Jul 26, 2014

The Imam Fainted, imam Bayildi. The Best Eggplant dish ever

There are wonderful stories about the derivation of the name of this iconic Turkish Eggplant preparation (fun fact!). And as many versions of the recipe. This is my adaptation of a recipe by Martha Rose Shulman from the NY Times.
For the eggplants it is best to select small ones as fresh as you can find preferably at a Farmers Market. The reason for this is that the young fresh ones have much less bitterness because of their very small seeds. The perfect eggplants are about lemon-size. If you can find these, simply use them whole, slit before the first roasting. If they are orange- or small grapefruit size, cut them in half lengthwise (through the stems), and slit them before roasting. One of the things I like best about this dish is that it is great at room temperature, and mixes well with easy do-ahead summer salads. I served it with this chard strata, rainbow carrot salad, roasted multicolor cauliflower and a watermelon and feta salad.

  • 4 small eggplants cut in half lengthwise (or see note above)
  • 1 large or 2 medium onions, sliced thinly
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds (3 large or 6 medium) tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil 
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
Optional: a dollop before serving is great!
  • 1 cup labne or Greek yoghurt mixed with grated garlic and chopped dill

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment and brush with olive oil. Slit the eggplants down the middle, being careful not to cut through the skin. Place on the baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, until the outer skin begins to shrivel. Remove from the oven and transfer, cut side down, to a colander set in the sink. Allow to drain for 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat in a large, lidded skillet and add the onions. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are very tender, 5 to 8 minutes, and add the garlic. Cook, stirring, for 30 seconds to a minute, until fragrant. Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl. Add the tomatoes, herbs, salt to taste and 1 teaspoon of the sugar and 1 tablespoon of the remaining oil.
3. Turn the eggplants over and place in the pan, cut side up. Season with salt. Fill with the onion and tomato mixture. Mix together the remaining olive oil, the remaining sugar, the water and the lemon juice. Drizzle over and around the eggplants. Cover the pan and place over low heat. Cook gently for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, checking the pan for liquid and basting from time to time with the liquid in the pan, and adding water to the pan if it becomes too dry. By the end of cooking the eggplants should be practically flat and the liquid in the pan slightly caramelized. Spoon this juice over the eggplant. Allow to cool in the pan, and serve at room temperature.
Yield: Serves 4
Advance preparation: You can roast the eggplant through Step 1 and make the filling through Step 2 several hours before assembling and cooking the imam bayildi. Once cooked, the finished dish can sit for several hours.

Jul 17, 2014

Argentine Style Mixed Grill with Chimichurri Sauce

Having just returned from a fabulous trip to Brazil and Iguazu Falls, this BBQ dinner was inspired by our travels. Chimichurri is a delicious green salsa-ish sauce

The "Minute London Broil" and the Bratwurst come from Grow and Behold, but you could use any tender London Broil, and assortment of sausages that you have available. However, I cannot recommend Grow and Behold strongly enough.

The chimichurri sauce is a green and spicy blend of parsley and aromatics, you can certainly add cilantro to the mixture, and add more or less chili firepower depending on your personal taste.
There are many varieties, this one was so good I wanted to eat it by the spoonful!

Grill up the steaks (rare to medium rare is best), and the the sausages on a good hot grill. Slice thinly on an angle, and spoon on the sauce.
It was great served with a green salad, some fresh corn, This salad of Rainbow Carrots, and my should-be-famous "roast-a-touille" served over ribbons of raw zucchini (just use your vegetable peeler if you don't have a mandoline).

Chimichurri Sauce Argentina Style:

1 cup lightly packed chopped italian parsley
3 to 5 cloves garlic
2-3 garlic scapes
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon chili pepper flakes
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves
2 large shallots minced
1/2 cup vegetable or olive oil
3 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar
3 tablespoons lemon juice

Put all the ingredients into a food processor and chop until not quite totally smooth.

Jul 12, 2014

Frisee radish cucumber apricot salad. This week in the Farmer's Market

This Week In the Farmer's Market, and from my garden.
I made a lovely refreshing salad using this week's bounty.

1 head frisee or escarole cut in ribbons
2 cucumbers peeled and seeded, quartered, and sliced
10 radishes
5 apricots, diced
cherry tomatoes halved
small bunch of fresh mint

olive oil and lemon juice vinaigrette

line a platter with the chopped frisee, arrange other ingredients on top, scatter mint on top.
before serving, drizzle with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.

Jun 20, 2014

Lemony Chicken Salad and Pea Shoot Salad for a Hot Summer Day

Spinach, Edamame, Pea Shoot, and blueberry salad
Lemony Chicken salad with Marcona Almonds

These two tasty and light salads make the most of seasonal ingredients and no matter how hot or how uninterested you might be in cooking or eating, this will hit the spot. Dessert can be a bowl of cherries nestled in ice cubes, and cookies.

