Roasted Eggplant on Toasted Pita

March 26, 2013 § Leave a comment

Ah, an over-stuffed pita sandwich…yum.

Who am I kidding!? When have I ever stuffed a pita and have it NOT break apart on me? Never. Ever. And once it breaks, it’s just all downhill from there. Your fingers get full of hummus. Whatever dressing you’ve put on the sandwich runs down your wrist into your sleeve. It’s no good, stuffing a pita.

Better to use pita like a sandwich bread.

Roasted eggplant and hummus on toasted pita

Roasted eggplant and hummus on toasted pita

That’s exactly what I did for lunch yesterday. Toasted pita cut into two half moons, each spread with Red Pepper Hummus, some roasted eggplant, and some greens lightly dressed with Lemony Vinaigrette. After chowing down, I realized the Fiery Onion Relish may have been a fun thing to have as a topping, too.

Maybe I’ll try that for today’s lunch.

 

 

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Red Pepper Hummus

February 26, 2013 § 4 Comments

We haven’t bought a can of beans in, oh gosh…I’d say six months. This weekend we used our last stray can of black beans for a chili—and I remember moving to our new house with it and packing it away on an upper kitchen shelf. Cooking up dried beans in a pressure cooker is super easy and super cheap, and here’s the bonus: You get several cups of flavorful bean broth to add to whatever dish needs a little tasty liquid. (See how easy it is here.)

And if we’re cooking up our own beans, we might as well make our own favorite bean-based spread, right? I’m speaking of hummus, of course, made with those funny looking little chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans). I’ve written about hummus here before, but after making several batches of the stuff, I was left disappointed. Too thick. I wanted the creaminess you’d find in the off-the-shelf brands.

Jennifer found the solution—or very nearly—with a recipe from The New Moosewood Cookbook. Not completely creamy as we had hoped, she adjusted and tasted and made batch after batch until finally, she made the perfect consistency. The secret? Adding in some of that aforementioned bean broth and reducing the amount of tahini. Oh, and adding in a roasted red pepper.

Red Pepper Hummus (adapted from The New Moosewood Cookbook)

red pepper hummus

red pepper hummus

  • 2-3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • large handful parsley
  • 2 scallions, chopped into 1-in. pieces
  • 3 cups cooked chickpeas (nearly a 1-lb. bag of dry beans cooked, reserve cooking liquid)
  • 4 tbs. tahini
  • Juice of one lemon juice (or more, depending on said lemon’s juiciness)
  • 3/4-1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 – 1/2 sumac to taste (optional if you can find it at your local Middle Eastern grocer)
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika
  • 1 red pepper, roasted at 425F for 30 min., cooled and skin removed, and cut into strips

1. In a food processor combine the garlic, parsley and scallions, and whir up into a mince.
2. Add chickpeas, tahini, lemon and salt. Puree into a paste.
3. Add the cumin, sumac and paprika as you add some of that reserved bean cooking liquid—try about 1/4 cup—and process. Add more liquid by the tablespoon until you find the consistency right for you. Careful with the sumac—you may like just a tad, so taste before adding any more than a 1/4 tsp.
4. Add the red pepper at the very end and pulse the food processor until it breaks down the red pepper. We’re not looking for a completely pureeing of the pepper. We just want it broken down into bits.

It’s great on a chip, on this awesome cracker we made last week, or—my favorite use—schmeared on a Roasted Eggplant on Whole Wheat Sandwich.

Roasted Eggplant on Whole Wheat Baguette

February 21, 2013 § 3 Comments

The way I understand it, Paula Deen’s first food-for-money venture was preparing bagged lunches for the locals, which her sons    roasted eggplant and red pepper on whole wheat baguettewould then deliver. What those lunches were, I do not know. I imagine a typical lunch included a sandwich (or sammy). Maybe some chips. And there had to have been a decadent, butter-loaded dessert in that bag, too.

Anyone who follows me on Instagram has seen what I concoct for my own lunches, usually from leftovers or stuff just sitting in the veggie bowl. The Sweet Potato Sandwich has become a standby. The Salad Pizza is still one of my proudest moments. Avocados and boiled eggs smeared on toast are regulars, as well.

