The Terminal: Food ‘n Flix Roundup

At the beginning of this month, I announced that I would be hosting Food ‘n Flix with my chosen movie The Terminal. I love all the groups I am part of but I have to say there is a level of exchange with this group I just don’t get with others. Not only do we cook from a same inspiration, we also discuss the movies. It creates a real virtual conversation.

The Terminal

Tasty reading ahead, KEEP GOING… →

The Liver Experiment Week 8: Stuffed Baby Eggplants in a Dirty Rice Pilaf

Here we are at the 8th installment of The Liver Experiment where I will try to acquire a taste for liver. Over a 10 week period I will cook, consume and post my experience once a week about trying to appreciate my food nemesis. I hope my experiment will inspire you to try the same with your own personal food nemesis. And even if you are determined to hate liver for life I hope you will follow along throughout the whole series.

And for a second time I am so happy to be able to combine Week 8 with this month’s Creative Cooking Crew. This month our theme was rice. I decided to combine the old and the new in this Moorish and Louisiana fusion dish named Stuffed Baby Eggplants in a Dirty Rice Pilaf.

Stuffed Baby Eggplants in a Dirty Rice Pilaf 02

Tasty reading ahead, KEEP GOING… →

Burnt Eggplant Salad with Green Tahini Dressing

Are you like me right now, trying to catch my breath, running around getting the last gifts, ingredients, baking and getting everything ready by tomorrow? Deep breath, it will all work out. If you are expected to bring a dish to a pot-luck in the next days and are still at a loss of what to make may I suggest this Burnt Eggplant Salad with Green Tahini Dressing. In the last months I have brought this dish to 2 parties and it was a huge hit both times. And visually it is simply stunning.

Burnt Eggplant Salad with Green Tahini Dressing

May Peace, Joy, Hope and Happiness be yours during this Holiday Season and throughout the New Year

Tasty reading ahead, KEEP GOING… →

Fried Eggplant Garlic Parsley Dressing

Happy Sunday everyone! I am so very excited today to talk to you about a cookbook that is about to hit the shelves in November 2012. I was very lucky to get an advanced copy by the author, my dear friend and fellow food blogger Faith of the blog An Edible Mosaic. Faith’s cookbook is an absolutely wonderful collection of traditional Middle Eastern dishes. I was so honored to receive a copy of the book because I think the message Faith wants to convey is very close to my blog’s purpose: it is for food lovers, restaurant goers and home cooks who would like to explore a more exotic palate in their plate.

Giveaway: I have a copy of the An Edible Mosaic Cookbook to give away. Check out the end of the post to learn how to enter the draw.

I have been lucky to have made friends over the last 20 years with people from various parts of the Middle East so I have been exposed to classic Lebanese, Syrian, Iranian, Palestinian and so forth dishes. The cuisine has nothing to do with your local Shish Taouk sandwich shop. Faith did not grow up accustomed to these dishes either, not until she met her now husband Mike who is Middle Eastern. She learned to cook these fabulous dishes during the first 6 months of her marriage in her mother-in-law’s kitchen. Faith brought back this treasure of recipes to North America.

In this cookbook you will find such classics as hummus, kebabs and pistachio drenched sweets. But you will discover a whole plethora of delectable flavors which I hope you will try like tabbouleh, saffron rice, stuffed squash with yogurt sauce, beautiful lamb dishes and scented milk puddings. The recipe I prepared is an unusual choice for me: Fried Eggplant with Garlic and Parsley Dressing. I have never been a fan unless it has been cooked and drenched in tomato sauce but made the effort to turn into a now acquired taste. Faith’s husband, Mike, also hates eggplants. His mother always hoped he would one day marry a girl who liked this vegetable. When Faith tasted and fell in love with this recipe she also got her mother-in-law’s blessing. So it just goes to show you never know what can come out of keeping an open mind and trying new foods!

 

Fried Eggplant with Garlic and Parsley Dressing (BATINJAN MEKLEH)
Recipe courtesy of An Edible Mosaic:  Middle Eastern Fare with Extraordinary Flair by Faith Gorsky (Tuttle Publishing; Nov. 2012); reprinted with permission.

