Almost Guilt-Free Individual Eggplant Parmesan

Almost Guilt-Free Individual Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant ParmesanSometimes, when I’m in the grocery store, produce just speaks to me. On this last trip, eggplants screamed for me to take them home (well, seemed like they were screaming).

While I love breading and flying eggplant for eggplant Parmesan, I wanted this version to be less indulgent and lighter so I grilled sliced eggplant and made individual servings.

This technique of making single servings guarantees we won’t overeat, well, unless we decide to have a couple of servings.

The use of my Basil-Packed Marinara Sauce keeps this dish fresh and is a good use of basil and tomatoes as crops are plentiful.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large, medium girth eggplant, sliced in 8 thin disks
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • ½ tsp. each salt, pepper
  • 3 cups Basil-Packed Marinara Sauce (could use store-bought)
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup grated Mozzarella cheese   

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Lightly oil each side of the eggplant disks then salt and pepper them. Heat a grill to medium-high heat and grill the eggplant disks for 3 minutes on each side. Alternatively, use a grill pan to cook the eggplant.
  3. Place 4 ramekins on a baking sheet. Add a tablespoon of marinara sauce to each ramekin and top with a grilled eggplant disk. Top each eggplant disk with ½ teaspoon Parmesan and 1 teaspoon Mozzarella. Add a tablespoon of marinara, another eggplant disk and top with the remaining cheeses.
  4. Cook the eggplant Parmesans for 10 minutes, turn the broiler to high and cook an additional 4 minutes or until the cheesy tops have browned.
  5. Serve as a starter or as a side dish alongside grilled Italian sausages with the remaining marinara sauce.

Makes 4 side dishes.

Spiced Roasted Cauliflower

Spiced Roasted Cauliflower

Cauliflower HeadI’ve been roasting vegetables every Sunday this winter to use for various meals during the week. While I have favorites, Brussels sprouts, butternut squash and beets, cauliflower is also delicious roasted, as I’ve come to find out recently.

The wet ‘rub’ below can be altered to suit your own personal tastes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium head of cauliflower, about 2 pounds
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • ½ tsp. each salt and pepper
Cauliflower Florets & Rub

Cauliflower Florets & Rub

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. Cut cauliflower into florets, removing thicker stems. Place the florets in the lined baking sheet.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, smoked paprika, ground cumin, salt and pepper.
  4. Pour the wet rub over the cauliflower and toss to coat using your hands.
  5. Roast the cauliflower, turning occasionally, until it is browned and tender, about 20 minutes.

Yields 2 side dishes.

Fluffy Quinoa 101

Fluffy Quinoa 101

Fluffy QuinoaMy bestie, Gloriann, has been a fan of Quinoa for a long time and kept telling me what a fab kitchen staple is it. Once I tried it, I was hooked. It’s great as a simply side dish served like one would serve rice but is versatile enough for a salad or other mainstays like stuffing for a squash or eggplant.

Quinoa provides all nine essential amino acids and is a gluten-free protein source, so good for you!

Success in making Quinoa is to be sure you rinse it very well for about 3 minutes under cool running water to remove the saponin, a bitter-tasting coating that some people might be sensitive to.

I typically cook my Quinoa in a cup of chicken broth and a cup of water but if you prefer a completely vegetarian version, just use two cups of water.

Makes about two cups of cooked Quinoa.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 cups of chicken (or vegetable) broth or water (or one cup of each)
  • ½ tsp. each garlic powder, salt and pepper
Cooked Quinoa

Cooked Quinoa

Instructions

  1. In a small saucepan over high heat, combine the broth/water, garlic powder, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
  2. Lower the heat to medium-low and add the rinsed quinoa, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, or until water has evaporated.
  3. Leaving the cover on the pan, let the Quinoa stand for five minutes.
  4. Uncover, fluff the Quinoa with a fork and either use right away or cool completely and store in an airtight container for up to a week.

 

10 Easy Thanksgiving Sides and Starters

Yorkshire Puddings

Yorkshire Puddings

Okay, there are so many “lists” out there of yummy-sounding Thanksgiving recipes that it’s difficult to pick which are best for your holiday table.

Below are 10 easy yet delicious, tested recipes that are sure to enhance your traditional turkey day table.

  1. Cheesy and Garlicky Pull Apart Bread
  2. Corn and Lima Bean Succotash
  3. Duck Fat and Bacon Fingerling Potatoes
  4. Easy Pimento Cheese Dip
  5. Easy Roasted Brussels Sprouts
  6. Fail-Proof Yorkshire Puddings
  7. Green Goddess Dip
  8. Hasselback Potatoes
  9. Pork Belly Deviled Eggs
  10. Sweet Potato Gnocchi in Sage Brown Butter

Cheers,

Veronique

Roasted Eggplant with Garlic Cumin Yogurt Dressing

Roasted Eggplant with Garlic Cumin Yogurt Dressing

Scored Eggplants

Scored Eggplants

Last week, my Bracco Farms CSA was beautifully filled with various eggplants. I love eggplants but don’t cook many meals with them besides the old eggplant parmesan favorite.

