In which I post the recipe…

So I was reading my last post again, and feeling all sorts of proud of myself again, and I started thinking about people who say they “can’t” cook. People who might look at a recipe for risotto and think that it looked good, but they would never try it, because they “can’t” cook, so why bother. And that makes me sad, so to them I say bullocks. I am pretty confident that there is nothing innate about the ability to cook, unless you are, perhaps, Grant Achatz or some other cooking wunderkind with an abnormally good palate. I think what is necessary to be a good cook, is the desire to cook. I was born into a family that liked food, with a dad and a grandmother and an aunt who loved cooking, and so I picked up the jones at a young age, but I wasn’t totally obsessed with cooking when I was a kid or anything. I made a lot of Toll House chocolate chip cookies, and that was about the extent of it. In college, I made a lot of couscous that I added sauteed frozen vegetables and soy sauce to. As I have gotten older, I have gotten more interested in making, instead of just eating, food. And more recently I have gotten more interested in food almost to the point of preoccupation. As a result, I read cookbooks and food magazines, I eat at good restaurants, I watch food shows on tv, and my favorite place to be is usually a food market of some kind. And I cook for myself a lot. Practice, more than anything else, is the reason I find a modicum of success in the kitchen. That, and my complete and utter lack of fear to try things. Perhaps overconfidence in this particular area has bred success for me. But really, if you think about it, what is the worst that could happen? A dish doesn’t turn out and you have to eat something else, or get takeout, or eat a crappy dinner. That’s it. That is the worst thing that could happen if you attempt something and it doesn’t come out the way you want it.

Now, there are people who don’t cook, and that is fine. No interest, no time, cooking feels more like a chore than a treat. That’s legit, everybody has their thing. The ones that make me sad and curious are the people who say they would like to be able to cook, but can’t. It’s honkey. If you can read, you can cook, and the more you read and cook, the less frequently you will have to be able to read to pull something together. The only reason I was able to think about putting apples and fried onions with the risotto is because I have had risotto a kajillion times, and I know that risotto is creamy and smooth, and can be rich sometimes to a fault. Crunchy things mix it up texture wise, and crisp, cool things temper richness. I had an apple, so I decided to use that. It wasn’t instinct or some innate ability, it was familiarity. And if I had tried the apple and it was gross, or didn’t have the effect I was hoping for, I would have picked it out or eaten around it. Easy peasy, no harm done, nothing to be afraid of.

There are definitely techniques you should know when you cook, and there are some tools that you need, or really should have, but if you are cooking and you come across a word or technique that you don’t know, get on the interwebs. That’s why Al Gore invented it. No one comes out of the womb knowing how to brunoise, so cooking is about learning. So just practice. I don’t remember the first risotto that I made, but that is probably because it was crap. And part of the reason that I am so excited about the one I made the other night, is because I have never made one that I liked as well before, texture, flavor or otherwise. I certainly hope I can repeat it, but who knows, there is a really good chance that I will try to make risotto again and it won’t be as good, so okay, I’ll keep trying. No fear I say!

So anyway, the point of this post, besides posting the recipe from the other night, is to suggest that if you want to cook, just try it. You have nothing to lose!

Butternut Squash Risotto with Apples and Tempura Onions (serves 2)

1 small butternut squash

1 apple, peeled, cored and diced into 1/8 inch cubes

1 medium onion, sliced into rounds

3 tbls olive oil

1 small onion, diced

1 tsp ras el-hanout

1 cup carnaroli or arborio rice

3/4 cup dry white wine, room temperature or slighty warmed

6 cups chicken stock (you will likely have a bit leftover)

1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino romano or parmesan

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup club soda

oil for deep-frying

(Wow, that’s a lot of ingredients)

This recipe is not overwhelming if you organize yourself well. The first step is to roast the butternut squash. This can be done ahead of time (I did it the night before.) Peel the squash, cut in half and seed it, and then cut into half-inch cubes. Roast the squash with a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper on 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes until the squash is soft and starting to brown. Put the roasted squash in a blender or food processor to await warm chicken stock. Next, slice the medium onion into rounds, and soak in cold water to remove the sharpness until you are ready to use. Measure the flour into a medium bowl and set aside. Dice the apple into tiny cubes and set aside until the end.

Now you are ready for the risotto portion of the evening. Set 6 cups of chicken stock over medium heat. When the stock is simmering, turn the heat down to low and keep warm. Put the olive oil and diced onion in a saute pan with high sides or a wide stock pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Cook until the onion gets soft, 4 or 5 minutes. Add the ras el-hanout, and cook until the mixture is fragrant. Add the rice and stir until the rice begins to toast and the pan gets dry.

