COMPRESSED EGGPLANT & GRUYERE SLICES

This recipe blew my little mind… You need two special gadgets to make it, a mandolin-type slicer and a vacuum sealer. My slicer is an OXO, easier to work and adjust than the original French model. Super thin slices of eggplant with a little cheese in the middle get compressed and later roasted at high temperature. It is eggplant like I’ve never had before.

COMPRESSED EGGPLANT & GRUYERE SLICES
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, inspired by Chef Tony Botella)

1 large eggplant, sliced very thin (3mm maximum) with a mandolin
Gruyere cheese cut in thin slices
Herbes de Provence to taste
salt to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
balsamic vinegar to taste
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Lay one eggplant slice on a flat surface, place a slice of cheese in the center, sprinkle with Herbes the Provence. Place another eggplant slice on top, carefully slide into a vacuum-sealable bag. Once all the little sandwiches are done, seal the bag. Place in the fridge for at least one hour, but you can leave it for a couple of days.

Fifteen minutes before dinner, remove them from the bag and place on a silicone mat, gently brush with olive oil gently on both sides, season with salt. Roast at 425F for 12 minutes, until golden. A little cheese might escape to the side, nothing wrong with that, the silicone mat makes it easier to lift.

Cut each slice in half, place in a serving dish, drizzle with balsamic and sprinkle almonds on top.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe click here

Comments: The key to this recipe is slicing the eggplant very thin. I doubt you will be able to do it by hand, so a mandolin is a must. I think different types of cheese could be fun to try, for instance a cheese with Habanero to heat things up. But it must be a reasonably sturdy cheese to avoid excessive melting. Gruyere was perfect.

I normally don’t care for the eggplant skin, but in this preparation it did not hurt anything. I will be making this again soon. It would be great as a little special appetizer at a dinner party, with a nice sourdough bread to go with it. Or as a first course on a meal. A fun new technique to play with!

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CRISPY AIR-FRIED ZUCCHINI

I adore Lolita, our air-fryer, and use it often. It does a wonderful job on many vegetables, and it is our default choice when we make cauliflower, butternut squash or sweet potatoes. Zucchini is a bit tricky, unless sliced super thin and air-fried in very small batches. But now I finally found a method to make it shine… Crispy, tender, and a reasonable amount can be divided in just two portions without turning the pieces into mush. If you don’t own an air-fryer, check the comments after the recipe.

CRISPY AIR-FRIED ZUCCHINI
(adapted from several sources)

3 medium zucchini
1 + 1/2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (vegan friendly) or grated Parmigiano cheese
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

In a small bowl, mix Panko, nutritional yeast (or cheese), salt and pepper. Reserve.

Trim off the ends of the zucchini and cut into quarters lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 3/4-inch thick pieces. Place in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle the zucchini with the oil. Toss to coat.

Sprinkle the flour mix over the zucchini slices and mix gently to coat them.

Air-fry in two batches at 390F or as high as your fryer goes, for about 9 minutes, until golden brown. Shake the basket every once in a while. Once the first batch is done, air-fry the second portion, then join them both and air-fry for a minute or so together, just to heat the first batch again. You can also place the first portion in a low-oven to keep warm, but I found that not to be needed.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I used nutritional yeast simply because I love to play with ingredients and wanted to give it a try. It is salty and sharp, making it a very good substitute for cheese, so if you need to entertain a vegan guest, this recipe is for you. I am now finally satisfied with a method to air-fry zucchini, and suspect this will be a regular appearance in our meals. If you don’t own an air-fryer, use a 420F oven, spread the zucchini over a large baking sheet lined with parchment, and roast until golden brown, probably 20 to 25 minutes.

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SPICY CITRUS PEANUT SALAD

I’ve made variations of this recipe three times in the past month. I am a bit obsessed with the dressing, that has the right amount of heat and very mild hint of sweetness. The original recipe was published in the blog Naturally Nidhi, and you can find it here.

SPICY CITRUS PEANUT SALAD
(slightly modified from Naturally Nidhi)

makes 2 servings

for the salad:
2 oranges , peeled and segmented
greens of your choice (I used green leaf lettuce), amount enough for two
1/4 cup peanuts, roasted and salted

for the dressing:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp honey
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp red chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp poppy seeds
salt to taste

In a serving bowl, whisk together all the dressing ingredients. Add the greens, toss to coat uniformly with the dressing. Add the orange segments, peanuts and toss gently. Adjust seasoning if needed with a little salt.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: In her blog post, Nidhi used arugula. If you like to pump the sharpness-spicy level up, go for it. We like to use lettuce, I made it once with red leaf lettuce, another with butter lettuce, they all go quite well with all other ingredients. The dressing, so simple, packs a ton of flavor, I bet it would be great brushed oven a nice piece of salmon before grilling it. I simplified it a bit, so make sure to check her blog post for a more complex version.

We enjoyed it with rotisserie-style chicken from our grocery store, and no, I am not ashamed to confess it. Sometimes it is good to make life easier and concentrate on making just a salad and a side dish.

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RAW ZUCCHINI AND CHICKPEA SALAD WITH TAHINI YOGURT

This whole meal was superb, main dish and salad from Josette’s blog, that I am super fond of. The salad stole the show, but I will give you the link to the Turkish chicken so you can have the whole gastronomic experience. I would definitely serve this for company. Simple to put together, awesome in flavor and texture.


