Sunday, June 16, 2013

The adventure of the leftovers

So as I stated in the last post, I accidently bought an extra eggplant for the recipe yesterday. Those suckers aren't cheap, so I was determined to use it. I did a bit of googling for what I had in the cupboards, and an eggplant/polenta casserole dish came up care of Martha Stewart.  It looked fairly simple. Fry up some onions and garlic, stir in peeled tomatoes and spices. Lightly Fry (unbreaded) eggplant in another skillet, then pop it all in a casserole dish and bake.

Mistake #1:

I bought canned tomatoes cause I'll be damned if I'm peeling 2 pounds of grape tomatoes by hand. I wasn't really thinking and poured the excess water out, though to be fair, that was like an inch in each can.

Mistake #2

Burned the garlic.....just had the skillet up too high I guess (See last entry!) I figured with all the other stuff in it this wouldn't be too bad though.

So then I added the tomatoes:

So far so good. On to fry the eggplant. I turned the skillet WAY DOWN to avoid a repeat of the Eggplant Inquisition Burnings of the night before.

Mistake #3: Undercooked eggplant
So apparently the only options on my stove are BURNT or Slightly warmed. The eggplant ended up the latter.

Ah well. So even though the recipe didn't call for cheese, I had some fresh mozzerella leftover from the night before. I took it out with the intention of adding it on top at the end before baking. Problem was, the tomato base had to cook for 30 minutes. That's a long time when you're hungry. So this is how much mozzerella I had left after 15 minutes:


So the sauce cooked down WAY too far, even after I added water. I even stopped short of 30 minutes. Recipe said to spread a layer of sauce, then eggplant, then sauce, then polenta, then sauce.....I had this much to work with (well, slightly less after picture):
NOWHERE near enough for the pan size recommended (9x9)

Suggested result:

My result:

And I assure you the other layers were comparably skimpy. 

As a bonus, I also burned my hand THROUGH the (albeit cheap) oven mitt. It wasn't a bad burn though.....until I accidently dropped and grabbed the leftover bread I'd heated up in the oven :-/

Not too bad.....although typing this hurts.

Not really.  There wasn't a ton of flavor, but it wasn't awful. Needed some cheese and clearly lots more sauce. I'd also replace half the onion with some other veggie.

Kitchen Damage: Not too bad....two skillets and a cutting board.

I live! thanks to my cooking abilities

So after casually mentioning this blog at work and, to my horror, finding out people actually wanted to see it, I've decided to update.  Grad school is now officially over, so in theory, I have time to learn to cook again. This weekend was also "the boy" (as my one friend calls him) and my 6 month anniversary, so I decided to engage in a home cooked meal.

The boy is a big fan of eggplant parm, so I decided to give it a go.  Googled a few recipes, got the general consensus, and went to it.

"Sweating" the eggplant was easy. (Salt it, let the moisture draw out, dab away moisture) although I think I used a tree's worth of paper towels.  This was also the point where I realized I'd bought one eggplant too many (the recipes all said two were required!) I can only assume Albany has mutant eggplants.

So I lightly floured them, dipped in egg, and did the breadcrumbs. This worked fine for the first half, but by the end the breadcrumbs were getting clumpy and not cooperating.

Put some oil in the skillet and set to frying them up. I figured the first few would burn a little til I got the temperature just right......

                                                                   NAILED IT!

The rest weren't too bad, but the crumbs kept falling off and burning. Before long my apartment was full of smoke. I had to cover all the fire alarms. As this is going down, I'm also trying to heat up some bread and make a fresh salad as the boy was set to arrive at any minute. Eventually, managed to get things under control. Added fresh basil and poured the sauce into the pan

Popped everything in. Added fresh mozzerella on top (mmmm).....It took way longer to bake than the recipes said, but overall, it turned out okay. Apparently the boy likes charred eggplant, so that worked out well.

I also made chocolate chip cookies! Halfway through I realized I didn't have a mixer, so I did it all by hand. All things considered, they came out okay. A little grainy, but for not having a mixer what can you do. I did try my roommate's old hand mixer from the 1960's, but the batter got so thick it nearly pulled the hand mixer down into the cookie-quicksand, so I abandoned that.

However, the recipe explicitly states it should have made 60 cookies....I got the moral of the story is, either I'm a cookie monster, or recipes cannot be trusted EVER.


The Eggplant Parm: The boy liked it, so I'm going to say yes, but I don't think I'd ever bother with it just for me. Especially with a kitchen that looked like this afterwards: