October 27, 2013

First Day of Winter Time Dinner (Photos)

At 03:00 this morning in Western Europe, we fell back to "Winter Time" setting our clocks back 1 hour. Two good things came from this, I get to watch the Saints play at 18:00, our time and I created an early Sunday Dinner! Here it is from start to plate: couscous with organic baby spinach, garlic & basil. Wilted veggies; spinach, cabbage, carrot ribbons, red bell pepper, red & yellow onion, fresh minced ginger, garlic, cilantro and red pepper flakes, and chicken, oven baked with sweet soya sauce, habanero sauce, garlic, cilantro and lemon juice.

October 18, 2013

Eggplant (Aubergine), Zucchini & Mushroom Casserole

I dream about food. Surprise, surprise!!! I don't dream bout eating, I dream about what interesting things I can put together to make something that'll taste wonderful and interesting once it finds its home on the taste buds of my family and friends. For a few days I've been dreaming of eggplants. Here in Europe, they're more commonly known as aubergines. Those wonderful purple globes can be used for so many good meals either as the star or as a lovely side-dish.

In my recent dreams, I wanted these babies to be the featured performer! I thought, maybe an eggplant lasagna? Then, nah, I've done that before. That ain't new! Ah-ha!! Make a casserole where the veggies would take the place of the lasagna plates in the dish! This is what transpired!

I started with a meat sauce. You can, of course, make a fresh marinara with only veggies. I wanted meat in mine.

Meat Sauce

400 grams ground sirloin, browned
1/2 medium red onion, chopped
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 small leek, cleaned and sliced
2 toes garlic, minced
a bunch of fresh Basil leaves
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
salt and red pepper flakes to taste
1 can of good quality chopped tomatoes, drained
a drizzle of balsamic vinegar

Brown the ground beef over a medium high heat, until fully cooked. If there is excessive oil, this is the point where you want to drain it. Add all of your veggies, lower your heat to medium and stir the mixture of another 10 minutes. You know things are working when you can begin to smell the great aroma coming from the onions, garlic and herbs! Stir in the canned tomatoes and add the sugar, salt, pepper, balsamic and grated cheese. Turn fire down so that its at a gentle simmer and cover while you prep your eggplant, zucchini and mushrooms.

Now, we're going to peel the eggplant and zucchini. I like it peeled, some like to keep the peel on. Its your preference. I peel and slice into thin strips, lengthwise. I have lemon juice and salt on hand. Eggplant can start to brown, just like apples, when oxygen hits them. I sprinkle the lemon juice and salt all of my strips and prepare them for lining my baking dish. I use my favorite lasagna pan for this.

I drizzle a tiny amount of olive oil on the bottom of the pan and then lay some pieces of zucchini.
I spoon on some of the meat sauce mixture and then sprinkle with a good grated mozzarella.

On top of that, layer eggplant slices, mushroom slices and top with a bit of the sauce and cheese. Repeat this process until you have used all of your ingredients.

I like to finish the top of this little dollops of the leftover bits of sauce, mozzarella, more grated Parmesan and a very light sprinkle of Italian herb mixture. I set the oven to 175C and cover with tented aluminum foil so that it doesn't stick to the cheese. Bake for 75 minutes. Uncover and put it back in just long enough to brown the cheese on top.


Let it stand for 10-15 minutes to let it rest. Its easier to cut when its rested.

This can be served with a big green salad, any variety of pasta you like, but I wanted it along with some herb and onion steamed, long grain, brown rice. And check it out, nah!!


Go, eat!!

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