My latest sammy, Roasted Eggplant on Whole Wheat, has got me thinking about Paula Deen and her bagged-lunch business. This sammy, I’m tellin’ you, it’s good. Real good. People would want to eat it. And they might even pay real money for it—and for me to make and deliver it. Is something like this even feasible here in Boston? And I’m sure there’s some proper and official channels to go through to make sure I’m not serving thoroughly rotten food, too. I mean, someone’s got to make sure the cats and I are wearing hair nets, right?

The thought is on my mind. Who knows, maybe I’ll even give it a try, “underground catering” style (I didn’t really say that, if anyone official is reading this). Meanwhile I’ll keep putting various spreads and veg and cheese and such onto different sorts of breads and doughs. Keep up with them on Instagram and let me know which ones appeal to you most.

Roasted Eggplant on Whole Wheat Baguette
It’s simple, really:

Slice an eggplant into 1/2-in. slices. Place on a sheet pan. Sprinkle each slice with some olive oil, using a brush to spread it over the surface. Eggplants are like sponges—they soak up a lot of oil. That’s why it’s important to brush. Then sprinkle each slice with kosher salt, and give each slice a small twist from the pepper mill. Put in a 420F oven for about 20 min. Remove from oven and let cool. You’ll have extras—always a good thing.

Roasted eggplant

Roasted eggplant

If I’m roasting, why not throw a red pepper in there, too, right? Slice lengthwise, cutting in two, and remove seeds and pith. Flatten each half as best as possible. Find room on the sheet pan in amongst the eggplant. The peppers will take about 5-8 minutes longer than the eggplant—look for it to be dark around the edges. When done, place the halves into a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Remove from bowl 10 minutes later and peel off the skin.

Take a segment of homemade Whole Wheat Baguette (recipe is coming, I promise) and slice lengthwise.

whole wheat baguettes

Smear one side with homemade red pepper hummus (courtesy of Jennifer!).

Top with however many slices of roasted eggplant you can fit on there. You may have to cut them in half and pretend it’s a puzzle.

Top the eggplant with roasted red pepper.

And top the pepper with goat cheese. What’s not good about anything I just mentioned? Really?

On the other side of the baguette, lay down some baby salad greens lightly dressed with something. I used Lemony Vinaigrette, which is always in a jar at the ready for good times.

Put one half on top of the other. Warning: Goat cheese crumbles may try to escape. That’s ok—they won’t get far.

roasted eggplant sandwich

Proceed to eat. Enjoy.

My question to you is this: Do you want to eat this? And how much would you pay to have it made for you? Add a pear and a cookie and you’ve got yourself a lunch.

Sweet Potato Sandwich

December 12, 2012 § 1 Comment

Working from home is pretty awesome. Not because I can wear the same pants two days in a row (okay, three), or because I get to wear slippers all day. Or because I fill my agenda with kitten play time (yeah, that’s pretty awesome). Having a home office rocks because it lets me get creative with lunch.

For instance?sweet potato sandwich

-Salads piled high with pickled beets, bulgar, homemade awesome croutons and whatever else I have on hand.
-Lasagna filled with chard-nutmeg ricotta.
-Pizza topped with shrimp and salad.

My latest lunch: Sandwiches stuffed with sweet potatoes. Most definitely NOT my invention, of course. I’ve had the delicious honor of having sweet potato sandwiches from Ula Cafe in Jamaica Plain. Delicious. Really delicious, with sprouts, avocado, tahini spread, red onions … Yum. So, this sweet potato sammie has its roots there. But it also gets some big flavor input from the Henry’s Dinner pizza I had several months ago at Veggie Planet in Cambridge. That flavor profile would be the addition of rosemary, sage and goat cheese.

And for no other reason than to clean out the fridge, I threw in a section of Granny Smith apple. Sweet. And tart. Genius pairing, if I do say so myself.

