A personal kitchen diary. I try new recipes and make notes on what works and what doesn't. Sometimes I can things, and sometimes I dry herbs. This is the story of my kitchen.

Month: July 2016

Tomatillo and Tomato Salsa, and Fish with Tajin Seasoning

Tomatillo and Tomato Salsa, and Fish with Tajin Seasoning

My CSA usually gives us salsa packs a few times each season.  It includes tomatillos, jalapeños, onion, and garlic. Sometimes I use it to just make green salsa, sometimes I use it to make a chili verde base, and the other day I decided to […]

Gram Ettlin’s Dill Pickles

Gram Ettlin’s Dill Pickles

Gramma Ettlin really wasn’t my grandma, but we all called her Gram Ettlin.  She wasn’t a round, roly-poly, pink-cheeked type–in fact she was tiny and wiry and had the energy of ten men. And she could cook. And I was smart enough to get her […]

Ottolenghi’s Eggplant Cheesecake – OMG

Ottolenghi’s Eggplant Cheesecake – OMG

It’s possible I say OMG too much.

But this eggplant cheesecake (which sounds totally weird) deserves it.  I had a number of friends who have made it and liked it, and I trust Ottolenghi recipes (the man has a way with vegetables) and I needed to take an appetizer to a meeting–so eggplant cheesecake it was.
It also happened that I had to make a trip out on the Old Santa Fe Trail in Missouri, to visit farm stands, orchards, and wineries.  At my first stop they had these gorgeous eggplants for a dollar, so it seemed like the cheesecake was meant to be.
Another farm stand yielded these really cute almost mini Roma tomatoes, so that part was done.  I had tons of fresh oregano growing in my herb pot, fresh eggs and feta in the fridge, and a quick stop at the corner grocery for cream and cream cheese, and the cheesecake was almost ready to make itself.
But I helped.  First by slicing those gorgeous eggplants into 3/4 inch slices, brushing generously with olive oil and seasoning with kosher salt and ground black pepper.
Those went in to roast until tender.  Yum.
Meanwhile, I sliced the tomatoes and minced the fresh oregano. The roasted eggplant got stacked in the baking pan.
I whisked together the eggs and cream in one bowl.
And got the cream cheese and feta ready.
I stirred the cream cheese until soft, then added the feta cheese and blended them well.
Once that was blended together I added the egg and cream mixture and whisked everything until smooth.
And now it was time for assembly.  The eggplant slices were almost on end, and I tucked the tomato halves between them and sprinkled half the oregano over them.  This is such a gorgeous picture it almost seemed a shame to go to the next step!
Which was to pour over the custard mixture.  And sprinkle the remaining oregano.
And bake!
Here it is ready to serve.
I didn’t have any za’tar to brush over before serving, but I bet that would be good.  I think I might like to do this as a casserole for dinner some time and just bake and serve in a pretty dish.  For this meeting I just cut it into squares.
And here’s the recipe:

http://www.sfgate.com/restaurants/article/Eggplant-Cheesecake-5979934.php

Peaches/ Tomatoes/ Mozzarella/ Basil Summer Salad

Peaches/ Tomatoes/ Mozzarella/ Basil Summer Salad

A friend has posted about making this salad a few times, and did it again the other night.  I had everything but peaches, but it is peach season so I picked up a few peaches and set out to make it.  Wow, this is an […]

Spicy Chickpeas with Preserved Lemons

Spicy Chickpeas with Preserved Lemons

The food challenge of using preserved lemons in recipes continues.  This week I made these chickpeas, based on a recipe by Sharon Minkoff: http://www.sharonminkoff.com/spicy-chickpeas-preserved-lemon/ But, it’s a recipe meant to be tinkered with, and almost more of a guideline.  I tweaked quite a bit based […]

Cucumber Water

Cucumber Water

I had breakfast with some friends down on the square last Saturday.  We shopped around after, and hit the Farmers Market as well—just as they were closing.  One farmer was selling a whole bunch of zucchini, summer squash, and cucumbers 4 for $1..  So I bought some.

I saw an opportunity to make cucumber water, which I always like when it is served at Thai restaurants.  I sliced up two of them.
And poured filtered water over them and put the pitcher in the fridge.  I can’t wait to have it tomorrow.
Plus, isn’t it pretty?
Lemony Pea Mash on Toast–It’s not Guacamole!

Lemony Pea Mash on Toast–It’s not Guacamole!

Last week I made preserved lemons (see earlier post) to use in a cooking challenge with some of my friends.  This month the challenge is to make new-to-us recipes using preserved lemons. So tonight I made Lemony Pea Mash on toast. Unfortunately, this is a […]

Not Really Greek Salad

Not Really Greek Salad

This isn’t technically a Greek salad, but has a lot of the flavors and is one of my favorite combos. It was the last of the spring lettuce from my CSA, and the first of the cucumbers for the season.  I also got the gorgeous […]

Mark Bittman’s Quick Preserved Lemons

Mark Bittman’s Quick Preserved Lemons

This month the food challenge that my friends and I do is to use preserved lemons in a recipe.

But first, I had to have preserved lemons.  I could buy them, but I’d either have to drive into town or order them and I had a bag of lemons (because I still can’t resist the cheap lemons when I am at Sam’s Club, even though I KNOW I do not need an entire bag of lemons) so I decided to make my own.
A friend pointed me to Mark Bittman’s quick preserved lemons video:
http://markbittman.com/video/minimalist-quick-preserved-lemons/
I started by following the directions to quickly blanch the lemons to get rid of the wax (because I did not have organic, non-waxed lemons, and I would be eating the rind).
Into the boiling water the lemons went:
In the instructions it says 30 seconds, but I wasn’t looking at the instructions and went 3 minutes.  Oops.  But it was fine.  From there to the ice water bath:
And then wipe off the wax with a kitchen towel.
I dutifully did all this, and didn’t think a lot more about the wax.  But, I was amazed later washing the saucepan in which I had blanched the lemons.  I put it in the dishwasher, but when I took it out the next day I could see (and feel) wax from the waterline up to the edge.  I had to scrub the pan hard in order to remove the wax.  Wow!  That was a lot of wax!
Back to the lemons.  Next up was making thin slices, removing the seeds, and then dicing the lemons, rind and all.
All the dice went into a big glass jar, along with 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt.
I suppose if I had been a brighter sort of girl I would have mixed this in a bowl first and then put into the jar.  But I didn’t.  And I stirred up everything in the jar.
And put the lid on and shook it up.  And following the instructions, I shook the jar a few more times over the next three hours.
I did a taste test, naturally, and I love that tart, bitter, salty, yet sweet taste.
Now I need to use it in some recipes.
Cinnamon Applesauce

Cinnamon Applesauce

This is going to be a short post!  Because there is basically nothing to making applesauce.  It’s the easiest thing ever. But this is a What’s Happening in Merri’s Kitchen blog, and this was what was happening last week. Although it is July (and yes, […]