Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan My Way

by Anne Maxfield on September 3, 2018

Accidental Locavore Striped EggplantSince I first posted this, it’s become my go-to recipe for eggplant Parmesan. It’s lighter (but still no diet dish) than traditional and I do it in stages when we get a couple of cooler hours in a day. It’s inspired from Mark Bitman’s How to Cook Everything and really good because it’s dredged in flour, not heavily breaded. Serves about 4.

Eggplant Parmesan My Way

  • 3 medium eggplants, peeled and sliced into 1/4″ slices
  • 1 cup of flour (for dredging)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 pound mozzarella grated (about 2/3 of a fresh ball)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • About 30 basil leaves (or a mix of oregano and basil)
  • 2 cups tomato sauce

Pre-heat your oven to 350°. Heat about 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. While the olive oil is heating, pour the flour, salt and pepper into a shallow bowl. Dredge the eggplant slices in the flour and shake off the excess. Saute the slices in the olive oil until golden brown. You’re going to need to do this in batches, and don’t crowd the pan! Let the cooked slices drain on paper towels while you saute the rest. You’ll need to keep adding olive oil to the pan, and it will seem like a lot; it is, but this is not a low-fat dinner.

Accidental Locavore Eggplant Parm My WayWhen you’ve finished sauteing the eggplant, take a gratin pan, or several small ones, and lightly grease with olive oil. Start with a thin layer of tomato sauce, a layer of eggplant slices, a sprinkling of mozzarella, a sprinkling of Parmesan, and a few basil leaves. Keep repeating until you reach the end  of the eggplant. On top of your last layer of eggplant, more tomato sauce, the rest of the mozzarella, a good sprinkle of Parmesan, and your best looking basil leaves (style points). Bake for about 20 minutes until it’s warm all the way through and the cheese is melted. Serve and enjoy!

My verdict: Frank paid this the ultimate compliment last night, when he said I did for eggplant what Bill (the former chef at Rancho la Puerta) did for salmon. In other words, made him love something he’s not generally fond of. This recipe works well because the eggplant is thinly sliced and not heavily breaded. Since sautéing the eggplant, is what takes time, I often do it ahead of time and just pull it out when I’m ready to bake it. We thought, last night, that some Italian sausage might be a nice addition to this, so maybe next time.

Update: This is my go-to way of making eggplant Parm. I generally do add some Italian sausage, crumbled, into the layers. Frank loves this and now looks forward to having eggplants from our CSA share. I ususally find a cool morning to fry up the eggplant and try to do a big batch, as it freezes and reheats well. If it’s going to be hot out, I’ll just carefully bag the cooked eggplant, and wait for a cooler day to assemble and bake.

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How to Impress Your Friends With These Easy Tuiles

by Anne Maxfield on May 26, 2016

Accidental Locavore Tuiles RolledAs the Accidental Locavore promised last week, here’s the recipe for the tuiles that went with the salted caramel chocolate mousse. Tuiles are really easy to make, and even easier if you have a Silpat. Both make about a dozen.

Sweet (Caramel) Version:

  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 1 Tbs. water

Preheat oven to 350°.

Mix the flour and salt together in a bowl. In a pot over medium heat, melt the butter then stir in the sugar, syrup and water. Continue to stir until it comes to a boil.

Remove from heat and let stand for 2 minutes. Stir in the flours mixture until smooth. Spoon onto a baking sheet lined with a Silpat or parchment paper. Make sure to leave plenty of room around them, they’ll spread.

Accidental Locavore Tuiles FlatBake for 7-10 minutes until they’re golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about a minute before shaping them. If you want to make tubes, you may use your fingers to do this or lightly butter the handle of a wooden spoon and roll them around that. If you want to make small dishes, drape them over a small bowl or ramekin. Set on a rack to cool. You have more time to work them than you might think but if they get too stuff to roll, place them back in the oven for half a minute or so and they will soften again.

Savory Version:

  • 2 cups grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 350° (Do not use convection!).

On a baking sheet lined with a Silpat or parchment paper, drop the cheese into small, cookie-sized piles. Bake until the cheese is melts and forms lacy disks, about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool a minute and shape like the sweet version above. Cool on a rack. Serve and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Salami CrispsMy verdict: Sweet or savory, these are so simple but always impressive! The caramel ones added exactly the crunch I wanted with the chocolate mousse. If they look square in the photo it’s because I didn’t space them far enough apart and they needed to be coaxed into shapes. Lesson learned.

The savory ones (otherwise known as fricos) are even easier to make and are great in things like Caesar Salad. I’m not sure about the caramel ones, but you can make the savory ones one at a time in a small frying pan. We’ve even tried embedding things like a slice of salami in them – less than successful.