Here’s how the sandwich-work and actual work-work happen, all at the same time:
1. Organize, outline  and begin my weekly e-newsletter, all the while thinking about that on-the-edge sweet potato lurking in the fridge drawer.
2. While making my mid-morning tea, pre-heat the oven to 425F and have at that sweet potato, saving what’s left of it, and cutting it into small cubes. Catch that quarter of a Granny Smith sitting on top of the carton of eggs. Rescue what I can of that and cube that, too. Throw it all in a cast iron pan and toss it with, olive oil, two sage leaves, minced, and about a 1/3 a sprig of rosemary, minced, and add salt and freshly ground pepper. Roast it for … I dunno … 15-20 minutes? Long enough for me to finish writing the second section in my enewsletter, and long enough for the cubed potatoes to be roasted through but still firm.

What didn't fit into my sandwich.

What didn’t fit into my sandwich.

3. Remove from oven and toss. Let cool for about a half hour. Write the third section of the enewsletter.
4. All that’s left is sandwich assembly: Slice two thick pieces of sourdough. One one, spread some goat cheese and top with some baby salad greens that are lightly dressed with whatever vinaigrette you have lying around (in my case I have a Greek dressing, but whatever). Oh, and some thinly sliced red onions. On the other side, pile high the sweet potato mixture. Holding a chef’s knife tightly over the salad, flip that side on top of the sweet potatoes and gently pull the knife through.

Sweet potato sammie, deconstructed

Sweet potato sammie, deconstructed

5. Eat in about 53 seconds because it’s that delicious. Head back to the computer, fully nourished and ready to finish the newsletter’s fourth section. The writing will be even better with that in my stomach. I love my job.

Tomorrow’s version will have sliced sweet potatoes and sliced avocados. And I’ll lightly toast the bread. Yum.

Zucchini Tomato Mozzarella Sliders

July 27, 2012 § 4 Comments

Zucchini. It doesn’t stop.

Turn around for a minute and the long green veggie is 3 inches longer on the vine. Not kidding. Hold off on picking it for a day and … well … it becomes a billy club. Growing up, we’d throw the very large zukes into the pig pen. Healthy, zucchini-loving pigs, that’s what we had.

Lately, thoughts during my 25-minute walk back home from yoga have turned to how to use that day’s zucchini. Pizza. Pasta. Salad. I’ve done them all and wanted something different. Last night, my craving for a burger—really, the craving for something meaty between two bready buns—decided dinner for me. Why should sliders be reserved for meat eaters? Zucchini can play that game, too.

Ingredientszucchini tomato mozzarella sliders
1 5-6 in. zucchini
2 tbs olive oil
1+tbs balsamic vinegar
1 spring oregano
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
6 small French rolls, cut into top and bottom halves
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1-2 tbs olive oil
1 deliciously red heirloom tomato
mozzarella

1. Slice zucchini into rounds slightly thicker than 1/2 in. Discard (or eat!) the smaller rounds. Shoot for using 12 rounds.

2. Combine oil, vinegar, oregano, a big pinch of kosher salt and several turns of the pepper grinder in a medium bowl. Dip your finger in there and adjust seasoning if you’d like (more vinegar? more oil? It’s your food—make it taste the way you like!). Add zucchini slices and toss. Put aside.

3. Smash those garlic cloves with the back of your chef’s knife (on a cutting board, of course) and schmear it together until the garlic becomes kinda pasty. You can add a sprinkle of salt or not. Add this to a small bowl of 1-2 tbs olive oil. Brush this oil onto the bun halves.

4. Set a grill pan onto medium-high heat. When it’s hot, place buns, cut side down, onto the pan and flatten slightly. 10-15 seconds will do. Put grilled buns into a bowl and cover with a tea towel for now. Turn off grill pan.

5. Meanwhile … we’re still waiting for the zucchini to marinate a bit. Take this time to make a small side salad and whip up a quick vinaigrette.

6. Okay, done with the salad? Time to move on. Get that grill pan back up to medium high. Place your zucchini rounds onto the grill pan. Using a brush, dab some of the liquid remaining in the bowl onto each slice. Let them sit for 4-5 min, or until they get some nice-looking grill marks on the bottom.

7. While those are grilling, slice the tomato into 6 slices and add to whatever liquid remains in the bottom of that bowl.

8. Mozzarella. Time to slice it. Slice it about 1/4 in. thick or less, and into whatever size will sit nicely on top of a zucchini round.

