Friday, August 26, 2016

Garlicky Soy Hoisin Eggplant


Eggplant is one of the most versatile veggies there is. You can slice it thin and bread it for eggplant parmesan, turn it into a curry, pickle it, turn it into baba ganoush (Middle Eastern eggplant dip), or in the case of this dish, simmer it in Asian flavors and serve it with rice for a speedy meat-free meal.

This is one of my favorite ways to eat eggplant not only because it’s delicious, but also because this is how my Mom makes it. The eggplant is rich and so tender it’s almost creamy, an amazing contrast to the tart soy sauce. With eggplants at their peak right now, it would be a shame not to show you how to make this dish...

So Here’s How You Do It

Difficulty Level: Easy
Prep and Cook Time: 15- 20 Minutes

Serves 2 to 4

Ingredients

4 Cups of Eggplant, rinsed, the tough stem at the top removed, and coarsely chopped – The eggplant you typically find in the grocery store is the Italian variety which is large with a dark purple, almost black skin. For this recipe, I used Asian eggplants, which are more cylindrical, somewhat inexpensive, and a paler purple than their Italian cousins. Use what’s inexpensive and easiest to find.

¼ Cup of Soy Sauce

2 Heaping Tablespoons of Hoisin Sauce – Available in the Asian Foods Section of most grocery stores.

¼ Cup of Water

A drop of Sesame Oil, Optional – I find this adds a nice toasted nuttiness to the dish, but my mother doesn’t use it when she makes this, so you don’t have to.

4 Cloves of Garlic, peeled, smashed, and finely chopped

3 Tablespoons of Vegetable Oil

1 Green Onion, an inch from the top and the fuzzy bit at the end removed – Optional – This is more for decoration than anything, but since people eat with their eyes as much as their mouths (which is silly because eyes don’t have teeth or a tongue), a little colour contrast never hurt anyone.

Sesame Seeds – Optional – For some reason people always get more excited about Asian-style dishes when they’re covered in these things, but they’re not necessary.

Equipment

1 Wok or Deep Frying Pan  + Something to cover it – If the pan in question doesn’t have a lid, try a lid from one of your pots or even another pan. It doesn’t have to fit perfectly

1 Spatula

Measuring Cups and Spoons

1 Regular Bowl

1 Whisk or Fork

1 Knife and Cutting Board

In a regular bowl, combine the soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and sesame oil (if using).

Heat the vegetable oil in the wok or pan on high heat.

Toss in the eggplant and stir every once in a while until the eggplant has shrunk a bit and absorbed some of the oil.

Add the garlic and stir it all together until you can smell it (about a minute).

Add the soy and hoisin mixture and the water and bring everything to a boil.

Lower the heat to medium and cover the pan, lifting the lid every once in a while to stir everything and check for tenderness.

The eggplant is done when it’s on the pleasantly mushy side (about 10 minutes). Be sure to taste it for doneness, but don’t forget to blow on it before tasting so you don’t burn your mouth!

Top with green onions and sesame seeds if you wish and serve over rice.

Enjoy!

-Samantha R. Gold

Questions? Comments? Requests?

Bring it on!

I can be reached at:  for.the.culinarily.challenged@gmail.com

Trolls will be unceremoniously deleted and dismissed.







Friday, August 19, 2016

Tasty Tomato and Leek Tart


Tomatoes are at their best right now and it would seem a shame not to give you an amazing recipe to celebrate them. This tart, with sautéed leeks, a creamy cheddar filling, and seasonal tomatoes is easy, tasty, looks fancy and celebrates summer’s bounty. It’s also vegetarian.

Here’s How You Do It

Difficulty Level: Easy
Prep  time: 20 Minutes
Bake Time: 25 Minutes

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

1 Sheet Frozen Puff Pastry, thawed

2 Cups of Cleaned, Sliced Leeks

2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil, divided

1 Tablespoon of Butter

1 ½ Cups of Plain Greek Yogurt or Sour Cream

1 Cup of Old Cheddar, grated

1 Egg

1 Clove of Garlic, peeled and grated

1 Heaping Teaspoon of Jarred or Fresh Basil Pesto

Salt and Pepper

2 or 3 Medium Tomatoes, thinly sliced – Ripe tomatoes are often hard to slice without smushing them. Try using a serrated knife to slice your tomatoes, it makes all the difference.

1 Teaspoon of Grated Parmesan Cheese

Salt and Pepper

Pinch of Sugar

1 Teaspoon of Vegetable Oil (Optional)

Equipment

1 Pie Plate or Round Baking Dish

Measuring Cups and Spoons

1 Grater

1 Knife and Cutting Board

1 Mixing Bowl

2 Regular Bowls

1 Frying Pan

1 Wooden Spoon

1 Regular Fork

1 Pastry Brush – You can get these in the dollar store for a buck or two.

In a frying pan on medium heat, add the butter and 1 tablespoon of Olive Oil. When the butter has melted, add the leeks.

Season the leeks with a little salt and pepper and cook until they’re soft and slightly brown around the edges.

Transfer the leeks to a regular bowl and stick the bowl in the freezer to cool the leeks off a bit while you get the remaining components ready.

In another regular bowl, combine the other tablespoon of Olive Oil with the pesto and set aside.

Preheat your oven to whatever temperature is recommended on the package of puff pastry. Not all brands cook at the same temperature, so it’s better to just go with what’s on the box. If there are no instructions, go with 350 oF, which a safe temperature to bake most things at.

In a mixing bowl, combine the cheddar, yogurt or sour cream, the egg, a little salt and pepper, and the grated garlic. Stir everything together with a fork until well combined.

Take your pie plate or baking dish and, if you’re paranoid about the crust sticking too much (as puff pastry, while deliciously flakey, can be a little stickier than regular pie crust), grease the bottom with a little vegetable oil.

