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…

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