While looking at delicious-looking photos of eggplants on Pinterest (are we connected there?), I found this uber simple yet delicious recipe that will now become part of my repertoire.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil for brushing
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • ¼ tsp. ground cumin
  • ½ tsp. each salt and pepper

Eggplants with Yogurt DipDirections:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Slice the eggplant lengthways. Using a sharp paring knife, score the cut side of the eggplant in a diagonal crisscross pattern – don’t cut though skin.
  3. Place the eggplant halves, skin side down, on a baking sheet and brush the scored sides with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast for 35 minutes or until nicely browned.
  4. While the eggplant is roasting, combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl, adjusting the seasonings to taste. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  5. Plate the roasted eggplant halves and spoon dipping sauce on them. A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil can also be added, but is optional.

Makes 2 starters or 1 entrée.

(Inspired by this recipe).

World’s Best Fried Mac and Cheese

World’s Best Fried Mac and Cheese

Fried Mac & Cheese

Fried Mac & Cheese

One of the dishes I made for this year’s FryFest is a new recipe – fried mac & cheese. I used my Cabot Creamery Seriously Sharp Cheddar Mac N Cheese recipe as the base for this decadent dish. I know these treats are tyically served in a ball shape, but since I was also doing Arancini, rice balls, I opted for squares and really liked the look of them.

Was it the healthiest food option? Clearly not. Is it okay to sample a piece or two once a year? I believe so – all in moderation. The crunchy, deep golden exterior is a perfect match to the creamy, cheesy interior. I served this dish with a simple marinara sauce for dipping, but it’s delish on its own.

Ingredients:

  • Cut Mac & Cheese

    Cut Mac & Cheese

    ½ stick (4 Tbsp.) butter

  • 4 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. each, ground nutmeg, salt and pepper
  • 4 cups whole milk or light cream
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 cups freshly grated Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar
  • 1 pound tubular pasta (I use Delverde Tortiglioni) boiled 2 minutes less than directed on the packaging, drained
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • Vegetable or peanut oil, for frying
Mac & Cheese Components

Mac & Cheese Components

Directions:

  1. Place butter in a large, heavy saucepan and melt over medium heat. Add flour and cook for about 2 minutes, whisking constantly. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.
  2. Stir the milk (or light cream) and the heavy cream into the butter/flour mixture and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 5 minutes, whisking frequently.
  3. Add the cheese, a handful at a time, and stir until fully incorporated.
  4. Add the drained pasta to the cheese sauce and mix well.
  5. Add cheesy pasta to a lightly greased 13×9 baking dish, cool, cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight (what I did).
  6. Using a wide spatula, unmold the cold mac and cheese from the pan and place the rectangle on a cutting board. Cut the mac and cheese into 2-inch squares, place on a baking sheet and freeze for 2 hours.
  7. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs.
  8. In a shallow dish, combine both bread crumbs.
  9. Dip squares into the egg mixture then dredge in breadcrumb mixture.
  10. Fry mac and cheese squares for 3-4 minutes in 350 degree oil in either a large Dutch oven or in an electric fryer in batches. Drain on paper towels and serve hot.

Makes about 24 squares.

2nd Annual FryFest

2nd Annual FryFest

Fried Mac & Cheese

Fried Mac & Cheese

The second installment of FryFest is behind us. Much like the 2013 FryFest, this year’s all-fried event was held on a beautiful late summer day.

This year, we fried a few of last year’s favorites along with new items. Here’s what my brother-in-food, Danny Chin of Eat with Dan, and me served our 13 guests:

Finger Food

Corn Dogs – Veronique

Arancini (Rice Balls) – Veronique

Spring rolls -Danny

Fried Ravioli – Veronique

Poutine – Veronique & Danny

Fried Onion Rings – Veronique & Danny

Danny Chin Making Spring Rolls

Danny Chin Making Spring Rolls

Entrée

Fried Chicken – Danny

Fried Mac & Cheese – Veronique

Dessert

Fried Oreos – Veronique & Danny

Fried Candy Bars – Veronique & Danny

Zeppolis – Veronique

The corn dogs were super with a light batter of flour and corn meal giving the dogs a slight crunch with a hint of sweetness.

The Arancini might have been my favorite with a creamy risotto interior and golden brown crunchy exterior. Perfect way to use up leftover risotto.

Danny’s spring rolls are always a hit and I loved watching him roll over 60 rolls in less than 30 minutes.

Fried raviolis, or as my St Louis friends call them, toasted ravs, were a nice munchies, especially with homemade tomato sauce.

Fried Chicken

Fried Chicken

For my poutine, I know this will be sacrilegious to my folks in Quebec, I ordered cheddar cheese curds from Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery in Wisconsin. More on those folks in a future post. My handcut fries were double-fried for a perfect balance of creamy inside and crispy outside – yum.

Fried onion rings were a bust this year, bad revision to last year’s yummy rings.

THE fried chicken – absolutely delicious. My pal Danny smartly chose drumsticks, thighs and some tenderloins. For me, it’s all about dark meat and the overnight buttermilk bath combined with the seasoned flour coating made for a juicy, flavorful and crispy delicacy – well done my friend!