Gently press the puff pastry into the dish with clean fingers, making sure to especially press it into the sides. If there is any pastry hanging over the edge of the plate, you can cut that off (and can always put a little butter and sugar on those bits and later bake them into cookies).

Spread the cooled leeks into the bottom of the crust and then pour the creamy cheese mixture over top.

Put slices of tomato on top of the cheese filling, making sure they slightly overlap. It doesn’t have to be fancy.

Sprinkle the tomatoes with a pinch of sugar. Not only does it make the medicine go down, but it makes the tomatoes' flavor shine extra bright.

Season the tomatoes with a little salt and pepper and brush them with the olive oil and pesto mixture.

Brush any remaining pesto and oil mixture on the exposed edges of the pastry.

You are now ready to stick this thing in the oven!

Bake for 25 minutes or until the puff pastry has puffed and turned golden brown.

Sprinkle the pie with Parmesan cheese.

Let the pie cool on the counter for 15 minutes so the filling doesn’t burn your mouth and serve!

Enjoy!

-Samantha R. Gold

Questions? Comments? Requests?

Bring it on!

I can be reached at:  for.the.culinarily.challenged@gmail.com

Trolls will be unceremoniously deleted and dismissed.









  

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Delicious Fishwitch


Fish is something we need to eat more of as it’s a lean protein full of healthy fats. In spite of this, people don’t seem to eat enough of it, and I suspect that the reason is packaging. Fish – which unprocessed is full of scales and tiny bones – is a pain in the butt to prepare, and when done wrong, can be kinda smelly. Luckily, there’s a way around this.

Clever fishsellers now offer inexpensive varieties like sole and pollock in the freezer section with the scales and bones already removed. That means that you can thaw and go!

This sandwich is a great way to introduce fish back into your diet by disguising as a popular fast food item: the fishburger. Unlike the fishburgers of fast food chains, you’ll have the comfort of knowing what went into this sandwich start to finish and it’s a breeze to make. The red curry tartar sauce makes this sandwich extra special!

Here’s How You Do It

Difficulty Level: Medium Easy
Prep time: 5 - 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 25 Minutes

Serves 2

Ingredients

FISH

2 Frozen Filets of Sole, Haddock, or Pollock, Thawed and Cut in Half

1 Cup of Flour

½ Teaspoon EACH of Salt, Pepper, and Garlic Powder

1 Egg, Beaten

1 Teaspoon of Hoisin or Oyster Sauce (Optional) – Available in the Asian foods section of most major grocery stores and in Asian markets.

½ Cup of Shrimp Chips or Crackers, Crushed – You can get these in Asian markets or sometimes in the Asian Foods section of major grocery stores. If you can’t find them, substitute your favorite crushed potato chip – barbeque would work well – or leave them out and add another half cup of panko to the mix.

1/2 Cup of Panko – This is a Japanese style breadcrumb available in either the fish section or the Asian foods section of most major grocery stores. It’s light and a lot crispier than regular breadcrumbs.

1 Sheet of Nori (Sushi) Seaweed, Finely Chopped – The easiest way to do this is with a clean pair of kitchen scissors. You can find this stuff in either the fish section or the Asian foods section of most major grocery stores and in Asian markets.

1 Teaspoon of Unsweetened Flaked Coconut (Optional)

RED CURRY TARTAR SAUCE

2 Tablespoons of Mayonnaise or Jarred Salad Dressing

¼ Teaspoon of Thai Red Curry Paste – This paste, made of chilies, lemongrass and other things is the basis of Thai red curries. Available in the Asian foods section of most major grocery stores and in Asian markets it creates an amazingly unique flavor in this sandwich and the creaminess of the mayo tempers its heat. Don’t like curry? No problem! Use your favorite spicy mustard instead!

2 Gherkins (small pickles), Finely Chopped

1 Tablespoon of Capers, coarsely chopped

¼ Teaspoon of Lemon Zest

SANDWICH

2 Sandwich Rolls – I used Challah rolls, but feel free to use whatever is cheap and available

1 Cup Iceberg Lettuce, Cleaned and Chopped

Equipment

Measuring Cups and Spoons

1 Knife and Cutting Board

1 Baking Sheet

2 Regular Bowls

1 Regular Plates

1 or 2 Zip-Top Bags

1 Pair of Scissors

1 Fork

1 Spoon

Cooking Spray

Preheat the oven to 350 oF.

In a zip top bag, combine the crushed chips, seaweed, panko, and coconut (if using) and shake everything together to combine.

Pour the panko mixture onto a plate.

On another plate, combine the flour, garlic powder, salt and pepper and stir with a fork or your fingers to combine.

In a regular bowl, beat the egg and hoisin or oyster sauce together using a fork.

Spray the baking sheet with cooking spray.

Dip the fish fillet halves in the flour, and then dip them in the egg mixture, followed by the panko mix making sure they’re as evenly coated as possible.

Put them on the baking sheet.

Bake for 15 minutes or until the fish is firm and the crust looks extra crispy.

While the fish is baking, combine the mayonnaise, curry paste, lemon zest, gherkins and capers in a regular bowl and stir everything to combine.

When the fish is out of the oven let it cool on the counter for 2 minutes. You want it warm, not burning hot.

You can now assemble your sandwiches!

Cut the rolls in half lengthwise and smear the mayonnaise mixture on either half.

Put the fish on top and cover with the chopped lettuce.

You can now serve as is or with a nice soup and enjoy!

-Samantha R. Gold

Questions? Comments? Requests?

Bring it on!

I can be reached at:  for.the.culinarily.challenged@gmail.com

Trolls will be unceremoniously deleted and dismissed.