RAW ZUCCHINI AND CHICKPEA SALAD WITH TAHINI YOGURT
(slightly modified from Thebrookcook)

3/4 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
2 T tahini
zest from 1 large lemon, plus 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp plus 2 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more to serve
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
15 1/2 ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 T red wine vinegar
2 tsp za’atar
2 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced on a diagonal
1/4 cup lightly packed fresh mint, finely chopped
2 tsp dried dill
ground sumac, to serve (optional)


In a medium bowl, whisk together the yogurt, tahini, lemon zest and juice, 1 1/2 teaspoons oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; set aside. In a large microwave-safe bowl, stir together the chickpeas, shallot, vinegar and za’atar. Cover and microwave for 90 seconds. Uncover and cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.

When the chickpeas have cooled, stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, the zucchini, mint, and dill. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Transfer the chickpea-zucchini mixture to a platter, spooning it around the edge. Scoop the yogurt mixture into a mound in the center of the chickpea-zucchini mixture.
Drizzle with additional oil and sprinkle with sumac, if using.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here


Comments: Totally in love with this preparation of zucchini, and leftovers tasted great too. We enjoyed it with another recipe from Josette’s site, Turkish Grilled Chicken Thighs with Yogurt Marinade (for full recipe, click here). Josette has a very similar taste in food, so I am always paying attention to her posts. If you don’t follow her yet, consider doing so…

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CRANBERRIES, MANY WAYS

It is that time of the year, folks! Cranberries are making their appearance in grocery stores, those cute little bags with bright red fruit begging to jump in your shopping cart. Don’t fight the temptation. Today I share six recipes to put them to use, both savory and sweet.

RECIPE #1
PUMPKIN CRANBERRY LOAF


I rarely watch FoodTV these days, but one show I am quite fond of is Girl on the Farm. She shared a recipe a recipe for pumpkin loaf with cranberries that I made on the same day I watched it. It has a very nice crusty topping, and the tartness of the cranberries is perfect with the other flavors. Recipe available here.

RECIPE #2
CRANBERRY SHORTBREAD COOKIES


CRANBERRY SHORTBREAD COOKIES
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

(Small-batch, see comments))

1 cup flour (120g)
1/4 cup sugar (50g)
zest 1/2 orange
1 stick butter (113g), cold, cut in small pieces
pinch of salt…
1/2 cup cranberries, coarsely chopped
white chocolate or candy melts to decorate (optional)

Add flour, sugar, orange zest and salt to a food processor. Process until mixed. Process in food processor. Add the butter, process until it starts to form a cohesive mass.

Add the cranberries, process until a dough almost forms. Remove from processor, work with your hands. I roll and cut it right away, then freeze before baking. 300F until done, maybe 20 minutes or so. Depends on the size you cut the cookies, and it will vary from oven to oven. Just make sure it is slightly golden at the edges.

Once cold, drizzle with melted chocolate or candy melts in any style you like.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here


Comments: I made these when our big oven was dead, so I had to use the little Breville oven to bake them. I was trying the recipe and not sure it would work, so a small batch was all I needed. Simply double all amounts to bake a regular batch. I made 10 cookies with this version. I must say these will go into my favorites folder. The tartness of the cranberries adds so much to the biscuit I urge you to give this a try.


RECIPE #3
CRANBERRY VINAIGRETTE

FALL SALAD WITH CRANBERRY VINAIGRETTE
(adapted from this site)

1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
¼ cup cranberries
¼ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
Romaine lettuce – rinsed, dried, and torn into bite-size pieces
2 Granny Smith apples, cored, cut in pieces
½ cup toasted walnuts, chopped
½ cup crumbled feta cheese

In a saucepan, combine vinegar, water and cranberries. Cook over medium heat until cranberries soften. Remove from heat; add olive oil, maple syrup, and salt. Place in blender and mix until smooth. Refrigerate until chilled.

Make the salad by adding all ingredients into a bowl. Add the cranberry vinaigrette and toss to coat. Adjust seasoning with salt, if needed.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here


Comments: Can anything beat the beauty of the color of this vinaigrette? I doubt it. I tweaked the recipe a bit to tame the tartness of the original version, which was a bit much for us. It is a great option to put some cranberries to use, and definitely something a bit unusual.

RECIPE #4
AIR-FRIED BUTTERNUT SQUASH WITH CRANBERRIES


AIR-FRIED BUTTERNUT SQUASH WITH CRANBERRIES
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

2 pounds butternut squash, peeled and seeded
½ cup fresh cranberries, rinsed and dried
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup olive oil
fresh ginger, grated (to taste, or about 2 tsp)
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste

Whisk olive oil, orange juice, honey and ginger in a small bowl. Pour over the butternut and cranberries in a large bowl, toss to coat. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Air-fry at 350F until done, shaking the pan every one in a while. Total air-frying should be between 20 and 25 minutes.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here


Comments: Once again the little bits of tartness offered by the cranberries add a lot to the dish. I make butternut squash in the air-fryer very often, but really enjoyed this tweaked version. Amounts are all very flexible, I confess I don’t worry about the weight of the squash, I get those little trays in the grocery store and use one to air-fry.

RECIPE #5
CRANBERRY WHITE CHOCOLATE TART


A flashback from my past, this tart was made a couple of years ago, and it was absolutely wonderful, so I bring it to your attention. For the full recipe and comments, click here.

RECIPE #6
CHOCOLATE CRANBERRY CURD TART


One of the many recipes I’ve baked from my friend Helen Fletcher’s site. You cannot go wrong with Helen! All the way back to 2017, visit this post to get the recipe.

I hope you can find some cranberry-inspiration in this post…


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