Archive | July 2015

Eggplant-Tomato-Filo Tumbet

I am convinced that every culture from the Mediterranean Basin through to the Pacific Ocean has some version of an eggplant-tomato dish. The French have ratatouille, the Sicilians caponata, the Persians have mirza ghasemi, and the Indians have baingan bharta. And I love all of them. So, when I found the Majorca equivalent, the tumbet, I assumed I’d like it, even if I’d never heard of a tumbet before. The Vegetarian Times website is a very nifty resource and I recommend checking it out. It is where I found this week’s recipe: Potato and Eggplant Tumbet.

tumbet 1

1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 large eggplant, chopped
1-2 yellow potatoes, chopped
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1-2 tablespoons pasta sauce
1/2 tsp dried oregano
filo dough
butter/olive oil

Heat the olive oil in a large pot, and saute the onions and red peppers for 5-10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds. Add all the other ingredients expect the filo dough, and a little under 1 cup of water. Cover the pot and let the whole thing simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once that has finished cooking, pre-heat the oven to 350 and pour the veggies into a baking pan – trying to prevent as much of the liquid from getting in there as possible. Take a few sheets of filo dough. Brush each sheet, or part of a sheet, with butter. Then crumple it into a ball-ish form and place it on top of the veggies. Since you crumple, it’s cool if the sheets are imperfect. Keep doing that until the whole dish is covered. If you are me and think pine nuts clearly go with everything, add a handful of pine nuts and scatter across the top of the dish. Bake for 20-30 minutes, and serve warm.

tumbet 2

Result: Really good. A little too much liquid though, and that causes issues with the filo topping. I suspect there will be some reheating problems on that end too. But a solid, filling recipe that is healthy. Also, if you have the opportunity to add the pine nuts – do so. Pine nuts make everything better in my opinion. I had this with prosecco, for the completely logical reason that I had mimosas with brunch today, and so it was already open. I think I’d like this with a red though. Also, if you use olive oil instead of butter, this recipe is totally vegan. Song of the week: Star Trek fanvids. I couldn’t decide between the amazing “Closer” video and “Tik Tok” which I also love. If you are a fan, like me “Last Friday Night” is pretty good too.

Tomato Crostata With Honey-Thyme Glaze (aka Tomato Tart Thingy)

Whenever I’m in internet-land and I come across a recipe that looks awesome but I don’t really want to make/don’t have the ingredients for at any given time I save them to a bookmarks folder so I don’t forget about them. It also, at least in theory, helps me not get too stuck when new recipe day rolls around and I’m not inspired. This was one of those weeks, so when flipping through my folder, I found Tomato Crostata with Honey-Thyme Glaze, and was like sold! I actually followed the recipe pretty closely, just a few adjustments here and there.

1 cup flour
1/3 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
7 tablespoons butter
cold water

Mix the flour, cornmeal and parmesan in a bowl. Cut the butter into chunks and cut into the dry ingredients. If you don’t have a pastry cutter, a fork works extremely well too. Once the butter is in fairly small bits and well-incorporated, add water a little at a time. Mix as you go until a cohesive dough ball forms. Cover in plastic wrap and set aside

Filling and glaze
3 large cloves garlic, minced
olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 tsp dried thyme
4 medium-sized tomatoes, sliced
grated cheese, either cheddar or gouda preferably

Mince the garlic and saute in some olive oil until it has browned, and then set it aside. Put the vinegar, honey, and thyme into a small saucepan and simmer it for a few minutes – like 5 or so. Then set aside (warning, you won’t use all of it so you can either save it for later, or make a smaller amount. Then you assemble everything. You can make this as one big crostada, or a 2 little ones – I made 2 little ones. Roll out the dough to the desired size. Brush with the honey-thyme glaze. Add the tomatoes, leaving some space at the edge in a somewhat overlapping circle and brush them with more of the glaze. Then add the garlic, a little salt, and the cheese. Fold the edges of the tart over or up a bit, and then I sprinkled just a little more of the glaze. Bake at 425 until golden – around 30 minutes give or take.

Cooked for slightly different amounts of time with different cheese - but both good!

Cooked for slightly different amounts of time with different cheeses – but both good!

This is my fav current tomato tart. Don’t get me wrong, I made a pretty good roasted tomato one a while back, but I like this one more. It’s also a bit on the sweet side, which is fun if you are me and have an insatiable sweet tooth. It does get a bit juicy when baking, but that’s not really a major problem in my book. I served this with a white bordeaux. I have a soft spot for white bordeaux and have excellent experience with most bottles in the $10-15 range. I think rose would probably be too fruity with this dish, but most white wines would probably work. Song of the week: What’s Up by 4 Non Blondes. I binged Sense8 over the weekend (and you should too btw) and one of my favorite scenes involved this song. Combine that with a lot of emotional angst in my real life and you have the perfect song for my week.