Lemony Chicken Salad with Marcona Almonds
serves about 6

8 Chicken Breast Cutlets
4 ribs celery chopped
half a red onion chopped finely
zest and juice of one lemon
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 Tbs. capers and a bit of the brine
handful of chopped fresh herbs (parsley, chives, oregano or your favorites)
1 Qt. chicken stock
salt and pepper 
Marcona Almonds,  chopped
quartered assorted cherry tomatoes for garnish

  1. In a deep saute pan, heat chicken stock (or water and a soup cube) to a simmer, and add chicken breasts. Poach in simmering water about 10 minutes, or until no longer pink in the middle. Remove from heat and allow chicken to cool. Cut or shred into small pieces, about 1 inch square.
  2. Add chopped celery, red onion and  capers.
  3. Mix mayonnaise with  dijon mustard, lemon zest and juice, and lightly stir into chicken mixture. Add more mayonnaise if desired.
  4. Add in herbs, and salt and pepper to taste
  5. Arrange on serving plate with assorted tomatoes around the sides
  6. Top with chopped almonds

 Spinach, Edamame, Blueberry and Pea Shoot Salad

Wash and dry a bag of baby spinach, put in salad bowl with a cup or so of edamame (fresh or frozen thawed), a cup of blueberries, and top with a big handful of pea shoots.

Use your favorite dressing, or try this one:

Sweet Salad Dressing
2/3 cup good olive oil
1/3  cup sherry or champagne wine vinegar
2 tsp Dijon Mustard
1 Tbs. sugar or splenda
salt and fresh ground pepper

Shake all ingredients in a jar, can keep extra in fridge for a week.

Cucumber Pea-shoot, Mint and Arugala Salad

The baby cucumber, pea-shoot, arugala, mint and walnut salad features finds from this week's farmer's market, and suggested a new feature of the blog. From now on I will include a recipe made from things currently available this week. Improvise on the recipe however you wish. Any fresh herb can be added, ditto any interesting greens.

I had a bit of Meyer Lemon marmalade left over from this Blueberry Trifle. It is a good example of ways to use up leftovers. I simply added 2/3 cup olive oil and 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar to the remains of the marmelade right in the jar, a bit of salt and pepper- and shake!

combine on a platter or bowl:
6 small cucumbers peeled and cut into 1/4 inch slices
6 sprigs of mint chopped roughly
2 cups baby arugula
handful of pea shoots
raw walnuts

Add any basic vinaigrette you like, but I really liked the sweetness of the marmelade. You could use honey and some lemon juice, lime juice, or orange juice to the same effect.

Jun 11, 2014

A Tiny Batch of Strawberry Jam

I was so excited to pick enough berries from the garden to make one jar of jam. If you never made jam before, you might be intimidated, but if you start with just one jar, and get the hang of it, you will be doing it all the time, **promise**.


  • 3 cups fresh strawberries, sliced (about 1½ pint baskets or 4 cups whole berries or 1 pound)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Option: Add a tablespoon or two of diced candied ginger


  1. Chill a small plate or bowl in the freezer or over ice water.
  2. In a 10 or 12-inch wide skillet, bring fruit, sugar, and lemon juice to boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly and skimming foam as necessary. Cook about 8-10 minutes, until mixture begins to look syrupy and thickens slightly.
  3. Spoon ½ teaspoon of the hot fruit onto the cold plate and let it rest for 30 seconds. Tip plate to one side; jam should be a soft gel that moves slightly. If mixture is thin and runs down side of plate, the gel is too soft. Return skillet to heat and cook jam 1 to 2 minutes longer, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and repeat test.
  4. Cool jam to room temperature before serving. Because a minimum amount of sugar is used, the jam needs to be refrigerated to prevent mold from forming. Refrigerate 2-3 weeks.
  5. For longer storage, freeze or process hot jam in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes.**
  6. **Option: If jars are sterilized (heated in boiling water for 10 minutes) it’s possible to use the inverted method to preserve jam: Pour hot jam into hot sterile jar leaving 1/8 inch head space. Wipe rim and apply prepared lid and ring. Screw ring on firmly. Invert jar and leave for 5 minutes. Turn jar right side up and let cool 12-24 hours. The heat from the jam will destroy mold spores. This method is not foolproof, so if you are preparing a lot of jam, process the jam in a boiling water canner.
Yield: Makes 1-1/2 cups

May 9, 2014

OMG What is That Cake?! Kentucky Butter Cake. Easy to Make. Mother's Day Perfect!

