Monthly Archives: October 2010

Eggplant Garlic Hummus

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With the last of my big box of eggplant that I got on super sale, I decided to make Eggplant Garlic Hummus.  This was actually really quick and easy to make!  I used dry chickpeas which I soaked and boiled following the packages directions (however using canned would have been faster). I prepared the eggplant as usual, soaking in salt water for 10 or 15 minutes to rid of bitterness and I sliced a few garlic cloves into thin slices.  After drying the eggplant slices, I brushed with olive oil and laid out on a baking dish. Each eggplant slice gets topped with a slice of garlic and put into the oven on high broil for about 4- 5 minutes.  Then all you do is throw the cup of chickpeas into the blender or food processor with the eggplant slices and garlic.  Add lemon juice and seasonings  (I used curry, cumin and salt).

I also had to add a good bit of water because I used dry chickpeas instead of canned and  because I do not yet own a food processor and have to suffer through with a blender.  (I am happy to announce that I have a food processor on it’s way in the mail as I type!)  It turned out quite delicious!  Enjoy with pita chips or celery!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most hummus also has tahini in it, which I learned is pretty much sesame seed butter. While I don’t think the recipe I was looking at called for this, I looked for it in the store anyways. When I finally found it (with the organic nut-butters)  it was only  sold in a somewhat large jar and cost $9!  Needless to say my hummus has plenty of flavor and did not need this.  However if you are making a plain hummus with just chickpeas, you would need the tahini.

What is good for you in Eggplant Garlic hummus?

Eggplant: I’ve already gone into details of why eggplant is healthy in previous recipes. In short:  low in calories, high in fiber!  Eggplant has high levels of antioxidants that fight against cancer, bad cholesterol, and other diseases!

Garlic: an anti-biotic that fights cancer and heart disease, a good source of vitamin C, and can help prevent stomach ulcers.

Cumin: I just learned that cumin is one of the main ingredients of curry!  So since I put curry and cumin in this hummus, I will just talk about cumin for now.  Cumin is an antiseptic that is rich in iron and can help digestive systems to work efficiently.  (hmm maybe this is why Indian food never stays in you very long…)   Cumin seeds can also be mixed with  honey to help sore throats.

Eat, Enjoy, and stay healthy!

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Moussaka: a Greek workout for the kitchen!

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Every time I think about Moussaka two distinct memories come to mind:

1. Sitting with my friend Reese in the Meteora region of Greece while on the Humanities tour in college at a quaint cafe eating Moussaka for the first and only time until today.

Greece

2. A line from the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” when Tula sits at the table with all the “popular” girls eating their white bread sandwiches who snootily ask her what she is eating.  She cheerfully replies “Moussaka” to which the girls laugh and say “ew! moose ka-ka!?”

That being said; I really don’t remember what the Moussaka in Greece tasted like, except that it was good!  And the Moussaka I made was delicious!

OK, here’s the basics of the Greek workout know as Moussaka:

-Skin and boil 2 large potatoes (supposed to be Youkon Gold or other yellow potato but my grocery stores did not have a great potato selection.  I think they had small bags for like $4 but that seemed like too much for me)  baking potatoes worked fine.  Boil so that it is slightly under cooked.  To skin potatoes- place in boiling water for a few minutes then into ice water- the skin will come off easily! Then return to boiling water to cook rest of the way.

– skined 3 small eggplants and slice into 1/4 inch rounds. Soak these in salt water for about 15 minutes to take away bitterness.

– While eggplant is soaking- heat olive oil in a pan  and sauté 1 onion onions and 3-4 cloves of garlic then add 1 lb ground beef.  Brown meat and add seasonings: 1 tsp oregano,  1 tsp cinnamon, 1tsp black pepper, a tablespoon of  tomato paste.  I was supposed to add allspice but figured I could make do without since I didn’t own any. Then I learned that allspice if like nutmeg/cinnamin like.. so I just added more cinnnamin and some nutmeg!  It worked fine. Add salt and a teaspoon or 2 of lemon zest and tablespoon of lemon juice toward the end.

– Turn oven Broil on high. Remove eggplant from salt water and let drain on paper towel.  Dip eggplant into olive oil and layer on a baking sheet.  Broil for about 3-4 minutes on each side.

-While eggplant is broiling, begin to prepare the Bechamel sauce which will go on top.

– Preheat oven 350 degrees.

