Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Roasted Eggplant Italian

Oregano is one of those herbs that is best used dried not fresh. So what might the cook do with the fresh oregano spilling out of the garden at the season's end? 
Sprinkle garlic with a tad of salt and chop finely before adding to 1/4 cup olive oil. The salt helps the garlic to release its juices. While garlic juices infuse into the oil prepare the eggplant for roasting. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise leaving the stem in tact. Carefully peel away   all of the purple skin leaving about a finger's width at the edges. Add salt, pepper, & red cracked pepper to the garlic infused oil. Generously slather eggplant with oil mixture and top with one hearty sprig of fresh oregano before turning face down to roast! The garlic will continue to infuse as it roasts and surprisingly doesn't burn! This is a garlic lovers delight! Cover with foil and roast at 400 for about 45 minutes.

If the eggplant is cooked till very soft the chef can turn them over, sprinkle freshly grated Italian cheese of choice (Parmesan or Asiago) and continue cooking till cheese begins to melt and just beginning to brown.
If the chef would like to make more of a hearty meal with this side, the addition of a thick-chunky-red sauce and fresh mozzarella will compliment this eggplant beautifully! Simply prepare a hearty-red sauce (recipe below) while the eggplant cooks. Be sure to include some dried oregano in the sauce, to accent the fresh oregano that has infused while roasting. When eggplants are soft, remove from the oven, turn over, and top with read sauce and fresh chunks of mozzarella. Return to oven for about 25 minutes to allow the cheese to cook-melt. The magazine recipe called for the addition of fresh bread crumbs and grated parmesan to complete this masterpiece. 

Note to cook: Ingredients make all the difference when cooking. Know where your ingredients come from! The RQ procures all of her fresh Italian cheeses and other Italian specialty items at Ciaccia's Delicatessen
Doesn't that look scrumptious!
Fra Diavolo Sauce

1-28 oz can organic-whole-peeled tomatoes, Muir Glen or preferred brand
2-3 Tblsp extra-virgin-olive oil
6 cloves of garlic, crushed and finely chopped
1 tsp cracked-red-pepper flakes
salt & pepper to taste
parsley, fresh-chopped
pat of unsalted butter (optional)

1 tsp dried oregano (included here only to compliment the fresh-oregano-infused eggplant)

Sauté garlic and red-pepper flakes in olive oil in saucepan over moderate-low heat being careful not to burn the garlic or pepper (till fragrant or just beginning to brown slightly). Add whole tomatoes and crush with potato masher (wavy-Z-shaped model). For this recipe only, add 1 tsp dried oregano. Simmer 30 minutes adding salt, pepper, fresh parsley, and butter (opt) at the end.

Eggplant Recipe Inspired by Bon Appetit (October 2013).

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Roasted Delicata Squash with Lemon-Basil Pesto

Roast the squash the night before to have
dinner in "a snap!"
Tonight's dinner is a variation on a recipe by BASTYR University. Thanks CC Mrs. Prozac for sharing the resource and enthusiasm for squash! True to her alias, Mrs. Prozac has embraced pure happiness while enjoying seasonal squash.

Because The RQ was in the mood for comfort food  on this crisp autumn day, I used delicata squash due to its creamy-sweet qualities. After roasting and scooping out the flesh, the squash was mashed with a few healthy pats of unsalted butter, salt, and pepper to taste. While it was roasting I prepared a simple lemon-basil pesto with the remaining sweet basil from my garden, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and freshly grated asiago cheese. To serve I sprinkled more asiago over the heaping creamed squash. A dollop of pesto on top and a sprinkling of roasted pumpkin seeds! Delish! A side of sautéed kale makes this one healthy meal.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Steak Sandwhiches for Dinner

I couldn't resist this thick piece of organic skirt steak at the grocer. The steak cooked up nicely on a hot skillet stovetop! Four minutes a side on high produced a delicious medium-rare piece of meat. The meat was simply rubbed with a bit of olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt and fresh-cracked pepper. Delish! Caramelized onions and garlic mayonnaise boosted this sandwich to excellence! Local cauliflower prepared au gratin and zucchini sautéed in butter made for an easy week-night meal!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Whole Grain Baked Scones

There are so many reasons why The RQ enjoys her kingdom. But her favorite is letting her creativity and passion for food go wild when cooking. The kingdom is abundant with healthy, sinful, and comfort foods that feed the body and soul while connecting with family and friends.

So although some mornings The RQ will make sinful scones with heavy cream and butter, this morning everyone enjoyed the pleasant surprise of these vegan scones. They are more cake like than scones made with cream, but they are not heavy. In fact, they were a very pleasant surprise! Thanks goes to Celine Steen and Tamasin Noyes, authors of Whole Grain Vegan Baking! Buy the cookbook or check out their facebook page!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Sautéed Shrimp over Mashed Potatoes...

...and Homemade Ricotta Cheese Pie!

Saturday night was The RQ's birthday! P< rose to the occasion and accomadated ALL of her culinary requests! Shrimp and potatoes are two of The RQ's favorites. Ricotta cheese cake for dessert brought The RQ right back to her Gram's kitchen adding even more rich memories to the occasion. 

Shrimp was marinated in a chile lime sauce and sautéed in butter & garlic and delicately placed atop mashed potatoes. A touch of sour cream finished P<' interpretation of Chef Jason Wilson's recipe as featured in FRESH (Vol. 6).

The RQ prepared fresh ricotta (another FRESH recipe) while P< rested up for an evening of cooking! Three ingredients made this cheese cake extraordinary, the fresh homemade ricotta, the combination of both lemon and orange juices, and the gingerbread cookie crust. The cheesecake recipe featured in FRESH (Vol. 5) reminded me so much of my Gram's cream cheese pie, I've included her recipe below. The RQ will post Gram's Ricotta Pie later this fall!

Gram's Cream Cheese Pie
(This is a quick & easy delight anytime.)

Cinnamon Graham Crackers, 1 pkg, crushed
3 Tblsp butter, melted

1-8 ounce pkg cream cheese (whole milk), softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tblsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp grated lemon rind
2 eggs, separated (egg whites stiffly beaten)

Crush graham crackers into crumbs with a few pulses of the food processor or with a rolling pin (crackers placed in zip lock bag not quite closed).  Combine melted butter reserving 1/4 cup to sprinkle on top of pie. Press remainder in a 9" pie dish.

Combine softened cream cheese with sugar, lemon juice & lemon rind, beating until fluffy. Add egg yolks mixing until well blended. Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites. Pour filling into crust. Sprinkle with reserved crumbs. Bake at 350, for 25 minutes or until slightly firm.
Chill at least one hour before serving.

A special thanks to Darigold's magazine FRESH that supplied these wonderful recipes! ~and to CP for sending the magazine to The RQ just in time for her birthday dinner.