Playing around in the kitchen yesterday I made an interesting food:
I like eggplant parmesan type dishes, and I like Asian-style eggplant dishes, so I decided to split the difference and fry strips of eggplant in a coating like one would use for deliciously greasy crispy orange or sesame chicken, and top them with a thick spicy teriyaki-type sauce.
It came out pretty well, the eggplant slices were crisp and fluffy and delicious, but the sauce needs work; definitely more ginger, and chili oil instead of directly adding powdered hot peppers. It could also use some greens on the plate, like cooked broccoli florets, for balance instead of just gorging on edamame while I cook. Very interesting and worth playing with again, even if it isn’t quite there yet.
My post-semester “I have time to cook again!” food, Roasted Eggplant with Red Pepper Cream Sauce:
The recipe was one of those “Popped, mostly formed, into my head” things that are always the most fun to make. The eggplant is just sliced into eighths, drizzled with salt, pepper, and olive oil, and broiled until cooked. The sauce is the real fun of the affair. In one pan, I cooked down a thinly sliced red pepper and some crushed tomato in herbs, garlic, and olive oil, to make delicious red slime.
In another pan, I set up a roux with some milk, then added the pepper mixture, some appropriate cheeses for texture (In retrospect, probably would have been better without), and more milk until it reached roughly the right consistency.
The combination was served over farfalle, which the foodblogging category here should make clear is my default pasta.
I got lazy and used the toaster oven to do the broiling, so the slices were too close to the source and got a little dry/singed on the tips. I also missed on ratios a bit, and made too much roux for the volume of cooked-down pepper, so the sauce was thicker and richer than I intended. For a first pass at an unreferenced idea, though, this was a pretty solid success. Very interesting flavors and textures, particularly the herb/garlic/spice mating to the sweetness of the cooked down peppers, and the two distinct kinds of creaminess from the sauce and the flesh of the eggplant.
As a side note, making this is caused me covet knives; despite the fact that the housemates and I have a pretty nice set of knives between us there isn’t a narrow bladed slicer or a Nikiri in the house, and they both would have been handy here.
(This picture is after one reheating. I failed to take a picture right after I made it. The structure of the eggplant and a lot of the color were eaten by a night in the fridge and a trip through the microwave. It’s still delicious.)
I made Khorshteh Mosamma (an Iranian beef and vegetable stew) a few days ago, and it is delicious in that classic rich, slightly spicy middle-eastern way. What was unusual about it is I actually (mostly) followed a recipe, instead of my usual browse similar recipes -> freehand it to what I want technique. The recipe came from the last issue of the Penzeys Spices catalog. The only real decisions I made not specified by the recipe were using a 50:50 mix of sweet and hot curry powders (it just says “curry powder”), and a little bit of scale adjustment.
For the spice-deprived, Penzeys Spices is a chain of very, very good spice stores, and is one of my favorite little specialty shops. A visit there will make you poor, and it’s not because they charge a big premium or only sell in large quantities; it’s just because they have every spice you could imagine, and I’ve never bought something that disappointed (although I still haven’t figured out how to handle a couple things, I’m definitely still figuring out how to work the bottle of ajwain seed I picked up a few visits ago.) While I’m always sad there isn’t a nearby location, it’s probably a good thing… I usually end up dropping at least $50 when I visit one.