A cast-iron skillet. Thick slices of eggplant. A ladleful of marinara sauce and a double-topping of cheese. Make eggplant parm magic tonight! Click to skip to the recipe
This week the eggplants drew me in!
They drew me in in a BIG way. The varieties were amazing. So many colors: purple, green and white. There were itty bitty ones and skinny ones and fat ones and then huge ones! I chose a deep purple Japanese variety and stuffed it into my basket.
That night, I made eggplant parm….The old fashioned way. I did a triple-dip of flour, egg, and panko breadcrumbs and got a fabulously crunchy result. My cast iron skillet was the perfect utensil to fry thick slices of eggplant. A ladleful of marinara sauce and a double topping of cheese and dinner was ready in a minute.
It’s my version of a triple-double! Watch out Russell Westbrook.
Take advantage of your favorite variety of eggplant using this simple frying technique to create a super Italian inspired dish.
1 large eggplant, cut into ¾-inch slices
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, beaten
2 cups seasoned Panko breadcrumbs
Vegetable oil for frying
2 cups marinara sauce
16 ounces fresh Mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
4 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated
Time: A Crowd
Season the eggplant with salt and pepper. Dredge a slice of eggplant first in the flour, then through the beaten egg (shaking off the excess), and finally into the breadcrumbs. Place the coated eggplant onto a baking rack or piece of parchment paper and continue with the remaining slices.
Heat about an inch of vegetable in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Place some of the eggplant slices into the hot oil. You don’t want to overcrowd the pan. Cook until the eggplant is golden on one side, about 3 to 4 minutes. Carefully turn the eggplant and cook until golden on the second side, about 3 minutes more. Transfer the eggplant slices to a paper-towel-lined platter.
Preheat the oven to 375°. Pour enough marinara sauce into a baking dish to coat the bottom. Lay the eggplant slices into the dish. Top with the remaining marinara sauce. Distribute the Mozzarella cheese over the top of the eggplant and sprinkle Parmesan over everything.
Bake until the cheese is melted and gooey, about 20 minutes.
It’s a Christmas gift in and of itself: slowly simmered spicy sausage marries okra, chicken and shrimp in this pot of perfection. Red beans and rice complete the Bourbon street experience. I can think of no better DISH OF THE DAY when company is on their way; this is a weekend feast, you’ll want to prepare on Friday, so that when your weary travelers appear, you’re covered!
My recipe for N’awlins Jambalaya Stew recommends the perfect andouille sausage. It’s got just the right ratio of the Cajun holy trinity: savory onions, bell peppers and celery. On a cold night, there really isn’t anything better than this very specific type of heat! Warm your bellies and enhance your kitchen with oodles of recipes just as good, when you use my cookbook throughout the new year! Merry Christmas, everyone — thank you for being part of the SUNDAY BEST release. It’s not the best — YOU ARE!
N’awlins Jambalaya Stew
MAKES 6 TO 8 SERVINGS
½ cup olive oil
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 large onion, peeled and chopped, about 2 cups
2 large red bell peppers, seeded and diced, about 2 cups
4 celery stalks, diced, about 2 cups
8 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 cup dry sherry
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 (8-ounce) bottles clam juice
2 cups home made chicken broth, or prepared low sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 pounds Andouille sausage, cut crosswise into ¼-inch thick slices
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 (10-ounce) package frozen okra
1 (15.5-ounce) can red kidney beans
2 cups uncooked rice
2 pounds fresh jumbo shrimp, about 21 to 25 per pound
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon coarse pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add the flour and whisk until the roux is bubbling and turns a dark mustardy color, about 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in the onion, peppers, celery and garlic and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Pour in the sherry and add the thyme and bay leaves. Stir in the tomatoes, clam juice, chicken broth, tomato paste and Worcestershire and bring to a boil. Add the sausage, chicken, okra and beans. Reduce the heat, cover the pot and simmer until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce thickens, about 1 hour. Add the rice and shrimp to the pot and cook until the shrimp turn opaque, and the rice is plump, about 8 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with fresh parsley. Ladle the soup into bowls and dig in!
