July 31, 2012


Since Jess has been busy with the U.S. Open and the new puppy, the rest of us have missed our weekly excuse to catch up and eat delicious food.  (Also, our time to play with the puppies.  We need our dog time.)  My excuse for hijacking this particular week is that I just moved into my very own condo, making hijacking MND sound like an easy substitute for a housewarming party.

Invariably, when you move into a new place, you spend the next few months learning things.

For instance, it turns out that my kitchen window lets in ants.  Given that the fan from the stove does not vent outside, this is unfortunate.  It’s even more unfortunate to discover this when one has arrived home only half an hour before guests are to arrive.  Oh well, lonza (which I was told would be even better with melon than prosciutto) and melon will keep people entertained for awhile, right?  Fortunately, the ants are gone in time for me to begin cooking before anyone arrives.

Digression:  I bake.  Well, I used to bake a lot before I lived in an apartment with an oven that couldn’t hold a temperature.  If it couldn’t be made in a toaster oven or a friend’s oven, I stopped making it.  So, I’ve been super excited about the gas stove and functioning oven in my new place.  Everyone else has been super excited that I’m starting to bake again.

Back to the main storyline:  It turns out that the new oven has a safety feature which automatically shuts down the oven when it gets too hot, say when the broiler has been on for twenty minutes straight while one broils repeated batches of eggplant and summer squash for a casserole.

I discovered this when, with two guests already there and four more on the way plus a casserole and a crisp to be baked, the oven shut down completely, even the digital clock.  According to my panicked scan, the oven manual does not mention this feature.  I had a vague memory that the circuit breaker for the unit was in the garage, but really didn’t want to go down three flights of stairs unless absolutely necessary.  So, we searched the closets just to reinforce that, yes, the circuit breaker really is in the garage.  (Picture the movie Clue here).  When the circuit breaker wasn’t flipped, we decided it had to be a safety feature.  (Running back upstairs in a group.)

Luckily, after two more guests arrived, the oven turned back on.  Time to pull out the appetizers and wine to keep people entertained while dinner finally cooks!

Lonza and melon
Italian eggplant, summer squash, tomato and chick pea casserole
Raspberry-nectarine crisp
Vanilla ice cream
Raspberry sorbet

After years of cooking in my own kitchen, I’m unable to actually follow a recipe.  I edit recipes as I read them so that they fit my pattern of cooking.  (Sometimes without even realizing what I’m doing.)  Fortunately, it usually works out so that other people enjoy the dishes too!  (Either that, or they’re too polite to say otherwise.  I grew up in the Midwest so consider this entirely possible.)  The main dish was inspired by a search for “something like eggplant Parmesan, only without the cheese.”

Italian eggplant, summer squash, tomato and chick pea casserole
(Based on Arab eggplant, tomato, and chick pea casserole from Mediterranean Harvest by Martha Rose Shulman)

Serves 7 as a main dish with a small amount of leftovers for later

3 medium eggplants, cut in half lengthwise, then sliced about ½ inch thick
3 large summer squash, sliced about ½ inch thick
3 quarts homemade tomato sauce (pick your own recipe–I like the roasted tomato sauce from Chez Panisse Vegetables)
2 cups dried chick peas, cooked ahead
Generous amounts of chopped basil and oregano

1.  Preheat the broiler.  Brush a baking sheet with olive oil.  Fill with slices of eggplant and squash, then brush each slice lightly with oil.  Broil for 2-3 minutes, until lightly browned.  Flip the slices over and broil another minute, until lightly browned on the other side and softened all the way through.  Watch closely so the slices don’t burn.  Also, so that your oven doesn’t shut off as a safety precaution after your third batch.  (Grilling would also work.)

2.  Warm tomato sauce in sauce pan with chick peas.

3.  Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Oil a 9” by 13” pan.  Cover the bottom with a layer of eggplant and squash.  Top with one third of the tomato-chick pea sauce.  Repeat twice more.

4.  Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until bubbling.  (Or until you decide that your guests just can’t wait for dinner any longer.)  Remove from the heat and cool.  Sprinkle on the basil and oregano before serving warm.  Serve with lots of bread.

The cookbook says that leftovers will be good for about 5 days.  I hope to test this sometime.  I’m pretty sure the original recipe would be delicious as well and fully intend to try it sometime.  Or, let’s be honest, something closer to it.

Raspberry-Nectarine Crisp

Inspired by Chez Panisse Desserts by Lindsey Remolif Shere with vegan crisp topping from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison

Crisp Topping

6 tablespoons sunflower oil
¾ cup brown sugar, packed
⅔ cup white whole wheat flour
½ cup chopped almonds
¼ teaspoon salt

Add all ingredients to a food processor.  Chop until blended but before smooth.

Fruit Base

8 chopped, dead ripe nectarines
2 baskets raspberries (less what was already eaten, because who can resist raspberries?)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  (Or, just have this ready to go in when the casserole comes out.)  Mix the nectarines and raspberries in an 8” by 11” casserole dish.  (Save this recipe  for the height of the season when you don’t even need to add sugar!)  Smooth the top and spread the crisp topping over it.  Bake for about 35 minutes, or until the top is golden brown, the fruit is tender, and the juices bubble thick around the edges.  Cool then serve while warm with vanilla gelato and/or raspberry sorbet.


One comment

  1. I highly approve of this hijacking.

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