Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Eggplant Parmesan, Inspiration, and Wine Openers

One of my favorite things to do whenever I have a spare minute is to dive in to my Google Reader and check out a few new posts by some of my favorite foodies. I subscribe to so many great blogs that I can almost never keep up with all the fabulous inspiration they provide. Right now I have 263 unread posts, and I have probably close to six hundred posts marked with recipes or photography that I love and am inspired by. 

I love to browse through all my cookbooks, but it's great to have a wealth of inspiration with me wherever I go. 

I've been cooking a lot for other people recently. It makes me happy. Cooking for other people is also a great source of inspiration for me. I'm still cooking for Marshall. He's still incredibly busy with both school and a full time job. My friend Leisha is in the middle of moving. Here's a recommendation. Most of the time when people move, they have help moving. But after that, they are usually in the middle of boxes, finding lost items, getting utilities switched on, and frequently cooking gets left behind. Plus, who the heck can find their tupperware right after they move?

Sidenote: My saddest lost item moving story. 

My Stunt Guy and I spent three days driving cross country to get to Las Vegas. We were in a Uhaul that was towing a car, that had two very very angry cats in it. When we got to Las Vegas, I had to go straight away to work. My Guy unloaded the whole truck by himself. We went by the store that night when I got home and we bought some necessities and some beer and wine. It was one in the morning and I wanted a glass of wine so badly. I just needed a minute to settle. We found the wine glasses so easily but there was no sign of our wine opener. We searched through a dozen boxes to no avail. Exhausted and frustrated, I went to sleep without my wine. 

The next day I went to work, came home, we searched again for the wine opener. Nothing. I went to sleep again sorely disappointed. 

The next day I decided not to take a chance and on the way home from work I stopped at the store and bought a wine opener. I strode into the house triumphant, implement in hand. I pulled out one of the bottles of wine that had been untouched for two days. I grabbed my wine glass. I went to open the bottle. 

It was a screw top. %$*^#%*^*^#

End of Sidenote

If someone moves, make them dinner, or give them a bottle of screw top wine and make sure they know how to open it. 

I made Marshall and Leisha Eggplant Parmesan this week. I made a heather person because Marshall is a dancer and Leisha is an acrobat and I didn't want to weight either of them down. 

This recipe was inspired by the brilliant Adam Roberts of The Amateur Gourmet. Adam wrote a book that has been sitting on my wishlist for a while, called The Amateur Gourmet: How to Shop, Chop, and Table Hop Like a Pro (Almost). If you've read it, let me know how it is!

Eggplant Parmesan

I've got a recipe coming soon for chunky tomato sauce, but in the meantime either use your own basic chunky tomato sauce recipe, or a good store bought one. 
For the parmesan, I recommend grating your own from fresh. If you are in a hurry though, you can pick up some pre-grated from the store. Be sure to get the kind that needs to be refrigerated though, not the kind that sits on a shelf forever. 

2 Large Eggplants
3 Cups Tomato based Pasta Sauce
1 Cup Grated Parmesan
6oz Ricotta Cheese (Part Skim is fine)
1 Cup Panko Breadcrumbs
Olive Oil
Salt, Fresh Ground Pepper

Preheat the oven to 450F. Slice up the Eggplant into six slices each and drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in the oven for about 15 minutes. They should get nice and brown on top. Take them out and then turn the oven down to 350F.

In an 8x8 deep oven pan, put down a layer of Eggplant. Cover this with half the tomato sauce, then half the ricotta in chunks placed over the eggplant slices. Cover this with a layer of the grated parmesan. Repeat the same steps again for another layer. Top the whole pan with the breadcrumbs. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. The cheese will soften up, the breadcrumbs will be gorgeous and crunchy. The Eggplant will be cooked without being soggy. Serve it with some crusty bread and maybe a side salad.

Serves 4.

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