When the rice is toasted and the pan is getting dry

DSCN2909

add the wine and stir frequently until all the wine is absorbed and the pan is dry again (you should be able to drag a spatula through the rice, and it should not fill in the gap) add the first 1/2 cup of stock and stir frequently until the stock is absorbed and the pan is dry. Repeat this, testing each time as you get closer to the end, until the rice is cooked through and soft, but still with a bite or firmness in the middle. I repeated the stock process 7 times, using 4 cups of stock. At the same time, heat canola or vegetable oil in a deep pot for deep-frying.

As you add the last 1/2 cup of stock to the rice, add another 1/2 cup to the blender with the roasted squash and puree until smooth. When the rice is getting dry again, add the squash, the grated cheese, and one last 1/2 cup of stock. Stir to combine, turn the heat off, and let the rice sit while you fry the onions.

Whisk the club soda into the flour, and when combined, add the onion rings from the water bath. Stir the onion rings to coat them with batter, and then drop into the hot oil to fry. When the onions are crispy, after 4-5 minutes, take the onions out and drain them on paper towels.

Plate the risotto, top with some of the diced apple and the onion rings, and serve.

Enjoy!

Enjoy!

In which I feel very proud of myself…

Victory is mine...

Victory is mine...

So, I started a post last night that I was going to finish tonight and post, and in the meantime, I came home from work tonight and decided to make myself some risotto. I have been wanting to write about risotto, because it gets a bad rap for its difficulty, and I think it is undeserved. So anyway, I figured I would make risotto and pay attention and take pictures (to prove that you don’t have to be stirring every minute) and let you all know how it went. Maybe it would encourage you to give it a try, we could muddle through it together and see how it goes. Except here’s the thing. I OWNED this risotto. It came out spot on. I am so excited, I had to tell you all about it. I think you need to try this pronto, because I promise, I didn’t do anything crazy or special. I probably paid a bit closer attention than usual, because I was trying to take notes for the blog, but other than that, I just did my thing.

Risotto is an Italian rice dish. Short grain rice is cooked adding liquid gradually, so the dish ends up creamy and rich, more like a pasta than a rice. You can make tons of different variations with vegetables, seafood or cheese. At its best it is comforting, both to make and to eat. I think part of its charm is that it requires some attention while it is being prepared. It is very therapeutic, and when you create something fantastic, it is very exciting. Arborio rice is the most common rice to use, and the easiest to find in the stores, but I found a box of Carnaroli rice in, of all places, the kitchen and housewares section of TJ Maxx, so I used that for my risotto tonight.

The other things that you need are an onion, some wine, some chicken stock and some cheese. Tonight I also made use of some butternut squash, an apple, some tempura batter and another onion. Stay tuned, this is going to be good.

First things first: I had roasted a small butternut squash on Sunday night, that I didn’t end up using, so I decided to use it in my risotto. I put it in the blender to await some warm chicken stock for pureeing. Secondly I finely diced an apple that I had for garnish. Thirdly, I sliced a small onion into rounds, and soaked it in cold water to remove some of the bite. None of these steps are necessary for a great risotto, but they were necessary for this great risotto. I also measured out a half cup of flour in a small bowl for the tempura. Also not required for a standard risotto.

And now, to the good stuff.  First I brought six cups of chicken stock to a simmer on the back of the stove. The chicken stock needs to be warm when you add it to the cooking rice. Then I diced an onion and added it to a saute pan with olive oil over medium heat.

the start of all good things.

the start of all good things.

As the onion softened, I added a teaspoon of ras el-hanout. Ras el-hanout is a Moroccan spice blend that has gained in fame around here recently. It translates to “head of the shop” and is traditionally made of whatever the best spices that a shop has in the house. Most include mixtures of cardamom, paprika, cumin, cinnamon and tumeric, and can contain up to 100 ingredients. It is not easy to describe the flavor, but it adds something behind the scenes. It takes and smells smokey, and it added a lovely yellow color to the risotto. And it just so happens that my littlest sister traveled to Morocco last fall and brought me some right from the source. Authentic!

head of the shop

head of the shop

See the pretty yellow? Next I added the rice. I let the rice toast a little bit,

toasty and ready for some wine...

toasty and ready for some wine...

when it got dry on the bottom of the pan I added wine. I had heated the wine a little bit so it wasn’t refrigerator cold when it went into the pan. They always tell you to heat the chicken stock before you add it to the rice so the protein doesn’t seize up, but they never mention to do that with the wine, which doesn’t make any sense since it goes in first, so I heated it a little bit by pouring it into a measuring cup and putting the measuring cup in the heating stock for a minute. It worked out.

