Tuesday, May 31, 2011

E is for Eggplant. Really.

Hey there. Hi. Busy spring spent producing MANOS - The Hands of Felt. Ate my brain.

And now we're back.

So, eggplant. Yeah, I have to admit, my past with regards to eggplant is not the greatest.

WARNING: DO NOT BE EATING WHILE YOU READ THIS.

In fact, the first time I encountered eggplant, I managed about three bites before I threw up on my plate. At the table, yes. (I've mentioned I have texture issues? Yeah, well, this stuff was pretty darn slimy.) I don't think my parents ever made it again.

But...I should be able to improve upon this as an adult, yes? I mean, look at The Eggplant. It's so darn pretty. There must be something I can do to it that won't set me off.

So what do I know about eggplant? Not much. I had it in my head it is related to nightshade, which Wikipedia confirms (all hail). Incidentally, this means it's also related to tomatoes, which connects some texture dots for me.

According to many (many) hours of watching Food Network, the most important thing to do to the eggplant is salt it to keep it from being bitter. So I'll be sure to pay attention to that.

And Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver has some lovely descriptions of pink stripey eggplants that sound really neat. I may venture to Whole Paycheck and see if they have something like that.

Despite jumping in pretty underinformed here, I actually already have in mind what I want to attempt: grilled, moussaka, and baba ganoush.

So we'll see how that goes. And hope for no vomiting.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

E is for Excuses, Excuses

Hey everybody.

Sorry that I've not updated or launched into Plant Eggplant. When I got home from the holidays, my cat was sick. So I've been preoccupied with taking care of him. Fortunately he has stabilized, so I have some attention free for other things again.

Thanks for your patience,
Raej

Thursday, December 23, 2010

H is for Holiday Cooking

I've traveled to see family for the last seven years, so my December holidays find me doing very little personal baking, but plenty of cooking in other people's kitchens.

Like yesterday, when I was urgently requested to make a batch of chocolate chip cookies. They were completely gone within 8 minutes of hitting the plate.

Or take today, when we made five dozen cookies. I'm hoping they last for awhile. A long while.

And then tomorrow I am to whip up some Toasted Ravioli. I'll be using the easy method, which would feel like cheating except

a) my sister doesn't have a pasta maker or a food processor
b) you can buy frozen Toasted Ravioli in the store here, so i'm actually being much less lazy than i _could_ be.

I think Christmas Day I'll be in charge of green beans (casserole style) and gravy. Let's start praying to the gravy god now, shall we? No lumps, no lumps, no lumps.....

Anyway, whether your Christmas finds you up to your elbows in flour and giblets, or being decorative while others do the heavy cooking, I hope you have a happy one!

~ Raej

S is for Sixth

Hi everybody!

Just wanted to say: Thanks for voting for me in the Iron Foodie Challenge.

I got sixth. Not bad for a relative beginner. It comes with no further prize except a warm and fuzzy feeling. Mmmmm!

Friday, December 10, 2010

I is for Iron Foodie, Prequel 3

or E is for Easy Toasted Ravioli

Before I launched into my Iron Foodie recipe, I decided to do a Proof of Concept pre-run (Mythbusters fan, yes).

I'd found plenty of easy-ish looking Toasted Ravioli recipes out on the interwebs, but I had no idea whether or not they would wind up tasting like the real thing.

Hey, what better time to take on a completely untried recipe than Thanksgiving? Oh, just about any time, I would normally say. Since I, however, am an experienced member of The School of Turkey Basting, I wind up with a fair amount of free time in the kitchen on Feast Day. So I jumped in.

What I Did:

1 egg
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1 cup stuffing cubes
1 pumpkin cookie, stale
frying oil
1 package of Spinach and Cheese Ravioli
1 jar of Vodka sauce

1) Use a fork to mix together egg and cream in a shallow bowl.

2) Put the stuffing cubes and cookie into food processor and mix until the cubes are crumbs. Place in a bowl or on a small plate.

3) Fill a skillet with oil for frying (I like to go about 1/2 inch deep. You do what suits you) and warm over medium heat.

4) Dip ravioli in the egg mixture, shake off excess.

5) Dip eggy ravioli in crumbs, shake off excess.

6) Place ravioli in hot oil. Fry 3-4 minutes per side.

7) Pour sauce into a small sauce pain and warm over low heat.

8) Put fried raviolis on a paper towel-lined plate.

9) Serve ravioli with sauce. Eat. Enjoy!

How Did it Go?
Great! I put this out as an appetizer and people devoured and praised it, despite not having ever heard of it before. (Not a lot of St. Louisians on hand here in Seattle.) So, concept proved as far as I was concerned.

What Would I Change?
- I started heating the oil a little late, so the first couple of ravioli weren't as crispy as I would have liked. I wound up adjusting this for my Iron Foodie recipe.
- The cookie crumbs wound up a little too big. They tasted ok, but it threw the texture off a little. (To me. Pretty sure my friends didn't notice/care.)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

E is for Foods that start with E?

While I wait and hope to become an Iron Foodie, it's also probably time to get back to regular business, yes?

We're on the letter E. Currently under consideration:

- eggs
- eggplant
- elk

Any suggestions from the peanut gallery? I'm open.

Monday, December 6, 2010

I is for Iron Foodie Ingredient Sampling, part 2

Ideally I'd've talked about this _before_ posting my Iron Foodie entry recipe, but, well, Tech Week interfered. Consider this a prequel. : )

The Marx Foods Box of Mystery contained two ingredients that, in my opinion, needed a platform for useful/accurate tasting:

- Smoked Salt
- Tellicherry Peppercorns

(Of course you _can_ eat pepper and salt plain, but they don't tend to taste very good that way.)

What I did:

1) I equipped myself with a couple of steaks. Salt and pepper are the only things I like to put on a steak (credit to Alton Brown's I'm Just Here for the Food for this preference), so I figured this would make the differences between basic salt and pepper and the gourmet versions pretty apparent.


Salts on the left, peppers on the right. Grinder with the special pepper indicated by the purty pink ribbon.

2) I salted and peppered each side of the steaks and let them sit for 20 minutes while the broiler preheated.


Regular pepper on the left steak, Tellicherry on the right. Smoked salt across the top, regular table salt across the bottom.

3) I put the steaks in the broiler, 5 minutes per side.



4) I let the steaks rest as long as I could bear (seven minutes in this case) and served with sides of my choice (tots! brussels sprouts!)


How Did it Go?
- The Smoked Salt has a really, really strong scent before you cook it, which, to be honest, worried me a bit. It seemed that it could easily be overpowering. Fortunately, this was not the case. Cooking mellowed it out a little, while letting it keep the smokey edge. It worked really well with steak, and I bet would be good with lamb as well.

- The Tellicherry Peppercorns seemed to be both more and less subtle than your average black table pepper. The pepper taste was gentler, but the heat level was cranked up. *Full disclosure: I did go ahead and eat one of each type of peppercorn, just to confirm this impression. Whew. It confirmed both that opinion, plus my notion that eating pepper plain is just not a good idea.

If you'd like to see what I wound up doing with these ingredients, click here to see my Iron Foodie recipe: Toasted Ravioli.