Roasted Eggplant Dip with Shiso, Ginger, and Tomato

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Roasted Eggplant Dip with Shiso, Ginger, and Tomato

Eggplant is one of my favorite vegetables. It has a depth of flavor that rivals tomatoes but you have to work with it a bit to open it up and unlock that richness. This is a great dish for summer parties as a vegetable dip or it can be spread on bread as an hors d'oeuvre.


Photo Aug 17, 11 41 25 AM.jpg

Ingredients

serves 8-12

  • 6 long, skinny eggplants
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1" section ginger
  • 6" stalk lemongrass
  • 4 roma tomatoes
  • 5 shiso leaves
  • 1/2 lime
  • 1 tbs fish sauce
  • 1 tbs vegetable oil

vegetables, baguette, or flatbread for dipping and spreading


  1. Heat the oven on the broiler setting.
  2. Poke the eggplants several times with a fork just deep enough to pierce the skin.
  3. Place eggplant on a heavy baking sheet and broil for 20-30 minutes, rotating as needed until the skin is very dark and the flesh is completely soft.
  4. Place eggplant in a bowl and cover with a plate to allow them to steam.
  5. Meanwhile prepare the other vegetables. Peel and finely dice the onion. Peel the ginger (the best way is with the edge of a spoon) and finely dice. Whack the lemongrass with the blunt side of your knife up and down the stalk to soften the fibers, then finely dice that as well. Peel and finely dice the garlic. 
  6. Dice all 4 of the tomatoes, but reserve one separately.
  7. Heat a saute pan over medium heat with the oil. First add the onions and cook until they are soft and fragrant. Continue by adding first the ginger, then the lemongrass, and finally the garlic. Pause between each addition to stir in the new vegetable and allow it to cook a few moments. You don't want these to brown so be careful with the temperature. 
  8. Add 3 of the diced tomatoes and half of the fish sauce. Reduce the heat to low and let this simmer while you prepare the rest of the recipe.
  9. Peel the skin off the eggplant and discard the skin. Reserve any juices that came out in the bowl while the eggplant steamed. Puree the eggplant and juices until smooth.
  10. Roll up the shiso leaves and cut into thin shreds. Combine them with the remaining tomato, half of the fish sauce, and the juice of half a lime.
  11. When the vegetables on the stove have cooked down and are mostly dry combine them with the pureed eggplant and tomato/shiso mixture.
  12. Serve at room temperature with multigrain baguette, fresh raw vegetables, or flatbread.

Enjoy
-Matt

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Purple Long Bean Salad with Roselle, Mustard, and Sesame

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Purple Long Bean Salad with Roselle, Mustard, and Sesame

Most purple vegetables lose their color when you cook them but these purple long beans stay a vivid purple. They are deeply savory and provide an earthy counterpoint to the sour roselle leaves in this salad.


Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound purple long beans, cut into 1" sections
  • 2 mild chile peppers, cut into skinny rings
  • 5 leaves of roselle, rolled like a cigar and sliced into thin shreds
  • 1 tbs whole grain mustard
  • 1/4 tsp hot sesame oil
  • 1 tbs vegetable oil
  • 2 tbs rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 tbs salt

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add 1 tbs of kosher salt and give it a minute to dissolve.
  2. Put the beans in the boiling water and stir them around. Let them cook for 2-3 minutes until they are just soft all the way through, but do not overcook to mush.
  3. Scoop out all of the beans into a mixing bowl.
  4. While still hot toss with all of the remaining ingredients. 
  5. Allow to cool before serving, the salad can be served either fully cold or at room temperature.

Enjoy
-Matt

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Summer Squash Soup

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Summer Squash Soup

Yellow summer squash is one of those vegetables that I think is unappreciated because of its outstanding abundance and versatility. It's great in stir fry, eggs, and casseroles but is often relegated to being a supporting player instead of the star of the show. This soup stars yellow squash and uses sweet corn to complement the sweetness of the squash and a touch of cumin and curry for warmth.


