Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Baba Ghanoush

You may have noticed a preponderance of eggplant/aubergine recipes. I can only blame the abundance of the farmer's market. Well, that and the fact that every time I go, my roommate goes as well at a different time. We both arrive home to realize that we have each purchased 3 eggplants. Which makes a total of 6 to get through. Which results in massive eggplant-related recipes. I've been wanting to make this one  for a while and it came out beautifully. The entire bowl of this was gone in 2 hours or less.

So maybe using up all those eggplants wasn't as much of a chore as I thought...

Makes about 3 cups


3 medium eggplants (about 4 pounds)

3 tbsp tahini (sesame paste)

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 ½ tbsp lime juice

2 tsp salt

2 tbsp finely chopped parsley

1 spring onion, chopped

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

½ tsp paprika

½ tsp harissa

½ tsp cayenne

½ cup Greek yogurt


1 tbsp white truffle oil

2 tbsp sesame seed salad dressing


Preheat an oven grill. With a paring knife, pierce the eggplants in several places. Place on a medium baking sheet and roast until skins are dark mahogany in color and flesh feels soft, about 50 minutes. Let stand until cool enough to handle. Split the eggplants, scoop the flesh into a colander, and press to extract excess liquid.

Transfer to a bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Stir or use a food processor to pulse until smooth. Taste and adjust the lime juice and salt.

Transfer to a serving bowl and serve with warm pita bread.

Spicy Stuffed Eggplants/Aubergines

Ok, these didn't come out as pretty (or photogenic) as I wanted but trust me, they're delicious. I've made many a  "stuffed vegetable" recipe in my day, but these were wonderful as a vegetarian main course (if you skip the bacon). The buckwheat is a nice alternative to couscous or other starchy filling.

While it's a bit grainy on its own, combine it with goat's cheese and you've got a win. It's also a great weeknight dinner recipe: while you're roasting the eggplants (sigh, or aubergine..I have a tendency to cook foods that have a UK/US noun difference) you can make the other parts of the recipe and be done in 30 minutes!

Serves 4

Takes 30 minutes, start to finish


2 large eggplants

Olive Oil

125g buckwheat (cooked according to package instructions)

zest and juice of ½ lime

3 tbsp harissa

10 cherry tomatoes, deseeded and finely chopped

handful chopped fresh flatleaf parsley

150g crumbled goat’s cheese

2 strips bacon (cooked)


-Preheat the oven to 200C or fan180C. Halve the eggplants lengthways and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with plenty of olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes or until tender

-Meanwhile, cook 125g buckwheat according to the box/packet's instructions (it's very similar to couscous). Stir in 2 tbsp olive oil, the zest and juice of ½ lime and the 3 tbsp of harissa. Deseed and finely chop the cherry tomatoes and stir into the buckwheat with a handful of chopped fresh flatleaf parsley and 150g crumbled goat’s cheese.

-Remove the eggplants from the oven and, once they’ve cooled a little, carefully scoop out the flesh and roughly chop. Stir into the buckwheat mixture and season well. Spoon the mixture back into the eggplant shells and return to the oven for 10-12 minutes.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Spicy Chicken and Corn on the Cob Salad

Another main course summer salad. Oh, if there was ever a hearty salad that sang of summer, this has got to be it. I adapted it slightly from the September 2010 Delicious Magazine. Fresh sweet corn, courtesy of the local farmer's market, has got to be one of the best late summer vegetables. And while the optimal summer preparation method is the almighty grill, this salad benefits from adaptability. Being the grill-less souls we are, we put the corn under our griddle for 20 minutes or so and the effect was just about the same. This also applied for the roast chicken. If we had more time on our hands, we could have roasted the chicken ourselves (and hey, if you want to, go right ahead) but this being a weeknight dinner, it was far easier and faster (and actually cheaper) just to buy it pre-roasted and slice it.

