My version of Eggplant Parmesan
I really like Eggplant Parmesan, but I don't like the soggy messes that most restaurants serve, so I came up with my own version and I like to call it Deconstructed Eggplant Parmesan. I bread and deep fry the eggplant like I do with Japanese foods like Tonkatsu (Pork Cutlet) and use Panko (Japanese bread crumbs). I then put the eggplant on top of spaghetti with some cheese and tomato sauce.
Scratch Made Spaghetti Sauce
Spaghetti sauce is so easy to make if you have a little time. It tastes much better than buying bottled brands like Ragu or Prego or even Rao's. I make it the typical way by sauteeing onions & garlic then add the seasonings while I saute to let the flavors bloom. I add a little bit of chile flakes to give it a kick. I also add a little bit of tomato paste (the kind that comes in a tube) and fry that up with the onions. A couple of other stuff I add that may be a little unique is a small piece of anchovy, the type you'd put in a caesar salad and little bit of beef bouillon...I know, I use bouillon a little too much, but I like that it adds more flavor and a richness to everything I use it in :o) For this I used canned chopped tomatoes and tomato sauce and cooked it for about an hour, so it wouldn't be watery. I cover it, but leave just a little bit opened, so it can vent and then uncover it for the last 30 mins. I also added sauteed mushrooms at the end.
When I get button mushrooms from the grocery store I take off all of the stem. Alot of times, the stem is a little mushy. I then slice it thin. Sometimes I go to a mushroom farm in Ventura and then I use the whole stem. It's amazing what the flavor difference is when you get it from the farm! I love eating those raw!
Since these were going into a flavored sauce, I just put a little bit of salt and pepper to flavor it and of course used olive oil to saute it. I add these to the tomato sauce about the last 15 mins of cooking.
Dry, Wet, Dry...
The tomato sauce was a little on the salty side since I used a different salt than I usually do, so I only flavored the egg wash with a little bit of salt & pepper. I left the panko and flours as is. I first sliced and then salted the eggplant and let it sit for about 30 mins, I'm not really sure if I even need to do this, but some people say that it gets the bitterness out. I'm used to using Japanese eggplant, not these huge globe ones, so I'm definitely not an expert on this...lol I like to leave the skin on because I think it looks prettier;o) I like to use the Japanese panko instead of the Italian breadcrumbs because the panko gives it a fluffier texture. I first dredge the eggplant in the flour (dry), then in the egg wash which has egg, a little bit of water and a little bit of milk (wet), then put it in the panko (dry). I then deep fried in oil at about 370 degrees until it browned. I usually try to use a thermometer in the oil to monitor the temperature or when I'm lazy, I use the chopstick method...stick a wooden chopstick in the oil and it's ready when a lot of bubbles stick to it :o)
In the Toaster Oven
I topped the fried eggplant with fresh Buffalo Mozzarella and then used the toaster setting until the cheese melted and was a little brown on top. It's best to do this asap after frying the eggplant, but it can sit out for about an hour because it will crisp up some in the oven. Of course if you are making a lot, this can be done in the regular oven. It's just convenient using the toaster oven when you are making small batches. The toaster oven is my best friend;o)
Spaghetti and Tomato Sauce
Deconstructed Eggplant Parmesan
First layer is spaghetti, then tomato sauce, then the fried eggplant with the Mozzarella cheese, a little more tomato sauce, some grated parmesan cheese, chopped parsley and then basil for garnish.
Cocktail Hour on the Beach...
When we spend time at the family vacation house, my favorite time to be on the beach is watching the sunset. We usually have martinis then I make some sort of nibbleys. This night it was a charcuterie plate w/grapes & crackers. Simple, but good;o)
There's an amazing cheese store in Santa Barbara called C'est Cheese. They make the best grilled cheese sandwiches using 3 cheeses. They also have the greatest selection of cheese and dry meats. That's where I got the Buffalo Mozzarella for the Eggplant Parmesan and they even had fresh ricotta cheese which I'm going to make pancakes with for breakfast. This has: Jamon Iberico, Soppressata, Mahon Cheese, Rocinante Cheese & Quince Paste.
Another beautiful time on the beach...
I love the set up we have on the beach. We found some short small tables a few years back and they are perfect for our cocktail hour;o) This was an easy snack, the only thing I "made" was boiling the fava beans, I put a little salt on and eat it like edamame!