I am still teaching classes at Ye Olde Pot and Pannery and loving it. I have some students who have signed up for four and five classes. Looking out into a small puddle, 11 people hardly qualify as a sea, of faces and seeing people who have been in the class before is tremendously rewarding. it feels really good to know I am on the right track and that people are responding to my menus and my instructional style.
My manager has really been good about giving me an idea of what she would like to see, then letting me do my own thing. I feel really lucky to have had the opportunity to do this. I am thinking I should thank her again…
Just to give you a taste of what we did last week, here are a couple recipes from our Spice Route Cuisine class. I adapted some recipes from Paula Wolfert who is the Mediterranean Cuisine Goddess of Goddesses. Her recipes make my house smell like the Near East of my imagination as everything is very authentic. It does require a trip or two out of your usual grocery run pattern for things like pomegranate molasses and sumac, but it is so worth it when you bite into those luscious mixes of the familiar and the exotic. The woman knows her eggplant and any woman who knows 473 things to do with an eggplant is a friend of mine. I also adapted a Nigella Lawson recipe (mostly by cutting down on the booze as we are not allowed to liquor up patrons at the Pannery).
Stuffed Eggplants with Tomato-Pomegranate Sauce
Makes 4 to 5 servings as a side
8 to 10 small Japanese, Italian, or Indian eggplants
Coarse sea salt
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
¾ pounds dark turkey meat, coarsely ground (you can also use ground lamb shoulder)
½ Tablespoon Tagine Spices (a Pannery product…can sub cumin, sumac and ground coriander)
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup pine nuts, toasted
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 ½ Tablespoons tomato paste
1 ½ teaspoons pomegranate molasses
1 12 x 12 sheet of parchment
½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
4 to 5 flat-leaf parsley sprigs for garnish
1. Gently roll each eggplant back and forth 4 or 5 times on a work surface to soften it and facilitate the removal of the insides. Remove the stems and discard. Use a vegetable reamer or an apple corer and a small measuring spoon to tunnel through the eggplant to within a ¼ inch of the end. Rotate the reamer or corer to scoop out the pulp, leaving a 1/8″ shell and taking care not to break the skin; discard the pulp. Fill a large bowl with water, stir in 2 teaspoons coarse sea salt until dissolved, add the eggplants, and set aside to soak.
2. In a heavy medium skillet, melt I tablespoon of the butter over moderately low heat. Add the onion, cover, stirring occasionally, until soft but not brown, about 10 mins. Increase the heat to moderate and add the turkey or lamb, breaking up the meat with a fork. Cook until no longer pink, about 3 minutes. Stir in ½ teaspoon coarse sea salt, the Tagine Spices, black pepper, and 3 Tablespoons water. Cook until all the water has evaporated, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and fold in the pine nuts. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool and wash out the skillet.
3. Drain the eggplants and pat dry with paper towels. Using a small spoon or melon baller, pack each eggplant with the meat stuffing. Reserve any extra stuffing.
4. In the same skillet, heat the oil and the remaining butter, add the stuffed eggplants, and fry in batches, turning, until lightly browned on all sides. In a 5-quart casserole, arrange the eggplants in one layer. Add any leftover filling, then tuck the pepper slices between the eggplants.
5. Drain any excess fat from the skillet and add ½ cup water, the tomato paste, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, and pinches of salt and black pepper to taste; bring to a boil over high heat. Pour the sauce over the eggplants, top with a round of wet, crumbled parchment, then a lid; cook, covered, over low heat until very tender, about 30 minutes. Allow the eggplants to rest 10 minutes in the casserole.
6. Carefully transfer the eggplants to a serving dish. If the sauce is too thin, rapidly reduce it to a creamy consistency. Adjust the seasoning with salt, black pepper, and sugar to taste. Spoon over the eggplants, scatter the parsley on top, and serve warm.
Note: You can substitute small zucchini for the eggplant, but reduce cooking time by 15 minutes. I also did one large eggplant, it has to cook a little longer but it isn’t as fiddly as the small ones and is pretty dramatic when you go to cut it up at the table.
Turkish Delight Syllabub
8 five-ounce servings
1/4 cup Cointreau or Grand Marnier*
Juice of 2 lemons
8 Tablespoon sugar
Just under 2 ½ cups heavy cream
2 Tablespoons rosewater
2 Tablespoons orange flower water
2 Tablespoons shelled pistachios, finely chopped
1. Combine the Cointreau, lemon juice and sugar in a large bowl and stir to dissolve the sugar. Slowly stir in the cream and begin whisking. This can all be done in a Kitchen Aid mixer or with a hand mixer.
2. When the cream is fairly thick, but still not thick enough to hold its shape, dribble in the flower waters and keep whisking until you have a creamy texture thats light and airy but able to form soft peaks. Better to be slightly too runny then too thick so watch the mixture closely, especially if using an electric mixer.
3. Spoon the syllabub into small glasses, letting the mixture billow up over the top of the glass a little and scatter the chopped pistachios over the tops.
* You can use up to ¾ of a cup of liqueur to make this more like a cocktail. With the extra liquid it will separate more and be more like a drink.