Sunday, August 21, 2011

baba ghanouj, ganoush, ganush - how about eggplant dip!

This recipe is inspired by a couple of my favorite food TV folks. America's Test Kitchen and Alton Brown. About 2 minutes in to the attached AB does something very clever with the eggplant! This dip is not terribly labor intensive and absolutely delicious with some warm pita and olives. The ATK recipe comes from 2001, I think

2 large eggplants (aubergines, melanzane) rubbed lightly with vegetable oil
1T Tahini
2 cloves garlic made into a paste (a garlic press is the easiest way)
1T Extra virgin olive oil
1T fresh lemon juice (more or less to taste)
salt, pepper to taste

Turn the grill on to high (or if using charcoal, get a good fire going. You want lots of heat for this). Let the grill heat for 15 min or so. Meanwhile wash the skins of the eggplants, pat dry and lightly coat with vegetable oil. Pierce the skin of the eggplants with the point of a sharp knofe about 60 times - all over.
When the grill is nice and hot, place the eggplants directly on the bars over the heat. Grill for about 40 minutes turning occasionally. The skin will blacken and juices will run out. They almost collapse.

When they are nice and black and collapsed, transfer to a rimmed dish and allow to cool. Once they are cool enough to handle, wrap each egg plant in cling wrap. Then snip the stalk end off the eggplant, squeeze the flesh out into a strainer. This is illustrated 2 minutes into the Alton Brown video. This technique is so much easier than trying to slit the skin and scrape out the flesh.

Once it has drained for about 5 minutes, discard the liquid and put the flesh into a bowl. Add the tahini, garlic and olive oil and mix thoroughly with a fork. Add the lemon juice, mix and taste. Add salt/pepper until it has the desired level of seasoning. Refrigerate 6+ hours and serve.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

What is missing from most grilled cheese sandwiches

It's funny how grilled cheese sandwiches often don't involve a grill. The grill is the secret to a really tasty sandwich, and doing a couple of unusual things makes a big difference too.
In this version of the grilled cheese sandwich, the bread is grilled on both sides - with three cooking actions.
Madame did deliver the "we can serve this to people" accolade, so Iguess she liked it. Of course with ripe tomatoes, home made bread, fantastic olive oil brought home from an olive grove in France and decent cheese, it is hard to go wrong.
4 slices of bread - preferably rustic and home made, 1/3" thick
Good quality olive oil (unmeasured - the method will describe how to use it)
6 slices of cheese (I used thinly sliced Swiss cheese)
1 tomato thinly sliced
2 Scallions thinlly sliced
Salt and pepper to taste

Get the grill nice and hot. I used the gas grill on high for about 5 minutes. Then turn the heat to low. Paint each side of each piece of bread with a little olive oil. Essentially a small quantity evenly spread. Prepare the sandwich filling and head for the grill.
Place the bread slices on the hot part of the grill, and allow to cook until lightly browned and a little crunchy. This first browned side becomes the inside of the sandwiches.
As soon as the first side is browned, flip the bread over so the uncooked side is on the grill. Working very quickly, place a layer of cheese, a layer of onion, a layer of tomato and another layer of cheese on 2 of the slices. Top with the other 2 slices - ensuring that the first grilled side is on the inside - against the top layer of cheese.
Grill until the bottom of the sandwiches are nicely brown, then flip the sandwiches so the other ungrilled side is now against the grill bars. Cook until that side is nicely browned too.
Remove from grill, cut each sandwich in half, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve hot.