Friday, August 27, 2010

Eggplant Parm Pizza

I'll be honest: I'm not crazy about eggplant.

I don't like how it (and mushrooms) try to replace sliced meats in vegetarian sandwiches. They always absorb all of the oil out of my stir-fry and Thai dishes, ending up too greasy without leaving any saucy-flavor for the rest of the veggies to enjoy. Nope, don't like eggplant at all.... EXCEPT in Italian restaurants where it is smothered with tomatoes and cheese, in which case I still don't like it- I love it.

Now I'm not sure about the Seattle markets (yet), but at the farmer's market in SF Civic Center the perfect time to shop is 3:45pm. At 3:30, vendors begin to throw bushels of produce into plastic bags and sell them for a dollar, and at 4:00 they begin to pack up and leave. And voila': $2 pizza toppings!

I salted the eggplant slices and pre-cooked them on a grill-pan over the stove for some nice char marks. (I've found that it's helpful to stove cook fresh produce like bell peppers, zucchini and eggplant prior to putting them on pizza because they take a little longer to soften up.) The tomatoes become a sauce without too much effort: wash; dice; simmer with olive oil, bay leaf, salt and pepper.

And then the easy part: toppings. Spread some mozzarella (I used to try freezing and grating it, but what's the point? Thin slices melt just as well). Spread some freshly-grated Parmesan. Arrange eggplant slices.

Bake! (On 450 until crust is golden brown or slightly charred)

Serve! (Preferably with a nice glass of red wine... maybe a side salad... but wine is key).

Monday, August 23, 2010

Sweet 'n Spicy Summer Saute

So you think I haven't cooked or baked anything for a month, do you?

Or you think I've been too busy enjoying lazy summer days to blog? Or perhaps you think I've been cooking and baking a moderate amount (hey, we all need to eat, right?), but that I've been too busy packing and driving and moving to Seattle to update in here. If you chose option 3, you're right! The cooking has gone on; it's just the text that is backlogged, which means that you're in for a minor slew (minor slew?) of updates about Summer produce... Just in time for Autumn.

So let's get to it.

Anyone who knows me knows that I love honey, and I've been looking for fun new ways to incorporate it into pretty much anything I eat. Hence, my honey-spiced corn succotash:


- Corn (duh): About 1 ear per person, if served as a side.
- Cherry tomatoes, quartered: About 1/4 cup per person (1 cup for 4 servings).
- Onion: As much as you want
- Green beans (or wax beans) chopped.
- Butter.
- Honey.
- Cayenne Pepper.
- Salt and pepper.

Just to pretend I actually measure my ingredients out when I cook, let's say that I made 4 servings, which would be: 4 ears of corn, 1 cup cherry tomatoes, half an onion, about 20-25 wax beans (how do you measure these?), 1 tbsp. butter, 2-3 tbsp. honey, 1/2 tsp. Cayenne, and salt and pepper to taste.

As per usual, this is an easy one-pan dish; however, it takes two rounds of sauteing. The beans go first, in their own round: You can cook them with butter or a little olive oil over medium heat for about 7 or 8 minutes with a little salt and pepper, and then remove and set aside. Warning, as with bell peppers, pretty purple wax beans begin to turn green as you cook them; don't buy for their drama unless you plan to serve them raw.

The second round begins with some onions sauteed in butter over medium heat (2-5 minutes). Then add the corn and tomatoes and continue to cook for another 5 minutes.

Add the honey. Or, to be fancy, drizzle it.

Add (or sprinkle) the Cayenne.

Stir in the green/wax beans. Continue to cook over medium for another 5-10 minutes to allow flavors to blend. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve it up: Sweet with a kick!