Monthly Archives: October 2009

Easy Eggplant Parmesan

Easy Eggplant Parmesan

(NO PHOTOS – Sorry!  I am really starting to want to get the cooking show going.  Hard to document when wanting to just cook.)

I made eggplant parm a few other times and only in the past year or so, if memory serves.  Which, of course, it may not.  But I do!  …..  I think I  had always come across fussy looking recipes for any kind of parmesan.  Also, I was biased against frying because of added fat.

I have used a Rachel Ray recipe that calls for coating and then baking the eggplant rounds.  It is tasty, but nothing to write home about.  My theory?  It just ain’t parmesan if you don’t fry whatever it is you are parming!  I’ll add that I think there needs to be some kind coating on the eggplant before frying and my current preference is  a dip in milk and then flour so the taste and texture of the eggplant does not get masked.  But, I will try it with breadcrumbs sometime, too.  Hard to not like anything with breadcrumbs.

ANYWAY – here is the recipe I started with, from Allrecipes.com:

Eggplant Parmesan I

  • 1 eggplant, cut into 3/4 inch slices
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons salt
  • 8 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 6 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 4 cups pasta sauce
  1. Sprinkle both sides of the eggplant slices with salt. Place slices in a colander, and place a dish underneath the colander to capture liquid that will sweat out of the eggplant. Allow to sit for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a medium bowl, mix the ricotta, mozzarella cheese and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Mix in egg and basil.
  3. Rinse the eggplant in cold water until all salt is removed. In a large skillet, heat 4 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Place one layer of eggplant in the pan, brown each side. Repeat with remaining eggplant slices, using additional oil if necessary.
  4. In a 9×13 inch baking dish, evenly spread 1 1/2 cups of spaghetti sauce. Arrange a single layer of eggplant slices on top of the sauce. Top the eggplant with 1/2 of the cheese mixture. Repeat layering process until all the eggplant and cheese mixture is used. Pour remaining sauce on top of layers, and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese.
  5. Bake 30 to 45 minutes in the preheated oven, until sauce is bubbly.

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The only things I did differently was to slice the eggplant about 1/3 an inch thick and dip the slices in milk and then flour before frying.  Oh, I tried the “salting and sweating” thing but no liquid came out.  My eggplant came from  Farmer Dave’s in Dracut (got it at the Wakefield Farmer’s Market) a week before I made the parm, so it was not “just picked.”  I have read conflicting theories about sweating eggplant.  I think I may not bother with it in the future.

OH – upon copying and pasting the above recipe into this post, I  realized that I did not beat the egg before adding it to the cheese mix. Actually, I just threw everything in all together although it says to add the egg and basil after mixing the cheeses. It came out fine, though.  I am thinking, however, that I will next time try an egg bath for the eggplant and beat the egg used for that.  hmmm.   I might want to just duplicate what I did here to make sure it is a winner. We will all have to wait and see what I actually decide to do next time.  🙂

The other variation is that I made my own pasta sauce, using a Cooks Illustrated recipe using canned crushed tomatoes and varying it by adding mushrooms and 4 fresh tomatoes from, in this case, the plants in our bedroom and dining area.

Yes, we still have homegrown tomatoes, as well as bell and chili peppers.  And, my sage, rosemary, and thyme plants are happy, the two former ready to winter over in the bedroom for a second time.  Now I need parsley to start that off.  And basil for a second verse.  🙂  Steve and I are working on greenhouse action off the south side of the house to grow some “vitals” year round that need more room than a portable pot.

Bottom line on this recipe – super!  I was pleased with the texture – thanks to the milk and flour coating.  Thank you for that tip, Yvonne!  Now, there is another great cook!  Once I get my cooking show going, she’ll be a repeat guest, for sure.

Be sure to use a REALLY tasty pasta or marinara sauce.   I’ll put my version of the quick homemade from canned tomatoes sauce in another post.

NOW I have to find time to post the stuffed eggplant, corned beef, and great way to do a whole chicken recipes that I have documented but have not yet been able to post.  Always something cooking!

Stuffed Cabbage

The one other time I attempted making stuffed cabbage, I ended up with a bit of a mess because I didn’t know the trick to geting the cabbage leaves off the head intact and also pliable enough to roll and stay rolled.  But, this time – success!

I started with this Stuffed Cabbage recipe from Allrecipe.com, but, I made some changes, as noted.