Travels With Sunshine

Due a series of family things and odd timing, I have been bouncing all over creation for the past two weeks, including short vacations to Montreal and Portland, Oregon. The downside of which is that I haven’t had much opportunity to cook or update this blog. Le sigh. However, I took pictures of some of the random things I’ve had on my travels and jumping around, and here are some of the highlights.
Poutine. I was in Montreal for a couple days, so of course I had to try the famous poutine – fries covered in gravy and cheese curds. However, it took a while to find a place that did a vegetarian version. I found La Banquise – which does more than 30 styles of poutine and makes a vegan sauce which can be substituted on any of their dishes. I got La Taquise, which added guacamole, tomatoes and sour cream to the standard mix with the vegan sauce. It was delicious but insanely heavy and filling. I only made it through half of the dish and was stuffed and this was after a three hour walk in the park – share with a friend is my recommendation.
Torta with Potatoes and Nopales. In Portland, a land known for microbrewies, I needed something beyond standard pub-fare. And I found a place doing highly recommended Mexico City-style guisados called Mi Mero Mole. I ordered the nopales-potato one in a torta, which turned out to be a giant roll with guacamole smothered on the inside, filled with the guisado, and then covered in cheese. It was beyond delicious – one of the best Mexican dishes I’d ever had. And it was the perfect level of spicy for me. Pair with a margarita of course.
nopales torta
Toasted White Chocolate and Roasted Strawberries ice cream: Seems like an odd flavor for ice cream, but a local ice cream place in Portland was doing five berry flavors for July (berries locally grown, of course) and so I had to try it. This was the single scoop, believe it or not, and was incredible. It had been ages since I’ve gone to a local ice cream place, and damn, it was good.
ice cream
Beer! So much beer over the past couple weeks. Montreal and Canadian beer is no slouch for the record. They do a number of good red ales in particular which I liked, and St. Ambroise is a solidly good brewery that makes a number of different styles and is fairly ubiquitous in Montreal. Portland, of course, is the microbreweries capital of the US. I visited 4 microbreweries, and tried beers from several more. My favorite was Rogue. I’ve had Rogue beers out here in DC, but their brewhouse beer menu had three pages and I had two sampler trays there. They even had mead, which was good. So if you are in Portland – go there.
Song of the week: Creep by Postmodern Jukebox. My best friend introduced me to Postmodern Jukebox, which reinterpret songs in old-school styles. This is a version of Radiohead’s Creep in a old-school blues style and I heard it at a blues club in Montreal before the band started to play. It gives me chills in the best possible way.

Masa Harina-Lime Cookies

I have multiple cookbooks that have recipes for cornmeal cookies. The concept seemed absurd to me, but over the last few weeks I’ve become intrigued by the concept. I don’t even like cornbread, but I love polenta and various things I’ve made with masa harina, so I thought I’d give it a shot. Some recipes suggest lemon, and others lime. I went with lime for this one, for the very logical reason that I don’t have any standard cornmeal in my apartment – I have masa harina. Since masa is treated with lime, going with lime for the citrus flavor seemed logical to me.

masa-lime cookies

3/4 cup finely ground cornmeal
3/4 cup and 2 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
zest from 1-2 limes
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
juice from 1 lime

Mix the dry ingredients, the cornmeal, flour, soda, salt, and zest in a bowl and set aside. It’s way easier to zest a lime before you cut it in half to squeeze out the juice, which is why I bother suggesting the two bowls method. Otherwise it seems to me to get extra dishes dirty for no good reason. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and beat those in, then add the lime juice. Dump in all the dry ingredients and mix those in as well. Place spoonfuls on a baking sheet, and bake for 10-15 minutes at 400. Be careful not to over bake them – the tops don’t really brown, so you should check the bottom edges. I might have slight burnt the bottoms of my first batch …

The result: Easy and surprisingly good. The cornmeal adds some texture without being distracting about it, and the overall cookies have just a hint of lime. Just enough you know it’s there, but not enough to be overpowered by it. They aren’t quite savory cookies, but they aren’t overly sweet either. If I had to make one modification, it would be adding the zest of a second lime to the dough – I only used one. I’ve asked a friend come over and test them for a second opinion later today – hopefully he will like them as much as I do (I’ll make sure he doesn’t eat any of the singed ones). Song of the Week: The Sleeping Beauty Waltz by Pyotr Tchaikovsky. I’ve been listening to a ton of Tchaikovsky the last few days, and while much of what I’m listened to has been much darker, I love this waltz. Partially because Sleeping Beauty was one of my favorite Disney movies when I was little and this waltz is in the movie.