Archive for August, 2008

Temporary Hiatus…Don’t Blame Me!

Hi Friends.
It’s gotta happen-temporary blogging hiatus. I’m in the midst of some intense GRE studying. I’m getting ready to apply for grad school for Fall of 2009 and am taking the GRE’s in the beginning of October. Therefore, every free second that I have where I’m not at work, the gym, running or sleeping is devoted to studying. So, until then…blogging is being put on the back burner. But, I’ll be back!! I promise I’ll be back when they’re all done. Until then…peace out.

Advertisements

Ba-ba-ba-ba-ba Ganoush

(say that like the beginning of Barbara Ann by the Beach Boys.)

Photobucket

Man-that baba ganoush was some tasty eats to nosh on while watching the Olympics opening ceremony-which were freaking amazing, by the way. Too bad I finished it last Monday-5 days too early. Damn.

I’ve been into dips lately. It’s a great way to use up fresh produce you can’t stop buying from the farmers market, cause I’ve been having a problem with that lately. It’s becoming a problem-I get so excited every Saturday morning at the market that I buy waaay more veggies than 1 petite person could possibly consume. That’s lots and lots and lots of chopped salads. And I’m getting a little (just a little) sick of them. But I can’t stop buying veggies. So, I’ve needed to find alternative ways of eating them. And dipping them in yummy dips has been delightfully delish. Lots of hummus, a white bean and olive dip from Martha Stewart (coming…), and my latest venture: baba ganoush.

I’ve eaten buckets of the baba at restaurants, especially from a fantastic kosher deli near my job. I always gobble it before the hummus but I’ve never considered making it myself. It seems so daunting and complicated, especially compared to hummus. With hummus, just dump a bunch of ingredients into the food processor and give it a whirl. With baba ganoush, you gotta roast the eggplant first. That’s one extra step-a scary one. However, I like taking risks. Heck-I cut my own hair quite often! If that isn’t a risk, I don’t know what is. So, when I saw a gorgeous bi-colored eggplant at the farmers market last Saturday, I decided to fuel my audacious side and try my had at baba ganoush.

And now it’s time for another photo essay-cause we all love photos, don’t we.

Here’s said eggplant. Isn’t it just stunning? I made sure it was firm with no soft spots.
Photobucket

This first step was to roast the eggplant on a burner on the stove. I’ve seen chefs do it on TV with eggplants and such, but I’ve never tried it myself. So, I just used the hours and hours of Food Network knowledge I had stored in my brain and let it rip. I put it directly on top of the burner and rotated every minute or so until the entire eggplant was completely charred.
Photobucket

Use tongs to rotate the eggplant cause you don’t want to burn your hands!! It took about 15 minutes total to char it. This is not cooking the eggplant, just roasting the outside to make it all smokey tasting. The longer you do this, the smokier the baba ganoush will taste. This is what it looked like when I was done with the stove.
Photobucket

I then stuck the eggplant in the oven at about 400 degrees for about 30 minutes-until I could stick a knife in the eggplant with no resistance. That is more important than the time-just make sure the eggplant is entire cooked and mushy. Mushy eggplant-mmmm.

The next step was when it became easy as pie. Or easy as hummus. I did my best to peel the skin off the eggplant and put it in the insides (it’s okay if some of the skin stays on-definitely not the end of the world) in a food processor along with a tablespoon of tahini, the juice of half a lemon, a good drizzle of olive oil, salt and a clove of garlic that I roasted as well. I didn’t want to put in a clove of raw garlic in because the flavor can overpower so much and I didn’t want it to hide the smokey flavor of the eggplant. So, when I put the eggplant in the oven, I stuck a clove of garlic in as well. I think it was a good choice.

A quick whizz and boom! Baba ganoush! And it made a fair amount. Looks like a medium-sized eggplant equals half a jam jar.
Photobucket

Here’s the mouthwatering close up-you can see the bits and pieces of the eggplant in it. Mmmmm.
Photobucket

And the taste? Yum!!!! Nice and smokey and delicious. It was a bit on the watery side, so maybe next time I’ll add more tahini, another clove of garlic or roast the eggplant on the stove a little longer. But, I don’t want to mess with a good thing. And an easy thing!! I was kinda shocked that this thing I had thought was so difficult for so long was so easy and achievable. So, something that I thought was going to be a huge risk in the kitchen actually ended up with a cinch. And I was able to empty my fridge of lots of veggies by dipping them in that tasty baba ganoush. Thanks baba ganoush!!! You’re a life (or veggie) savor.

