"Life isn't long enough to do all you could accomplish. And what a privilege even to be alive. In spite of all the pollutions and horrors, how beautiful this world is.
Supposing you only saw the stars once every year. Think what you would think. The wonder of it!"--Tasha Tudor

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Eggplant Parmigiana, Corgi style.

Here I am in the kitchen. Can you find five hopeful Corgis? They are just waiting for something delicious to drop. I've mentioned before that most of my friends and family are what I call 'kitchen people.' That is, we all love to hang out in the kitchen. Even if there is a party set up in another room, somehow we always end up in the kitchen. I think it is probably because the kitchen tends to be the heart of the home. I enjoy having people around when I'm cooking. Especially if I can recruit a few helpers. There is something so relaxing about preparing a meal. It is kind of like painting for me. Your mind becomes focused on creating something from your heart and it is fun to share that with someone. Even if no one is home, there are always wee beasties here who are willing to supervise the cuisine du jour.

Vice President in charge of Quality Control.

Let's make an easy eggplant parmigiana, shall we?

I see I have your attention.

First, you will want to get your sauce started. If you are from an Italian house, you may call this gravy. Don't be confused. It's just the way it is. In a heavy saucepan, lightly saute a few cloves of minced fresh garlic in a good drizzle of olive oil, just until soft. Add two large cans of tomato puree, (love the San Marzano tomatoes) and a small can of tomato paste. Swirl the puree cans with a smidgeon of water to get all of the tomato out. Add a few pinches of sea salt, a crank or two of black pepper, a few good pinches of dried oregano that you rub between your palms before you add them to the pot, a pinch of onion powder and a small pinch of dried basil. You may omit the onion powder if you mince one tiny onion and cook it with the garlic, but Mary Elizabeth has no love for onions so I left them out.

Open a nice bottle of red wine. Pour a bit into the sauce. I like this nice Beaujolais Nouveau for this. Pour some for yourself too while you're at it. When I make sauce for eggplant parm, I like to make it a little bit sweeter than the sauce I normally would for other dishes, like pasta. I do this because sometimes eggplant can be slightly bitter and I just like the balance it gives. I add a spoonful of sugar after the wine. Chiffonade a nice bunch of fresh basil. Stack together a few leaves at a time, roll the stack lightly and then slice across the rolled leaves to create thin ribbons. Stir the basil into the sauce. Cover and simmer on low.

Peel the skin off of your eggplants. Some people leave the skin on, I personally prefer it without. I used two nice sized ones for this 13 x 9 inch pan. Use a vegetable peeler rather than a knife and you will lose less of the eggplant as you peel. Cut the eggplant into slices approximately 1/4" thick. Dip the slices into a mixture of beaten eggs (start with 3, you can always add more) and a little milk. Immediately dredge the wet slices into a mixture of seasoned breadcrumbs and flour, a 3 to 1 ratio. Let the breaded eggplant slices rest on a plate while you get them all ready to fry. Having two large frying pans makes this go faster. Add a few tablespoons of olive oil to the skillets and warm them up on a medium flame. Do not burn the oil and be careful not to burn yourself. You want the oil hot enough to brown the eggplant nicely. Too hot and it will burn, too low and the eggplant will absorb too much oil. Cook them until they look like this.

Drain them on a dish with paper towels until they are all done. Keep a fork handy
to poke people who want to eat them all just the way they are. They will just have to wait until you have assembled your pan for the oven.

Recruit loved ones to help. Promise them fried eggplant for their service.

Do the Corgis need to go out to *twinkle?*
Recruit handsome husband for the job.

Reward him with fried eggplant. And smooches.

While everyone is helping, go outside and get yourself
some fresh air since it is so hot in the kitchen.

Everyone can amuse themselves for a minute or two.

Ignore Corgi who knows there is a plateful of delicious fried eggplant on the counter.

Do not stare into her eyes or she will put a spell on you.
Sometimes they use their powers for evil.

I'm just sayin'.

I know some people like to bake their eggplant rather than fry it. I happen to like it fried and well drained on paper towels better. Turn on your oven to 350 degrees. Cut up about a pound of fresh mozzarella cheese into small thin pieces. Try to use the fresh and not the packaged if you can. It really makes a difference here. Something about the fresh mozzarella and the fresh basil are important to this dish. Sometimes you can get away with using the packaged one or just the dried basil in certain dishes, but trust me on this one.

Start to assemble your eggplant parmigiana into the baking pan. Ladle some sauce to coat the bottom of the pan and then add a layer of your fried eggplant. On top of the eggplant, sprinkle some good grated Parmesan cheese and about a third of the mozzarella. Ladle some of your sauce to cover the eggplant but not so much that it is swimming in it. Add another layer of eggplant, Parmesan cheese and more sauce, followed by a final layer of eggplant, sauce, and the cheeses last. Don't try and stack up your eggplant slices perfectly. Remember they are round and vary in size, so just space them on each layer the best you can so you can cover the pan. Cover pan tightly with aluminum foil and bake for approximately 35 minutes and then remove the foil and bake for approximately 10 more minutes until the cheese is nice and bubbly and starts to brown. Remove from oven and let rest for about 10 minutes before you eat it to let it settle.

Tell everyone to be patient. Give them more wine. And more fried eggplant.

Don't fuss over anything that may fall to the floor.

There's an app for that.

This is the last thing a delectable morsel sees before its demise.

That's it. An easy eggplant parm. The Mister's grandma used to add extremely thin slices of potato in between her eggplant layers. That is very delicious also. You can also shake things up a bit and make an eggplant rollatini by slicing the eggplant lengthwise rather than in circles before the frying process. Roll each slice around a spoonful or two of a mixture of ricotta cheese, mozzarella, Parmesan, a pinch of parsley and a beaten egg. Add the sauce and a bit more mozzarella to the top and bake till hot and bubbly.

But for now, this will do.

Yes, I think this will do nicely. :)

Have a happy day, my lovelies! xo xo Cat ♥


Rachel said...

Oh dear...When Amy gets those big googly brown eyes and her eyes are darting between us and whatever food morsel we are holding (yogurt, pickles, oranges, bananas, shrimp, pastrami & cream cheese on a bagel -- anything), we like to narrate her thoughts.

Looking at us: "I love you..."
Looking at yogurt cup: "...yogurt."

Eventually her eyes are bouncing back and forth so quickly, it makes a coherent sentence.

We like to tell our houseguests that Amy will trip you and steal your food if she can, so watch out for Death From Below.

Lois said...

Cathy, what a scrumptious post !! Fab food, cutie corgis, handsome hubby....Having fun !!

^..^Corgidogmama said...

Simply fab post Cat, and how grand it is to see your lovely kitchen full of corgi kids! Thanks for the tutorial viva Italiano, and for peeks at all the corgis.
Don't be a stranger, y'hear??

Deb Harvey said...

Great post!!! I will be trying your Eggplant Parmigiana!

Your Corgis are so adorable!

Laurie said...

Yum! Great pics :)