Patlıcan Karnıyarık (Eggplant stuffed with meat and herbs)

Turkish food has not been good for our figures.

Turkish food has not been good for our figures.

Hi friends, long time no speak. Sorry about that, but Karin and I have been a bit in flux. Many changes have happened since the last post was written in our kitchen in Austin. We packed up our house, loaded it into moving containers, and I am now writing this post from the living room of our new house in Mountain View, CA. In between the two houses, we took a two-week long trip to Turkey, drove halfway across the country, (stopping to see family in several places) and unpacked an obscene number of boxes. Including, finally, the cookbooks a couple of weeks ago.

The Sultan's Kitchen

The trip to Turkey, and an attempt to recreate some of the amazing food we had while we were there, were the main inspiration for this week’s recipe. I really like this cookbook – there’s not a lot outside of some well-designed recipes and a handful of decent photographs of the food. It’s a low-bullshit cookbook, and it covers a wide range of the different dishes of Turkey (the parchment-wrapped sea bass poached with herbs and rakı has been on my to-make list for awhile now, and the recipe for Turkish tea is the best one I’ve found to date). We bought some nice-looking globe eggplants at the Farmer’s Market last week,so I thought I’d give this recipe a shot.

Eggplant with Meat and Herbs

Turns out small globe eggplants are not the right kind for stuffing, so what I ended up with was essentially some eggplants braised in a nice Turkish meat sauce. Surely not what Özcan Ozan intended, but it was tasty nonetheless. Enjoy the recipe below – it’s good to get back to our cookbooks!

Continue reading

Advertisements

Bonus: Watercress, Pistachio and Orange Blossom Salad

I know I already recently covered a recipe from Plenty, but consider this a bonus! I highly recommend this salad to all my friends with unruly herb gardens, as this recipe calls for a ton of fresh herbs.

I was so excited to find orange blossom water at Fiesta, the best grocery store for those hard to find ingredients. I also noticed they had gigantic jars of preserved lemons, which I really could have used in my Arabesque recipe from a few weeks ago!  Were we not planning to move in a few weeks, I would have bought a jar, but hauling them across the country seems silly when I’m sure there are plenty of places to find them in the Bay Area.

Know of any good uses for orange blossom water? Let me know!

The orange blossom water in the dressing is what really makes this salad. That, on top of the fragrant blend of herbs will really perk you up. For me, the smell takes me back to when I worked at an Indian hair removal salon in Soho.  After threading you, they’d apply orange blossom water to your face. I think it has some astringent properties, but I always enjoyed that the lovely smell would help you forget that you just had all the hair on your face ripped out by the follicle.  These days I think I’d rather just enjoy this salad from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty.

Continue reading

Mediterranean Sea Bass

Weber's Big Book of Grilling

Last week, to balance out Karin’s delicious (but vegetarian) eggplant & salad feast and take advantage of the nice Austin spring, I decided to dust the pollen and leaves off the propane grill in our backyard (thanks Alyx & Chi Chi for the long-term grill loan) and cook up some fish. I’ve had this cookbook, Weber’s Big Book of Grilling, since I picked up a charcoal grill to make a Thanksgiving Turkey with my folks four or five years ago. It’s a brand-specific cookbook, which is usually a clear sign that a cookbook will be mediocre and the recipes will include things like “Roast for 30 minutes on a Weber® AR553 grill” or ” 1 1/2 Tablespoons Heinz© pickle relish”. But this book is free of that sort of pandering and a great introduction to grilling in general – it has a wide variety of recipes beyond the usual burgers, steaks, chicken kabobs, etc., tons of good information on different types of grills, indirect vs. direct cooking, etc. – hell, the book even has a foreword by Al Roker.

The recipe I chose was a Mediterranean Sea Bass recipe. Well, for us it was a Mediterranean Red Snapper recipe, since that was the closest I could get from the store. It was an exceptionally fast and easy recipe, and it was interesting to cook with a spice (lavender) I hadn’t used before. I made this Brussels sprouts dish to go along with it, which was really tasty despite my overcooking it (good Brussels sprouts recipes that are also bacon-free are few and far between and deserve a mention). All in all, a tasty weeknight meal that is easy to cook in under an hour after work, weather and propane grill/grill pan-permitting.

Mediterranean Red Snapper

Continue reading

Eggplants O’Plenty

Image
Let me introduce you to my newest cookbook, Plenty.  My love for this cookbook knows no bounds, from the beautiful pictures on almost every page, to the pleasantly squishy cover.  The night it arrived for me in the mail I actually read it in bed before going to sleep.  I’ve never read a cookbook in bed before and it felt a little weird at first, but that’s how much I love this cookbook.

I first encountered Yotam Ottolenghi when Heidi Swanson featured his recipe for Eggplant and Mango with Soba Noodles on her blog.  Two things you should know about me: 1) I am absolutely crazy for eggplant. 2) I am absolutely crazy about putting fruit in savory dishes.  So eggplant and mango in a dish together?  Sold!  I tried it, I loved it, and I knew I had to learn more about this Ottolenghi character.  (By the way, his Eggplant & Mango recipe is on pg. 112 of Plenty.)

What else can I say about this cookbook?  He has an entire chapter devoted to eggplant.  His blurbs about each recipe are short and entertaining.  I should probably mention that while he is not a vegetarian, all of the recipes in this cookbook are vegetarian, but all can certainly be tweaked to differing tastes.  In his introduction he talks a bit about why he writes a vegetarian column despite the fact that he eats meat, and people’s different motivations for choosing more pragmatic diets.

For this recipe, Ottolenghi asks Italians to forgive him for swapping cilantro for the traditional basil in this dish.  I had a lot of the eggplant and salsa leftover after making this recipe, and so the next day I layered them with some mozzarella on good bread spread with pesto, and the cilantro and basil complemented each other very well.