CtBF – eggplant caviar

When I was planning on making this, I hoped that my favorite farm stand would have eggplant. At first glance, no. But when it was mentioned, the guy immediately went out and picked a bucketful. Doesn't get fresher than that!!

When I read the recipe, I immediately thought use the grill! So I charred them, then roasted them over indirect heat. No heating up the kitchen!!!


It took a little longer than I thought it would, but was in no hurry.

Once roasted to softness (with a little olive oil and salt), the eggplant is allowed to cool. Then the flesh is scraped from the shells. Then whirred with lemon juice, smoked paprika, salt, I used roasted garlic and some fresh-picked basil. It was temping to use mint as well. I'd love to hear how that turned out if anyone used it. This was really dump and stir, I referenced the recipe, but didn't follow it (honestly not sure how much eggplant I had!). This makes for a very delicious, light spread. It gets a glue of olive oils and a little more smoked paprika for serving. As suggested, I served this with some crostini. A few pickles too. And, since I had a fresh fig from my new tree, I put together another version with ricotta, prosciutto and the fresh figs. All served with some sparkling rosé. It's difficult to beat this as a lovely summer repast. Totally enjoyable, and perfect for a summer afternoon.

You can check out what others thought about this simple but delicious dish, by checking out the Cook the Book Fridays site.

CCC – Thai Tomatoes in August

This month for the Cottage Cooking Club I made Tomatoes with Thai Dressing – I love Thai flavors, and I also love tomatoes – and fortunately had plenty from the garden.

Like many of the “raw assembly” recipes, this was simple to put together – designed to highlight the flavor of the tomatoes, while adding something a bit more interesting. The dressing is made first – with a bit of hot(ish) red chile, garlic, balsamic vinegar, rice vinegar, sesame oil and honey. The suggested herb was mint – but I forgot mine, so I went with one of my favorite herb combinations in Thai food – fresh basil and cilantro.

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To this, I added my halved cherry tomatoes along with a little salt and pepper.

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Alone, this is a gorgeous dish. The Thai tomatoes shared the table with a fresh/charred corn salad, a tian of summer vegetables and a cheese platter designed to compliment the nectarine cinnamon-basil nectar that I’d made the weekend before (we had cambazola and manchego – yum!).

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Since all of the meals were made from farm/garden fresh vegetables and herbs picked that day – it was difficult to find a favorite – but I will certainly say that when I was offering “go-packages”, the tomatoes topped the list.

They were refreshing and the complex dressing complimented the sweetness of the tomatoes. If I were making this again, I would certainly want to add the mint to the mix. I would also probably either substitute the sesame oil with some fish sauce – or at least reduce it and add some. That would make this dish a bit more Thai to me – and I think would work well with the other flavors.

There were other recipes that I had planned to make this month, and others that I had on my short list as well. I hope to get back to those when things slow down a but. But until then – you and I can visit the Cottage Cooking Club, and find out how well the other dish choices went over with our members this month. Fortunately, members often make different recipes during the month – so you can see a preview of any recipes you missed.

ffwd – warm scallop salad with corn, nectarines and basil

For the second week in a row, we are making one of my picks for the month of August. Really, when I was choosing, I was only thinking of what’s available in the market or at the roadside stand, so to be honest, I didn’t really look at this recipe.

I had planned to make it last weekend for guests, but my local Trader Joe’s was out of their lovely frozen scallops (I live in the desert southwest, there are no fresh scallops here), so I had to punt and we ended up with chile relleno casserole and calabacitas (no sloppy second) instead.

Then, I started worrying about the recipe once I read it, and I’ll admit, after a sneak peek at another Dorista’s post. So mostly, this is Dorie’s recope.

The lime dressing is where I veered a bit. It calls for only lime zest, lime juice, a little seasoning and olive oil. I decided to use part rice vinegar to add a bit of sweetness with a pinch of cayenne. And then, since now I was only making a single salad, I just put the basil into the dressing. I’m sure it would be nice (and pretty!) to have the coulis, but…

The corn is cut from the cob but not cooked. For raw corn in a salad, it would be better to have just picked (which was another good reason to make this last weekend when I’d stopped at the farm!) so it’s sweeter and more tender. I’m guessing that frozen would make a good substitute if you didn’t have good corn available. I had already eaten all of the cherry tomatoes I’d picked up, so a chopped regular one would have to do.

The scallops and the nectarine (mine was a white one), get seared in a pan. The scallops get turned, the nectarine does not.

Then the salad gets assembled: corn mixed with dressing, then the tomatoes over the top. The scallops in the middle with the nectarine on the side, all garnished with basil.

This was a pretty good dish! I think I would have liked it more with a little glass of a crisp white wine! And certainly shared with friends and family. But this was better than I had been starting to think. I liked the play between the scallops, corn, basil and nectarine. And the tomatoes were nice for a bite in a different direction. I’m always a bit worried about cooking scallops. I am not totally in love with them “translucent” in the middle. These turned out to be tender, and nicely seared. I can understand why Dorie serves this to her guests. It’s a beautiful dish.