Ingredients

Serves 6-8

  • 4 yellow summer squash, chopped up
  • kernels from 2 ears of corn
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 tbs crystallized ginger, minced
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbs kosher salt
  • 2-3 cups of water
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1-2 jalapeno peppers, minced

  1. Heat a large pot or dutch oven over medium high heat.
  2. Peel and slice the onion. Add it to the pot so it can start to caramelize while you prepare the other vegetables. Stir only occasionally to allow the onions to brown nicely. Give it a sprinkle of salt.
  3. Slice the garlic, cut the kernels off the corn, and chop up the squash. This soup will be pureed so you don't have to worry too much about cutting things into beautiful equal pieces. Smaller pieces will give you more surface area for browning which leads to deeper flavors and more of that umami richness. But don't over think it.
  4. When the onion has browned nicely, stir in the garlic and let that cook for a minute on its own. Add the ginger, cumin, black pepper, and curry powder. Stir and let the spices cook with the aromatics for about a minute before moving to the next step.
  5. Turn the heat up to high and add the squash and corn. Both of these vegetables will give off a substantial amount of liquid and you want to cook that down as quickly as possible to promote browning. 
  6. Cook for about 20-30 minutes, stirring as needed to caramelize the vegetables evenly, but don't worry if they don't pick up a lot of color in this process. You may need to turn the heat down depending on your stove. Don't be tempted to rush here. If you have the time to go lower and slower with stewing these vegetables it will yield deeper and richer flavors for your soup.
  7. Add 2 cups of water and stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 5-10 minutes. This will help blend all of the flavors together. If you weren't going to puree the soup you would need to cook in this phase for longer, but the blender does a lot of the work of blending the flavors.
  8. Puree the soup in a blender. You may need to add more water here to achieve the desired consistency.
  9. If you are like my father-in-law and you like your soup really really hot you can put it back in the pot and heat it up again at this point. If you have somehow added too much water you can gently cook the soup down to thicken it again, too.
  10. Taste your soup. You can add more salt here or more spices if you like. I purposely didn't put a lot of spices because I wanted the squashiness to be the dominant flavor, but if you prefer a more heavily spiced soup I can understand that.
  11. Ladle in to bowls and garnish with a dash of cumin, a dollop of sour cream and minced jalapeno (according to your tolerance for hot peppers).

Enjoy
-Matt

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Potato Dumplings with Smoked Sausage, Tomatoes, and Leeks

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Potato Dumplings with Smoked Sausage, Tomatoes, and Leeks

These are Polish potato dumplings known as kopytka. They are similar to Italian gnocchi but less fussy, at least the way that I make them. 


Ingredients

serves 6-8

  • 1.5 pounds potatoes
  • 8 ounces all-purpose flour
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 tbs kosher salt
  • 1 large leek
  • 1 tbs butter
  • 3 medium tomatoes
  • 1 link of smoked sausage
  • a little more salt

  1. Put the whole potatoes in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender. Drain and let the potatoes air dry and cool off a bit.
  2. Meanwhile, slice the leeks into coins about 1/4" thick. Put them in a bowl and cover with water. Soak them a bit to get all of the dirt off of them. Leeks are as dirty as they are delicious.
  3. Dice the sausage and tomatoes so they will be ready to cook after you make the dumplings.
  4. Hopefully the potatoes are now cool enough to handle. You should be able to peel the skin right off with your fingers. 
  5. Mash the potatoes. If you have a ricer, use the ricer; that will make the best and fluffiest dumplings.
  6. Mix in the eggs, flour, 1 tablespoon of salt to make the dough.
  7. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  8. Grab a chunk of dough and roll it out on a lightly floured counter-top into a snake about 1/2" in diameter.
  9. Cut through the dough diagonally to make the dumplings into little rhombuses (I looked it up, both rhombi and rhombuses are correct plural forms of rhombus) about an inch to an inch and a half long.
  10. Cook the dumplings in small batches of about 15-20 in the boiling water. First they will sink, then they will float up to the surface. Cook them until they have floated for about a minute, then scoop them out onto an oiled baking pan to rest.
  11. Finish shaping and cooking the dumplings in batches until you are out of dough.
  12. Heat a saute pan over medium high heat and add 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. When the butter has melted and stopped bubbling add half of the dumplings and toss to coat with the hot oil. Let the dumplings brown and then give them another toss to turn them over. Repeat until they are brown on all sides. Put the fried dumplings onto a serving plate and repeat with the remaining dumplings.
  13. Melt another tablespoon of butter and saute the leeks over medium heat in the butter, stirring occasionally until they are wilty. Remove from the pan and reserve.
  14. Get the pan hot again and add the diced sausage. Stir it around and let it start to brown.
  15. Once the sausage is nicely browned add the diced tomatoes and cook down, stirring often over high heat until much of the liquid has cooked off and the sauce has thickened. Add the sauteed leeks back into the sauce and then pour over the dumplings.
  16. Serve immediately.

