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savory bakes

Stuffed Eggplant Goodness

August 26, 2009

Ingredients for Stuffed Eggplant

 

Over the past weekend, while I was catching up on my feeds, my heart skipped a beat when I saw a beautiful photo of stuffed eggplants on La Tartine Gourmande. The stunning visual was enough to convince me to make them.

 

On my weekend grocery trip, I made sure to buy a firm and plump eggplant to make these stuffed shells of goodness. Grandma’s tip: run your finger over the eggplant and look closely – there shouldn’t be any tiny holes on it or you’ll have company when you cut it open.

This is one heck of a recipe that’s awfully flavourful and indescribably comforting. You will find yourself take one quick bite after another and will find it hard to share. I promise. What I also like about the recipe is that is excellent to make ahead of time and then reheat just before you want to eat it. This is one comfort food you should not deprive yourself of.

 

Ingredients for Stuffed eggplant

 

Stuffed Eggplants
Adapted from: Beatrice Peltre
Yield: 2 servings

2 medium or 1 large eggplant
Olive oil (for sprinkling)
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground cumin
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 medium ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 bay leaf
1 cup paneer or whole milk ricotta (I used crumbled paneer)
1/3 cup finely grated parmesan
1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
2 sausages or 2 slices ham, finely diced, or omit this if you’re vegetarian (I used chicken sausages)
1 egg, beaten
Extra fresh cilantro, chopped (for sprinkling)

  1. Set the oven at 400°F/200°C.
  2. Halve the eggplant lengthwise. Place them in the baking dish, cut sides up. Drizzle generously with olive oil and season to taste. Bake for 20 minutes or until tender.
  3. Scoop out the eggplant flesh with a spoon and mash it gently with a fork.
  4. In a skillet, heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. When it is hot, add the coriander, cumin and chopped garlic to it. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, for 2 minutes, or until the garlic is fragrant.
  5. Add the tomatoes, bay leaf, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring often, for 3-4 minutes.
  6. Stir in the eggplant flesh. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for 7 minutes or until the mixture is pulpy and well flavored. Discard the bay leaf.
  7. Lower the oven temperature to 375°F/190C.
  8. Stir the paneer/ricotta, parmesan, cilantro, sausages/ham, salt, and pepper into the eggplant mixture. Once the mixture is little cool, stir in the beaten egg. Fill the eggplant shells back with the stuffing. Reserve some of the parmesan for later.
  9. Return the shells to the baking dish. Sprinkle with olive oil. Bake the eggplant for 30-40 minutes or until the shells are tender when pierced with a skewer. During the last 10 minutes of baking, sprinkle the reserved parmesan on top of the eggplant for a golden, cheesy finish!
  10. Plate it. Eat it.
Stuffed Aubergine

Again, go make this – your family will love you more. I’m talking from experience.

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Garlicky Herb Twists

July 21, 2009

Garlicky Herb Twists

I love using stumble upon to discover new food blogs and recipes, and a few days ago when I was getting my regular dose of stumbling, I came upon a recipe for herb and garlic twisty bread that instantly made me sit up, take notice and mark it as a high priority baking item. With a name that has herb and garlic in it, who wouldn’t? I have got to admit, I have a thing for a recipe with garlic. Sometimes all I need to get convinced to try a recipe is to know that it had a good amount of garlic or maybe an interesting way to use garlic (remember the garlic infused oil in the baked fries? *swoon*). Don’t even get me started on roasted garlic; I could eat that for dessert.

Herbs

This is one recipe that is so easy to put together. You can either use store bought pizza dough or make your own. The recipe calls for rosemary and thyme, but you can just as well use your favourite herbs. I usually don’t make the same thing twice (ah, the perils of food blogging), but I just had to make these a second time for two reasons: 1. the taste of the herby filling with garlic and parmesan was distinctively etched in my memory and 2.( ahem) the photos I took the first time weren’t quite up to the mark. I couldn’t not have these on my blog so I made these again!

