BAKED EGGPLANT STACKS (original post 7/24/2018)

I wanted to bring this recipe back around. Eggplant is readily available this time of year. As luck would have it I was gifted a sackful of them. They can be found at most farm-stands or your local grocer. They can be white or purple skinned. I prefer those gorgeous, purple skinned, beauties.

This recipe has a few steps, but well worth the effort. It’s an impressive meal to serve to guests, if they like eggplant that is. Crispy baked eggplant, with a creamy goat cheese filling, topped with a smokey tomato chutney, and caramelized onions.

I recently made a roasted vegetable lasagna with some of my eggplant. I am also making a Middle Eastern dip today known as, baba ghanoush. Tonight we are going to have these lovely baked stacks and a bib lettuce salad. I can not wait!

Eggplant, (Solanum melongena), also called aubergine or Guinea squash, tender perennial plant of the nightshade family (Solanaceae), grown for its edible fruits. Eggplant requires a warm climate and has been cultivated in its native Southeast Asia since remote antiquity. A staple in cuisines of the Mediterranean region, eggplant figures prominently in such classic dishes as the Greek moussaka, the Italian eggplant parmigiana, and the Middle Eastern relish baba ghanoush. It is also frequently served as a baked, grilled, fried, or boiled vegetable and is used as a garnish and in stews. The plant is closely related to the tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) and the potato (S. tuberosum) as well as to several poisonous nightshades. (excerpt from Encyclopedia Brittanica)
 
Here is the link to the original post. 
https://aroundthebutcherblock.com/2018/06/24/baked-eggplant-stacks/
Til next time,
Ciao xoxo
Viki D

Pesto at the Point!

We are at the Cambridge house this weekend. Prepping and planning and getting her ready for sale. It’s been a great house with a lot of memories. I am sure our next home will be just as memorable. Although, this one will be difficult to beat.

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We built some garden planters at the back of the shed a couple years ago. We haven’t really used them for the past two years. Anyway, we came home one weekend to find a basil plant under all the weeds. How lucky am I? I plant basil every year and love to cook with it. Somehow the wind or a bird was kind enough to take a seed to one of the beds. It is huge and healthy plant; it appears happy there.

Here on the shore it’s another steamy, hot, unbearable, day. There is no relief outside, the pool water is like a bath. So what’s a girl to do? I decided to stay in the kitchen today and cook. That basil plant was screaming pesto. This recipe calls for 5 cups of packed basil leaves. That’s a lot of basil! Even after taking all of that from the garden there is still a ton left. It needed a good prune to continue to grow and get bushy. Mission accomplished on both fronts.

Pesto is such a versatile sauce. It’s very easy to make; using the food processor makes quick work of it. I use both pignola or pine nuts, and walnuts in mine. I have used all walnuts or all pine nuts and the results are just as good. This recipe also calls for good olive oil and a good cheese. I love aged parmeggiano / reggiano. It’s a little pricey but the taste is outstanding. No sense in making a tasteless sauce.

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Pesto is good on pasta, pizza, chicken, or tomato salad, or other vegies. I love making paninis with fresh mozzarella, roasted peppers, caramelized onions, and pesto. You can also freeze this sauce. I like to put it in small 2 oz containers, cover it with a thin film of oil and put the containers in the freezer in a freezer bag. It’s a great way to have the fresh taste of basil all year long. It brings summer into your kitchen even in the coldest months. 

PESTO

  • Servings: Approx 2 Cups
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/4 C, heaping pine nuts (pignola), toasted
  • 1/4 C, heaping walnuts, toasted
  • 9 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 5 C, fresh basil leaves, packed tightly
  • 1 1/2 t kosher salt
  • 1 t fresh ground pepper
  • 1 1/4 C olive oil
  • 1 1/4 C freshly grated, Parmigianno / Reggiano 

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Toast the nuts in a dry pan, until golden and slightly browned.
  2. Put the toasted nuts, and chopped garlic in the food processor and process 10-12 seconds.
  3. Add the basil leaves,  salt, and pepper. Slowly add the olive oil through the feed tube and continue to process until all the ingredients are pureed.
  4. Add the parm/reg and puree til com well combined.
  5. Use right away or store in the refrigerator with a thin film of oil on top.
  6. If freezing put in small single containers, again put a thin film of oil on top. Put containers in freezer bags. 

Til next time,

Ciao

Viki D

MARINATED PORK LOIN

Have you ever thought of someone from the past? Maybe wondered where they were or what became of them? If your honest, your answer is yes. How quick did that thought materialize or become reality? Did you reach out or did you ignore it? Does it frighten you or does it make you happy?

I love when it happens! It’s like a gift from God and the universe. I mean think about it….it’s a big lost and found out there. As we mature we lose loved ones, friends move away, we just lose touch. It’s the “finds” that make us realize how fortunate we truly are.

I had a “find” this week! We lived in the same town, went to the same school. In fact, I worked, as a teenager, for him and his wife. It was a little boutique that was way ahead of its time. I have fond memories of those days, and what fun it was. I am happy to report he is doing extremely well. So thanks to God and the universe for sliding another one my way.

