Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Baked Eggplant

Though the calendar said it was spring a while ago, the weather patterns took a little longer to catch up. Still, I'm clinging to a few last remnants of the colder weather and eggplant is definitely one of them. For some reason, this year I'm not quite ready for the light, airy, fresh bounty of spring produce. I want to hold on to stews and heartiness for just a little while longer.

Maybe it's because it's chilly in the mornings. Maybe it's because I'm stubborn and resist change. Any way you look at it, I couldn't be happier.

I went for a run after work. It's not quite 60 yet, which means that for running, it's hovering between light, long-sleeve top weather and heavier short-sleeve top weather. I'm choosing short sleeves because running is the ONLY time in my day-to-day existence that I'd rather be a little chilly.

That's really just a long-winded way of saying, "I went for a run and I was cold, so then I wanted something hearty and delicious for dinner."

Baked Eggplant
Serves 4
2 medium eggplant
2 T olive oil
1 (15oz) can tomatoes
2 oz feta
2 T oregano, divided
1 t salt
1 t pepper
1 t pepper flakes
2 T pine nuts (optional)
1/4 c parsley

  1. Heat the oven to 375.
    Slice the eggplant in half, lengthwise and cut crisscrosses into each face. Heat a large pan over medium-high heat until the oil is hot. Put the eggplant into the pan, cut-side down, for 4-5 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove and set aside.
  2. To the same pan, add the tomatoes, salt, pepper, 1 T oregano, and pepper flakes to the pan and simmer for 10-15 minutes; remove from heat.
  3. Put the eggplant into a 9x13 ovenproof pan and top with tomatoes, feta, and the remaining oregano. Bake for 45 minutes, or until browned and bubbly.
  4. While the eggplant is baking, put a clean, dry pan on medium-low heat and add the pine nuts. Toast them for 8-10 minutes, until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Be sure to watch them - pine nuts burn easily (and usually in those 4 seconds you turn away).
  5. Remove the eggplant from the oven and top with toasted pine nuts and parsley.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Crisp Fennel Apple Salad

While I try to decide what to do with the pattern I mentioned the other day, I've been looking forward to this salad. I'm good at that. When I don't want to make a decision, I flip completely to another topic and think about that. Yay, diversions!

This salad, though, is definitely worth looking forward to. Because of the way the flavors of the fennel, apple and onion come together, it's a great match for a meat and potatoes kind of dinner. It's a simple salad, and somehow, for the simplicity, that much better.

Fennel, apple, onion, an orange, walnuts, and vinaigrette. That's it.

We ate this with ribs and roasted potatoes. The ribs were amazing, but rich. The potatoes were crisp on the outside and creamy on the inside. And alongside was this salad - crisp and delicious with a tangy profile from the vinaigrette - a perfect foil to the ribs and a wonderful compliment to the potatoes.

In a perfect world, I like meals to have a variety of textures. I sometimes have trouble with risotto and macaroni and cheese for that very reason. This salad solves a lot of my problems.

I like it when things solve problems for me, don't you?

Fennel Apple Salad
Serves 4 as a side
1 bulb fennel
1/2 sweet onion
1 apple
1 orange
1/4 c. walnuts

1 t mustard
1 t lemon juice
2 T sherry vinegar
olive oil
Italian seasoning

  1. Remove the stalks from the fennel, leaving the bulb. Slice the bulb lengthwise, then into quarters. Cut out the tough, woody center and then slice the fennel into 1/8 inch sticks. Place them in a medium bowl.
  2. Slice the apple into quarters, then remove the core. Slice each quarter into 1/8 inch slices. Add them to the bowl.
  3. Peel the onion and cut it in half from top to bottom. Save half for something else. The half you're using for this you should slice into 1/8 inch slices and added to the bowl.
  4. Put the walnuts in a pan and heat over medium heat until they're toasty. It should take 5-10 minutes. Be sure to keep an eye on these - they go from cold to burnt more quickly than you'd think.
  5. To make the vinaigrette, put the everything but the oil into a small bowl. While whisking, add 4-7ish tablespoons olive oil until the vinaigrette comes together. Pour over the salad and stir to mix.
  6. Serve with something yummy; though this is also really good in the summer by itself.

Monday, April 5, 2010


Today, I have made you squares.

Many, many squares.

Squares within squares. Also a few rectangles, which are related to squares; a sort of distant second cousin, twice removed. Only not quite so ... off.
This is my first cut at a new quilt pattern. I have a few things I want to adjust now that I see it up here, but all in all, this is the pattern I'm going with.
Specifically, I want to adjust the bottom half so it's not quite so divided.

Because that explanation makes *total* sense.