Wine makes it all better.

Wine makes it all better.

Once the wine goes in I started stirring. You do have to stir, you just don’t have to stir constantly. You can stop and take a picture, you can answer the phone, you can grate a half cup of cheese to use in your risotto…you get my point. You want to stir so all of the rice has a chance to absorb the wine, and so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. As the wine gets absorbed, the pan gets drier obviously. You want to keep stirring until the rice is dry enough to stay put when you run your spoon along the bottom of the pan, if the rice and liquid fill in the path you created, don’t add any more liquid yet. For instance:

ready for more liquid...

ready for more liquid...

At this point I added the first batch of simmering chicken stock. I added 1/2 cup of stock, and stirred like I did with the wine. As the rice absorbed the liquid and the pan got dry, I added more. I did this seven more times. Here is what it looked like half way through…

half way there.

half way there.

As each batch of liquid was absorbed I tested a couple grains of rice. I recommend doing this. I was able to gauge how close I was getting to the end, and guess how much more stock I would need, as well as test for flavor. When the rice was close to finished – you want soft creamy rice with a bit of a bite in the middle, like al dente pasta – I added a half cup of stock to the blender with the butternut squash and pureed it. Then I added the pureed squash to the rice…

almost there

almost there

along with a half cup of pecorino romano and another half cup of stock.

As I was cooking the rice, I also heated oil and mixed the club soda and flour for the tempura. The onions that I soaked went into the batter, and as I added the squash, cheese and last batch of stock, I dumped the onions into the oil to fry.

garnish

garnish

When the onions came out of the oil, I plated the risotto. I added some of the diced apples and topped it off with the fried onions.

voila!

voila!

I was really hoping I was going to like this, and I really, really did. The risotto was really rich and cheesy, and the apple was crisp and sweet and cool. The onions were a savory crunchy treat on top. I think I would have liked to have fresh sage to fry along with the onions, it would have added delicious flavor and some great color, because the one thing this was lacking in was contrasting color. But for an experiment, I am pretty excited. Both because the risotto came out great and because the variation was a good one.

I will post a recipe tomorrow, but right now I am exhausted.

In which I share a secret family recipe…

It’s not actually a secret, and it’s not really a family recipe, exactly. In fact, I think the original version came from Bon Appetit, I can’t find it now, so we must have changed it up along the way. My Uncle Walt made it for the first time I think, and it has spread like wild fire. I shared it with my college roommate Alison when she lived in Texas, and it made its way through Texas, and she would call me all the time and tell me that one of her other friends was making it in Colorado or Montana, or Detroit or something, and then she moved to Virginia so now it is making its merry way around there. Plus my whole family makes it, and now good old Meredith makes it. I am telling you, this is going to take over the world…rightfully so, it’s delicious.

Bowtie pasta with sausage and tomatoes.

Bowtie pasta with sausage and tomatoes.

Looks innocent enough, doesn’t it? Harmless? Benign? Maybe even ho hum? But I am telling you now, there is something about this pasta. The masses love it. It is quick and easy, filling, delicious and perfect for a weeknight. This is tame enough that it won’t scare children, and delicious and exciting enough for adults. Basically, make this. You won’t be sorry.

It starts out easily enough…

mis en place...

mis en place...

Sweet italian sausage, a can of whole peeled tomatoes, heavy cream, garlic, onion and crushed red pepper. Add a pound of Farfalle pasta and dinner is served.

Start with olive oil, onion, garlic and red pepper in a saute pan.

the beginning.

the beginning.

As you are doing that, boil the water for the pasta. The onion and garlic should get soft, but not burn. When that happens, remove the casings from the sausage and add them to the pan, breaking them into pieces with the back of the spoon. Let the sausage start to brown, stirring occasionally.

getting better.

getting better.

Drain a large can of whole peeled tomatoes, and run a knife through them to break them into a few pieces before they go into the pan. Once the sausage is cooked mostly through and starting to brown, add the tomatoes to the pan, and break them into pieces with the back of the spoon. Let the sausage and tomatoes cook over medium heat until the tomatoes start to break down into a sauce. You want to start cooking the pasta at this point, so if the water hasn’t boiled yet, turn the heat under the sauce down to low and let it simmer at a low temperature until the water catches up. If you are trying to prepare some of this a bit ahead of time, this is the place to stop. Once you have added the cream you want to serve fairly quickly.

almost there...

almost there...

