Kitchen Bitch

Cooking in the Kitchen with Sass & Class

Italian Mash-Up: Eggplant, Mozzarella, and Saffron Rice Bake January 8, 2013

Eggplant Mozzarella and Saffron Bake

Happy New Year, dear readers! Like many of you, I’ve been plotting and planning for this coming year, trying to come up with ways to not only improve my business, but also myself, my marriage, my home (which looked like a tornado had gone through it just a few days ago while I was reorganizing just about everything), and this little blog.

I wanted my first dish of the year to reflect the way I’m feeling at the present—a little unsure about which way to go, but ready to grab life by the reigns and let it take me wherever the path may lead. And so I offer you this Eggplant, Mozzarella, and Saffron Rice Bake, which is in fact a combination of two classic Italian dishes, eggplant parmigiana and saffron risotto, although it’s a bit more healthful as the eggplant is baked instead of fried.

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Grill It! Eggplant, Tomato and Mozzarella Stacks September 5, 2011

I didn’t really spend much time at my third-floor apartment this summer. And with Doug’s grill out of commission, I’d been dying to put my grilling skills to good use. Just as I started to think my grilling know-how was getting rusty, I landed at my parents’ house in Kentucky and saw a gleaming new grill staring back at me.

Why had my parents gotten a new grill, you ask? No, it wasn’t because the old one had gotten rusty. Or because my dad felt the need to upgrade to the newest model. Nope, the reason we got a new grill is:

My mom blew up the old one!

Mom, being the great woman that she is, offered to make my friend Rae and I dinner a few months back. She put her beautifully butterflied chicken on the grill, set a brick on it, and closed the lid—completely forgetting to the the dials down from smoking hot to medium low. The long-term smoldering heat of the 500-degree grill blackened the chicken and melted the grill grates, ruining the grill altogether.

Of course, Mom being Mom, she still served us the chicken, suggesting that we just remove the skin before eating. You gotta love her 🙂

Well, this isn’t a post about burnt chicken, but it is a post about the brand-spanking new grill that came out of that culinary meltdown. I went nuts cooking everything I possibly could on during my weekend home a few weeks ago: lemon-scented salmon with basil-walnut pesto; peppers, onions and sausages for Italian dogs; corn on the cob; and last, but not least, these Eggplant, Tomato and Mozzarella stacks.

Every component of these yummy stacks is done on the grill, and then they’re assembled grill-side for easy entertaining. (more…)

 

Julia Child + Cooking Light = Amazing Eggplant Soufflé June 28, 2010

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Two-Cheese Eggplant Souffle

One of my new favorite magazines is Cooking Light, because it offers foodies like me ways to cut calories and fat in all my favorite dishes. There’s even a way to make donuts more healthful! (Keep that oil at 375˚F to keep your donuts from getting greasy.)

I spied a Parmesan and Eggplant Souffle recipe in CL’s June 2010 issue, but it seemed a little off. I’ve spent a lot of time with Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking and, if you know anything about French cooking, you know that the French really know how to make soufflés, and pretty much anything else with eggs. Julia Child gives precise direction on how to make soufflé in her book, and the soufflé from Cooking Light just didn’t seem to have that soufflé magic I was looking for.

So, in my quest to count calories but eat the yummiest possible meal, I combined the two recipes. I kept the vegetables and low-fat milk from Cooking Light, and added a few extra eggs and some butter from Julia Child’s recipe.

More than the ingredients it’s my method that most resembles Julia’s. Cooking Light’s recipe calls for simply whipping the egg whites with a whisk, but I think of a soufflé as a dramatic, elegant, over-the-top egg puff. To get that dramatic height, the egg whites have to be whipped into beautiful stiff peaks and gently folded into the béchamel sauce and vegetables as Julia called for.

I think you’ll find this recipe a perfect compromise. You really can eat light and well.

Two Cheese Eggplant Soufflé
Sweating the eggplant removes the bitter juices so they don’t water down the soufflé. If you don’t like eggplant, swap in another vegetable like zucchini or spinach.  For a print copy of this recipe, click here.

1 medium sweet (Vidalia) onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 small to medium eggplant
½ Tbs. oregano
3.5 Tbs. butter
¼ c. flour
2 c. low-fat milk
½ tsp. red pepper flake
7 egg whites
6 egg yolks
¼ c. Swiss cheese
½ c. plus 3 Tbs. Parmigiano Reggiano or high-quality Parmesan

Special equipment: Souffle dish

Prep eggplant. Cut eggplant into thick slices and place on layer of paper towels. Sprinkle kosher salt all over both sides of the eggplant and let sit for at least 30 minutes, preferably an hour, flipping half way through. With a damp towel or rag, wipe away excess salt on eggplant. Cut into ½–in. to 1-in. cubes.

Salt the eggplant on both sides and lay on paper towels to sweat out bitter juices.

Saute veggies. Preheat oven 400˚F. Butter mold and sprinkle with cheese. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add 1 c. eggplant, diced pepper and onion and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Season with oregano, salt and pepper. Set aside. Meanwhile, warm milk in small saucepan on stovetop.

Sauteed eggplant, peppers and onion for souffle.

