Eggplant. It's the omnipresent vegetarian staple. Yet, it is so often mistreated. Soggy, lifeless and rubbery. It's not an easy vegetable to cook with. It takes a little bit of planning and effort. But, really, not that much.
First, I pre-heated the oven to 350 degrees. It's best to salt the eggplant before attempting to do anything with it. I thinly sliced the eggplant, crosswise into 1/2 inch rounds, threw it into a colander and drenched it in salt. This helps to leech out the bitterness. After about a half hour, I proceeded to pour a good amount of olive oil on the sliced eggplant. (About 1/2 cup for two medium sized eggplants) And a good sprinklin of sea salt again. I lined a sheet tray with parchment paper (so the eggplant doesn't stick to the tray) and put it in the oven for about 40 minutes. Some recipes I looked at said it would take only 20 min, but my eggplant was still tough after 20. I did have to add more olive oil because eggplant is like a sponge and will dry out if you don't slather it well enough. When it's done, it should look super moist and much smaller in size. After it was done, I added some tahini, juice of half a lemon, some more sea salt and a little bit of cracked pepper. Simple, yet so mouthwateringly tasty. My roommate Kaitlin and I had gone to the farmer's market earlier and purchased some really good rosemary focaccia. A perfect complement to the earthy texture of the roasted eggplant.
Mini roasted eggplant on focaccia from the farmer's market down the street:
I had forgotten to take a picture of the roasted eggplant until there was only one lone mini sandwich left. My friend Kip commented that it looks like the sandwich is going for a swim on my blue cutting board. Adorable.
I seriously love mayonnaise. I believe that most food items can be improved by adding even the tiniest bit of mayonnaise. It's because I'm Dutch. Mayonnaise flows through our veins. The Dutch especially love slathering their patats (fries) in frietsaus (sauce for fries). I like a mixture of mayonnaise and peanut sauce. Heel lekker (super tasty)!
I know they're a lot of haters out there. People and their dislike for creamy things. I don't get it. The creamier the better. The more fat, the better. Well, today I took a root vegetable known as celery root and basically coated it in a sauce called a remoulade, which is french for a mayonnaise based condiment. Celery root is not the prettiest vegetable. In fact, it's pretty gnarly. It's bulbous with many roots, pale in color but quite mild in taste. I forgot to take a picture of the celery root before I chopped off all its knotty bits. But I do have a couple photos of the sliced up celery root and a jar of Trader Joe's mayonnaise (seriously, it's really good for store-bought mayonnaise!)
One celery root, thinly sliced
6 T mayonnaise
2 T dijon mustard
2T yogurt (preferably full fat)
juice of half a lemon
splash of rice vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
This recipe also is barely a recipe. I just used a sharp knife to remove all the dirty roots and then cut the bulb in half and proceeded to cut into sorta thin slices, about a 1/4 in width and 3 inch in length. So they basically look like rustic cut french fries. I then just put them in a bowl and added the rest of the ingredients. It's best to let them marinate for a little bit. At least a half hour to really absorb all that mayonnaise goodness.
Too hot in my kitchen to heat any sort of ingredients, so I decided to shred some zucchinis with my cuisinart and see what happens.
2 zucchinis (shredded)
about a T of sea salt
juice from one lemon
2T of flax oil (olive oil would have worked too)
2T of sesame seeds
freshly ground pepper
handful of parsley and mint (chopped)
This is barely a recipe. I literally just shredded the zucchini, put it in a bowl and added the rest of the ingredients. The salt will bring out the moisture in the zucchini. You can choose to drain the liquid. I didn't bother. It turned out really well. The salad is light and refreshing and has a bit of crunch from the sesame seeds.
I work full-time as a nanny for a 16 month old little boy named Naveen. I cook for the family as well. They always have such amazing and eclectic ingredients. Lingonberry jam, elderflower concentrate to make lovely elderflower spritzers with soda water. Spices like fenugreek, anise seed, Nigerian cayenne pepper.
Yesterday I was checking out the fridge full of an endless supply of fruits and vegetables from the CSA and Fairway. Listening to some Elivis Costello, The Clash and The Cramps for some punk rock motivation, I decided upon two heads of bok choy. I never seem to cook with bok choy. I don't know why. When it comes to greens, I always seem to go with the swiss chard, spinach or kale. I love Asian flavors like soy sauce and ginger so I don't know why I never cook with bok choy. Well, today is bok choy day. Looking through the Mark Bittman book (How to Cook Everything Vegetarian) and getting his take on how to cook this vegetable. He recommends keeping it simple. I like simple. I separated the long white stalks (similar to celery) from the leafy green tops. Made sure to wash the stalks thoroughly because there's always a ton of dirt stuck on them. Also, washed the leafs too. Chopped the stalks into about 1 inch pieces and chiffonaded (rolling the leaves up like a cigar and then finely slicing them) Used about 6 tablespoons canola oil in a cast iron skillet and added the stalks first. Cooked them until tender, about 10 minutes, and then added the leaves. Added about 2 T of chopped garlic and ginger. That took about another 10 minutes. Added about a cup of water to help them soften and simmered it for a bit longer. I had about 2 and a half cups of brown rice that I had cooked earlier. So I added that to the already simmering bok choy. The rice helped to soak up some of the excess water and lended a lovely tenderness to it as well and reminded me a bit of a risotto ( I had earlier stir fried some 2 day old rice with olive oil and fried an egg with it. So good! Helped soften up the old rice and give it some much needed flavor) Seriously. This turned out real good. So simple and real good. Naveen devoured it. His parents had recently learned that he's allergic to wheat, dairy, soy, and peanuts. Luckily, this kids loves his vegetables. There's really an endless variation on brown rice and vegetable dishes or any sort of grain really. Today was a bok choy bonanza.
De Keukenmeid is an outdated and slightly offensive old dutch saying that literally translates to "the kitchen maid servant." The famous Johannes Vermeer painting of the young woman pouring milk into a bowl is the most famous example of a kitchen maid servant. She is also sometimes referred to as "de melkmeisje," which translates to the milk girl. I have chosen to name my blog this as a sort of tongue-in-cheek aside, because of it's antiquated and sexist slant. I'm a certified chef, not a kitchen maid servant in any way. Yet, I don't mind being called de keukenmeid because it elicits images of a simpler time when people didn't eat take out or fast food for every meal. We ate food that was simple, in season and local. We grew our own vegetables, we milked our own cows, and yes-butchered them. I'm not saying I'm going to start butchering cows anytime soon, but I am going to document my cooking adventures. I try my best to eat seasonally and when I can afford it-organic. I like vegan sweet treats and I know that umeboshi paste is the best cure for a hangover . I grow basil on my fire escape.
I regularly cook for other people-but don't call me a kitchen maid servant.