Saturday, October 24, 2009

Lebanese Style Stuffed Eggplant and Za'atar Flatbreads

Lebanese Style Stuffed Eggplant

On the day that I set out to make this recipe I checked my favorite food blog (Smitten Kitchen, as if I haven't said it enough), and guess what new recipe Deb had posted?  That's right, these Lebanese stuffed eggplants.  Well, you know what they say about great minds: they love eggplant.  At least I think that's what they say, I'm not quite sure.  Since Deb has a natural talent for food photography and I, well, sometimes I can get a picture that is not completely blurry, I was a little hesitant about posting this recipe.  But how could I resist telling you how I once again chose to cook something from Andrew's least favorite foods list?  But don't feel too bad for Andrew; eggplant is on the low end of his food-hate spectrum (he loved the eggplant parm subs), and this dish was so good, I'm pretty sure it would have been a hit even if eggplant topped the list.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Scallop and Corn Chowder

Scallop and Corn Chowder

I love fall.  How many times do you hear people say that?  Cliched or not, it is my favorite season.  I love turning off the air-conditioner and opening the windows to let the cooler air in, putting on cozy sweaters to walk outside and see the riot of colors in the changing leaves, and I love making soups and stews and other hearty dishes that make me feel all warm and toasty.  But here in Maryland, fall seems to have a personality disorder.  When we had our first chilly days I immediately planned and shopped for a variety of warm and comforting meals.  We had a delicious chili that I threw together, but the next day, when i had planned a big pot of tomato and sausage risotto, the temperature was already shooting back up.  To 80 degrees.  In October.  I am from Buffalo; I am not made for such tropical temps.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Provencal Style Baby Artichokes

Provencal Style Baby Artichokes

I have a confession: I am a shopaholic.  My shopping issues do not manifest themselves in the form of designer handbags or shoes.  Oh no, when I come home from a shopping spree I have bags stuffed with all manner of comestibles, only the bare minimum of which actually appeared on my rambling shopping lists (I always have more than one).  You see, aside from actual cooking, I can think of nothing that is more therapeutic than wandering the aisles of a grocery store.  I get so excited by new things, especially produce and cheese that I have never tried before, that somehow they end up in my cart, even though I don't have any recipes in mind, and I have a fridge and cabinets full of food at home.  And there's the rub; when it comes time to put my new groceries away, I inevitably find some sad, forgotten produce in the bottom of my crisper and I am overcome with guilt when I have to throw it away.  This is the point where my grocery shopping-addicted self promises to stop the insanity; only essentials until the fridge is no longer overflowing!

Of course, it never lasts.  I was at the supermarket for a gallon of milk and some bananas when I spotted the baby artichokes.  They were just so cute (there is something irresistible about mini-vegetables, stayed tuned for my baby eggplant adventure), I had to have them.  So I came home with baby artichokes and no idea what to do with them.  I had prepared a fresh artichoke once, years ago.  I cooked it in the microwave and I made some terrible aioli that immediately went in the trash.  Certainly not the best way to be introduced to fresh artichokes, and from that point on my artichokes came from a can; fresh artichokes were too daunting.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Zucchini and Bell Pepper Enchiladas with Two Salsas

Zucchini and red pepper enchiladas

In the "Letters" section of the October issue of Gourmet, a Joe Christofaro wrote:
If I live to be 101 years old, I would be perfectly happy if I could only eat meals from the wealth of terrific recipes in the August 2009 issue.
While I don't completely agree (throw in the September issue and you've got a deal), I did find the August issue to be particularly rife with appealing recipes.  I have already made a few dishes (the Tomato and Corn Pie was especially good), but it is only a dent in my list of bookmarked recipes.

The recipe for these zucchini and pepper enchiladas was part of that August issue, and it is a very good, though slightly flawed recipe.  I immediately wanted to make these because they looked so bright and fresh, and they were not drowning in cheese or completely enrobed in a sauce.  I would be lying if I said I did not love those cheese-covered enchiladas, but I imagined that this recipe would be a nice, light take on the original.  Maybe I was being willfully blind when I scanned this recipe and jotted down a shopping list, because I somehow managed to miss the CUP of oil called for in this recipe.  Half of it went into a pepita salsa, but the other half cup was used to pan-fry the enchiladas.  So while they certainly could be worse, nutrition-wise, these enchiladas were not exactly the light dish that I had been imagining.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Caramelized Onion and Kielbasa Pizza

Caramelized Onion and Kielbasa Pizza

I love cooking for my boyfriend Andrew.  Not only is he always appreciative and free with his praise, but he is also incredibly open-minded about trying new things.  The other day I was reading a blog post about soup, and one of the commenters had written that she couldn't make the dish because her boyfriend "doesn't like soup." There are approximately one billion types of soup, how could one just write them all off?  I could understand it if a person said that she didn't like a certain type of soup (such as cream of mushroom, which happens to be the worst thing ever), but making a unilateral decision about all soup- I just don't get it.  This reminded me once again how thankful I am to have a life partner that shares my sense of adventure when it comes to food (and I guess he is alright in other ways, too).

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Goodbye Gourmet

"Please tell me that you are joking."

That is what I said to Andrew yesterday when he asked me, while perusing the New York Times online, if I knew that Gourmet was closing.  Unfortunately he was not joking, and my heart broke just a bit.  Even though Gourmet has been around for close to 70 years, our love affair was brief and intense.  It has been my muse for the past few months, and I was looking forward to building my library of food-spattered, bent-paged back issues.  This closing has also put an end to my secret goal of one day working at Gourmet. What does make me feel better, even though there will be no new issues, is that there is still a huge catalog of past Gourmet recipes that I am looking forward to exploring.

Thank you, Gourmet, for being such an inspiration to me.  You will be missed.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Barley Risotto with Eggplant and Tomatoes

Barley Risotto with Eggplant and Tomatoes

My boyfriend Andrew and I love leftovers.  We will happily eat the same dish for dinner two nights in a row, and leftovers don't tend to last more than a day or two in our house.  The fact that the remains of this meal have been sitting untouched in our fridge for a week says a lot about how we felt about it.  It's not that this barley risotto was bad, we both liked it, it just left me a bit cold (which is actually rather ironic, because I see risotto as something warm and comforting).