Eggplant Gratin

We went home for father’s day and (I) came back with good west-side groceries, including an eggplant that my mom had no idea what to do with. Bake it, I say! (courtesy of Ina, a very rich, delicious dish!)

(…yes, my gratin was baked in a pie dish)

Ingredients

  • Good olive oil, for frying
  • 3/4 pound eggplant, unpeeled, sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • 1/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 extra-large egg
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup good bottled marinara sauce

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat about 1/8-inch of olive oil in a very large frying pan over medium heat. When the oil is almost smoking, add several slices of eggplant and cook, turning once, until they are evenly browned on both sides and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Be careful, it splatters! Transfer the cooked eggplant slices to paper towels to drain. Add more oil, heat, and add more eggplant until all the slices are cooked.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the ricotta, egg, half-and-half, 1/4 cup of the Parmesan, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.

In each of 2 individual gratin dishes, place a layer of eggplant slices, then sprinkle with Parmesan, salt and pepper and spoon 1/2 of the marinara sauce. Next, add a second layer of eggplant, more salt and pepper, half the ricotta mixture, and finally 1 tablespoon of grated Parmesan on top.

Place the gratins on a baking sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the custard sets and the top is browned. Serve warm.

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Rachel’s Kaiser Rolls

Rachel hosted lunch for a few lucky Honors kids and prepared delicious BBQ chicken sandwiches on Kaiser rolls. What are Kaiser rolls you ask? Delicious fluffy buns. I have yet to try making these on my own (feasible without a KitchenAid?)

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Rachel and her Kaiser roll.

King Arthur Flour Kaiser rolls recipe

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Sage Bakery, Uniontown

We went for a drive to Uniontown, Wash. to visit Sage Bakery, a “local” bakery where the best restaurants in Pullman (Swilly’s, Black Cypress) buy bread. GB had a “savory” scone (ham, cheese) and I had a berry tart (chocolate chip scone to go). Sandwiches and coffee were also available.

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Patio Gardening

It’s finally that time of the year- patio gardening! (a.k.a. overnight lows no lower than 40F). Early-starters can find a surprisingly good selection at Walmart; late-goers resort to Crossroads nursery (significantly more pricey, and yet they carry little to no citrus/fruiting plants).

Current herbs: thyme, cilantro, basil, lavender

Current fruits: pepper plant, strawberry

Others- flowers, vines, grasses. Not nearly as exciting as the culinary items!

Future planting? Hopefully an oregano and mint.

(Inside thanks to the uncanny random Pullman weather- i.e., rain, wind)

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Kale chips

Moscow, ID has a great Farmer’s Market every Saturday morning in the summer; Pullman has one every Wednesday afternoon (though much smaller). After hearing about the health benefits of kale, we figured we’d give it a try. The seller suggested baking the leaves with olive oil and salt at 400F for 10 minutes. They were delicious! Kale tastes like broccoli when uncooked, but is extremely flavorful  when cooked. Yum.

A note for selecting good kale: try to avoid lots of stems/veins as they tend to be chewy when baked.

American Chop Suey

GB might the best cook ever, maybe. Out of the two of us, he thinks he is, that is. He always talked about making this recipe, one of his signatures- and finally did- it was delicious! I absolutely loved it.

You will need:

  • 1 Ib ground beef
  • olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1 rib of celery
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 18 oz of macaroni
  • one 14 1/2 can of tomato sauce
  • one 14 1/2 can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup of chicken stock
  • cheddar cheese

Cook beef. Set aside. Cook onions in oil,add bell pepper, celery. When soft, add garlic. Once done, add beef, then add chicken stock, tomatoes and sauce, incorporate. Then add macaroni and cover. Cook until macaroni noodles are al dente, about 30 minutes. Top with cheese and enjoy!

Enjoy!

Clam Spaghetti

Last summer GB sent me a letter with a recipe for clam spaghetti. He made it for dinner last week, and it was delicious- filling and not in the least bit fishy!

You will need:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil, plus 1 Tbsp
  • 1 dried red chili pepper, finely chopped (or use 1 tsp of flakes)
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped, or 1 Tbsp dried
  • 1 Tbsp oregano
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • 1 cans (4/12 oz) chopped clams, drained, with liquid reserved
  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 box of spaghetti (we used angel hair, it was good)
  • parmesan cheese
  1. Put the olive oil in a large skillet and heat slowly. Add the chili pepper, copped onion, and garlic. Cook slowly for 30 minutes or until onions are soft.
  2. Add to pan the basil, oregano, salt, pepper, and liquid from the clams. Simmer until liquid is reduced.
  3. Cook spaghetti with 1 Tbsp oil, al dente
  4. As pasta is cooking add clams, parsley, and 3 Tbsp cheese to sauce and simmer at low heat, about 5 minutes.
  5. Drain pasta, add to sauce. Enjoy!

Easter Haystacks

You will need:

  • 1 bag of chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 bag of fiber one cereal
  • 1 bag of whoppers robins egg

Temper the chocolate until melted. Mix with cereal until well coated. Shape into nests on a wax-paper lined cookie sheet. Top with robins eggs and freeze for 30 minutes or until hard. Enjoy!

Best-yet homemade Mac n’ Cheese

After several recipes, methods, and ingredients, we’ve come down to this: best-yet homemade mac n’ cheese.

Yum!

You will need:

  • 6 strips of center-cut bacon
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 garlic glove, minced
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 1/2 cups grated extra sharp white cheese, shredded (we used Cougar Gold)
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 box of ribbed penne pasta
  • 1 cup of pretzels; broken into bits

Cook bacon in a saucepan; set aside. Keep bacon grease to saute onion and garlic. Once browned, add butter. Once melted, reduce heat to medium and add flour. Mix with a whisk; this is the start of your roux. Once combined, reduce heat to low and add heavy cream and milk in 1/4 cup increments, alternating milk and cream. Mix each addition until blended; the sauce will be thick and beige. After all milk/cream is added, turn heat off and add shredded cheese, stirring constantly to incorporate. Add bacon and pepper to taste.

In a 9×12 baking dish, add 1/2 of the cooked pasta; add 1/2 of the sauce. Repeat. Mix sauce and pasta to combine. Top with pretzels.

Bake for 30 minutes at 400F or until top is browned.

Enjoy!

Baked Chicken in Creamy Tomato Sauce

This is my new favorite dinner recipe!

Called, “The Six-Kid Crowdpleaser” from Dinner: a Love Story.

A note on the medium: definitely use a dutch oven. Skillet to bakeware simply does not work.

In an ovenproof skillet or Dutch oven , brown 3 to 4 large boneless chicken breasts over high heat in olive oil, about 2 minutes a side. Remove breasts from pan. (They do not have to be cooked through.) Turn down heat to medium-low and add one onion (finely chopped) and 2 cloves garlic (minced). After about 2 minutes, stir in one 15-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in 3-4 tablespoons mascarpone and a handful of roughly chopped basil. Add chicken back to pan, immersing them in sauce. Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes.