Friday, December 3, 2010

This week's Daily Facts Food Column: Entertaining 101

Be sure to pick up a copy of Saturday's Redlands Daily Facts newspaper to read this week's food column. This week is: Simplifying Holiday Cooking and Entertaining. You can also view the column on-line, but you won't see the beautiful photography from ModPhotography.

Here's a perfect recipe for holiday entertaining. I discovered this recipe after purchasing wonderful eggplant from Farmer Jason of Three Sister's Farm. Be sure to visit the Grove School Produce Market every Saturday!

Spicy Eggplant Dip with Parmesan Toasts

For this recipe, I like to use eggplant from the Saturday market at the Grove School, or eggplant from Washington Produce in Redlands. I recommend Pepperidge Farm prepared puff pastry from the grocery store.

You can make this dip one or two days in advance to allow the flavors to develop. It will also give you more time to prepare other food or concentrate on other details. Be sure to bring the dip to room temperature before serving.

½ cup plus 3 tbsp olive oil, keep more aside for brushing
2 eggplants, about 12 oz each, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
2 garlic cloves, thin slice
1 large yellow onion, chopped
¼ tsp red chili flakes
¼ tsp ground cumin
2 tbs fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
juice of one lemon
1 baguette, sliced ¼ in thick
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a deep sauté pan over medium heat, warm ¼ cup of the olive oil until warm. Add half the eggplant and sauté stirring occasionally until lightly golden and tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a platter and repeat with ¼ cup of the olive oil and the remaining eggplant. Transfer to platter.

Warm 1 tbs of the olive oil in the pan. Add the garlic and sauté, stirring often, until golden, about 1 minute. Add the onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until tender, 4-5 minutes. Stir in the chili flakes and cumin until blended and return the eggplant to the pan. Cook, stirring often, until the eggplant is very tender and almost mushy, 6-8 minutes more. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350F

Arrange the baguette slices on a baking sheet. Brush the sides lightly with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with the cheese. Bake until golden and crisp, but not burned, about 15-18minutes. Let toasts cool to room temperature and store in airtight containers until ready to serve.

Let the eggplant stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before serving. Serve the parmesan toasts alongside.

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