The second love affair of the summer: sugar snap peas

Photobucket

Remember when I was in love with ramps? Well, not to say that I still don’t love them but they’re waaaay out of season. It’s a spring veg; we’re in August now peps!! However, if for some reason one of my farmers market vendors sprung up with a bumper crop of ramps, I’d snatch them up in an instant. But, I don’t think that’s going to happen any time soon. So, until then, it’s time to find a replacement. That was really really (really) easy though. It’s all about the sugar snap pea: one of my favorite vegetables for as long as I can remember. Mmmm sugar snap peas.

Not to be confused with shell peas (bigger, you only eat the peas inside and the shell is incredibly tough) or snow peas (very flat-not my fav at all), sugar snap peas are, I think, the perfect vegetable. They are delicious raw, when you can pop them like (healthy!) candy, or cooked, when you can also pop them like (healthy) candy. I like them both ways so much that when I buy them I can’t decide whether I want to eat them raw or cooked-they are so frickin fantastic both ways!! Normally, I set out to cook up some for dinner and eat about half my portion raw while de-stemming. The best of both worlds! However, as much as I love eating them simply raw or a quick saute alone, I’m always looking for new and exciting ways to enjoy my love and feed my addiction of sugar snap peas (.

So, lucky me when I was putzing around one day online, wasting time while waiting for some cookies to bake, I was looking at my favorite Smitten Kitchen (honestly though-I have gotten sooo many recipes and inspiration from her, this is no surprise) and looking at her Flickr photos-yeah, I was bored. What!? And I saw this picture of sauteed sugar snap peas along with radish slices. That single picture alone made my mouth water and almost made me throw out those cookies and find some sugar snap peas asap. I needed to make that dish. And sauteed radishes along with the peas? That is a combo that I needed in my belly.

The following Saturday, I made my weekly trek to the farmers market, still gross and sweaty (and quite smelly I might add) from my morning long run, where I found the most gorgeous and bright bunch of radishes I’ve ever seen and then spent about 10 minutes picking out perfect sugar snap peas. This hasn’t been the best season in New York for sugar snap peas-lots of shriveled and brownish ones due to drought, so extra time has to be spent finding good ones. But they are important to me-oh so important. A sub-par sugar snap pea will not be passing these lips anytime soon. So, I got my ingredients and headed on my way.

A few days later I set out to get cooking and feed my sugar snap pea addiction with a new and fresh combo. I snapped off the tough end and pulled out the little vein that runs along the side of all the peas (make sure you do this!!!!) and washed them up, and sliced thinly my radishes along with a shallot. Ms. Smitten had shallots in hers, so I was not going to question her move (like I ever would) and added them in mine too. I decided to cook the shallots and radishes longer than the peas because I wanted the peas just slightly cooked and still crispy. No soft sugar snap peas for me! So, I sauteed the shallots and radishes in a small drizzle of olive oil for about five minutes-enough time to soften up the radishes and take out their bite-then added in the sugar snap peas and cooked the whole thing for about 2 minutes more. Topped it off with a little salt and pepper and that. is it. So easy.

And the verdict? I wasn’t sure how the radishes were going to taste sauteed and I’ve never actually had them cooked, but they were actually really good! The spiciness that can be often too strong in radishes was gone and they were kinda sweet. Totally delish and went oh so very well with the wonder that is a sugar snap pea. Oh those sugar snap peas-when sauteed so briefly like that, it just can’t get any better. Sweet, crispy, peeeeerfect. And the shallots just topped the whole thing off perfectly. It was a great little, simple dish, perfectly highlighting seasonal veggies and a great vehicle for my one true love: sugar snap peas. I’m getting all the peas I can get in until they go out of season, which is coming way too soon. Anyone know where I can find an off-season sugar snap pea dealer? I’ll go into any dark alley for them come winter. Just let me know if you have any, um, connections…