Archive for ‘Honey’

August 27, 2012

The best way I’ve ever eaten Eggplant

I am a bad Italian.  I HATE raw tomatoes and I’m not afraid to admit it anymore! There is something about the texture that freaks me out and to be frank, I am not all too crazy about the taste.  I know, it’s pretty horrible considering that tomatoes are a huge source of vitamins and I deprive myself of that on a regular basis.  Up until a couple of year ago, though, not only did I hate tomatoes but I also hated eggplant.  Beurk.  Non, merci.  I found it to be spongy and unpleasantly bitter.  An Italian who hates tomatoes and eggplant?  Not a good combination. But one day, I tasted eggplant in all of its glory — eggplant parmigiana.  How can anyone reject FRIED vegetables (screams the American inside of me?) It was outstanding.  Delicious.  Full of oil and happiness (and potential heart attacks.) But it still didn’t have a texture that suited me.

Now, it must be known that most of my hours trolling the internet  are spent on food websites.  And in my browsing, I stumbled upon an interesting technique for making eggplant that supposedly gets the bitterness out! I followed the instructions, and was bestowed with the discovery of the most silky, creamy eggplant that I’ve ever eaten in my life. Now I know how Christopher Columbus must’ve felt when he arrived in America.  Now, I will never eat eggplant any other way.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 large eggplant
  • 2 cups milk
  • ½ cup flour
  • 3-5 Tb. olive oil
  • salt
    (optional: drizzle 3 Tb. honey with thyme leaves and sea salt)

Now what?

  1. Peel and slice the eggplant into thin 1/6 inch rounds.
  2. Place the eggplant slices in an airtight tupperware and pour the milk over it. Cover and refrigerate over night. *This is the vital part of the eggplant amelioration process!* 
  3. In a slightly deep dish, mix the flour with 1 tsp. salt. Heat the olive oil in large pan over medium-high heat. Line a plate with paper towels.
  4. When the oil is hot, dip the eggplant in the flour but be sure to tap off the excess.  Place them in the pan and fry for about 2 minutes per side, or until golden.  Remove from the oil and place on the paper toweled plate. Repeat with the remaining eggplant, always adding oil as needed.

How we ate it?

We enjoyed this creamy eggplant with some creamy goat cheese.  One of the best parts of living in France is the Saturday morning market.  I have a cheese guy.  He has a serious mustache.  My life in France. Anyway, we assembled our sandwiches on English muffins (which could perhaps be a French faux pas considering all of the crusty baguettes running freely!)  On the bread, we spread some eggplant cavier (recipe to come soon), goat cheese, eggplant, goat cheese, eggplant, truffled salt until the result was too divine to be true.  I imagine that the sandwich ideas are endless with this sort of eggplant! How do YOU eat eggplant?

July 6, 2012

David Lebovitz’s Fresh Ginger Cake | Gateau au Gingembre

Just last year, a foodie friend of mine suggested that I try any recipe by David Lebovitz.  I amazoned his cookbooks and was hooked immediately.  So hooked that I had “Ready for Dessert” mailed to me in France on an impulse from the United States (paying an astronomical amount for shipping.)  It was a decision that I have not once regretted.  Everything in this book is unbelievable and it really hits the nail on the head of the “American who appreciates French culture” in regards to the style of cooking/baking that I do so adore.  I am not usually a fan of ginger, but in the cold winter on a whim, I made DL’s fresh ginger cake and received many criticisms for it.  Ginger is hit or miss and unfortunately the crowd of 20 somethings guzzling beer that I was serving this cake to was not exactly a perfect match.  I made it once again recently for a civil union celebration, where the Boulanger (baker) sitting next to me asked me if I could come to his Boulangerie (bakery) one of these days to give him some of these typically “American” recipes that work so well now in France.  In exchange, he said to me, I would get to try some of his cookies.  Cookies made by the French? I’ll be the judge of that…

David Lebovitz‘s Fresh Ginger Cake | Gateau au Gingembre

(adapted from Ready For Dessert)

What you’ll need:

  • 4 ounces fresh ginger
  • 1 cup honey (or mild molasses)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature

Now what?

