Tuesday, January 09, 2007

what to do when you are really busy

My cooking inspiration can unleash itself at any given moment, but it is especially prone to awaken at the most incovenient of times... say, when I have an urgent project to deliver and I have no time to spend half the afternoon cooking.
But, since apparently I have my priorities right, yesterday afternoon I decided it wasn´t such a bad idea to make an eggplant pudin with curry-ginger oil for dinner and the now world-famous World Peace Cookies for tea... I mean, why not? Work? Deadlines? What is that?
There was also a little problem called summer + oven, but that´s irrelevant at this point.
So I cut the eggplants in half, cut the inside into squares without cutting the skin (for clarification, see this), sprinkled them with thick cooking salt and let them rest for a few hours.
In the meantime, I set about preparing the World Peace cookies (but more on that on a future entry).
Earlier, I had prepared a curry-ginger oil by my newest favorite cook: Ming Tsei. Does that guy rock or what? The whole format of the show is totally logic: you start with a master recipe that you then use for different dishes, which reinforces an idea that some people have a problem understanding, that is, cooking is about fun, creativity and flexibility, following recipes blindly won´t make you a great cook, creating a great dish with the elements you have will.
Anyway, this oil is incredibly easy to make and you get a subtle, yet fragrant oil perfect for vegetables, meat or frying. I made less than the recipe called for because I don´t use oil that often to begin with, but you can basically twitch the recipe as you please. I used some of it replacing the normal vegetable oil the recipe called for.
Now on to the eggplant pudin. It is a recipe by another of my favorite cooks: Narda Lepes. Narda is a young Argentine cook with a very personal approach to cooking, you can check out some of her recipes and an interview by clicking on her name above (in Spanish).
The outcome is full of flavor and perfect for eating cold with a yogurt sauce and a tomato salad in the summer (I know it´s winter for many of you, but you can eat it hot with mashed potatoes or something or save the recipe for the winter ;)
My photos didn´t come out as well as the ones in the magazine, of course, but I´m including the scans after the recipe in English so that those of you who speak Spanish have the original version.
If you love eggplant and onions, this is certainly the recipe for you, plus, it´s good for your waist, and how often can we say that of something truly yummy?

eggplant pudin with curry-ginger oil
(taken last night)

eggplant pudin
(taken today, oh lovely daylight)

eggplant pudin with curry-ginger oil

Curry-ginger oil (by Ming Tsei, original article)

Makes 1 quart Lasts 1 month, refrigerated
1 quart grapeseed or canola oil
1/2 cup peeled and minced fresh ginger
1 cup Madras curry powder
1. In a large, heavy saucepan, combine the oil with the ginger and heat over medium heat until the oil is fragrant and the ginger just begins to color, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool completely, about 20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, place a large, heavy sauté pan over medium heat. Add the curry powder to the dry skillet and toast, stirring, until the curry powder smokes slightly, 8 to 10 minutes. Whisk in the ginger and oil, remove from the stove, and cool completely, 30 to 40 minutes.
3. Transfer the oil and spices to a 1- to 1 1/2-quart glass jar, scraping the pan well. Allow the mixture to stand until the oil and curry powder have separated completely, about 4 hours or overnight. The oil is now ready to use. Store in the refrigerator.

Eggplant puding (adapted from a recipe by Narda Lepes which appeared in Viva magazine)

5 big eggplants
olive oil (I used the curry ginger-oil)
2 onions
6 garlic cloves

1. Cut the eggplants in half, make some superficial square cuts, like this and sprinkle with cooking salt. Let rest for at least half an hour (this removes any bitterness the eggplant might have).
2. Rinse them and then wrap them in aluminum foil, place them in a pan and roast them for 20 minutes or so. They shouldn´t be too soft.
3. Let them cool for a few minutes and then scoop out the "meat".
4. Chop and sauté the onions and garlic cloves until tender but not golden.

Eggs 5
Chopped parsley, 1/2 cup
Saffron, 1 capsule (I didn´t use any because I didn´t have it)
All-purpose flour, 2 tablespoons
Baking powder, 1 teaspoon

5. Gently whisk the eggs a little bit and add the parsley and the saffron (if you are using any, otherwise, add any other flavor you are using).
6. Sift the flour and baking powder and add it to the egg mix carefully so it won´t clot.
7. Add salt and pepper.
8. Preheat the selected pan in a 350F oven (180C), preferably non-stick, painted with a bit of olive oil (or the curry-ginger oil)
9. Place the mix in the hot pan and spray it with PAM. Cook for 30 minutes at 350F and then lower the oven to 300F and cook for an extra 20 minutes.
10. Let it cool before removing it from the pan.

1 pot of plain yogurt
1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard (I didn´t use this and I think it was better because the pudin
has a strong flavor)
1 tablespoon of cream
Salt and pepper

budín de berenjenas

budín de berenjenas 2


Kristen said...

Nothing quite like procrastinating on other things to cook a really great meal! You have your priorities right :)

Marce said...

Of course, Kristen, first things first ;)