Serves 4 to 6
Preparation Time: 10 minutes, plus 30 minutes for the eggplant to drain
Cooking Time: 20 minutes

1 large or 2 small globe eggplants (about 2 lb/900 g)
2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon water
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 bunch fresh parsley, minced
Oil, for shallow frying

  1. Fully or partially peel the eggplant if desired. (To partially peel it, peel one strip off down the length of the vegetable, then leave the next strip in place and peel the next strip off, and so on). Slice into 1/4 to 1/2 inch (6 mm to 1.25 cm) thick slices (lengthwise or crosswise is fine if you’re using baby eggplant, but if you’re using a large eggplant slice it crosswise).
  2. Sprinkle the salt on both sides of each slice and transfer to a colander; put the colander in the sink and let it sit for 30 minutes. Rinse the eggplant under cold running water, then gently wring out any excess water and pat dry.
  3. Combine the vinegar, water, garlic, and parsley in a small bowl and set aside.
  4. Coat the bottom of a large skillet over moderately high heat with oil. Fry the eggplant in batches (so the pan isn’t overcrowded) until golden brown, about 2 to 4 minutes per side. (You can add more oil to the pan if necessary.) Transfer the cooked eggplant to a paper towel-lined plate to drain any excess oil.
  5. Serve the eggplant warm or at room temperature, along with the dressing to drizzle on top.

Want to win a copy of this cookbook?

3 ways to enter the contest, each way counts as a separate entry so more chances to win!

– Leave a comment in the post!
Share this giveaway on Facebook and leave separate comment
Tweet: I just entered the Edible Mosaic #cookbook #giveaway with @cethniceatz at http://cultureatz.com/a-sneak-peek-at-the-edible-mosaic-cookbook-fried-eggplant-with-garlic-and-parsley-dressing/

This giveaway is open WORLDWIDE. You have till November 4th, 2012, 23h59 EST to enter. GOOD LUCK!

The Greek Moussaka

When you start exploring more exotic foods you realize pretty soon that your local Chinese, Japanese, Greek and ethnic etc. restaurants are bastardized versions made for the North American palate. You may find the small gem family run restaurant that serves more authentic dishes or you can really find out what the true cuisine of a country is when on holiday. Greek food is a perfect example. When I was there many moons ago I ate grilled octopus, devoured lams stews, enjoyed moussakas and drank frappes in large quantities. No souvlakis or gyros in sight. I tell you the food and the islands there are so gorgeous I should consider moving there and start looking to find the best mortgage deals.

Moussaka was actually something I discovered first in a Greek restaurant in Montreal, not in Greece. I still remember the first time I ate it and immediately associated as extreme comfort food. Of course I would choose an ethnic dish as comfort food and not something closer to home! Now when I go to a Greek restaurant, if moussaka is on the menu chances are that is what I will order. Warning: moussaka is not the most photogenic food but it is amazing.

One day I came across a recipe for Greek Moussaka. Remember the days when gas stations gave out free stuff like glasses and plastic containers? It was pretty lame stuff usually but at one point one company (can’t remember which one) was giving away a series of little cookbooks. My parents had that whole collection. One of the books was fancy recipes for dinner parties and in it was this recipe below. I first made it about 15 years ago and I keep going back to it because it is the best moussaka I ever ate, hands down. I don’t have a source as I wrote down the recipe in a personal book a decade ago and my mom no longer has the cookbook.

Contrary to popular belief, moussaka is not solely a Greek dish but a dish of the Balkans, Eastern Mediterranean, and the Middle East. Each country and/or region has a different spin on it, with a common base of sauteed eggplant, tomato and usually minced meat. But the one we are the most familiar with is the Greek one, which is characterized by lamb meat spiced with cinnamon and a top layer of Bechamel sauce with nutmeg.

The Greek moussaka is believed to be invented by Nikolaos Tselementes, a Greek chef considered one of the most influential chefs of the early 1900s who modernized Greek cuisine and published many influential Greek cookbooks.

Ξ Greek Moussaka Ξ

Ingredients:

2 large eggplants
salt
1/4 cup olive oil
2 lbs. ground lamb (or beef)
2 large onions, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup red wine
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 cups plain breadcrumbs
1 cup grated Parmesan

Bechamel Sauce:
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup flour
4 cups milk
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups cottage cheese
1 tsp. nutmeg

Directions:

Slice the eggplants in to 1/2 inch slices. Lay the slices of eggplant on paper towels, sprinkle lightly with salt, and set aside for 30 minutes to draw out the bitterness. In a skillet over med-high heat, heat 1 tsp. approx of olive oil per batch. Quickly fry the eggplant until browned. Set aside.

In a skillet heat the remaining olive oil, add onion and saute until semi-translucent. Add the ground lamb (or beef) and brown until the pink color disappears. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add wine, tomato paste, cinnamon, salt and pepper, bring to a boil and allow to simmer for approx 15 minutes. Add the parsley.