  1. Preheat oven to 350 f and line the bottom of a 9 1/2 inch springform pan (the ones we usually make cheesecake in work well) with a circle of wax paper.
  2. Peel, slice and chop the ginger into tiny pieces.  You can also grate it with a cheese grater, but be careful of your fingers!
  3. Mix together the honey, sugar and oil. In a separate bowl, mix together dry ingredients.
  4. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil on the stovetop.  Add the baking soda and whisk for a couple of seconds.
  5. Pour water mixture into your honey/sugar mixture, whisking carefully.  Stir in the ginger.
  6. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones, whisking to obtain a homogenous batter.  Finish by adding eggs, one at a time.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared mold and bake about 45 minutes to an hour or until a toothpick or knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
  8. If the top of the cake seems to be cooking faster than the middle, cover it with aluminum foil and continue baking.
  9. Let the cake cool for 30 minutes before removing it from its mold.

June 29, 2012

Kristin’s Honey & Pepper Cauliflower Macaroni and Cheese

My sisters were recently visiting Strasbourg and a miracle occurred.  Kristin suggested that she cook us dinner.  I thought I should get my ears checked!  Because Kristin rarely takes to the kitchen in such a manner, I made sure to carefully observe every move she made while whipping up her and Michael’s “secret” creation.  Her recipe is simple but with an extra twist that makes all of the difference.  And when I am homesick, I plan on making this comfort dish in order to feel like I’m with my sisters once again getting a little “taste” of home.

The problem with my version of her recipe was that I didn’t use a strong enough cheese. I made the mistake of buying my cheese in Germany.  Why on Earth would I do such a thing when I live in France, a country where cheese flows freely and stinks strongly? Next time feel free to replace the taleggio with gouda, fontina or even munster and keep in mind that using raclette cheese is not nearly strong enough.  Though even with a mild cheese, the French roommates who generally scoff at all savory American dishes served themselves twice.

Kristin’s Honey & Pepper Cauliflower Macaroni and Cheese

Serves 6 very hungry people or 8 French people (less hungry. All the time.) What you’ll need:

  • 1 lb macaroni (shells are good, think oozy cheese macaroni)
  • 2/3 lb taleggio cheese, cut into small pieces
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • grated parmesan cheese
  • honey
  • salt
  • black pepper

Now what?

1)   The first thing you have to do is roast your cauliflower.  To do so, mix it with a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper.  Spread out the florets on an aluminum lined baking sheet and roast in the oven at 400 f until it is crispy (20-30 minutes.)  In the meanwhile, cook your pasta in salted water according to the obvious pasta cooking directions.

2)   Next you need to make a roux.  Roux are one of my biggest enemies. In order not to “roux”in your roux (get it?), you just need to go slowly.  Melt butter in a pot on medium heat.  Add flour and whisk until the mixture thickens.  Once thickened, add the milk slowly (in several intervals) continuously whisking.  It is always easier to thin it out (by adding more milk) than to thicken it up (by adding more flour), so going slowly is very key.  Should something go wrong, you might end up ruing the day you ruined your roux.

3)   Once your roux has a nice consistent texture, dump the taleggio and parmesan into the pot and stir until you’ve got a nice, thick cheese sauce that far surpasses any velveeta box you’ve ever eaten.

4)   Combine your roasted cauliflower, cooked pasta and cheese sauce in a baking or serving dish.

5)   Many people prefer a baked macaroni and cheese and so if you’d like, now you can top it with breadcrumbs and broil in the oven until crispy.

6)   If you choose not to broil, now freely add honey and tons of black pepper to take this macaroni and cheese from comfortably familiar to comfortably amazing!

“cheesus christ this is good!”- Kristin

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