Steps to making Garlicky Herb Twists

Some things I learnt while making this the second time:
  • A moist dough is always better – it resulted in such soft and pillowy bread as opposed to a very chewy one with a stiffer dough.
  • More parmesan is always a good thing.
  • You can sub your favourite seasoning mixture for the salt and pepper which makes it more likable.
  • Don’t be shy to use more than the prescribed amount of herbs.

I urge you to go ahead and make these. Don’t be surprised if you make a meal out it. Better still, serve it with your favourite garlicky dip and you’ll be in garlic heaven.

Garlicky herb Twists

Garlic Herb Bread Twists
Adapted from: Gourmet July 2009

1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary
1 tablespoon finely chopped thyme
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (2 ounces), divided
Salt and pepper or your favourite seasoning blend
1/4 cup olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 lb / 900g pizza dough, (or use store-bought)
1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F with racks in upper and lower thirds. Lightly oil 2 large (17- by 13-inch) baking sheets.
  2. Stir together rosemary, thyme, 1/4 cup cheese, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper in a small bowl.
  3. In a pan gently heat the olive oil and stir in the garlic until it just begins to sizzles. Turn off the heat immediately. Add 1/4 tsp each of salt and pepper to it.
  4. Divide dough in half. Keeping half of dough covered with a kitchen towel, gently roll out other half into a 15- by 10-inch rectangle on a floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin.
  5. Sprinkle one half of dough with half of herb mixture, then fold dough in half crosswise from top to centre and then again from bottom to centre. Roll lightly to form a rectangle. Cut lengthwise into 9 strips (less than 1 inch wide) with a pizza wheel or a pastry scraper. Twist each strip from both ends and place on baking sheet, arranging twists 1 inch apart. Don’t worry too much if they flop back, you can just as well call them “rustic”. Next, brush with garlic oil and let stand while forming remaining bread twists.
  6. Repeat process with the second half of the dough.
  7. Bake bread twists, switching position of sheets halfway through, until golden (15-20 minutes total).
  8. Meanwhile, stir together parsley and remaining 3/4 cup cheese in a shallow baking pan.
  9. Immediately after baking, brush bread twists with remaining garlic oil, then roll in parsley and cheese until coated. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Cheddar Biscuits

The last time I made biscuits I was quite taken aback by the results. How could biscuits be soft on the inside? Here, cookies equal biscuits, so I just could not fathom why biscuits elsewhere would be any different. I was a little upset because I had followed the recipe to the T, yet they didn’t turn out to be quite like I’d imagined (from Jill O’Connor’s Sticky Chewy, Messy Gooey). So, when I went to the States a few months ago, one of the things on my agenda was to try some Southern style biscuits. When I had them, I was RELIEVED! My biscuits were just fine by this definition.

Cheddar Biscuits

Today I had some cheese at hand – extra sharp cheddar, even! These drop biscuits were so, so easy to make. The baking in the oven is the only thing that takes up the time. Mix the dry ingredients together, slice in the butter, blend in the grated cheese, bind it together with liquids, spoon them on a Silpat and bake for 15 minutes. Brush with butter and they’re done!

Cheddar Cheese Biscuits

These biscuits were sumptuous. Salty and cheesy with a hint of garlic, these were so good that my dad asked me to make him another batch. And these are certainly not something that would normally be categorised under his type of foods. So the fact that he asked for me turned out to be the ultimate compliment. I know I will be baking another batch pretty soon.

They taste best when served warm, fresh out of the oven. But in case you are left with some and they’re sitting out for a couple of hours, just refresh them by gently heating them in the oven for 2-3 minutes.

The only thing I’d do a little differently is add some more garlic powder or maybe even fresh garlic for a more pronounced garlicky flavour. Yum.