In a 9×13 inch baking pan, sprinkle evenly half the breadcrumbs, layer half the eggplant slices, spread half the meat sauce and sprinkle half the grated Parmesan. Repeat. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

To make the Bechamel sauce, melt the butter in a pan over medium heat. Whisk in flour until smooth and allow the flour to cook for a minute. Gradually pour in the hot milk, whisking constantly until it thickens. Remove from heat and whisk in the eggs, then the cottage cheese and nutmeg.  Return to heat and stir until sauce thickens.

Pour the Bechamel sauce on top of the layers, smooth the sauce evenly with a spatula and allow the sauce to fill the sides and corners of the pan. Bake for 1 hour or until the sauce has a golden color. Allow to cool for 15 – 20 minutes before serving.

 

 

Truffled Tomato Tarte Tatin

A great online gourmet store got in touch with me recently and offered me a product to review. How cannot I not say yes to such an offer. And the best part too about this online gourmet food shop is that they are right in my own backyard of the world. O Gourmet is based right here in Montreal, Quebec.

They really offer up a nice variety of hard to find local and high quality import products. The menu even offers up a Wild, Organic and Shop by Region section which is great for someone looking for a specific ethnic ingredient. O Gourmet graciously offered me a bottle of Balsamic Vinegar with Black Truffles to try out, imported by  a German company called A. Viani Importe. Most of A. Viani Importe products come from small local European producers, such as this Italian vinegar.

I did a little straight forward taste test and found this vinegar to be quite sweet and full bodied. I could not say I specifically notice a truffle taste but you can tell there is a hardy woody extra flavor in there.  It is great with  caramelized fruits, on roasted potatoes or spring vegetables and salads. And it took me quite a bit of time to come up with a fitting recipe to try it out on. Finally I made a savory tarte tatin with tomatoes and Thai eggplants (another one of those Asian grocery finds). The result was just exquisite. This is truly a recipe worthy of a fine epicurean meal.

Truffled Tomato Tarte Tatin

2 large tomatoes, sliced
1 small eggplant or a bunch of Thai eggplants
1 onion, thinly sliced
5 tbsp butter
2tbsp Balsamic Vinegar with Black Truffles
salt & pepper to taste
1 tsp herbes de Provence
1 sheet sheet of puff pastry

optional: goat cheese, 1/4 tsp truffle oil

Directions:

  1. In an oven proof large skillet caramelize the onions with 2 tbsp of melted butter and a pinch of salt over a medium-high.
  2. Add 2 tbsp of water to lift any bits from the bottom of the pan for about 30 seconds, transfer to a bowl.
  3. In the same skillet melt the remaining over a medium-low heat until it turns golden.
  4. Add the balsamic vinegar and leave for a few seconds on burner until the harsh vinegar smell disappears.
  5. Remove from heat. Place prettily the sliced tomatoes and eggplants, salt and pepper, then top with the onions.
  6. Roll out the puff pastry a little bit larger then the size of the skillet. Cover with the puff pastry, tuck the edges under and cut several long vents in the pastry to allow the steam to escape.
  7. Bake for around 30 minutes in a  preheated oven at 425 F until golden.
  8. Let stand a few minute and then run a knife around the edges of the pastry before you flip the tart onto a serving platter. Serve immediately.

I sprinkled a few roasted pumpkin seeds I had and I also fluffed up some room temperature goat cheese with a for and a little bit of truffle oil. The goat cheese and truffle oil alone is absolutely incredible, with the tart is was just phenomenal worthy of any 5 star restaurant.

Thai Eggplants, the latest exotic find!

International Incident: Foie Gras à la Evelyne de Cochon Pizza Pie

I had a few other titles in mind for this post, such as:

Food Orgy for One
or
Martin Picard Made Me Do It

But I decided to stick with the brand new name of this brand new monthly event, Jeroxie’s brainchild: the International Incident Party. Long Live the International Incident!

Basically we are given a theme and then we have free reigns to come up with a submission. I saw the first “party” on a few blogs I follow about a month ago and I was jealous with envy I had not know about it. After that I put Jeroxie’s RSS in my feed. Well my feed program is not so hot because I think it missed a few new posts in general of the blogs I follow. Hence I found out THIS MORNING that the deadline for this new event was tonight!

I decided to throw caution to the wind as I was planing a quiet day and come up with insane recipes and a finished post for tonight. Actually as soon as I saw the theme I knew right away what I was going to make. The theme was Pizza Pie. I had both a savory and sweet inspiration so I did both.

Tasty reading ahead, KEEP GOING… →