Make béchamel. Melt butter in skillet. Whisk in flour, stirring 2 minutes to combine. Whisk in hot milk, and season with salt and pepper. Bring mixture to a boil, whisking all the while. Boil for one minute until thickened. Remove from heat, stir in red pepper flake.

Separate eggs. Stir yolks into cooling milk mixture, whisking with each addition. Stir in veggies. NOTE: Sauce can be prepared ahead to addition of egg yolks. Dot the top with butter or place plastic wrap on top to prevent a film from forming.

Fold in egg whites and bake. Whip egg whites and a pinch of salt until stiff with a hand mixer or stand mixer. Stir a quarter of the egg whites into the yolk-milk mixture, followed by all but 1-2 Tbs. of the parmesan. Working in three batches, fold in the rest of the egg whites. Turn mixture into mold. Sprinkle with leftover cheese.  Put soufflé on middle rack in oven and immediately drop the temperature to 375˚F.  Cook for 20 to 25 minutes, without opening oven. When a long skewer comes out clean and the top is puffed and brown, the soufflé is ready. Serve immediately.

NOTE: It is possible to keep the soufflé warm and mostly puffed in a still-warm oven for about 20 to 30 minutes. Simply turn off the heat and leave the soufflé in the oven.

 

An American Classic with a North African Twist June 8, 2010

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Yogurt Marinated Grilled Chicken with Harissa

With the weather warming up here in the Chicagoland area, I can finally bust out my trusty charcoal grill and do my cooking outside. Together with my friend, Emily, I dusted off the old Weber and prepared for my first grill-out of the season.

Unfortunately, our grilling skills had gotten as rusty as my outdoor furniture—we just couldn’t get the damn thing lit. Once we realized that the flu was closed, the charcoal was wet, and the matches were crappy, we set out to buy a whole new set of supplies. An hour and a half later, we were finally sipping wine around a beautiful pile of crackling charcoal.

I live on the third floor of a refurbished house, so let’s just say it gets HOT in the summer when I turn on the stove. Subsequently, and despite the four flights of steps between my flat and the backyard, I like to cook outside as much as possible. I fill up cloth bags and my giant purse with as much food and supplies as possible, and then haul them up and down the stairs to my grill and back. It’s a workout, but it’s worth the picnic I get to have in my lovingly cared for backyard and garden.

In the coming summer months you’ll find lots of great grilling recipes here on Kitchen Bitch. To kick off the season, I’m giving you this decidedly different take on one of America’s favorite foods—grilled chicken. By marinating the chicken in yogurt and spices and then slathering it with harissa, a spicy chili-based North African condiment you can find in tubes or jars at many grocery stores, we’re taking this classic to a whole new level. I served it with grilled eggplant (see recipe below) and a light, fresh and healthy potato salad (check back Thursday for the recipe).

Yogurt-Marinated Grilled Chicken with Harissa
This recipe adapted from Alex Guarnaschelli can be marinated for a few hours and up to a day and a half before cooking.  The yogurt tenderizes the chicken and adds richness. You can find harissa, a North African spice paste, at some grocery stores and specialty markets. If you can’t find it, click on the original recipe link above to learn how to make your own. Serves 4. For a print copy of this adapted recipe, click here.

½ c. whole-milk or Greek yogurt
1 (1 to 2-in.) knob fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1.5 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. red chili flakes
1 tsp. Kosher salt
4-6 skin-on chicken pieces, or boneless skinless chicken thighs
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 lemon, halved
3-4 tsp. harissa, from a store-bought tube or jar

Marinate chicken. In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, ginger, cumin, chili flakes and salt. Whisk until smooth and pour into a baking dish. Coat the chicken in the yogurt mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a couple of hours to marinate.

Grill chicken. Preheat a very clean grill to medium. When the grill is hot, brush with oil. Remove the chicken from the yogurt, leaving any excess behind, and lay them out on the grill skin side down. Cook until the skin is brown and crispy then flip. You want to roast them, essentially, on the grill, and avoid “flaming” them or cooking them over too intense heat. That would dry them out. Grill the chicken until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thigh registers between 155˚F and 160˚F, about 35 to 40 minutes. If using boneless skinless chicken, this process will take less time, about 20-25 minutes.

Garnish and serve. Remove the chicken from the grill to a serving platter and sprinkle with lemon juice. Spread a little harissa on each piece, and serve immediately.

Grilled Eggplant
Substituting your favorite herbs for the ones called for here can easily modify this recipe. Herbs de Provence also makes a great eggplant topper. Serves 3-5, depending on eggplant size. To print a copy this recipe, click here.

Grilled Eggplant

1 medium eggplant, cut into ½ in. thick slices
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
Chopped fresh parsley
Olive oil

Remove bitter juices from eggplant. Arrange the eggplant slices in a single layer on a layer of paper towels on a cutting board. Salt generously on both sides with kosher salt. Let sit for 15-30 minutes You’ll immediately see all the bitter juices weep out onto the paper towels. Rinse the salt off the eggplants under running water. Put dry.

Marinate and grill. In a medium bowl, add a few teaspoons of olive oil, oregano, black pepper, and crushed red pepper. Stir to combine. Add eggplants and shake or stir to coat. Let sit in marinade until you’re ready to grill. Grill the eggplant until tender and browned, about 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Remove from grill and top with chopped fresh parsley before serving.