Once the tomatoes have broken down into a sauce (there should still be chunks of tomato…they are my favorite part, but the sauce will have come together and become more sauce like) add the cream and turn the heat to low. Let it cook for five minutes or so, until the cream melds with the tomatoes and sausage to be a creamy delicious creaminess.

heaven.

heaven.

Drain the pasta, add it to the sauce, and then serve. So so good.

ahhh, delish.

ahh, delish

This takes about a half hour tops. It is a great fall/winter comforty pasta dish.

Bowtie Pasta with Sausage, Tomatoes and Cream (serves 4-6 or two, depending on the day)

2 tbls olive oil

1 small/medium onion, diced

3-4 garlic cloves, minced

crushed red pepper flakes to your liking

1 lb sweet italian sausage, casings removed

1 28 (ish) oz can whole peeled tomatoes, liquid drained

1 cup heavy cream

Salt and pepper to taste

1 lb farfalle pasta

Parmesan to serve if you wish.

Boil a pot of salted water, and cook the pasta al dente. Heat the olive oil in a deep sided saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook until garlic and onions are soft and starting to brown just a little bit, 3 minutes or so. Turn the heat up to medium high, and add the sausage and break into small pieces with the back of a spoon. The sausage should be the size of a large grape perhaps. Let the sausage cook almost all the way through and begin to brown, about 5 minutes. If the sausage renders a lot of fat, feel free to pour some off, they goal is not a greasy sauce. Once the sausage begins to brown, add the drained tomatoes, and break them up with a knife or spoon as well. Let the tomatoes cook down, stirring occasionally, until they become sauce like, 8 minutes or so. Turn the heat down to low, add the cream, salt and pepper, and cook until the sauce comes together, about five minutes. Add the drained pasta to the pot, stir the sauce and pasta together, and serve, sprinkling with fresh parmesan if you would like. Enjoy!

In which I feed a crowd…

Another post so soon? Indeed, due to my woeful lack of attention for close to three weeks, and my natural tendencies towards feelings of guilt (Catholic? can that be inherited? I never spent much time in church, but it came from somewhere) I am going to load up. I actually have a couple of things waiting from before my big New Orleans trip, so you are going to get them all now…

The weekend before New Orleans a group of my cousins gathered in Boston for the BC FSU game. A have a cousin who is a ‘Nole, and another cousin is a legal Eagle, so it is only natural that the Floridians head up north for the big matchup which always seems to take place in the pouring rain. It is actually a lot of fun, and even Molly, who can’t even stand football from the comfort of her own living room, enjoys herself.

the excitement is palpable, no?

the excitement is palpable, no?

The gang was all arriving on Friday, and I was making dinner. We were going to eat at the apartment with the roof deck, so I wanted to make something that I could do mostly ahead and transport with a modicum of ease. Short ribs it was. I have made these short ribs for some of this group before, and they are a huge hit. They come from Fine Cooking, and they are braised with asian flavors, and served over the greatest lemon garlic mashed potatoes you could possibly imagine. I started them the night before (the night of the fried eggplant) and then the night of the dinner all I had to do was throw them back in the oven to heat up, and make the mashed potatoes. Easy.

It all starts very innocently…

tomatoes

tomatoes

The tomatoes go in to a braising liquid with soy sauce, water and star anise or chinese five spice powder.

now it's getting good.

now it's getting good.

That gets put aside until you need it. I also did a little mis en place of scallions, garlic and ginger, so it was ready for the hot pan.

doesn't get much better...

doesn't get much better...

And then I broke out the big guns…

hello my darlings.

hello my darlings.

As I was making this, I was counting 12 people for dinner. There were six of us. This happens to me more than it should. Cooking reasonable amounts of food has never been something I have done well.

And this is where it gets good…

glorious.

glorious.

Ahh the glory that is beef short ribs. So so good. Short ribs come cut either between the bone in individual ribs, or across the ribs in strips with three or four bones in them. The cuts have names that I forget, so I will just tell you that this needs the kind cut on individual bones. I had them cut about two inches long, but I think I would have had the butcher leave them a bit longer, though I am not sure why I think that.