 

 

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A Simpler Eggplant Parmesan

by Anne Maxfield on September 3, 2015

Accidental Locavore Grilled Eggplant ParmAlthough it’s not a terribly difficult dish, the Accidental Locavore was experimenting with a simpler eggplant parm. Instead of breading and frying the eggplant, I opted for peeling it, slicing it thinly and grilling it. It’s still not a low-calorie dish, but slightly less of a fat delivery system…This makes about 4 servings:Accidental Locavore Grated Mozzarella

  • 2 medium-sized Italian eggplants, peeled and sliced ¼” thick
  • 1/3 cup olive oil, plus more for greasing the pan
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 small ball fresh mozzarella, grated (about ½ pound)
  • Grated Parmesan
  • 2 cups of your favorite tomato sauce
  • Fresh basil

 

Accidental Locavore Grilled Eggplant SlicesHeat a grill (or grill pan) to medium-high heat. Put the olive oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl, add the eggplant and toss gently until well-coated. Grill the eggplant for about 2-3 minutes a side, until it’s browned and tender.

Accidental Locavore Finished Eggplant ParmPreheat the oven to 350°. Lightly grease a gratin pan with the olive oil. Coat the bottom of the pan with tomato sauce. Add a layer of eggplant and top with mozzarella. Sprinkle with Parmesan and 4-5 basil leaves. Repeat with the tomato sauce, eggplant, mozzarella, Parmesan and basil. You should get 2-3 layers depending on the size of your pan. Top with more tomato sauce, mozzarella, Parmesan and your best-looking basil leaves. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the cheese is melted and starting to brown and the eggplant is warmed through. Serve and enjoy!

My verdict: A really good version of eggplant parm! While the sauce seemed a little thinner than normal, it may just have been that batch of sauce. I’m not sure if breading the eggplant would act as a thickener on the sauce, but it wasn’t a huge difference and certainly didn’t take away from the flavor or the cheesy goodness. What was different was that I wasn’t frying eggplant forever (and then cleaning up afterwards) – just popped it all on the grill. Doing this also gave me a chance to take all the peelers I’ve been collecting for a test run, so stay tuned for the results – kind of surprising.

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The Zen of Wild Asparagus

by Anne Maxfield on May 4, 2015

Accidental Locavore Wild AsparagusSometimes something simple makes you step back and focus. For the Accidental Locavore, it was hunting wild asparagus in Istria. There, wild asparagus are everywhere, but if you’re not looking you can easily walk past acres of them. Our hunt started in Golaš, by the winery San Tommaso. Accidental Locavore San Tommaso WineryWe got a briefing from Goran and Janja on how to pick them (snap off from just above the ground) and learned that the harpoon-like tool he picked up wasn’t for asparagus, but snakes – never a good sign!

Accidental Locavore Wild IrisWandering out towards the woods, we passed by beautiful clumps of iris, growing wild by old stone walls. Further out in the countryside, Goran showed us what to look for. Usually there are feathery clumps of greenery, like its cultivated cousin. Then you have to really focus in and look for the elusive spears. In the wild, asparagus is well camouflaged. It blends in and looks like grass. Accidental Locavore Another Wild AsparagusI don’t think I ever found a green spear, just purple ones because they stood out a little from the rest. Goran and Janja just cruised along stopping every couple of feet to pick a stalk or two. After a while, when you’ve really begun to focus in, it does become easier and then you start to see them everywhere. Luckily, the same could not be said for snakes!

Accidental Locavore Goran With AsparagusWhen we had a nice bunch we headed back to the winery to prepare them. Once rinsed, Janja told us to snap off the tips and the next section (about an inch or two). That made a nice bowlful that was split between two dishes. Sneaking a nibble, I noticed that they were much more bitter than the larger, cultivated ones we get, but still tasting like asparagus.

Accidental Locavore Istrian BaconFirst up: scrambled eggs with wild asparagus, bacon and Parmesan. The asparagus was cooked in the fat from the bacon and set aside. Once the (dozen) farm-fresh eggs were scrambled the bacon and asparagus were added back in and topped with cheese. Paired with a Malvazija, it was a well-deserved and delicious dish!

Accidental Locavore Scrambled Eggs With AsparagusNext up: risotto with wild asparagus. This time, onions were sautéed in local olive oil and the rice added. Much stirring and twenty minutes later, the asparagus went in and a sprinkle of Parmesan finished off the dish. The rice was perfectly al dente and the asparagus gave a nice, slightly bitter bite to the dish that was offset by the cheese. A Terran, the local red grape, was the perfect accompaniment.

Accidental Locavore Risotto With AsparagusWe don’t often get to forage for our food and thankfully we don’t need to. However, sometimes it’s good to put aside the big city malaise of going, going, going and take time and regard the surroundings. Who knows what you’ll find?

Accidental Locavore San Tommaso WinesIf you’re interested, San Tommaso does tours and other lunches when asparagus aren’t in season. Pasta with truffles and charcuterie are some of the other choices. They’re flexible and Janja will work with you to make it memorable (but the asparagus are a really good reason to go in the spring!).

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