My friend informed me he loves to cook for his family; I didn’t see that one coming. Naturally, I had to tell him about my blog…haha. I mentioned my Rustic Pizza Dough recipe and he said, “I know, I had my staff print your recipes out”. On a scale of 1 -10 on the mood elevator, I’m going with a 20. It was an awesome moment and a great way to end the week. 

RUSTIC PIZZA DOUGH (thin crust)

Now I am even more inspired to bring the blog up to speed. However, did I mention he is a novelist? Four books to be exact; it’s just a little intimidating to say the least. So HP, let me know how I’m doing, constructive criticism is always welcome. This one is for you, thanks for the inspiration to get back to it.

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I can’t take full credit for this one; it originates from Barefoot Contessa. I tweaked it to my liking. This recipe is easy and great on the grill. Please use fresh herbs, dried just won’t cut it here.  If you are lucky enough to have leftovers it makes great sandwiches. Use a good, thick, crusty bread with roasted red peppers, basil, and good mayo.

MARINATED PORK LOIN

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS:

  • Zest of one lemon
  • 5-6 lemons, fresh squeezed (include the one you zested
  • 1/2 C Olive oil
  • 6 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 T fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 1/2 T fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 10 Large basil leaves, chopped
  • 3 t Dijon mustard
  • 2 t Kosher salt
  • 2 or 3 pork tenderloins, approximately 3 lbs
  • Fresh ground pepper, approx 2 t

DIRECTIONS:

Combine all of the above ingredients in a large ziploc bag. Marinate for at least 3-4 hours but preferably overnight.

Cook on the grill until meat registers 137-140 on a meat thermometer. Remove and place on a platter and tent tightly with foil for approximately 20 minutes. Carve to the thickness of your choice.

Til next time,

Ciao

 

 

VIK’S CORNBREAD AND PIMENTO CHEESE SAMMIES

Pimento cheese and cornbread are a traditional, Southern staple.  Over the years I have had my share. I have liked some more than others, and made it a mission to come up with my own version. I have been making both of these recipes for some time.

My original cornbread recipe uses a half cup of sugar and is made in a 4×4 pan or into muffins. While I love sweet, cake like, cornbread, this wasn’t the place for it. I did omit some of the sugar in this cornbread because it really doesn’t need to be sweet.

This pimento cheese spread has a bit of a kick; courtesy of Franks Hot Sauce. If you don’t want the kick, omit it.  I’ve tried different combinations of cheeses; I always come back to extra sharp cheese. The sharper, the better for my taste. The cheese can be kept on it’s own in the fridge for up to a week.

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Vik's Homemade Cornbread & Pimento Cheese Sammies

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
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FOR THE CORNBREAD

INGREDIENTS:
• 1 ¼ C all purpose flour
• ¾ C yellow cornmeal
• ¼ C sugar
• 2 tsp baking powder
• ½ tsp kosher salt
• 1 C skim milk or buttermilk (I love the tang of buttermilk)
• ¼ C vegetable oil
• 2 eggs, beaten

DIRECTIONS:
1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees, place baking rack in the middle of the oven.
2. Grease an 8×8 inch glass baking dish.
3. Combine all the dry ingredients and whisk with a wire whisk.
4. Combine the milk, oil, beaten egg, add to the dry ingredients and mix together until just moistened.
5. Pour into the prepared pan.
6. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Check for doneness halfway through the cooking time. Ovens will vary.
7. Remove from the oven and cool completely.

FOR THE PIMENTO CHEESE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 8 oz softened, cream cheese (I use 1/3 less fat)
  • 1/4 C mayonnaise
  • 1/4 C miracle whip (you can use all mayo if you prefer)
  • 2 t Franks hot sauce or hot sauce of choice
  • 1/2 t garlic powder
  • 1/2 t onion powder
  • 1/2 t dry mustard powder
  • 1/4 t paprika
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 4 oz. diced and roasted, red pepper (also known as pimento)
  • 2 C shredded, extra sharp cheese

DIRECTIONS:
1. Combine the cream cheese, mayonnaise, and hot sauce, in the bowl of an electric mixer using the paddle attachment. Cream until smooth.
2. Add the garlic, paprika, onion, salt, and mustard powders and combine until thoroughly mixed.
3. Fold in the shredded cheddar and diced roasted red pepper, gently, with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, until combined.
4. Remove and put in a sealed container.

ASSEMBLY:
1. Cut the cornbread into 8 equal portions, remove from the pan and slice in half. **Also cute if you cut into rounds with a cookie cutter. (don’t throw away the leftovers, cube them and put them in the freezer to use later for croutons)
2. Put the desired amount of pimento cheese on each.
3. They can be wrapped separately in parchment or put in a large lidded container.
**Keep on ice if taking on a picnic since there is mayonnaise in there.

NOTE: These are crazy good served with fried chicken and potato salad and/or coleslaw. Also good on their own with a green salad. It’s also good on beef, chicken, or turkey sandwiches. If you really want to kick it up……….grill these sandwiches as you would any grilled cheese. Truth is….you could just eat it with a spoon and be very happy.

Happy summer y’all. Have fun, stay cool, be safe!

Til next time,

Ciao xoxo

Viki D