Monday, February 18, 2013

Eggplant Parmesan

It was Foodie’s turn to cook this past Wednesday, and she made a different dish using eggplant, Eggplant Parmesan.  This recipe is quite light but packs just as much flavor and satisfaction as its traditional, somewhat heartier counterpart.

Much like the ratatouille recipe I made a few weeks ago, the eggplant is first baked, not fried.  Not only does this lighten it up calorie wise, but it also makes the eggplant a bit crispy, not soggy, which adds to the texture complexity of the dish.  The cheeses satisfy the creamy and the breadcrumbs kick in the crunchy.  The sauce used in this dish calls for a splash of vinegar, no doubt to boost the acidity of the tomatoes and rouse the flavor.

This version  of eggplant parmesan is very, very good.  A must try.  The basic tomato sauce cooks up in no time and served topped on pasta, along with a nice salad and a little red wine, you’ve got yourself a feast!  A little further down, you’ll find a recipe for an easy but fancy-schmancy dessert recipe for Crème Caramel.

Eggplant Parmesan 
Adapted from:  Jamie Oliver’s Italy

3 large firm eggplants (do not peel!)
Olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely sliced
1 heaping tsp. dried oregano, plus more for the breadcrumbs
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
One handful of basil or marjoram leaves or both mixed
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1 5-ounce ball of fresh mozzarella cheese
1 cup of dried breadcrumbs (Foodie used sourdough bread to make the breadcrumbs)

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Brush both sides of eggplant slices with oil, and place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake 10 to 15 minutes per side until both sides are lightly browned. Set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees.
2. In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and add onion. Sauté until soft, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and dried oregano and sauté another 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and their juices, breaking up whole tomatoes with your hands. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 15 to 20 minutes.
3. Add vinegar, basil/marjoram and salt and pepper to taste.
4. Into a 9-by-9-inch, 10-by-5-inch or 10-by-6-inch baking pan, spoon a small amount of tomato sauce, then add a thin scattering of Parmesan cheese, then a single layer of eggplant. Repeat until all ingredients are used, ending with the sliced mozzarella, little sauce and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle bread crumbs on top.
4. Bake until eggplant mixture is bubbly and center is hot, 30 to 45 minutes depending on size of pan and thickness of layers. Remove from heat and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

As you know from previous posts, we have a little rotation going and, by now, we all know what we need to bring to the host’s house.  When we have dinner at Singer’s house, Foodie brings dessert. Last week she brought Crème Caramel and it was too pretty and too good not to share.  

Crème Caramel
Adapted from:

For the custard base:
4 eggs
2 cups whole milk
1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

For the caramel:
1 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon lemon juice (if desired; Foodie did not use the lemon juice)

Prepare the custard (at least one hour ahead):
Heat the milk until very hot. Add grated fresh ginger. I let it cool and add vanilla. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until pale and well blended. Slowly pour the milk over the eggs/sugar mixture and whisk until well incorporated. Let cool to room temperature and strain through a sieve.

Prepare the caramel:
In a heavy saucepan, melt the sugar until you reach a nice deep golden color. Be careful as the caramel will continue to darken once removed from the heat.  Carefully divide it among four single serving baking dishes, letting the caramel cool and harden for a few minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a deep baking pan, pour some hot water to about an inch deep. Pour the egg custard mixture on top of each dish of caramel and set your baking dishes into the baking pan with water.  The water should come to about half way up the sides of the dishes, so add more water if necessary.

Bake until the middle still jiggles a bit when shaken, about 30 to 50 minutes. The mixture will continue to cook and set while refrigerated.  Let the water bath cool off for a few minutes and remove the baking dishes.  Cool off to room temperature then refrigerate until completely chilled before serving, about two hours.

To serve the Crème Caramel, run a knife along the side of the baking dishes, just like you would when trying to release the sides of a cake, being careful not to cut into the custard.  Then, place the serving dish on top of the baking dish, invert onto the plate and wiggle about.  The caramel will cascade down over the perfectly formed and absolutely delicious mound of custard.

1 comment:

Maria said...

Mmmm that Eggplant Parm looks absolutely delicious!!!