So far as side dishes go, you can’t do better than these poached carrots. The treatment they receive calls for any kind of carrot you see fit, a cup full of extra virgin olive oil, plenty of chopped parsley and pinch of salt. Am I missing anything? Nope! My latest cookbook explains a humble, yet amazing poaching method that elevates carrots faster than Bugs Bunny can say, “What’s up, doc?” In addition to parsley, these carrots love poaching with fennel, spring onions and celery.
Face it. It’s the simplicity you need right now with so few days between now and Christmas. This is a brilliant one to add to your year-round repertoire as it’ll work for all the special holiday dinners in 2018, too. In my book, SUNDAY BEST DISHES: A COOKBOOK FOR PASSIONATE COOKS, this recipe shares prime real estate with its sister side dish, Saucy Succotash; to get and entire collection of weekend inspired yumminess, please click the Amazon link to purchase. Oh, and don’t forget to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your home address, so I can personalize the first page with a little note: from one passionate cook to another!
Carrots Poached in Olive Oil
MAKES 4 SERVINGS
¼ cup olive oil
1 bunch carrots, peeled, green tops removed
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon coarse black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Heat a skillet over medium heat. Pour the olive oil into the bottom of the pan. Place the carrots into the skillet. Pour enough water to come up 1-inch from the bottom of the skillet. Bring the liquid to a simmer. Cover the skillet with a lid. Cook until the carrots are fork tender, about 5 to 10 minutes depending on the size of the carrots. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with fresh parsley.
Another fabulous Christmas dinner is spicy lamb, made the way they love it in India. My recipe features a lamb tenderloin – the center portion cut from the rack of lamb. With the Christmas countdown at 13 days, I say you cheat a little and make this dinner partly take-out.
You can purchase lamb from your local butcher, from specialty markets like The Fresh Market and online. If you are unable to find lamb loins, substitute with a whole rack of lamb. Season the rack with salt and pepper. Grill or broil the lamb for 12 to 15 minutes per rack. Rest the lamb for 5 minutes. Cut the lamb into double chops, and serve over a spicy Indian spinach sauce. So far as sauces go, this is one of my favorites! Mostly because it’s so versatile. This rich, spicy spinach sauce works great on chicken or pork…. So, don’t fret. It’s all about Christmas!!
The only thing you need to worry about is having enough bread on hand to dip into the saag, the spicy spinach sauce this meal revolves around. I think spinach is the perfect accompaniment for lamb; the two served together is sure to be a Sunday favorite, if you don’t get a chance to debut it sooner.
And speaking of acting fast….no Christmas is complete without a personalized copy of SUNDAY BEST DISHES: A COOKBOOK FOR PASSIONATE COOKS. Email me your address at email@example.com and I’ll sail my glossy, beautiful cookbook right over, with a cute bookplate made out just for you!
Spicy Lamb Saag
MAKES 6 to 8 SERVINGS
2 pounds fresh baby spinach
1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 medium jalapeno pepper, seeded and deveined
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and finely diced, about 2 cups
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
Use a microwave steam dish, or a steamer basket over boiling water to steam the spinach (in batches). Drain in a colander.
Place the ginger, jalapeno pepper, coriander, cumin, turmeric and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine.
Melt the butter and olive oil in a deep pot over medium high heat. Add the onion and cook until it begins to caramelize, about 8 to 10 minutes (note: not sure if it takes that long to turn brown). Add the ginger and spices and cook for 2 minutes more. Pour in the tomatoes and cook until most of the moisture begins to evaporate, about 5 minutes. Add the spinach and garam masala. Cook until the spinach is warmed through, about 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium low and stir in the yogurt. Stir until the sauce thickens.
Season the lamb with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over high heat. Add the loins to the pan and sear on all sides until golden, about 3 to 4 minutes total. The lamb should be quite rare in the center. Let the lamb rest on a cutting board for 5 minutes. Cut into 2-inch diagonal slices and add to the sauce. Add the butter to the sauce. Simmer for 5 minutes.
Traditional accompaniments for Saag are naan (Indian flatbread) and rice.