Monday, February 1, 2010

Recipes to Rival: Parmigiana di Melanzane

This month Temperama, like me, needed some summer so she chose this recipe from Mario Batali.
Nowadays we can buy eggplant all year around even if I try to buy seasonal most of the time.
I'm really glad I made this parmigiana because it's raining so much in these days in Rome that its smell really helped.
The only change I've made has been to 'fry' the eggplants in the oven.
Please visit the blogroll for more melanzane !

Recipe courtesy Mario Batali

•2 pounds (about 2 medium-sized) eggplant
•4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
•1 cup fresh bread crumbs, seasoned with 1/4 chopped fresh basil leaves and 1/4 cup pecorino
•2 cups Basic Tomato Sauce, recipe follows
•1 pound ball fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
•1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Wash and towel dry the eggplant. Slice the eggplant horizontally about 1/4-inch thick. Place the slices in a large colander, sprinkle with salt and set aside to rest about 30 minutes. Drain and rinse the eggplant and dry on towels.

In a sauté pan, heat the extra-virgin olive oil until just smoking. Press the drained eggplant pieces into the seasoned bread crumb mixture and sauté until light golden brown on both sides. Repeat with all of the pieces. On a cookie sheet lay out the 4 largest pieces of eggplant. Place 2 tablespoons of tomato sauce over each piece and place a thin slice of mozzarella on top of each. Sprinkle with Parmigiano and top each with the next smallest piece of eggplant, then sauce then mozzarella. Repeat the layering process until all the ingredients have been used, finishing again with the Parmigiano. Place the pan in the oven and bake until the top of each little stack is golden brown and bubbly, about 15 minutes.

Basic Tomato Sauce:
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 Spanish onion, chopped into 1/4-inch dice
4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1/2 medium carrot, finely shredded
2 (28-ounce) cans peeled whole tomatoes

In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the thyme and carrot and cook 5 minutes more, until the carrot is quite soft. Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until as thick as hot cereal. Season with salt and serve.

This sauce holds 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer.

Fresh bread crumbs are required for the coating to stick without an egg wash.
The oil must be HOT HOT HOT or the eggplant will not cook fast enough and will be a greasy soggy mess.
The Mozzarella must be very thinly sliced or the eggplant tower will slide (it will still taste great)

Culinary tour 2010 - Argentina: Alfajores de Maicena de Ilda

This week I will finally join Joan's new Culinary Tour Around the World in Argentina.
The recipe I chose is the recipe I received from an expert pastry maker from Paraguay, she lives in Sant'Ignatio a town in the Misiones region which now is divided between Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina. This region's history is both complicated and sad (some of you may remember the film 'Mission').
The sweet called Alfajor has arab origins in Spain between 711 and 1492. It was then exported to South America were now it is considered traditional.

The Alfajores I made are thinner than usual and with less filling but I think the most important thing is the cookie recipe and then each of us can play with it (I'm planning of filling some with lemon curd !).

Combine :
500 gr of flour
500 gr Maizena
350 gr Sugar
2 tsp baking powder
Lemon zest
Add :
4 Eggs room temp
250 gr Butter room temp

And you will see how wonderful this dough is ! No need of refrigerate it it won't shrink or spread just roll it at your desired thickness and bake in a 350°F oven until pinkish then fill with Dulce de leche and roll them in shredded coconut.
Ilda recomends eating them after a couple of days (they are different : taste some right away and compare !)