Anyway, beef short ribs are marbled and meaty and relatively inexpensive. I paid $50 for 12 or 13 pounds, you want to figure about a pound a person, since there is a lot of bone in there. Also, you may want to actually count the number of people who will be eating so you don’t buy double what you need. Although these are so freakin good you may want the extra for yourself. Somehow the extra this night stayed at my cousins’ house. I bet they were a delicious snack for Jed and Sarah. They are two of my favorite people and they have a roof deck so I don’t mind leaving them treats as enticement to invite me back.

So the short ribs…they go into a very hot pan (or pans) and sear for several minutes on each side until they are brown and caramelized. (Does several mean three or more? I think it does, but it sounds like more than that, I would guess several meant seven.) In this case, just cook them until they are brown and caramelized on side, and then turn them. I think maybe five minutes a side will do. They will look like this:

can you smell them yet?

can you smell them yet?

The whole process takes a little time, since short ribs aren’t like any old pansy steak with only two sides, they are big fat cubes of beef, which makes for a lot of sides to caramelize. Six to be exact. Once all the sides were caramelized, I pulled the ribs out and put them aside in a bowl (or a serving platter would do…) I poured the fat out of the pans, and put them back on medium-high heat. In went the scallions, garlic and ginger, and I spent a couple of minutes pressing them against the bottom of the pan to extract all the flavor.

smells divine

smells divine

Then the ribs go back into the pot.

almost there.

almost there.

The cooking liquid went into the pot, and then I brought it to a simmer.

Now for the easy part.

Now for the easy part.

And just because my dutch oven photographs better, doesn’t mean my Calphalon wasn’t doing a fantastic job one burner over, so in order to curb the jealous tendencies that can creep up between cookware, here is a shot of that as well…

C'est magnifique...

C'est magnifique...

That Calphalon has been with me a long time, I love that pot. It may have been my first real cookware purchase.

The pots went into a 350 degree oven for several hours, and every half hour to 45 minutes I turned the ribs to make sure they all got some time under the liquid. When they finished the meat was super tender and falling apart, and had fallen off the bones. This, incidentally, is not something that Fine Cooking shares with you. In their picture of this recipe there is a gorgeous looking short rib attached to the bone sitting atop fluffy mashed potatoes. I assure you, that short rib was undercooked. It gave me a fright the first time I made this because mine didn’t look nearly as pretty without the bone attached, but after I have made these several times, I am assured that it was photographic trickery, because it just can’t happen that way.

At any rate, once the ribs were finished cooking, I took them out of the pots and put them in a baking pan. I condensed the cooking liquid into one pot (the Calphalon) and stuck both things in the fridge. If you are serving them the night you make them, you have to skim the fat off the top of the liquid, but if you are refrigerating overnight, the fat will congeal at the top and you can just scrape it off the next day before you reheat.

***

The following day, I removed the fat layer, and put the short ribs back into the pot, and the whole shebang, plus a five pound bag of yukon golds, made their way across the bridge to our dinner locale. The ribs went back into the oven to reheat, and the potatoes went into a pot to boil.

swimming

swimming

That might be the most boring picture you’ll see on Bread and Ginger, but it was time for one.

As the potatoes boiled, I simmered milk, garlic, butter and lemon zest together. I think the key to good mashed potatoes is to add the liquid hot. It helps keep the potatoes warm and fluffy. Once the potatoes were boiled, I mashed them, I use a potato ricer when I can, and then I added the liquid. The ribs came out of the oven and I served a couple of ribs per person on top of a mound of delicious garlicky goodness.

mmm mmmmm, scruptious.

mmm mmmmm, scrumptious.

This is such a great recipe for a crowd because you can make lots of it, it can be done ahead of time, and so far everyone loves it. The ribs are meaty and rich, and the potatoes are buttery and creamy but have a nice tang from the garlic and lemon to balance out the richness of the ribs. And they are great leftover. Make short ribs if you have never done so. You can braise them in anything you want, wine, beer, veal stock, and you can add all sorts of flavors to them. You could do mexican spices, or italian flavors. Short ribs make a great ragu. Once they are cooked, you can shred them, add them to a tomato base and serve over pasta. You could braise them with mexican spices, shred them and use them for a taco base. Perfect for fall and winter, some football, some short ribs, a lazy Sunday. Ideal.

I also made a fruit crisp for dessert. I actually didn’t love this. I was excited to use Asian Pears and Italian Plums from my farmer’s market, but it wasn’t the greatest.

Italian plums.

Italian plums.

