Berenjenas con Miel

The Camino de santiago de compestela in Galicia, Spain.  Photo by Mr. Ivo Nelson

The Camino de santiago de compestela in Galicia, Spain.  Photo by Mr. Ivo Nelson

I went to Spain last year to walk a stretch of The Camino pilgrimage with a friend.  During our journey, we dined at many fine cafes and bistros along the way.  Several times I saw ‘Berenjenas con Miel’ (Eggplant and Honey) on the tapas menu, but never ordered the dish. When I got home, a foody friend sent me the recipe from the Spanish Chef Yosmar Monique Martinez (her cookbook is ‘Tastes of the Camino’). 
Back in Texas, we tried it with our freshly picked eggplants and honey, fresh from the comb, taken from the hives behind our garden.  This is a great dish - especially if you grow eggplants and you’re getting tired of Eggplant  Parmesan and Baba Ganoush. 

Berenjenas con Miel Eggplants with Honey

Berenjenas con Miel
Eggplants with Honey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Berenjenas con Miel
by Yosmar Monique Martinez
This recipe is published here with the gracious permission of Chef Martinez.  Click HERE to see the recipe on the Whisk and Spatula Website.  Check out Chef Martinez's award winning cook book,
"Tastes of the Camino".  Note - This recipe for "Berenjenas con Miel" is not included in her book.

1 large eggplant (about 1.25 pounds)
1 cup milk
2/3 cup honey, divided
2 teaspoons salt, divided
1 teaspoon pepper, divided
½ cup flour
2-3 cups or canola grape seed oil
Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and then cut each half into slices about 1/3 inch thick. 

Our hives at rancho incognito in central texas

Our hives at rancho incognito in central texas

In a bowl, mix 1 cup of milk, 1/3 cup of honey, 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper.  Add the sliced eggplants and weigh down with a small bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about six hours.

When ready to cook, place the oil in a medium skillet and heat it to medium-high.  In a plate or shallow bowl, mix the flour and the remaining salt and pepper.  Set a cooling rack over a baking sheet.

Drain the eggplant and dredge in the flour.  In batches, fry the eggplant for about two minutes on each side or until they are crisp and golden in color.  Transfer the eggplant onto the cooling and allow the excess oil to drain.  Once all the eggplant has been fried, arrange on a platter and drizzle with honey.  Serve immediately.

Roasted Jaspers

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One of our favorite things to grow is Jasper Tomato from Johnny Selected Seeds.   Don’t let looks deceive.  Even though Jaspers are elfin – I call them mini cherry – each one is bursting with hearty tomato-y flavor that will surprise you.  One of the best things to do with these tiny gems is to roast ‘em.   Here is Miss Joy’s Roasted Jasper method.


1.  Get a bunch of Jaspers.  Cut each one in half through the middle (not stem to tail).

2.  Spread them, cut side up, on a cookie sheet.

3.  Lay three or four whole garlic cloves around on the sheet.

4.  Drizzle the whole thing with olive oil.

5.  Sprinkle with Kosher salt and rosemary (fresh if you can).

6.  Bake a couple of hours at about 300 degrees.

7.  When the Jaspers are good and shriveled, scrape oil and all into a storage jar.

When the time comes, sprinkle your roasted Jaspers on soup, salads, veggies, or just eat them as is.  I guarantee they won’t last long.

 

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A word about growing Jaspers.  They are a hybrid, indeterminate variety.  As far as I know, Johnny’s is only supplier I know that sells the seeds.  I start mine around the first of February, and try to have at least two strong plants ready for transplanting when the weather starts warming up.  Being indeterminate, plants will need to be caged or staked.  Jaspers are one of the few tomato varieties I know than can endure and produce through our killer Texas summers without special protection.  In mild winters, we have been able to pick Jaspers for Christmas dinner. 