9. Back to those zucchinis. They should be ready to flip onto the other side. Do that. Then place a bit of mozzarella on top of each. Let them grill for a minute.

10. Get your buns ready, working with one top and bottom at a time. This part is optional: Make some room in that grill pan and place the buns cut side down into the goodness the zucchini has been cooking in. Only takes a second, and remove quickly. If not doing that: Place one zucchini slice onto the bun bottom, and overlap a second on top of that. Add a slice of tomato. Top it off with other half of the bun. Repeat with the remaining zukes and buns.

Super. Good. I ate one and a half. Coulda had two. Or three.

Enjoy. I’m off to make zucchini bread now.

Do you have a favorite zucchini recipe? Share it in the comments section.

 

Ginger Ice Cream Sandwich

February 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

Sometimes I think crazy thoughts.

Such as …

-Will the universe implode if temperatures reach 0 Kelvin?

-How would civilization be different if we only had four fingers per hand and foot?

-Could we all just be toys in the toybox of some celestial kid?

Over the years, my crazy-deep thoughts have turned toward the culinary. And more recently they have focused on the pinnacle (at least in my book) of creative dessert forms: the ice cream sandwich.

I do have a soft spot in my heart for those vanilla-soft-serve-between-soft-chocolate-cookie creations. They’re reliable and the eater has no expectations at all—except perhaps to have chocolate goo between their front teeth for at least 10 minutes afterward. But when it comes to a real ice cream sandwich created by hand, the vanilla and chocolate combo becomes passe.

And dare I say it, so does the chocolate chip cookie and vanilla combo. It’s a good starting point. But there’s oh-so many possibilities. Start by staring at the Ben & Jerry’s selections.

Ginger Ice Cream Sandwich

Ginger Ice Cream Sandwich

Credit for this Ginger Ice Cream Sandwich’s inspiration comes from a friend – let’s call her Ginger – who is the spice’s biggest fan. The Ginger Ice Cream is courtesy of the local Jamaica Plain ice creamists at Batch. And yes, there are bits of crystallized ginger scattered about its creaminess. A generous 1/4 cup—more, perhaps—is sandwiched between two massive Ginger-Molasses Cookies, whose recipe comes from Joanne Chang’s Flour cookbook. And here’s a key step to keep in mind for anyone constructing an ice cream sandwich: Let it firm up in the freezer for about a day so the ice cream doesn’t escape when you bite into it.

Oh, yeah. It’s good. And there’s one in my freezer right now.

Other crazy ice cream sammy combos are on my to-bake list. And if Ginger has any say in the matter, each sammy will have a corresponding cupcake. One person’s crazy is another’s brilliance.

 

 

 

Homegrown Food Challenge—Day 5

October 16, 2011 § 6 Comments

Has this been the longest week ever? Were there 10 days in this particular week? God, it just seems never-ending. What is up with that, calendar?

Not to imply that the Homegrown Food Challenge is getting old. It’s not. As I said yesterday, we actually have too much food to work with, and I haven’t end gotten around to using our homegrown leeks and beets and … whaddaya know … we have a head of broccoli ready to go.

It’s just that, well, I’m realizing how boring my breakfast (or lack of it) is becoming. It’s the same, every time. Coffee, well, duh, I require daily morning intakes. It’s just the non-liquids that go along with that meal. It’s not as mind-numbing as the time in Jr. High that I ate a Toaster Strudel every day for two years. But … unless I’m going to have home-baked baked goods for breakfast, I’m not so sure I have any thrilling alternatives. Suggestions, anyone?

On to Day 5, which, I must admit, was borderline local …

Breakfast:
Flat Black coffee with Maine’s Own Organic milk. Stonyfield yogurt. Local apple. Thank god for good coffee.

Lunch:
I feel almost sinful having the grilled eggplant paninni with smoky mayo two days in a row. But I did. And I loved it. Really and truly. No tomato this time.

Dinner:
Another local eatery. This time with our new-found friend who was flying solo that night. We headed to Gaslight. No, they aren’t a struggling local place that needs our money. But the place has darn-good food and surely the fish on the menu is local, right? And the broccoli rabe under the fish, I hope. The Harpoon IPA definitely was local. Ring it up—we liked it all.

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