Fried mac & cheese – yes, it’s slightly irresponsible, health-wise, but so darn tasty. I made my extra cheesy macaroni and cheese recipe for this and will do full instructions in a future post. Guest at the dinner who works with local restaurants told me I should help out some restaurants with their version after tasting mine!

Fried Oreos and bite size candy bars went into a simple, slightly sweet batter. Super tasty and a recipe will come soon – I promise.

Fried Oreos

Fried Oreos

I’d made my super easy Zeppolis last year and made them again as they were a hit. For a fun touch, I used brown paper sandwich bags, added powdered sugar to them and place 2-3 hot Zeppolis inside for each guest to shake and eat without sharing.

It was a fun night which is now followed by tons of dieting and exercise, of course. I couldn’t have done it without Danny and my friend Lisa who was a huge help with the a la minute frying.       

Have you liked Eat with Dan on Facebook? Have you followed him on Twitter? Do it now for drop-dead gorgeous food photos.

Cheers,

Veronique

Corn and Lima Bean Succotash

Corn and Lima Bean Succotash

SuccotashIn New Jersey, we have some of the best corn to be found anywhere. Farm stands and various stores offer sweet Jersey corn from late summer into the fall and I enjoy finding new ways to savor it.

One new way used farm-fresh corn this weekend was by making an easy succotash with lima beans, basil and bacon (can omit bacon if going meatless). The dish can be made the day before serving and simply reheated.

Ingredients:

  • ¼ pound slab bacon, roughly chopped
  • ½ medium Spanish onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 4 ears of corn, kernels cut off
  • 1 large jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 (10-oz) package of frozen baby lima beans, thawed
  • 2 Tbsp. sherry vinegar
  • ¼ cup chopped basil
  • ½ tsp. each salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. In a large frying pan, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp, about 4 minutes. Keeping the fat in the frying pan, drain the bacon on paper towels and reserve for later use.
  2. To the bacon fat in the frying pan, add the onion and cook over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute. Add the corn, jalapeno and lima beans and cook until vegetables are tender, about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in vinegar, basil, and salt and pepper. At this point, the succotash can be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for a day.
  3. Serve succotash with crispy bacon.

Makes about 3 cups.

Note: To make this dish meatless, simply omit the bacon and sauté the vegetables in 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil.

5th Annual Food & Wine Chickie LobsterFest

LobsterThis past weekend, I hosted my annual Lobsterfest on one of the nicest evenings of the season. I must be living well as I got cloudless skies and 75 degree weather.

This year, I started our meal with one of my favorite summer shareable dishes, simply-grilled bread with a spread of sheep’s milk ricotta drizzled with good Greek olive oil, red pepper flakes, lemon zest and salt and pepper. It could also be made with farm-fresh cow’s milk ricotta. It’s light and flavorful – a winning combination.

Ricotta Spread

Ricotta Spread

My starter was a crisp, ice-cold wedge with blue cheese dressing then topped with yellow chopped tomatoes and crispy bacon. While not very original, my guests commented on how great the super cold salad was on a warm evening.

The main course, of course, was Maine lobsters. My guy sets up a giant pot over a propane-fueled burner and we cook the crustaceans outdoor preventing my home from smelling like a seafood market for days – I highly recommend this technique if you can swing it.

Wedge

Wedge

I’ve shared the perfect way to boil lobsters in the past (Lobster Boiling 101), it’s an oldie but a goodie. I served my 2 1/2 pound lobsters simply with Basmati rice right out of the steamer and my family’s prized Lemon Butter Sauce.

For dessert, and to continue with the Maine theme, I made a Crumb Top Blueberry Pie – what a gorgeous and delicious pie!!! I’ll be fixing this again over the summer as it was simply outstanding.

Blueberry Pie

Blueberry Pie

All in all, it was a great summer night spent with dear friends that reminded me a bit of summers spent in Maine during my youth. It’s making me look forward to going to the Maine shore in a couple weeks even more.

Cheers,

Veronique

Easy Pimento Cheese Dip

Easy Pimento Cheese Dip

Pimento Cheese DipThrough my travels, I’ve gotten addicted to southern foods and one dish I’d been wanting to make at home for a while is pimento cheese. The southern favorite couldn’t be simpler to make – throw all the ingredients in a bowl and stir!

The dip is great as a starter with crackers or veggies but also super as a burger topper or sandwich spread – pimento cheese BLT anyone?!

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups extra sharp (of just sharp) cheddar cheese, grated
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. red wine vinegar
  • 4-ounce jar pimento peppers (in water), drained and chopped
  • ½ tsp. each onion powder, garlic powder, paprika
  • 4 dashes (about ½ tsp.) hot sauce
Pimento Cheese Stirring

Pimento Cheese Stirring

Directions:

  1. Combine the ingredient in a medium bowl using an electric mixer until mostly smooth, about 1 minute.
  2. Refrigerate until ready to serve, letting the dip come to room temperature for about 15 minutes.
  3. Serve with crackers or cut vegetables.

Makes about 2 cups.

Inspired by this recipe.