The Incredible, Edible Eggplant

Still on a big Jerusalem kick over here, skipping happily over to the big Turkish market nearby to pick up bulgar, sumac, pomegranate molasses and more ingredients necessary for lovely middle-eastern meals. According to the book, "stuffed" veggies are huge in the city, and from my own knowledge of Jewish cooking I can see how this is the perfect melding of Ashkenazi traditions and Middle Eastern/ Mediterranean traditions. Stuffing veggies makes the most of scarce ingredients and also presents beautifully. Just look at these stuffed eggplants! Gorgeous!

In this recipe, a simple bulgar salad with plenty of fresh herbs and spices is spooned into an eggplant that has been cut in half and smeared with a heady Moroccan-style mixture of preserved lemon, garlic, and plenty of olive oil before broiling. On top is soy yogurt that I thickened a bit by letting sit in a cheesecloth over a colander for a few hours. (Its more like Greek yogurt this way, although I understand in the US "Greek-style" soy yogurt is now available in a lot of grocery stores.) This recipe is also super versatile. For my bulgar salad I soaked the bulgar in boiling water for about five minutes until it was "cooked" and then mixed it with a squeeze of harissa, a drizzle of pomegranate molases, and plenty of chopped mint and raisins. You could also use red pepper paste or tomato paste, some chopped green onions or finely chopped onion, or cilantro if you have them on hand. I think the spices on the eggplant could also be switched up for endless combos.

Still having some leftover eggplant and salad, I made a quickie baba ghanoush, baking the eggplant until totally black and mixing the soft flesh with garlic, lemon peel, and olive oil. Great lunch for one of the first sunny days in ages!

Song of the Day: Two Door Cinema Club- Something Good Can Work


Weeknight Delicacies

Don't get me wrong- I definitely don't miss being unemployed. But working sure puts a cramp in one's cooking style. It's one thing to whip up a fabulous dinner when you have all afternoon to putz around, boiling beans, caramelizing onions, or picking up exotic ingredients from lazy walks to the market. Now that I have a moderate level of employment that takes up the better part of a day, its sometimes a struggle to make something for dinner that is not totally half-assed. Luckily, this is where other people's hard work on recipes comes in  handy!
Sweet Potatoes and Onions with Garlicky Tahini Sauce
I just recently got a really lovely new cookbook from Berlin's biggest English bookstore, where I like to spend aimless Saturday's reading England's best-sellers, which include more than a few books about Downton Abbey as well as one too many books about World War II. As far as cookbooks, they usually have a bunch of Jamie bloody Oliver and Nigella Lawson picture books and use the metric system and its just not appealing to me. But this time they had a really huge and gorgeous cookbook called "Jerusalem" from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi and I fell in love. Its not vegetarian, but its packed with vibrant combinations and fresh techniques and quite a few of them would only need some tweaking to make it suitable for vegans. The above recipe, the first one I tried, is broiled sweet potatoes and onions covered with a simple tahini sauce and spices... its pretty much a starter, but it was so delectable that I'm totally thrilled to try to the rest of the recipes, especially when Spring comes and we can get a decent tomato up in this joint.

Manhattan Glam Chowder
Another recipe genius I don't mind exploiting is Isa Chandra (Miss Moskowitz if yr nasty) who has a veritable treasure trove of quick and tasty (yet still exciting) weeknight meals. I've been particularly enjoying her soups lately, and especially those ones imitating fish soups. Last week I tried the Bouillabaisse with Roasted Yellow Squash as well as the Manhattan Glam Chowder from Appetite for Reduction (pictured.) Both rich, tomatoe-y and soul-satisfying, I would recommend both. (The Bouillabaisse was particularly surprising- who knew roasted squash was such a flavor booster? Not I.)

Spaghetti and Bean-balls with nooch
Also from Isa is the famous mock-meatballs "Spaghetti and Beanballs" from V'Con. Never tried this recipe before despite having worn out the book from cover to cover, and discovered it was an easy and crowd-pleasing weeknight supper, especially if you have your own favorite tomato sauce recipe down-pat.
Sweet Potato and Mushroom "Quesadillas"
I also came up with another simple after-work supper- Sweet Potato Quesadillas. This would be as flexible as the ingredients you have on hand. I sauteed some mushrooms, peppers, onions and garlic for a nice sofrito, while boiling a huge sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks. When the sweet potato was fork-pieceable, I drained it and mashed it with a bit of soymilk, margarine, cinnamon and cumin.

To assemble and cook, you preheat an oiled frying pan to medium high heat and throw a tortilla in there. Plop some sweet potatoes in there and spread out a bit from the center, then add in the sofrito. Cover with the next tortilla and press gently to spread out the filling. After a 2-3 minutes, flip and fry on the other side until nicely browned. You could serve this with salsa or sour cream- I served it with smashed avocado and lime.

Domestic dominance and work aptitude? CHECK!

 Song of the Day: Two Door Cinema- What you know