– This is where things get really interesing..   ok- heat 2 cups of milk without letting it simmer (supposed to be whole milk.. but we drink 1% so that’s what I used!  Probably changed the consistency a bit, but it worked!) In separate pan heat butter to melt then whisk in 1/4 cup flour and allow to simmer slightly.

Little by little stir in steamy milk.  Then stir in a few small dashes of nutmeg and whisk quickly.  Separate out 2 egg yolks and wisk up in a separate bowl.  Add a little of the sauce into the egg yolk, mix then stir back into the rest of the sauce.

– Then slice the potato into thin slices.  layer the bottom of a baking dish with the potato slices- overlapping a bit.  Put down a layer of eggplant.  Then top with the meat sauce. Then cheese (the recipe called for fancy expensive cheese that was not in my budget to I used a block of mozzerella and grated it myself!- it of course worked fine, but I’m sure changed the taste. Expensive cheese can be tasty, but not necessary, epecially if you are on a budget.) After the cheese, pour on the bechamel sauce and top with more cheese.

Finally put in the oven for 30-45 minutes!  It will come out looking delicious.

I also learned that this meal is a fantasitc leftover. Each time I ate it I think it got better and not a morsel was thrown away!   For a couple who tend to use left overs more as “science experiments” in the fridge rather than for dinner, that is saying a lot!  Looking back, this wasn’t too hard to make, but it sure was involved- definitely not a “30 min. meal”  but worth the effort!  I hope to try it again in the future with the whole milk and some better cheeses.  Apparently Moussaka can be Mediterranean, Indian and a slue of other ethnicities and I’m sure each one has distinct differences all worth trying out.  I would recommend using a recipe if you want to make this one yourself though as there is a lot involved.  I roughly followed the recipe on this site:  http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/moussaka/

Homemade Applesauce

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I had a beautiful fall weekend picking apples with my friend Reese a few weeks ago.  We went to the orchard I used to go to with when I was little and hunted down 4 pecks of delectable apples!

 

A sample of Apples

 

It wasn’t until about 2 weeks later that I finally got around to turning these apples into applesauce.  We went to my parent’s for the weekend and my mom, husband and I set to work on a Friday evening to turn this fruit into a healthy sweet treat!

First, we washed and sliced the apples:

Then we simmered the slices in Apple Cider for about 6 minutes or so until they softened:

Next, we put the softened apples through our fruit/vegetable processor which separates the pulp of the fruit from the skin/seeds etc..  On one side you get yummy apple sauce, the other skin and such.  I was Amazed that it pressed out looking just like applesauce- the right consistency and everything!

 

Apple Waste

 

 

Applesauce!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next, we put the applesauce on the stove in 2 batches:  one plain, one with spices like cinnamon and clove.

Once applesauce was hot through, we filled hot sterilized jars, topped off with a little lemon juice (to preserve) and processed in a canning water bath.

Making a lot can be a long process, but it was really easy… although I did have two hard working helpers, Thanks Mom and Craig! 😀

What’s Good for you in all natural applesauce??

Apples!! high in plant chemicals like flavonoid quercetin which has anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory action and may help prevent Alzheimer’s Disease!  Also rich in flavanoids for heart and lung health.

cinnamon- anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, can help relieve bloating and heartburn and protect against stroke.

Eat, enjoy and stay healthy!

Tomato Spice Eggplant Stew

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What a day! We went gleaning at an orchard this morning to help out local food pantries which was a fantastic way to spend such a beautiful morning. Before leaving the orchard we stopped in their produce market and bought a variety of fall squash.  We also discovered a box of eggplant on sale for $1.50 for like 5 pounds of eggplant because they were starting to get a little soft, still in very good condition though. So being the smart shopper that I am, I purchased the box for $$1.50 and started looking up things to make with eggplant.  The winning idea for the day- Soup!  I did glance over a recipe for soup, but I honestly do not remember anything about it except tomato sauce and onion and garlic. If you don’t already know I am a soup making diva and have no need for following recipes when it comes to soup.  I think I like making them so much because when I cook I like to just throw stuff together and see how it turns out and with soup- it usually has good results. To me, recipes are like suggestions,not rule books, which is why I will rarely type out an exact recipe in this blog .  It stresses my husband out because he has an intense urning  to follow the recipe to the T. So when I start tossing stuff around the soup pot like Remy in the movie “Ratatouille” he occasionally leaves the kitchen. 🙂   I had never made soup with Eggplant (I’ve never done much with eggplant in general to be honest) so this was indeed an adventure!

