Thursday, June 17, 2010

Hurrah for Baba Ghanoush!

Well here it is folks. My first but not last attempt at Baba ghanoush. It is delish. Very creamy and garlic-y.
I was doing a little online investigation and found that it's good for me too. Eggplant is good for the brain, is a good source of antioxidants and fiber, is low in calories and lowers cholesterol.
So sign me up for the bandwagon, I'm on it for the long haul.
The recipe is easy as pie, I found out what the common ingredients were and just tossed them into the blender. The hardest part was waiting for the eggplant to grill.

Three eggplants. Oil the exterior and place on the grill. After 15 minutes turn a 1/4 turn, and again after another 15 minutes then twice more after 10 minutes each remaining side. Remove from grill and place in zip lock bag or a bowl covered with plastic wrap. Let sit for 20 minutes then peel. Place flesh in colander and let drain but reserve the liquid.
In a blender put three large cloves of garlic, more if you like but remember you can always add more but can't take away, salt, pepper, the juice of three to four limes or lemons (more or less to taste) a spoonful or so of tahini (sesame seed) paste (it has a distinct flavor profile so start with less) and a healthy drizzle of olive oil. Add the eggplant and puree until smooth adding the reserved liquid as needed to get a creamy consistency.
This is best if you let it sit overnight in the fridge but half of it didn't make it that far. We sprinkled it with some paprika and a healthy sift of finely chopped cilantro, drizzled with olive oil and devoured as if we hadn't eaten all day.
It's usually served with pita wedges but since we didn't have any in the house, we used tortilla chips.
Very yummy.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Baba Ghanou-what?

Beloved boyfriend and I ran to the store for a couple of items tonight. Root beer, lime chips, plain yogurt and cilantro to be exact. Needless to say that's not all we walked out with.
One of the extras were three purple eggplants. Tomorrow they are going onto the grill so I can make baba ghanoush.
I've never made it before so we'll just have to see how I do. Since I've never made it before I've been looking at recipes for it and they all look very simple. Eggplant, tahini, garlic and lemon juice, can't really get much easier than that. I'm going to make mine with lime juice since I didn't get lemons.
So wish me luck, if it turns out ok I'll share. :)


Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Bowl of Comfort

My favorite comfort food is called Tom Kha Kai or in English, Thai chicken-coconut soup.

It's quite delicious and I highly recommend it. I was in the mood for it on a hot summer night, but it's perfect for chill fall/winter nights when you need a bit of comfort in a bowl.

Tom Kha Kai
3 Cans chicken or veggie broth
1 can coconut milk
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh ginger (must be fresh) I also like to finely grate it in.
1 medium onion chopped
1-2 large carrots coin sliced
1-2 chicken breasts thinly sliced* (slightly freezing them first will help the slicing go faster and be thinner.)
1 can baby corn
1/4 can straw mushrooms chopped
Juice of 2-3 limes
2-3 tbls brown sugar
1 tbls fish sauce
2 tsp chili paste (sambal)
2-3 kefir lime leaves torn into 1/4 (this really makes the dish so don't try and do without. They're available in any Asian market.)
2 plum tomatoes chopped
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Sliced Serrano chili*
Sticky rice*

Combine broth, coconut milk and ginger in a large sauce pan, add onion and carrots and gradually increase the heat to boil stirring frequently. When the carrots begin getting tender add all the remaining ingredients but the tomato, cilantro, Serrano and and rice. Heat until chicken is cooked through. To serve pour over sticky rice and garnish with the tomato, cilantro and Serrano.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Food for Thought

I believe my first experiences in the kitchen involved pie dough cookies and bread.
My mother was born on a self sustaining farm at the beginning of the depression and pies, usually apple made from the fruit of numerous trees dotting the yard were a staple. In fact, pie for breakfast was more common than not.
This carried through my mothers childhood into mine where she would take a day to fill every pie pan we had with sweetness. My brother and dad preferred apple and my favorite was cherry, but there were also apricot and peach pies as well as pear and numerous other combinations of the above. Most of the fruit came from our own orchard when in season. From bottles of preserves that mom put up when not and very rarely from a can from the store.
The crust was always from scratch, flour, oil, salt...I don't recall the rest of the ingredients, I recall it tasting rather bland and almost chalky when I'd sample it uncooked, but it underwent a magical transformation with the addition of cinnamon sugar and the bubbling syrup of cooking fruit.
As mom trimmed the edges off the crusts she would push the scraps over to my brother and I. We would lay them out on a cooking sheet and with her supervision we would brush them with milk then sprinkle them with the cinnamon sugar. They would then go into the oven toward the end of the pie's baking time and emerge all glittering and golden. They were a wonderful treat and never lasted long, I think usually they didn't even get all the way cooled down.

Bread was also made from scratch. I remember mom proofing the dough in a large steel bowl that at the time seemed large enough for me to bathe in.
As she stood and punched the dough, kneading and shaping it I remember her pinching off little balls for me to work as well although more often than not I'd eat most of it. The sweet white bread was always my favorite but the nutty, earthy taste of whole wheat was also good. There was something so comforting in the smell of yeast, and of course the smell of loaf after delicious loaf of fresh baked bread. The first one out hardly had time to be turned out of it's pan before we'd sliced it and slathered it, still steaming with butter that would instantly melt and soak through creating little golden rivers down our hands and arms if we weren't quick enough to catch them with our tongues.

I doubt there is a person out in the world that doesn't have an emotional attachment to food in some way. It is such an intrinsic part of our lives from birth to death.
Most people I talk to have memories of their first cooking experience. Some good, others...not so good.

For me, the essence of food is in the way it make you feel, the memories that it can conjur, the aroma, the texture and of course, the flavor. I want to share with you this little corner of my life. To share my love of creme brulee as I encounter the first sweet crunch of the sugar, the decadent bliss of the cream as it melts over my tongue allowing the vanilla infusion to permeate my senses as well as the fire in my favorite Thai dishes that makes my eyes water and my nose run as I savor the citrus tang of lime leaves and the fresh green flavor of cilantro.
I hope you enjoy this journey as I re-visit old favorites and create new ones. Here is to life well eaten.