NY Times Article on tomatoes...So Many Tomatoes to Stuff in a Week.
In yet another step towards the type of domesticity that I tend to abhor, Dan and I are actually now 'menu-planning' for the week, and discovering, with great shudders, that it makes things easier. We're doing four day chunks, during which he'll cook two meals, and I'll cook two. My first this week was tempeh with a curried cashew sauce, and the next will be an African peanut stew, both of which I got from the now defunct 'inspired vegetarian' section of Cooking Light magazine (which my dad got me a subscription to!). Regarding the vegetarian section, I am planning on writing a strongly worded letter, or maybe postcard, as I'm too cheap, to the magazine to complain.
I have had mixed results with tempeh. Tempeh is made of fermented soybeans with a rhizopus mold starter, giving it a sour, nutty, mushroomy flavor. It originated in Indonesia, and I must say, the tempeh that I ate in Indonesia this summer was far superior to any that I buy at Whole Foods. I ate tempeh burgers in Jogjakarta, tempeh with vegetables and noodles in Bali, tempeh whenever I could get it, and all of it was good. My biggest tempeh success was the 'Notso Bucco' recipe that I got from Vegan Yum Yum, and I strongly recommend trying it out for yourself. My cashew tempeh did not work out so well. The tempeh flavor contrasted poorly with the delicious sauce, and the texture seems...off. If I ever tried it again, which I won't, I would slice the block of tempeh in half, so that I get two, thin, slabs of it.
Dan's eggplant was awesome, though. The recipe for Aubergines Stuffed with Sweet Potato came from a book that his mom gave us on Caribbean, Central and South American foods, and thus far it has not disappointed. 'Stuffed' is kind of misleading, as what you end up doing is taking slices of eggplant and rolling them around mashed potato. The potatoes are mashed with cheddar cheese - he used a chipotle cheddar that we got at W.F., and the spice added a great complexity to the otherwise sweet potatoes. He topped it with cilantro and Tofutti sour cream (according to doc, I'm not supposed to eat dairy, and besides, it tastes close enough to the real thing to not know the difference, and it's healthier). In the future, I want to make it with corn added to the mix.
Here is maybe the most awesome hint regarding cooking eggplant. Once you slice eggplant, salt the slices lightly and let them sit for 10-15 minutes. The salt helps to draw out the moisture, so that when you start frying, they hold their consistency and I think, retain more of the flavor you want. Wipe the salt off before frying.
Anyways, so here it is, submitted for the approval of the midnight society...
Aubergines Stuffed with Sweet Potato
from - The Food and Cooking of the Caribbean, Central and South America by Jenni Fleetwood and Marina Filippelli
8oz sweet potatoes, peeled and quartered
1/2 tsp fresh thyme
2 tbsp chopped red and green bell pepper
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 large eggplants
2 tbsp plain all purpose flour
1 tbsp spice seasoning
olive oil, for frying
butter, for greasing
2 tomatoes, sliced
salt and pepper
chopped fresh parsley
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cook the potatoes in a pan of boiling water for 15-20 minutes until tender, then drain and mash.
2. Add the thyme, cheese, spring onion, peppers and garlic. Mix well and season.
3. Cut each eggplant lengthways into four slices. Mix the flour and spice seasoning on a plate and dust over each slice.
4. Heat a little oil in a large frying pan and fry each aubergine slice until browned, but not fully cooked. Drain and cool. Spoon a little potato mixture into the middle of each eggplant slice and roll.
5. Butter two large pieces of foil and place four rolls on each. Top with slices of tomato. Wrap up the parcels and bake for 20 minutes. Serve hot, garnished with parsely.
And here's how to make Curried Cashew Sauce...
1 tsp olive oil
2 tbsp coarsely chopped unsalted cashews
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 tsp curry powder
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup 2% milk
2 tbsp hot water
1/8 tsp salt
1. Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add cashews to pan; cook 2 minutes or until lightly browned. Add onion to pan; saute 3 minutes or until tender. Add curry powder and garlic to pan, cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in milk.
2. Place cashew mixture, 2 tablespoons hot water, and salt in a blender. Remove center piece of blender to let steam escape. Replace it, and start blending, but allow steam of escape every five seconds or so.
Serve over tofu, rice, or even chicken.