Miss Joy's Sauteed Okra Magnifique

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2 pounds fresh okra (about 4 cups sliced)
        2 cups stone-ground yellow cornmeal (Lamb’s is the best)
        ½ teaspoon sea or kosher salt
        ½ teaspoon black pepper
        ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (plus more to taste, optional)
         5 cups peanut oil

Rinse the whole okra pods under cold water, drain, pat dry, trim tops, and cut into ¼-inch pieces on the bias. Set aside, salt lightly, and let stand at room temperature for at least 20 minutes. The salt will bring out the “goo” in the okra, allowing the cornmeal to adhere even better—making the crust just a bit crispier.

Place the cornmeal, ½ teaspoon salt, black pepper, and cayenne into a resealable zip-top plastic bag. Add the okra and shake to coat thoroughly. Return the okra to a dry colander and shake off excess cornmeal.

Add enough peanut oil to a 12-inch stainless steel sauté pan to completely cover the bottom of the pan about ⅓ inch deep. Place over medium-high heat and bring the oil to 375°F. Add the okra and fry until golden brown, turning once and replenishing oil as needed, approximately 5 minutes.

Remove the okra from the pan with a slotted spoon or spatula to paper towels to drain. Season with more salt, if desired, and allow to cool for 1 to 2 minutes before serving.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

 

Eggplant in Garlic Sauce

This is one of my favorite Asian restaurant dishes.  I’m told there are countless variations, and that every family has a unique recipe.  This one’s pretty good.  First the basics. 

Ichiban Asian Eggplantss

You’ll need authentic ingredients.   This calls for a trip to the Asian supermarket.  For the eggplant, I use Asian varieties, like Ichiban II or Oriental express, from my own garden.  Same for dried red chilies.  The ones in these pictures are Espelettes, dried from last years garden.  

Serves:  Not really sure.  With no rice and served as a meal-in-a-bowl with a nice Riesling on the side, this feeds two hungry people.  I can vouch for this.  Add rice and it will probably stretch to four to six.ds

For the sauce:
    •    1 tablespoon spicy bean paste
    •    1 teaspoon sesame oil
    •    1 tablespoon soy sauce
    •    2 teaspoons sugar
    •    1 tablespoon shaoxing cooking wine
    •    1 teaspoon fish sauce
    •    1 tablespoon Hoisin sauce

For the rest of the dish:
    •    2-3 medium Asian eggplants (about 6 cups)
    •    2 scallions,
    •    2 tablespoons oil (divided)
    •    4 oz. Jimmy Dean Pork Sausage (see NOTE below)
    •    2 fresh ginger
    •    10 dried red chilies
    •    4 cloves garlic
    •    1 tablespoon shaoxing wine

NOTES:  All traditional recipes you see call for straight ground pork.  I suppose you could use any ground meat you want, or simply prepare without meat.   For my vegetarian friends, I leave off the meat and add an increase the other ingredients by about 25 percent.  The recipe here is meant for a side dish.  If I am preparing this as a main dish, increase the meat by about 25 percent

Getting Ready
Mix sauce ingredients and set aside.
Slice eggplant into equal size chunks.  DO NOT PEEL. You should have about six cups.
Slice the scallions in two inch pieces.
Peal the ginger and slice off a hefty flat chunk.  Make six to eight very thin slices.
If you’re a ‘Mise en Place’ person, measure and lay out everything else in its proper place.

Cooking
A wok is nice but not required.  Add 1tbsp of sesame oil to large pan, and crank up the heat to ‘High’.  When things are nice and hot, dump in half the eggplant chunks.  The secret to this dish (IMHO) is not-quite-burning the eggplant.  This takes about 5 minutes on High heat.  You know they are done when each piece has completely collapsed, and the dark purple peel is fading.  When the first batch of eggplant is done, remove it.  Pour the second tbsp of sesame oil into the pan and cook the rest of the eggplant.  Remove from the pan when done.

Turn down the heat.   Brown the sausage. When it’s nicely brown, lay the strips of ginger on the meat.  Let cook for about 3 minutes.  Add the chilis, garlic,and scallions.  Cook for a couple of minutes.

Turn the heat back up to high.  Add the sauce, eggplant, and cooking wine.  Stir fry the lot for a couple of minutes.

Done.