Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Eggplant Caponata

I don't think that I've ever experienced so many flavor sensations in one bite as I did with this caponata.  It had hints of sweetness, heat, earthiness, tang, and a creamy nuttiness.  It was kind of wild.  I decided it would be better to make for lunch because I had a sneaking suspicion that I might be the only one in my family who'd like it.  I ate my caponata on top of grilled bread and a little ricotta.  It was a definitely a nice change from the usual turkey sandwich or leftovers from dinner kind of lunch.

Eggplant Caponata

1 large or 2 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (4 cups)
3/4 cup Newman's Own Balsamic Dressing
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup chopped golden raisins
1 teaspoon chili flakes
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons tomato puree
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1 baguette sliced

In a large bowl add the eggplant and 1/2 cup of balsamic dressing.  Stir to coat and let sit for 10 minutes.  In a large sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Add onions to sauté pan and cook over medium heat until onions are caramelized.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the pine nuts, raisins, and chili flakes to the caramelized onions and stir to combine.  Cook onion mixture for about 3 minutes and then add the eggplant, brown sugar, cinnamon and cocoa powder and continue to sauté until the eggplant begins to soften, about 5 minutes.  Stir in thyme, tomato paste, water, and remaining 1/4 cup dressing.  Cover the pan with a lid and reduce heat to a simmer.  Cook, covered, for 15 minutes.  Add the salt and taste.  Adjust seasonings if necessary.  Serve on slices of a crusty baguette.

*I would halve the recipe next time.  I had more than enough (especially because I was the only one eating it).

Recipe adapted ever so slightly from Not Without Salt

Monday, January 21, 2013

Panna Cotta with a Maple Blueberry Sauce

I'm sort of on a panna cotta kick (you probably can tell from the previous post).  This recipe calls for yogurt which gives this panna cotta a mild tang which I really like.  I topped the panna cotta with a maple blueberry sauce and graham cracker crumbs.  The graham cracker crumb thing came to me while I was getting gas at Hart's gas station (food is on my mind A LOT).  I was thinking that I'd like to add a little crunch to this particular panna cotta.  Because this panna cotta is mildly tangy and was going to be topped with a fruit topping, I was thinking cheesecake and graham cracker crumbs seemed they'd be a perfect fit.  I really loved this panna cotta and my boys thought it was a very delicious afternoon snack. (Preston tried to eat the entire top part (blueberry sauce and graham cracker crumbs) before Noah could get a taste of it all together.)

Panna Cotta with a Maple Blueberry Sauce and Graham Cracker Crumbs

Panna Cotta
2 tablespoons water
1 1/4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
2 cups whipping cream, divided
1 1/4 cups whole-milk yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of salt

Pour 2 tablespoons of water into a small bowl.  Sprinkle gelatin over water and let soften for 10 to 15 minutes.  Whisk 1 cup cream, yogurt, and vanilla in a large bowl to blend.  Heat remaining 1 cup of cream, sugar and a pinch of salt in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Stir until sugar dissolves and cream comes to a simmer.  Remove from heat.  Add gelatin mixture, stirring to dissolve gelatin.  Mix hot cream mixture into yogurt mixture.  Divide mixture among six 3/4-cup ramekins or small glass containers (like I use).  Refrigerate until cold, then cover and refrigerate overnight.

Recipe from Mario Batali plus a pinch of salt

Maple Blueberry Sauce

2 cups blueberries
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
Pinch of salt

In a small saucepan, combine blueberries, syrup and a pinch of salt.  Bring to blueberries and syrup to a low boil, stirring occasionally.  Cook until blueberries begin to break down and sauce thickens, about 10 minutes.  At this point, you can leave the sauce as is or you can use an immersion blender to make the sauce smooth (this is what I did).  Pour into a bowl and let cool.

Graham Cracker Crumbs

3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt (heaping)
3 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon and salt in a small mixing bowl.  Add melted butter and stir until crumbs are evenly coated with butter.  Spread crumbs evenly on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake for 8-10 minutes until golden brown, stirring crumbs halfway through baking time for even coloring.

To assemble panna cotta:  Remove panna cotta from refrigerator and spoon maple blueberry sauce on top of panna cotta.  Top with graham cracker crumbs and serve.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Panna Cotta with Glazed Oranges

A few nights ago, I woke to the tap of my eight year old asking him to cover him up.  (Every night around 1 am, he comes in from his room with all of his blankets.  He taps me and asks me to cover him up.  He then gets into his second bed, which happens to be on the floor of my bedroom).  Sometimes I have a hard time falling back asleep after I've been woken up.  This night was one of those nights and as I lie in my bed trying to go back to sleep, my thoughts were filled with visions of panna cotta and something I could top it with (weird, I know).  Being that citrus is in season, oranges seemed they'd make a nice fit.  Simple, creamy panna cotta topped with citrusy (is that a word), syrupy oranges.  Can you guess what I made the next day?

Panna Cotta with Glazed Oranges

2 Cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 packet unflavored powdered gelatin
2 tablespoons cold water

Lightly oil eight 1/2-cup ramekins with vegetable oil.  Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a small bowl and let stand 10-15 minutes.  In a medium sized saucepan heat heavy cream, whole milk, sugar and a pinch of salt.  Once the sugar has dissolved and cream/milk mixture comes to a simmer, remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.  Add the gelatin mixture to cream, stirring to dissolve.  Divide the Panna Cotta mixture among the prepared ramekins, chill until firm, 4 hours.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.  Dip ramekins, 1 at a time, into a bowl of hot water 3 seconds. Run a thin knife around edge of each ramekin and invert ramekin onto center of a small plate. 

*I poured my panna cotta into small glass containers and didn't unmold them because of the shape of the container.

Glazed Oranges

4 oranges
1/2 cup sugar

Using a sharp knife, segment 3 of the oranges.  To do this, slice a little off the top and bottom of the orange.  Next, trim away the skin and the pith (starting at the top, slice downward following the curve of the orange, trimming away and discarding the pith and the peel).  Next, hold the orange over a bowl.  Slip the knife between the membranes of the orange to remove individual orange segments.  Let the juices and the orange segments fall into the bowl.

Juice the fourth orange:  it should yield about 1/2 cup juice.  If there isn't quite enough, add some of the juice from the segmented oranges.  Pour the juice into a medium sized saucepan and add the sugar.  Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture bubbles and reduces to a golden orange syrup, about 10 minutes.  Pour the syrup into a glass bowl and let cool until just warm.

Pour syrup over orange segments and spoon a few orange segments and a little of the syrup onto the panna cotta.  Serve.

Recipe adapted slightly from Molly Wizenberg's A Homemade Life