Cheddar Biscuits

Cheddar Cheese Biscuits Recipe

Adapted from: Food and Whine
Yield: 12 large biscuits or 18 small ones

2 cups/250g all-purpose flour (unbleached or regular)
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/3 cup/75g butter, cold, cut into chunks
2 Tbsp. canola or any flavourless, odourless vegetable oil
1 heaping cup/ 6-7 oz. /150-170g grated cheddar cheese (sharp flavoured is best, I used extra sharp)
1/2 – 2/3 cup or 120-160ml milk (I didn’t need more than 1/2 a cup)

For brushing on top:
3 Tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. dried parsley flakes or 1 Tbsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and garlic powder.
  2. Add the cubed butter. Using a pastry cutter or a fork, cut butter into flour until it is coarse, pea-sized (doesn’t need to be fine).
  3. Add oil, grated cheddar cheese and the milk. Stir till well combined and holds together.
  4. Make sure to keep adding milk a bit at a time, just until the dough is moistened and you can no longer see any raw flour.
  5. Drop approximately 1/4 cup portions of the dough onto an un-greased cookie sheet or a Silpat using an ice cream scoop or large spoon.
  6. Bake for 15-17 minutes in a preheated oven at 400F/.
  7. While biscuits are baking, melt 3 tablespoons butter is a small bowl with 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder and the parsley.
  8. When biscuits come out of the oven, use a brush to spread this garlic butter over the tops of all the biscuits. Do this a few times – it’s fun to watch all the butter getting absorbed into the biscuit! Use up all of the butter. Serve warm.

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Garlicky Baked Fries

April 12, 2009

Garlicky Baked Fries

GARLIC FRIES

I’m never going to make garlic potato fries any other way.

These garlic fries, win hands down as the best garlic french fries I’ve ever made. Plus they are baked – so I won’t feel too guilty if I make it every time I’m craving for some potato comfort.

When I read that there is garlic infused oil involved, my heart skipped a beat (in a good way, not the way oil would otherwise treat your heart). I got down to making them immediately. I used extra virgin olive oil instead of vegetable oil because I just love the aroma that garlic and olive oil combine to impart. And added to potatoes while baking – how could it be anything short of perfect? I also used more garlic to make my fries extra garlicky!

Garlicky Baked Fries
crispy golden baked fries

These garlic fries are incredibly simple to make and are so full of flavour. They were gobbled down as soon as they were out of the oven. I had to hear a lot of “Take the photos next time!” and “Can I pick just one?” while I was trying to capture some shots of these crispy, golden babies.

Garlicky Baked Fries
crunchy potato skin

Garlic Fries
Adapted from: Lottie + Doof

Ingredients:

8 garlic cloves, minced or grated
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 russet potatoes (about 8oz each), each cut into 12 wedges
3 tbsp cornstarch/cornflour
1 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
1 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Tools:
Microplane to grating the garlic

Garlicky Baked Fries
warm and soft interior
  1. Preheat oven to 225°C/440° F.
  2. Combine the garlic and oil in a large bowl, warming it until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute.
  3. Transfer 5 tablespoons of the oil (leaving the garlic in the bowl) to the baking sheet, coating it well.
  4. Add the potatoes to the bowl with the garlic mixture and toss to coat. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and microwave on high power until the potatoes are translucent around the edges, 3 to 6 minutes, shaking the bowl to redistribute the potatoes halfway through cooking.
  5. Combine the cornstarch, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the hot potatoes and toss well to coat.
  6. Arrange the potatoes in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and bake, turning once, until deep golden brown and crisp, 30 to 40 minutes.
  7. Serve with ketchup, mayo or sour cream.

Update: Given that I do not like to use the microwave for cooking (I don’t even own one), and plastic cling wrap is a little scary to use, I have tried making these garlic fries by par-boiling the potatoes and then letting them steam dry by laying them in a single layer on kitchen napkin. I proceeded with step 5 and it turned out to be SO GOOD!

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