March 16, 2009

Roasted Eggplant Dip

I was planning to make some baba ganoush, but the nearest supermarket was out of tahini. I made this instead, based on Mark Bittman's recipe for eggplant caviar. It's lighter than baba ganoush, and very lemony.

The Ingredients

The Steps

  1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.
  2. Prick the eggplant with a knife and brush lightly with olive oil. Put on a baking sheet and roast, turning occasionally, until the eggplant gets soft and starts to collapse. (15-30 minutes).
  3. Remove the eggplant from the oven and let it cool. When it is cool, scoop out the flesh and put in a food processor.
  4. Add the other ingredients and pulse until the eggplant is chopped, but is not quite a perfectly smooth puree. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Posted by spaceling at 10:03 PM

January 28, 2007

Cheese and Caramelized Onion Tart

This is another one from Nigel Slater's Appetite. This was the first time I had worked with store-bought puff pastry (or any kind of puff pastry for that matter). It's a great way to make something elegant with relatively little effort.

Though the technique is easy, this particular recipe is not quick, because you need to caramelize the onions. I think it took at least an hour, possibly longer - I didn't really keep track, because I was puttering around the kitchen with a friend, making other stuff, and just giving the onions the odd stir now and then. If you were pressed for time, I think the tart would be equally delicious with sauteed mushrooms, or cooked spinach, or thinly sliced artichoke hearts, or perhaps some sauteed eggplant and tomato, or...the possibilities are endless. Expect to see other tarts appear in this blog. (Though probably not right away - with the richness of the puff pastry and the cheese, this is definitely a "sometimes food".)

I served this cut up into itty bitty squares as a party snack, but it would work as a main dish paired with a nice green salad.

The Ingredients

The Steps

  1. In your largest skillet, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Pile in the onions, and cook, stirring now and then, until the onions are deep golden-brown and caramelized, at least 45 minutes, possibly longer.

    If you're like me, you're probably going to spend the first twenty minutes of this process looking at the onions and thinking, "Uh oh, they're not getting brown. It's not going to work." Patience. It will work.

  2. Thaw the puff pastry according to package directions. Lightly flour a baking sheet and unroll the puff pastry onto it.
  3. Score the pastry lightly with a knife to create a 1/2 inch border around the edges. Prick the area inside the border all over with a fork.
  4. Cut the cheese into small slices or break it up into small chunks.
  5. Spread the caramelized onions over the puff pastry inside the scored border. Tuck bits of cheese into the onion mixture.
  6. Bake in a 425 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, until the pastry is puffed and golden and the cheese is melted.
  7. Cut into squares and serve.

Posted by spaceling at 09:50 AM | TrackBack

November 27, 2006

White Bean Crostini

I was going to call this post "Beans on Toast", but that really doesn't do this justice.

This recipe derived from a series of accidents and serendipities. I made the white bean mixture initially as a stuffing for some piquillo peppers. It was okay as a stuffing for piquillo peppers, but I ended up with way more stuffing than I needed for peppers. I also had some nice Italian bread that needed using. My initial idea was to toast a few bread slices under the broiler and top them with some mashed-up white bean mixture.

I turned on the broiler and a minute later, smoke started wafting out of the oven, and the smoke alarm went off.

I think that after our most recent baking adventures, the oven is simply in need of a good cleaning. At any rate, I have vowed not to use it again until I've had a chance to give it a good cleaning.

So, what to do with my slices of bread? I brushed them with a little olive oil, and toasted them in a dry skillet. Then I piled the white bean mixture on top, added a generous grating of fresh pepper, and topped with a few bits of diced fresh tomato.

It was really good - far better than it had been as a stuffing for peppers. The bread was crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside and contrasted wonderfully with the softness of the beans.

Read on for the recipe...

The Ingredients

The Steps

  1. In a small bowl, combine the white beans, garlic, paprika, sundried tomatoes (if using), sherry vinegar and olive oil. Taste and add more garlic, paprika, vinegar, or oil as needed.
  2. Coarsely mash the bean mixture with a fork.
  3. Heat a skilled over medium-high heat. Brush each slice of bread with olive oil on both sides, and toast in the skillet until it is lightly charred on both sides. (1 minute per side or so.)
  4. Top each slice with some of the bean mixture, some freshly grated pepper, and some chopped tomato. Serve immediately.

