One Eggplant, Two Tomatoes, Handful of Basil, a Little Parmesan

eggplant tomato rounds plated

The CSA share comes every Tuesday evening which means Tuesday dinner is the use-up-last-week’s share night. Tonight that meant one lovely globe eggplant and two tomatoes. Time was short so I browned eggplant rounds in the cast iron pan, topped them with whole basil leaves, slices of tomato, salt and olive oil and broiled them until the tomatoes softened and started bubbling, then I topped them with grated Parmesan and passed them under the broiler for another minute or two.

It’s only a slight stretch to say that we got individual eggplant Parmesan rounds in a matter of 15 minutes. It’s a keeper in any case. I’m sure a mix of oregano and basil would be good too and of course a more typical preparation would have used thick slices of mozzarella but I loved this version.

Happy Summer!

P.S.  I just added my 600th recipe to my Seasonal Recipe Collection and am proud of what this resource has grown in to. Subscribe if you’d like to have access to all these recipes and tips and ideas to keep your table full of home-cooked goodness all year long.

eggplant tomato basil rounds

Serves 4

1 medium globe eggplant (save a few for garnish)
2-3 medium-large slicing tomatoes, cut into 1/3-inch thick slices, on the equator
1 cup basil leaves
Salt
Olive oil
1/3 – 1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Turn on the broiler

Slice the eggplant into 1/2-inch thick rounds. Heat a little olive oil in a large skillet. Cook the rounds, sprinkled with salt over high heat until brown on both sides, about 5 minutes for the first a bit less for the second side. Put the browned rounds on a baking sheet.

Top each round with a few basil leaves, then a slice of tomato, a sprinkle of salt and drizzle of olive oil.  Set the pan under the broiler and broil until the tomatoes have softened and are bubbling a little. Remove from the oven and divide the Parmesan between all the rounds. Return to the broiler for another minute or two until melted and browning. Garnish with chopped basil and serve.

 

 

What a Wedding!

250 corn cakes, 150 “caprese” toasts, and 160 deviled eggs! Done, consumed, enjoyed and almost forgotten. I have not, however, and never will forget the spirit and beauty of the day. You can get a sense of it here and I’ll post more photos as I get them. My brother has always been good at throwing parties and he (and Emily!) outdid themselves this time. They managed to organize four days of celebration beginning with cider pressing on Thursday followed by a totally impromptu “cook with what you have dinner” for 20 by yours truly and my mother. Then we had a day of set up, rehearsal and rehearsal dinner on a beautiful evening. The only hitch was that the lasagnas were still solidly frozen 4 hours before dinner and I was afraid they were going to turn from block of ice to mush in those four hours they spent in the oven. Somehow they managed to survive.

Ben (the groom), uncle Hans (from Germany), brother Reuben

The wedding day dawned foggy with a pink sunrise that just barely permeated the fog to lend a warm glow to the quiet morning. We all scurried about hauling straw bails (supports for the last couple of benches for the ceremony site), setting tables, arranging flowers, and in my case frying corn cakes. That was the longest slog on the food prep front–frying 250 of those little buggers in two 9-inch cast iron pans for 90 minutes straight. I had had lots of  help with the deviled eggs the day before and new helpers arrived Saturday morning to assemble the appetizers. Thank you Susan, Bridget and Vita!

Corncakes with cumin lime Greek yogurt and parsley

Deviled eggs with homemade mayonnaise and lots of herbs

"Caprese" toasts

In the middle of the appetizer prep and the bride getting ready with her bridesmaids and about an hour before picture time, the power inexplicably went off. I panicked, just a bit. No power means no water at my mom’s place (where all this was happening) since water arrives in the faucets via a pump that is powered by electricity. My brother Ben calmly looked at me and assured me all would be fine. My other brother Reuben started calling neighbors to see if this was an isolated problem or general problem (turned out to be a general problem). Some groomsmen and Reuben retrieved the generator from the barn and hauled it down to the wedding site to ensure proper amplification during the ceremony. My mother hastily taped notes with “do not run water” on all the faucets and toilets and my helpers and I continued toasting our hundreds of slices of baguette in the old propane oven in the kitchen. The lamb and pig were both happily roasting up at the barns without any need for electricity and I realized Ben was right. Everything would be just fine!