Serves 4

20 minutes to make, 30 minutes to cook


3 corn on the cob with husks

50g unsalted butter, softened

1 ½ tbsp harissa paste

Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

Handful of fresh flatleaf parsley, chopped

Roast chicken, cut into strips

1 bell pepper, deseeded and sliced

1 avocado, sliced

2 large handfuls of lamb’s lettuce

3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Handful of fresh chives, chopped


-Soak 3 lengths of kitchen string in warm water for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, peel back the husks of the corn, leaving the leaves attached at the base. In a small bowl, blend the butter, harissa, lemon zest, and parsley. Season well and smear all over the corn on the cobs, then re-cover with the leaves and tie string around each cob.

-Preheat an oven grill or griddle until hot and then grill the corn in their husks, turning, for about 15-20 minutes, or until black all over.

-Mix the red pepper, avocado, and lamb’s lettuce in a salad bowl. In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice with salt and pepper, then whisk in the extra-virgin olive oil. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss together. Slice the chicken into strips and add to the salad.

-Remove the string and husks from the warm sweetcorn and, using a sharp knife and cutting the length of the cob, carefully strip off the kernels and add to the salad.

-Toss well to combine, sprinkle over the chives, and serve immediately.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Greek Frittata with Yogurt

Again, another reason to use the fresh produce of the season (I sound like the spokesman for the organic lifestyle). My roommate had come home earlier in the week with her arms full of courgettes/zucchinis from the market and we spent the subsequent days trying to find new and unusual ways of using them up.

This frittata was an absolute win, not just for the ease in making it (absolutely foolproof) but its creamy texture when all it has is very waistline-conscious yogurt in it.

Yes, yes, it might call for 8 eggs, but you're getting good hearty yogurt and lots of veg in there as well. All in all a great main dish that also is very good cold when eaten for leftovers (or later that night...).

Serves about six 


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 leek, white and light green parts, cleaned and chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

3/4 pound zucchini, cut in 1/4- to 1/3-inch dice

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

8 eggs

1/2 cup Greek yogurt

1/4+ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet. Add the leek and cook, stirring, until tender, about three minutes. Add the garlic, stir together until fragrant, about 30 seconds, and add the squash. Cook, stirring, until tender, 10 to 12 minutes for winter squash, about 8 minutes for zucchini. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the dill and the mint. Remove from the heat.

3. Place the remaining tablespoon of oil in a 2-quart casserole or in a 9-inch cast iron skillet, brush the sides of the pan with the oil and place in the oven. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs in a large bowl. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Whisk in the yogurt and the Parmesan. Stir in the squash or zucchini mixture.

4. Remove the baking dish from the oven and scrape in the egg mixture. Place in the oven, and bake 30 minutes or until puffed and lightly colored. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Curried Cucumbers

 A move to a new kitchen (and accompanying new kitchenware) had to sponsor a feast of epic "moving-in day" proportions. Although this feast took place about 5 days after the actual move, it was a great way to break in (sometimes literally) the new appliances and flatware.

Because karma is kind, my new roommate has a penchant for buying produce at the weekly farmer's market. She brought home the most beautiful cucumbers, fortunate as the New York Times had just devoted an entire section to the vegetable (well, actually fruit, but let's not be silly). I had never thought to "curry" cucumbers before but it was a great late summer side dish. The NY Times recommended using about 1 teaspoon of curry powder which I thought to be absolutely ridiculous. I used at least 5 and still thought it could have used more. Of course, it's entirely up to taste, but I say the more curry the better.

Serves about 4


4 medium cucumbers, peeled if waxed, or 2 European cucumbers

1 tablespoon canola oil or extra virgin olive oil

1 small onion, cut in half lengthwise, then sliced across the grain

Salt and freshly ground pepper

5+ teaspoons curry powder (more to taste)

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives or cilantro


1. If using regular cucumbers, cut in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Slice on the diagonal about 1/4 inch thick. If using long European cucumbers, peel, if desired, and slice on the diagonal about 1/4 inch thick.

2. Heat the oil in a large lidded skillet or saucepan over medium heat, and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until tender, about five minutes. Add a pinch of salt and the curry powder, and stir together for another minute. Add the cucumber, and cook, stirring, for three minutes. Stir in the wine, and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce the heat and simmer 15 minutes. Uncover, raise the heat and cook until the liquid evaporates. Season to taste with salt, remove from the heat and stir in the chives and cilantro. Serve hot, at room temperature or cold.

Advance preparation: You can make these several hours before serving and reheat.

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