Serves 4 as an appetizer, or two as a main course (accompanied by a green salad).

Posted by spaceling at 08:57 PM | TrackBack

November 03, 2006

Homemade Trail Mix

I think I mentioned in a previous post that I've become very fond of Eden Organic's nuts and seeds, particularly a mixture that they sell combining sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, dried cherries, and raisins. There are only two problems with this stuff. It's relatively expensive, and it requires either ordering online, or making a trip to the natural foods store in Palo Alto with the surly staff.

The other day, I was looking at the bulk bins at the grocery store, and it occurred to me that I could buy a bunch of nuts, seeds, dried fruit, etc., and make up my own mix. I came up with the following mix.

Homemade Trail Mix

Mix approximately equal parts of the following (I threw everything in a large ziploc bag and shook it all up):

I ran the numbers over at, and this has 150 calories per 1 oz. serving, 10 g of carbohydrate, and a little over 2 g of fiber. Plus the usual wonderful amounts of magnesium, vitamin E, and zinc that any concoction of nuts contains.

Makes a nice mid-afternoon pick-me-up.

Posted by spaceling at 10:42 AM | TrackBack

January 27, 2006

Toasted Kabocha Seeds with Garlic and Paprika

Roasted pumpkin seeds are one of my favorite snacks. They're crunchy, but slightly chewy. They're salty. They're very satisfying. And like all seeds, they give you a nice little dose of minerals like magnesium and zinc, and some heart-healthy fats. What's not to love?

Well, what's not to love is that commercially available roasted pumpkin seeds are salted to death. Concerns about dietary sodium intake aside, I have to guzzle a ton of water when I eat them, or I'm just thirsty afterwards. It's a bit much. Besides, plain salt gets boring after a while. Why can't we have flavored pumpkin seeds?

So, the other night when I was hacking up my kabocha squash for roasting, I noticed that the seeds looked an awful lot like pumpkin seeds. And I thought, hey, why don't I try toasting these?

So here's what you do:

  1. Take your squash seeds and wash them off and get all the pulp off of them. (My seeds generally still had a teeny bit of pulp stuck to the tip - I didn't sweat getting it all off.)

  2. Once they're clean, spread them out in a single layer to dry. (A wire rack would probably be great for this. I spread mine out on a paper towel, which was fine, except the seeds stuck to the paper towel, and then I had to carefully peel them off.)

  3. When the seeds are dry, put them in a bowl. Drizzle in enough olive oil to coat, and then sprinkle on hot paprika and garlic salt to taste. Stir everything up so it gets well coated.

  4. Heat a skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Toss in the squash seeds, and cook, stirring or shaking the pan occasionally.

When the seeds started to pop like popcorn, I figured they were done. I dumped them back in the bowl, tasted one as soon as they were cool enough to taste, added a bit more paprika and garlic salt, and then parcelled them out into snack-sized ziploc baggies. Since I started with a small kabocha, I only got about 2 servings out of it. But, wow, these seeds are good. They have a much toastier flavor than commercial roasted pumpkin seeds, and the hot paprika gives them a nice amount of kick without making them so salty that they're unbearable.

Mr. Spaceling pronounced them tasty, too.

I may start roasting squash more often, just to have an excuse to toast the seeds. I wonder which squashes are the seediest?

Posted by spaceling at 10:21 PM | TrackBack

January 17, 2006

Halloumi with Chili

Halloumi is a Greek/Middle Eastern sheep's milk cheese. It's quite salty, somewhat rubbery in texture, and has a disconcerting tendency to squeak against your teeth when you eat it. You might say it has a flavor similar to feta, but a texture similar to mozzarella. It's quite popular in Europe, but not very common in the United States. (I first had it when I was visiting Scotland. It was cut into little cubes and served in a Greek salad, much like you might use feta.)

Tonight, I tried this recipe for Halloumi with Chili from Nigella Lawson's website. Oh, my. Halloumi is pleasant enough uncooked, but when you throw slices in a pan and cook them until they're browned on both sides, it becomes much tastier. Drizzle with a mixture of minced chilies (I used red jalapenos) and good olive oil, and top with a squeeze of lime, and it becomes magical. Serve it with a nice salad, and it becomes a really impressive quick supper that takes almost no time to make.

Posted by spaceling at 09:40 PM | TrackBack