I don’t know if it was the combination or what. The pears didn’t get soft, and they weren’t really sweet or something. I just didn’t love it. But I used Ina Garten’s crisp topping and I really liked that, mostly butter and flour, so it sprinkles like a crisp or a crumble, but it cooks up like a batter almost. Good texture.

plum and asian pear crisp.

plum and asian pear crisp.

We served this with whipped cream, and it was good in theory, and a lovely fall dessert, but I am going to use different fruit next time.

could have been better...

could have been better...

Next up: a Hargraves family favorite.

PS: WordPress wackiness of the day: braise and caramelize. So silly.

In which I am taking deep breaths…

home sweet home

home sweet home

So I hope I can be forgiven for my lack of attention to my faithful readers, somehow, in the last month or so, my life has become totally bananas, and unfortunately, this labor of love has suffered. To make it up to you, I will be posting like crazy for a while.

Last week I went down to New Orleans for the wedding of a good friend of mine. I had never been to New Orleans, and was really, really excited to try some of the major restaurants down there. Namely, I wanted to go to August, Cochon, Mila, Bayona, Commander’s Palace for Turtle Soup; the food is so amazing down there and I was excited. Unfortunately, I got to approximately none of those places. Helping with the planning and organizing of a wedding, and traveling in groups of 60 limit your time and options. But there were a couple of food highlights…

beignets for breakfast

beignets for breakfast

oyster po boys for lunch.

oyster po boys for lunch.

Other than those two things, I ate a lot of sandwiches ordered from the pool bar, plenty of oysters, and some delicious fried catfish. And lots of drinks. It was so much fun, and so exhausting, and I will be back for the food. The trip was great, but I was ready to be home, and then I got delayed, and wasn’t able to get back to Boston until Tuesday. Work was nuts, it was 40 degrees, and I could barely function. By Wednesday, I was finally ready to enjoy being home. I made myself a cheese plate, opened a bottle of Barbera from my Cali trip, and took deep breaths.

I do have a couple of things to share with you from before I left, and the first one is a quick and easy week night favorite that I find myself going back to a lot.

A sign of good things to come...

A sign of good things to come...

Pork chops with apples, vodka sauce, bow tie pasta with sausage (coming soon) these are all on the list of things that I return to over and over. The common themes are ease, speed and deliciousness. Fried eggplant is another one. The basic components are eggplant cut thin and fried, some kind of tomato based sauce, either a quick one or frozen long simmered sauce if I have it, and cheese. Fresh mozzarella, ricotta and shaved parmesan have all made appearances, and if the cheese cupboard is bare, I will do it without cheese, with almost as delicious results.

First step is to slice and salt the eggplant. Eggplant can be a little bitter, so salting it for a while before you use it will draw that bitter water out of the slices. I like to slice the eggplant about a quarter of an inch thick. At that thickness the eggplant cooks all the way through while the breadcrumbs get crispy and delicious. The eggplant gets almost melty in the middle, the contrast is great. You don’t need a mandoline or anything, the eggplant is easy to slice to that thickness with a sharp knife.

The eggplant slices get laid out on paper towels and sprinkled with kosher salt. I try to salt the slices for about a half hour, so plan it around a chore, or a cheese course, or half an episode of House. Once the salt has pulled some of moisture out of the slices (there will be beads of moisture on the slices, and the paper towel will be damp) the eggplant goes into flour, then egg then bread crumbs and then into oil for frying.

ready for a close up...

ready for a close up...

 

 

egged and battered

egged and battered

The oil is heated over medium high, and the eggplant only takes a minute or so to cook per side. The bread crumbs get brown and crispy, and the inside melts to deliciousness.

Almost there.

Almost there.

The slices get drained on paper towels and sprinkled with salt and then layered with tomato sauce and cheese. This particular time I had sauce in the freezer from a couple of weeks ago, but if I didn’t I would use either canned or fresh tomatoes, some garlic, onions, salt, pepper and basil and cook it down to a sauce and use that. I used fresh mozzarella made by the cheese making man in my neighborhood, and I really like the contrast between the hot crispy eggplant, the hot sauce and the soft cool cheese. Delicious, easy and filling.

Dinner in a flash.

Dinner in a flash.

And since you have been so patient, I am going to give you a little peek at what is coming next…

short ribs for a crowd...

short ribs for a crowd...

Just wait, they are one of my most favorites…

PS Wacky WordPress issue of the day…random changes in font and font size, with absolutely no visible way to fix it…