3 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 1/3 cup (or more) Greek olives, pitted and chopped
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 pound pasta
  • balsamic vinegar
  • olive oil
  • freshly ground pepper
  1. Roast eggplant and tomatoes (see above; these can be done a day ahead and stored in the fridge).
  2. Cook pasta.
  3. While pasta is cooking, sauté onions in olive oil, adding a drizzle of balsamic vinegar when soft. Set aside.
  4. Drain pasta and transfer to serving bowl. Toss with tomatoes, eggplant, onions, capers, olives, and feta. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with pepper.
  5. Serve warm or room temperature with crusty bread and a robust red wine! Serves about 6.

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birthday week continues: the dinner

My brother and I cook for each other to celebrate our birthdays. And it’s always delicious. But this year, he and my sis-in-law outdid themselves. Not only was the meal tasty, the colors were incredible.

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Roasted vegetables

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Grilled watermelon with arugula and feta

Grilled pork tenderloin with spicy mole rub

Grilled pork tenderloin with spicy mole rub

Deviled eggs with fresh parsley

Deviled eggs with fresh parsley

Barefoot Contessa chocolate cake with espresso ganache

Barefoot Contessa chocolate cake with espresso ganache

Shiny happy people!

Happy hungry people ready to eat!

Enough said.

Grilled Watermelon Salad

adapted from Recipe Girl

  • 1 small seedless watermelon, cut into 8 slices (about 5 lbs.)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 8 cups arugula, washed
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  1. Preheat grill.
  2. Brush watermelon slices with oil. Season with salt and pepper. Grill watermelon 1-2 minutes on each side.
  3. In a medium bowl, toss arugula with vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  4. To assemble, sprinkle each grilled watermelon slice with feta cheese. Top with arugula mixture.
  5. Serves 8.

Deviled Eggs with Fresh Parsley

from foodie plus 4

  • 8 eggs
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper
  • paprika for garnish
  1. Gently boil eggs for 15 minutes. Drain, rinse, and cover with cold water. Set aside or refrigerate to cool.
  2. Crack and roll eggs on a paper towel to loosen the shells. Peel off the shells and rinse with cold water.
  3. Cut eggs in half lengthwise and pop yolks into a bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and mash completely with a fork (can be blended in a food processor if you like a smoother filling).
  4. Spoon in the filling and garnish with a sprinkle of sweet paprika. Chill until served. Makes 16 eggs.

Chocolate Ganache Cake (click for recipe)

from Barefoot Contessa Parties