It all began with these lovely little eggplants: (I apologize for the poor quality of pictures tonight, my kitchen’s lighting is not the best)

I had read a long time ago something about soaking eggplant in salted water for a few minutes to get the bitterness out of them, so I sliced this rounds and soaked in salted water while I chopped onion, garlic and a little celery.  I also started simmering one cup of dry barley in a separate small pot (I could have cooked it in the soup pot but wanted to keep it separate because I was unsure of how long I wanted to simmer the veggies in the soup ad barley takes about 45 minutes to soften).  The barley needs to be rinsed before cooking. Bath time!

Once everything was chopped and ready, I heated olive oil in the bottom of my soup pan and began sautéing my onion, then added the garlic, then a little celery leaf till starting to brown a little. Then I added my cubed eggplant to sauté a little before adding the liquids. I also added extra olive oil at this point because I know eggplant absorb a lot of oil and with all the flavor going on in this pot, we want them to absorb as many flavors as they can.

Then I added two small cans of tomato sauce (that’s all I had) and some vegetable bouillon cubes.  I ended up using three over all- each was added with about a cup or 2 of water.  Next I flung open the spice cupboard and let’s see if I can remember everything that flew out into the soup…. Parsley, thyme, basil, oregano, crushed red pepper, and curry….. I think that is it. Just a little of each.. but mostly the first 4.

When the barley was close to being soft, I added it to the soup so it could soak up some of the tomato spicy goodness.

The end result may not look like much, but oh my goodness. When I did a taste test, my initial reaction was an –  ooh!? hmm  wow.. oh my!  Then another taste.  It had a tomato-nutty-sweet-spice that literally shocked me. I was not expecting it to taste like that, but my-oh-my is it scrumptious.  I just finished my second bowl tonight and if I had a morsel less of self control I would be’ the rest of the pot right now.  It is that good.

My husband’s review was that he liked it, especially the little bit of spice, which is how I decided upon the name for this delectable soup.  I might just have to make some more with some of the other eggplant I have.  I also want to make eggplant parmesan, eggplant garlic humus, and Mediterranean stuff eggplant. I am going to need to get some fancy cheese for some of those dishes though, so we’ll see what I end up making before my eggplant go bad.

What is good for you in this stew?

I love to know what is good for me in the food I am eating.

Stews and soups are awesome because you get so many different things healthy things in one pot- so I am not going to talk about everything but here are some highlights:

Eggplant– Contains chlorogenic acid, which is one of the most potent free radical scavengers found in plant tissues.  These free radicals help your body fight cancer, bad cholesterol, and bacterial and viral activity.  It also contains other phytonutrients; antioxidants which help cell membrane functioning as well as support your immune system.

(tomato, garlic and onion were discussed in the pizza entry, so look that up if you are interested)

Basil (one of my favorite seasonings!)- High in lutein and zeaxanthin for good eye health, eugenol found in basil is an anti- inflammatory and can help relieve arthritis pain, also mildly sedative and pain relieving. Was traditionally used in remedies for indegestion, nausea and stomach ache.

Parsley- s strong antioxidant , neutralizes carcinogens which occur from cooking heat at high temperatures (on the grill- so always marinate your meat in something with lots of parsley and other herbs).  Contains compound that help relieve menstrual cramps, pain and bloating.  Rich in vitamin C and iron.

Oregano- The herb with the highest antioxidant activity (42 times higher than apples and 12 times higher than oranges!). Contains antibacterial oils of thymol and carvacrol which help prevent food poisoning and boosts immune system. Contains calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium, high in fiber.

Thyme- Also full of powerful antioxidants and the antibacterial oil thymol. Rich in flavanoids which protect against diseases of aging. Rich in vitamin C and iron.  A strong antiseptic and antibiotic- often recommended for use as mouthwash or treatment for bronchitis.

As you can see, herbs and spices and do a lot for your food and your body so don’t be afraid to let them out of that cupboard! Also remember to check expiration dates as they often expire in a year or 2 or 3.. and we tend to keep them around for much longer than that. Granted I’ve never heard of someone dying from use of old spices, but they probably are not as potent when they are 5 years old. 🙂

Eat, Enjoy and stay Healthy! 🙂