Barking Kitten

Fiction, musings on literature, food writing, and the occasional Friday cat blog. For lovers of serious literature, cooking, and eating.

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Close to forty. Not cool. Politically left. Atheist. Happily married. No kids.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Eggplant and tomato glut

I’d been writing about dealing with the farm box. Two people, faced with literally pounds of produce, are forced to get creative about cooking and eating everything before it all perishes. In this spirit, let us revisit eggplant.

We received three last Friday: a tiny white one, a long, slender purple eggplant that proved impossible to peel, and a large magenta globe weighing about a pound.

We also had what are likely the final tomatoes, smallish and rather mealy. I looked up Eggplant Parmigiana in Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, then found myself paging through the Gourmet Cookbook. Moussaka presented itself. While Gourmet states “virtually everyone knows about Moussaka.” Neither Hockeyman nor I had ever tasted the stuff. So.....

Gourmet’s recipe, with BK notes.

9 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped (Hockeyman doesn’t like onions, so we used a shallot.)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 ¼ lbs ground lamb. (We used one pound Niman ground beef.)
¼ tsp cinnamon (I omitted this)
¼ tsp allspice (ditto)
3 14 oz cans Italian Plum tomatoes, drained (We used our fresh tomatoes.)

I don’t like sweet spices in savory food. I used salt, black pepper, a pinch of cumin, and a pinch of cayenne.

1 ½ tsp dried mint (I detest mint. Omitted it.)
3 ½ lb medium eggplants, sliced

For the topping:

2 ½ tbs butter
3 ½ tbs all purpose flour
¼ lb feta, crumbled (Fresh. Not that stuff that comes in brine, please.)
1 large egg, beaten with one yolk
1/3 C grated Parmigiano-Reggiano


From here a huge amount of work ensues. You will use nearly every dish and pan in your kitchen whilst preparing a dish that gives pause even to the non-fat conscious amongst us.

I am going to edit here, rather than bore you with a long recipe. If you want to prepare this exactly as Gourmet does, see page 515 of the cookbook.

What we did:

Chopped the garlic and shallot until H-man wept.

Chopped up the tomatoes.

Put the above in a saute pan with olive oil. Allowed to cook. Added red wine, salt, pepper, cumin, cayenne. Added the beef and stirred to break up. Sprayed myself and floor with tomato sauce.

Browned eggplant on an oiled tray under the broiler. It looked rubbery and unappetizing, so I put it on the counter behind me, where I didn’t have to look at it while I prepared the topping.

I don’t ususally prepare roux-type toppings. They’re so essentially non-Jewish—all that milk and meat together. It could make a person sick, right? Never mind. I whisked my little wrist off so the flour wouldn’t clot, added my Organic Valley milk (a friend recently dubbed me “Organic Princess.” It was not a compliment.), then stirred in the feta. The roux got a little cranky and clumpy, so I took it off the heat, allowed it to cool, then added the egg.

Assembly time. Ugly eggplant on the bottom, meat/tomato sauce next, white sauce, then a final, heart-stopping sprinking of the Parmigiano. Put in 400 degree oven for half an hour. Watch Laurent Tourandel slay Bobby Flay on Iron Chef. Was there ever a clumsier chef than Flay? No! Are we happy Laurent made him look like the asshole klutz he is? Yes!

Eat Moussaka. Excellent, rather like lasagna with eggplant instead of pasta noodles. Give bowl to kitty, who eagerly polishes off juices.

This is how to eat your farm box glut.

In our next installment, acres of greens, sans e.coli or Zsa Zsa Gabor.


Ruth Reichel. The Gourmet Cookbook. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2005. p 515.

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