How could a simple butter cake be so delicious? Because it's from Kentucky I guess!
This morning was the Westport Garden Club Plant Sale, but due to a board conference call I got there when the pickings were pretty thin. But to support the club I stepped by the Bake Sale table, and saw a pretty bundt cake all wrapped up in a cheery bow, tagged Kentucky Butter Cake, and figuring it was like a pound cake, but probably one of those great Southern style ones, I bought it. (Yes, I know, very perceptive of me, to notice that 'Kentucky' in the title.)This afternoon it is gray and drizzly, too gross to plant anything (my seedlings aren't really hardened off yet anyway), so I made a coffee, and sliced a wedge of the cake.

What a surprise! I could not believe how delicious it was, so I sent a letter off to the Garden Club to see who made it. Turns out, the cake, from a Westport Young Women's League cookbook, was baked by Lori Meinke, who gardens right near me at the community garden. She was happy to share. 

3 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 c. butter
2 c. sugar
4 eggs
1 c. buttermilk
2 tsp. vanilla

1 c. sugar
1/4 c. water
1/2 c. butter
1 tbsp. vanilla

Cake: Cream butter. Gradually add 2 cups sugar. Cream well. 
Blend in 4 eggs, one at a time. 
Combine 1 cup buttermilk and 2 teaspoons vanilla. 
Add alternately with dry ingredients. Blend well after each addition on low speed. DO NOT OVERMIX.

Grease the bottom only of a tube pan (10 inch). 
Bake at 325 degrees for 65-75 minutes. 
Run edge of knife around stem of pan. Cool. Remove from pan. Using a skewer or knife, pierce the cake all over cake with fork. 

Prepare Glaze
Heat on low until butter is melted. Do not boil. Add 1 tablespoon of vanilla. Spoon hot sauce over cake. Dust with powdered sugar. 

Freezes beautifully. Serves 12.

Apr 18, 2014

The Perfect Lemon Meringue pie

The perfect Lemon Meringue Pie
Lemon Meringue Pie with Coconut "Macaroon" Crust

Henry's favorite pie in the world is Lemon Meringue, and over the years I have tried several recipes, but last night, for his birthday (in passover) I believe that I located the definitive recipe. Well, for me at least. What I like about this one is that it is not cloyingly sweet, and the meringue, as well as the filling is deeply lemony.

The recipe is a mash-up of a coconut crust fruit dessert, and the Lemon Meringue pie recipe by Evan Kleiman, food editor for KCRW, the radio station I listen to when I am in LA.

It is a little more complicated than some recipes that I have tried, because it is made with Italian Meringue.

Italian meringue is made by beating egg whites until they reach soft fluffy peaks, then slowly streaming in sugar syrup (boiling sugar) and beating the mixture until it is thick and glossy. In comparison, basic meringue, also known as a French meringue, is made by beating granulated sugar into egg whites until the mixture reaches soft peaks. The hot sugar syrup used to make Italian meringue essentially cooks the egg whites as it is incorporated. This means that you don’t need to cook or bake the meringue before using it. It also means that the meringue is going to be a lot more stable and much less likely to deflate or weep than a simple meringue is. 

The recipe calls for cream of tartar, which you may or may not use on passover, but according to my rabbi, any OU (kosher) cream of tartar is kosher for passover. You can consult your own rabbi if you don't want to trust mine. 

Passover Coconut Crust:

2 cups unsweetened dried coconut
1/2 cup sugar
2 egg whites
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract. 

Preheat oven to 350° .
Mix ingredients together in a bowl.
Lightly oil a pie pan, or a fluted tart pan with a removable bottom, and pack the coconut mixture evenly, being sure to bring it all the way up the sides.
Bake the  crust for 20 minutes or so until the crust is beginning to brown.
Set the crust aside to cool completely before you add the hot filling.

Leave the oven on, you will need it in a few minutes again to brown the meringue.

5 egg whites room temperature
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon lemon juice

To Make Meringue
Use a small heavy saucepan to make the sugar syrup. 

Put the sugar, water and lemon juice in the pan.  Do not stir.  Cover the pan and bring the mixture to a boil.  Remove the cover when the sugar is completely melted and the mixture is at a lively boil.  Put your candy thermometer in the mixture.  The syrup will be ready to pour into the soft peak egg whites (see below) when it is at soft boil stage or a tiny bit above, 235 – 241°.  I tend to go to the higher temperature or even 242°

Meanwhile, put the room temperature egg whites in the bowl of your mixer and at low speed let the egg whites beat until they are foamy.  Add the cream of tartar.  Turn the mixer up to medium speed and continue to beat until they are at soft peaks.

When the sugar syrup is ready (a soft boil on candy thermometer), turn on the mixer to medium again.  Slowly pour the sugar syrup into the egg whites.  Try to focus the stream in between the beater and the side of the bowl.  When all the sugar syrup is poured into the whites turn the mixer to high and let the whites beat until the mixture froths up into thick, glossy, very stiff peak clouds.

