Before summer 2014 is out, let’s enjoy great dishes with fresh veggies. It seems we’re going to have a rainy autumn-like week here in St Petersburg, so comfort food is on our minds now. We doneed some energy to splash in the puddles! Both recipes take quite a bit of time so plan your meal ahead 🙂
A year ago – On Soviet Children’s Books and More
Two years ago – Pita, Sourdough Pizza and Stewed Aubergines
Melanzane in Carrozza (Eggplant Sandwiches) adapted from cookingwithrosie.blogspot.com will make an unusual Italian sandwich-like dish with two types of cheese. Attention: this dish is for a day when you do NOT feel lazy =) Worth the effort, though. Rosie’s website is unfortunately not available anymore, so here is the recipe with my remarks in italics:
The vegetable part
- 1 large eggplant about 450-500 g – I used small aubergines, about 600 g
- salt to taste
The egg mixture
- 3 eggs, well beaten
- 2 Tbs Parmesan or Grana Padano – I grated some Russian cheese
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder, or to taste
- 1 tbsp fresh, frozen or dried parsley (finely chopped if using fresh or frozen) – I used fresh
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 3 tbsp flour
- 3/4-1 cup bread crumbs – I used whole-wheat bread crumbs
- 1-2 low fat bocconcini (fresh mozzarella balls) or mozzarella or Gouda, sliced – I used Adygea cheese
Sunflower oil for brushing (you can use olive oil but sunflower oil gives the breading a nice, light, crispy texture, says the author)
Slice the eggplants into 0.5 cm slices, arrange them in an orderly fashion as they were cut on a baking sheet (this will help with pairing them up into sandwiches), and generously season with salt (as my aubergines were small, I have to cut some of them diagonally). Let stand for 30-60 minutes so the eggplants ‘sweat’ to release the bitterness. Pat dry with a clean cloth.
Mix grated cheese, garlic powder and parsley into the beaten eggs and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Slice the bocconcini into 0.5 cm slices. Set aside. My cheese wouldn’t slice that easily, so I made quite a mess with those sandwiches =)
Preheat oven to 170 ‘C and arrange your work station as follows: flour, egg mixture, bread crumbs. Place a baking sheet lined with baking paper at the end to put the finished eggplant sandwich.
Add a slice of cheese to every 2nd eggplant, making sure that the appropriate size is used, i.e. small piece of cheese to small slice of eggplant, etc. Tightly squeeze the sandwich between your hands. Repeat for remaining sandwiches. Place eggplant sandwiches on half of a clean dish towel, fold the towel over, and press onto each sandwich to remove excess liquid from the eggplant.
First dip the sandwich in flour, then flip a few times in the egg mixture, and finally in the bread crumbs. Repeat with the remaining sandwiches and arrange them on lined baking sheet. NOTE: Your fingers will get clumpy from the breading. Simply rub it off into the bread crumbs and it will give the coating a much crispier taste.
Lightly brush, drizzle or spray sunflower oil onto each side of the eggplant sandwich. Bake for 20 minutes on the middle rack, flip the sandwiches over (the bottoms might be a little soggy) and then bake them on the top rack for 10-15 minutes more. Cool to warm or room temperature and serve either as a side dish or as an appetizer (cut into triangles and inserted with toothpicks) with marinara sauce (we ate the sandwiches with sour cream).
Remarks: Be careful not to make your dish too dry – I was waiting for the guests and left the sandwiches in the turned off oven… However, a nice sauce can solve the situation! I would increase the amount of garlic, probably add really finely minced garlic instead of garlic powder. Also here are the remarks from the author: Depending on how long the eggplant is and how thin you slice it, you will have about 8-12 sandwiches. Store any leftovers in a tight container in the fridge.
Not the best photo of the sandwich from the inside but you get the idea!
Result: A dish you wouldn’t make every day because it takes time but this is something you will remember! The crispy coating is nice and even after an overnight stay in the fridge and reheating in the microwave, these sandwiches were tasty.
The second recipe is something you would call a time-consuming one too. First of all, you will need a pastry recipe for this dish and here’s a good one. Could not find this website either, seems it is also unavailable now. So I’m reproducing the recipe here for the benefit of the online community.
No-Fail Pie Dough adapted from waitingforgateau.com is indeed a no-fail recipe! It will make a double crust for a large pie or two single crusts for two pies. My remarks are in italics.
- 3 1/3 cups all purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons sugar – I added less
- 1 teaspoon salt – less
- 1 cup very cold butter, cut into cubes
- 1/4 cup very cold vegetable shortening; cut into cubes – I used just butter
- 11 tablespoons ice-cold water
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar – I used Greek red wine vinegar
Place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse for a few seconds until combined (or do it by hand :). Add the butter and shortening and pulse 10-12 times until it resembles course meal and no large clumps of butter remain. Alternatively, you can rub in the butter and shortening with your fingers or cut them in with a pastry cutter (fingers are the surest!). Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add the water and vinegar and mix until the dough comes together. Turn the dough out on a well-floured surface and press it together to form a ball. Divide the dough in half and press each piece into a flat disc. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling it out.
Remarks: Used the second half for this sweet recipe with no problem: Apple Crumb Pie from www.melskitchencafe.com. I added more sugar to the filling and used cottage cheese instead of the suggested sour cream + mixed in some corn starch. However the filling was quite runny but the pastry was still resistant!
Result: Flaky and at the same time resistant to the occasional juices from the filling. Recommended! And that’s what I made with this pastry:
Roasted Vegetable Deep Tart adapted from thevicardiedlaughing.blogspot.com will make a huge pie loaded with all the veggies this late summer can offer! Follow the link for the original recipe. Here are my changes:
As for the vegetables I used aubergines, courgettes, carrots, onions and even roasted a whole garlic together with the veggies, wrapped in foil.
Instead of cream cheese I used a 250 g pack of tvorog (cottage cheese). No cheddar, so I grated some Russian cheese instead. I used pumpkin seed oil and added Provence mix as my seasoning.
My tart was ready in 50 minutes.
If you visit the original website, you’ll see that the tart is not supposed to look like this at all =) It’s just that with the addition of the emerald pumpkin seed oil my veggies were quite hm green and I thought that would affect the cheese mixture colour. So I did not mix the two together. All the cheese was on the top! Which made my tart into a layered pie : )
Remarks: Do pat dry the vegetables to avoid extra liquid in the filling. At the same time I found that the cheese part of the filling was not enough to get inside the vegetable part (I didn’t mix them together, that’s true).
The author suggests using a variety of vegetables – and you shouldn’t of course roast all of them (e.g. beans, peas). I would suggest adding fried mushrooms to this pie – no doubt this will add great flavour! But the roasted garlic was a great addition too!
Result: A huge pie for veggie addicts. The cheese crust is yummy! The roasting ‘trick’ is a good idea, giving the vegetables this special ‘smoky’ flavour. I think this tart was not that much appreciated by the main meat-eater of our family but I liked it anyway .)
Here’s a couple of recent veggie posts to get more ideas for these last summer days:
Spanakopita and Mediterranean Vegetable Millefeuille and various zucchini and aubergine recipes and Greek Zucchini Pie plus Galatopita for Dessert too! And you can find even more here.