Saturday, August 31, 2013

(Crab)cakes and (K)ale

Friday 30 August
We essentially took the crab salad from Tuesday, thickened it with some fine breadcrumbs, rolled four patties of it in panko, and fried it up as tender crabcakes.
We're now making our kale salad with one saladspinnerful of fresh leaves from the garden, tossing it in a bowl so that each leaf can be coated and relax, and leaving the grated cheese to be showered on at the end so it doesn't clump up.  Unfortunately we were out of pine nuts, and the kale is getting a little tough at the end of the season.  Still good, though.

Chicken and Zephyr Squash with Tomato Sorrel Sauce

Thursday 29 August
We had the leftover chicken legs and thighs from Sunday, so we reheated them in the microwave and topped them with this great variation on a classic sorrel sauce.

The sorrel and the Supersonic tomato came from the garden, as did the little zephyr squashes, which were just sliced and quick-fried with garlic.  So sweet.


Wednesday 28 August
A couple of weeks ago, we noticed that our local hipster café, Sitwell's, was advertising BLTs with guacamole.  "GLBTs!" we laughed.  "How politically correct!"

Tonight we made them, and they're delicious too.  We used Holt's bran bread spread with mayonnaise for the bottom slice, then tiny red romaine leaves from the garden, then thick yellow and red tomato slices peppered and salted, then crisped nuggets of bacon (you need to break them up, otherwise you pull them right out of the sandwich when you bite them), and ultra-fresh guacamole on the top slice of bread, made by just smashing up an avocado with a little lemon juice and chopped cilantro leaves.  
Truly a rainbow sandwich.  Watch this great video, for a variation using gouda.  Unusual, but we are very accepting of the non-traditional.

Crab Salad in Avocados

Tuesday 27 August
After last night's elaborately-prepared meal, tonight's was a snap.  

Three ripe avocados (and why no "e" as with the plural "tomatoes"?) got halved and stuffed with a half can of claw crabmeat made into a salad with mayonnaise, cilantro, and lime, according to this recipe.
Scrumptious; the other half can will go to crabcakes later in the week.

Eggplant Parmesan

Monday 26 August
Barbara speaking.  Back in graduate school when I lived with nine other people in a big house in Brookline, under the name "the Ali ben Buddha Society," I bought 11 eggplants (!) and made A Shitload of Eggplant Parmesan (TM) for communal dinner.  
I did it according to the classic Neapolitan style that Karen's Nanny taught us, slicing the eggplant paper-thin, salting and pressing, breading each slice with seasoned breadcrumbs, standing over the stove and frying them in batch after batch, making a classic red gravy, and layering it with parmesan and mozzarella in a giant turkey roasting pan.  It took six hours to prepare, and was snarfed down by the hungry Ali ben Buddhists in 15 minutes.  What an anticlimax.

This is my adaptation for the demands of the 21st century.  I broiled the eggplant without breading, but made the seasoning similar; bumped up the gravy with fresh herbs; and varied the cheeses to be less bland.  It takes lots less time, you can stay off your feet while you're preparing it, and it feeds four rather than ten.  You learn a few things after forty years.
Broiled Eggplant Parmesan
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
olive oil
1 large (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
1 Tbsp. white wine
1 bay leaf
10-12 fresh oregano or basil leaves
kosher salt and black pepper
2 big peeled eggplants (over 3 pounds), sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
ca. 1/2 cup ricotta salata, grated
ca. 1/2 cup grated Romano
ca. 1/2 cup grated scamorza (smoked mozzarella)
Gently brown garlic and some tomato paste in a saucepan with a Tbsp. of olive oil.  Add tomatoes, rinse out the can with white wine, throw that and the bay leaf in, and let simmer until it's thick.  Tear up fresh herb leaves, throw in, simmer 5 mins. more, and set aside.
While that's simmering, get your broiler going at 450º.  Arrange the first batch of eggplant slices on a baking sheet brushed with olive oil.  Brush them with more oil, and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and dried oregano. Broil until brown and tender, 3 to 4 minutes per side.  Then flip them, putting browner ones where the paler ones were, and give them 3 minutes on the other side until done.  Remove, and brown the second trayful in the same way, until all are done and heaped on a platter.
Spread some olive oil and then some tomato sauce in the bottom and up the sides of your normal lasagna pan (ours is pyrex, 3-qt.).  Add one layer of eggplant slices, then top with sauce, then cheese.  We varied the cheeses in the layers: the first one was ricotta salata, the second scamorza, the third (really just down the middle under a half-layer of eggplant) romano, and at the end, topped it all with scamorza and romano.  
In 400º oven, bake the lasagna until bubbling, 15 to 20 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving, or it will fall into mush when you cut it.  A half panful makes a very satisfying dinner for two, and we took a sedate half hour to eat it.