INGREDIENTS

* 1 medium head cabbage
* water to cover
* 1 pound ground beef  [I used 2/3 beef to 1/3 pork.  Farmland grinds them together for you if you ask, but you have to order at least 1.5 lbs, total. I got 2 lbs total and froze the other lb for a later date.]
* 1 cup cooked rice
* garlic powder to taste [1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh garlic and 1 tablspoon chopped fresh parsley]
* 1 egg
* 1 (12 fluid ounce) can tomato juice [a 26 oz jar of pasta sauce in lieu of the rest of the ingredients, except for a bit of water to cover.]
* 1 tablespoon vinegar
* 1 tablespoon white sugar
* water to cover

DIRECTIONS

1. Place the head of cabbage in a large pot over high heat and add water to cover. Boil cabbage for 15 minutes, or until it is pliable and soft. Drain and allow to cool completely. Remove the hard outer vein from the leaves.
2. In a separate large bowl, combine the beef, rice, garlic powder and the egg, mixing well. Place a small amount, about the size of your palm, into the center of a cabbage leaf and fold leaf over, tucking in the sides of the leaf to keep meat mixture inside.
3. Pile up the filled leaves in a large pot, putting the larger leaves on the bottom. Add the tomato juice, vinegar and sugar and enough water to cover. Simmer over medium low heat for about 60 minutes. (Note: Keep an eye on them, making sure the bottom of leaves do not burn.)

The instructions for getting the cabbage leaves off really works.

the one cabbage from my garden

the one cabbage from my garden

First, I cored the cabbage.  Not a major operation, but just some of the inner stem.

kind of hard to see, but some of the core removed

kind of hard to see, but I removed some of the core

Next, I brought a pot of water to boil and gently place the cabbage in the pot.  Within a minute or two, the leaves started getting really loose.

peelaway1

peelaway

I kept carefully peeling off the leaves as they loosend and, once I had about 14 leaves peeled off, I removed the rest of the cabbage and let the removed leaves simmer for another 5 minutes.  Then I drained and rinsed them in cold water.

In the meantime, I had to cook some rice.  I was disappointed that I had not thought to put the rice on sooner because I wanted to use brown rice and that takes longer than white rice.  But, I then noticed that there were microwave instructions on the long-grain brown rice package.   (Obviously not Lundberg brand – at least I can’t imagine they have microwave instrcutions on their rice.  I’ll have to double check one of these days.)

Anyway, I decided to try microwaving the rice.  Click HERE for the instructions I used.

Here is the deal.  It was passable for use in stuffed cabbage and the stuffed eggplant I make a few days later, but it really didn’t cook much more quickly than if I had cooked it stovetop.  And DO NOT microwave brown rice for use as a side dish!!!!  YUCK!  The texture is awful.

Okay, back to the stuffed cabbage.  After cooling the cabbage and mixing up the meat with the other stuffing ingredients, I put it all together. As noted in the recipe, just a plam-full is enough for each roll.

palmfull

Then, roll away!

roll1

roll2

roll3

rolled

manyrolls

And here they are, ready to go into the pot.  By the way, that god-awful looking cookie tray and that scratched up red plastic thing is my “raw meat” cutting board.  I really need to get a regular board to dedicate to raw meat! But, in the meantime, it works and contains any straying liquids.  BOB, don’t read this!  Bob is is friend of mine who is vegetarian.  For a vegetarian option, tempeh, bulgar wheat, and/or ground/finely chopped seitan (wheat gluten) would be excellent in a stuffed cabbage.

The final step is to coat the bottom of a big pot (I used my 6 quart dutch oven) with a thin layer of sauce/juice, add the cabbage rolls, cover with sauce/juice, and add a bit of water if you need to have the liquid cover, or just about cover the cabbage rolls.

simmering

Then, simmer for an hour or so until tender.

I was pleased with the results, although both my husband and I noted that these were not like our Mom’s.  I will try it with the tomato juice/vinegar/sugar next time – unless I borrow back my Mom’s recipe box from my sister-in-law Lorraine and try my Mom’s recipe first.  (We take turns having the recipe box at each of our homes.) I am pretty sure her “Glopskies” had stewed tomatoes in them.  Hey Lori – remember Glopskies?  (Long story….BUT, that reminds me, I need to get the “girls” together to make what my Mom called Chris Chickies, a Polish version of bow pastries. )

ANYWAY – this is a great basic recipe for stuffed cabbage.  And the possible variations are endless for all, whether you are omnivore or vegetarian. A winner, all around.

[Disclaimer – I am way too tired to proofread this.  Please ignore typos unless they could cause an grievous error in the kitchen.  🙂 ]