1 cup sugar
4 teaspoons potato starch
1 cup lemon juice
5 egg yolks
2 whole eggs

To Make Filling
Whisk sugar and potato starch together in a medium saucepan.  You want the dry ingredients combined with no lumps. Don’t get crazy about it, but no big lumps.  Add lemon juice and whisk until blended with sugar – potato starch mixture.  Add yolks and eggs.  Whisk well.

Place over medium heat and alternately whisk and stir with heat resistant spatula being sure to sweep the bottom of the pan with the spatula.  First the mixture will thin out and it seems that it will never thicken, then as the mixture heats up it will begin to bubble around the edges and thicken quickly.  Keep whisking/stirring so you don’t get scrambled eggs.  When the mixture is obviously thickened and has come to a boil remove it from the heat and pour into your prepared crust.

As soon as the filling is in the pie crust turn your attention to the meringue.  If it has been sitting for a couple of minutes then beat it again.  In order to avoid weeping you need to seal the filling completely with meringue.  I start with the edge, using a thin pastry spatula or dinner knife to spread meringue so that it covers the seam where the crust meets the filling.  Once that is done you can spoon the rest of the meringue on the pie and go to town making big pillowy swirls and peaks.  The more swirls and peaks, the more browning you’ll have.

Once you’re done playing with the meringue pop it in the oven for 15 minutes or until the meringue is set and browned to your liking.  Let it cool then refrigerate until ready to serve.

Roasted Cauliflower and Mushroom Casserole, great for Passover or anytime

 After a couple of days of Passover I start to get pretty sick of meat, don't you? Here is an idea for a hearty baked main dish that makes a delicious light Passover supper or weekend lunch. I am happy with this served it with a green salad and some Passover Popovers, but your crowd might like it even more on the side of some roasted or baked salmon (hot or cold). Mix some chopped fresh dill into sour cream for a delicious and easy "sauce" for the salmon.
  • 1 head of cauliflower, cored and cut into florets
  • 1 lb. button mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1½ Tbl. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • ½ cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • ⅓ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Coat a medium baking dish with olive oil and reserve.
  2. Spread cauliflower florets in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet; drizzle with 1 Tbl. oil olive and sprinkle with sea salt. Roast in oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown, turning once.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat sauté the mushrooms in ½ Tbl. olive oil and a couple of pinches of salt. Stir every minute or so until mushrooms have released all their liquid. Add onion and thyme cook for another 4 – 5 minutes until translucent. Stir in garlic, cook for another minute and remove from the heat.
  4. When the cauliflower has caramelized add to the skillet.
  5. In a large bowl combine eggs, cheddar cheese, and sour cream. Add cauliflower mushroom mixture, stir until well combined. Pour into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and cover with foil.
  6. Reduce oven temp. to 350 degrees. Bake casserole for 30 minutes covered, then remove foil and bake for another 10 minutes, until lightly browned around edges.

Apr 7, 2014

Gefilteria's Passover Gefilte fish and Carrot Citrus Horseradish

Grow and Behold is carrying Gefilteria's passover gefilte fish is made from sustainably sourced whitefish, pike, salmon and steelhead trout. The whitefish and pike are from the Great Lakes and are best choice fish options according to the Sustainable Seafood Guide from the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The trout rates highly, too. The salmon sourcing varies depending on the season, but they "strive for the best Pacific or Canadian salmon available." If you don't want to make my homemade version  you can do the next best (or better if time is getting short). I am going to make their Carrot Horseradish, just as soon as I dig the horseradish root up from the herb garden!

The Gefilteria's Carrot Citrus Horseradish at home

Yields about 24 oz. - Perfect for a 24 oz. loaf of Gefilteria gefilte fish
1 lb. carrots, washed, peeled, and trimmed
1/2 lb. horseradish root, washed, peeled, and trimmed
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup kosher for Passover white vinegar
1 cup water
3 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon salt

1) Place carrots in a saucepan and fill with enough water to cover them. Boil carrots until lightly cooked but not mushy (about 5 minutes, although times vary depending on thickness of carrots), drain and set aside.
2) In a separate saucepan, combine water with the sugar and vinegar. Heat until mixture arrives at a slow boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside.
3) Place horseradish root in food processor with cooked carrots, lemon juice, lemon zest, and salt. Pulse processor, pouring vinegar solution into the processor gradually, making sure to stir ingredients between pulses. You do not want the mixture to be soupy, so add liquid only until the carrot-horseradish mix is fully coated, shiny and moist. Be careful not to put your face too close to the processor while taking the top off. It will be intense!
4) Place horseradish in a sealed container. Add more vinegar solution if mixture looks dry. Let it sit in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours before eating.