Then just as photos were wrapping up and we started to line up for the real deal the power came back on. So no need for that loud generator after all and I could rid my hands of the greasy, bacony corncake smell just in time.

To make what could be a record-breaking long blog post shorter, the ceremony was beautiful, funny, moving and everything it could have been. The highlight of the dinner was the pulled pork that had been roasted overnight in a pit underground resting on the apple trimmings from the previous day’s cider pressing.

Ryan, the expert pig roaster (and wedding officiator) and I preparing to "pull" that juicy amazing meat off the bones

The dinner was followed by 45 minutes of moving and funny toasts and stories about the couple, amazing mini-bundt cakes made by Emily’s sister and then there was dancing, until 2 am!

And now back to those corncakes. They  make a wonderful dinner and are a good way to take advantage of some of the last of the season’s corn. And by all means make them regular pancake size, not silver-dollar-sized!

Corncakes

4-5 ears fresh, sweet corn, kernels cut off cob

1 oz bacon, diced

1/2 medium onion, finely diced

1 poblano or anaheim chili, roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped (optional)

1/2- 1 tsp. ground cumin

salt & pepper

2 eggs

1/3 cup flour

1/3 cup cornstarch

1/2 – 3/4 cup water

Saute the bacon and onion in  large saute pan for about five minutes until the onion is soft. Add the cumin, salt, pepper, roasted chili if using, and corn kernels. Cook for about five minutes then take off the heat. In a large bowl, beat the eggs, add flour, cornstarch another pinch or two of salt and water and whisk until smooth. Start with 1/2 cup of water. Add the corn mixture and mix well. If the mixture seems too thick and sticky add a few tablespoons of water at a time. Heat another frying pan with a little oil (just to coat the bottom–these are pan-fried not deep-fried) and spoon the batter into the pan. Flatten the cakes a bit and fry until golden brown on both sides. Just a few minutes on each side.

Serve with greek yogurt mixed with more cumin and some lime or lemon juice, to taste.

Finally, three orders of business. First of all, most of the fall classes I’ve posted are almost full or sold out. I do have a few spots in this coming Sunday’s Soup Class #1 (since yesterday’s was overbooked) so let me know right away if you’re interested.

Secondly, I will be doing the chef demo at the Portland Farmers Market this Saturday  at 10 am. Come say hello and have a snack and shop the fabulous bounty of the market.

Finally, one of my favorite cookbook authors, Dorie Greenspan, is going to be in town on October 19th and will be speaking at the Heathman about her new book Around my French Table. And there will be free appetizers to boot. 5:30, 10/19 co-hosted by Powells Books and The Heathman.

Thanks for reading, if you made it this far!:)

Pizza (class)

It’s fun, it’s a treat, it can hold most anything, and it’s really good and easy to make at home. Whether you buy pre-made pizza dough or make it yourself (we’ll be doing the latter in class next week) it really is an easy meal. I forget about it for periods  and then when something inspires me to make one I always wonder why I don’t do it more often. The dough is easy to freeze so mix up a double batch and save  half.

I’m teaching a Pizza Class next Thursday, August 26 from 5-7:30pm  We’re going to be making fresh pizzas with homemade dough with Jim Lahey’s (of No Knead Bread fame) wonderful pizza dough recipe. Three kinds will be on the menu: Stewed Red Peppers and Sausage; Classic Margarita with tomatoes, basil and mozzarella, and Potato.

I’ve had many requests for this class and already have requests for repeating it though this class isn’t even full yet. So, if you’ve been meaning to learn or refresh your skills on pizza making, sign up. Three spots left.

Happy cooking and eating!