Enjoy
-Matt

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Tomato! and Cucumber Salad with Basil

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Tomato! and Cucumber Salad with Basil

I get really excited about tomatoes, and I'll eat them every way I can when they are in season. I often think that the best ways are the simplest. Radical farmer Joel Salatin famously said "I love the pigness of the pig." This salad lets the tomato-ness of the tomato shine through and be celebrated.


Ingredients

  • 6 small-ish ripe tomatoes
  • 1 cucumber
  • 10 small leaves fresh basil (If your basil has gone to flower that's great! Use the flowers, they are delicious and so pretty on a salad.)
  • 1 tbs mirin
  • 1 tbs rice wine vinegar
  • a pinch of coarse sea salt

  1.  Grate the cucumber on the large holes of a box grater.
  2. Add the mirin and rice wine vinegar to the cucumber.
  3. Cut the tomatoes into eighths.
  4. Gently toss the tomatoes and basil with the cucumber dressing to fully coat.
  5. Arrange on a plate and sprinkle generously with coarse salt.

Enjoy
-Matt

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Summer Vegetable Stir Fry

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Summer Vegetable Stir Fry

My 8-year-old picked out the vegetables for this dish from our share. He was supposed to help me cook them, but got distracted by something else when it came time to cook. Maybe your kids will help you with this one, it's a great summer vegetable dish, especially when you're in a hurry. We are really enjoying the sauces from Chinese Southern Belle, the Teritaki Glaze makes this recipe fast and delicious.


Ingredients


  1. Prepare all of the vegetables and keep them close at hand.
  2. Heat a cast iron pan or wok over high heat to get it nice and hot.
  3. Add the oil, wait a beat and then toss in the onion.
  4. Stir it around, let it cook quickly but not brown.
  5. Add the beans and continue to stir. Add in the water, this will help steam the beans.
  6. After a couple minutes when the beans start to soften and the water has boiled away add the celery, squash, and teriyaki glaze.
  7. Stir to coat and finish cooking. When the squash is soft everything is done.
  8. Serve with steamed jasmine rice.

Enjoy
-Matt

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Filipino Picadillo (Ground Beef Stew with Potato, Onion, and Tomato)

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Filipino Picadillo (Ground Beef Stew with Potato, Onion, and Tomato)

There are many versions of picadillo out there in the world as a result of Spanish colonization. This is the one that my wife cooks at home, that she learned from her mom. It's a family favorite, our middle child eats it breakfast, lunch, and dinner until it's all gone. Thanks to Christine for cooking this and providing this week's recipe. It's a simple recipe so it tastes best with fresh, in-season, tomatoes, potatoes, and onions. 

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 red onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 2 large cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbs fish sauce
  • water or stock
  • some vegetable oil

  1. Heat a heavy bottom pan (cast iron, dutch oven, something like that) over medium high heat with a little bit of oil until it just starts to smoke.
  2. Add the ground beef, spread out to cover the bottom of the pan, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, and leave it alone. You want it to brown really well, and if you stir it around it won't get a chance to do that.
  3. Once the beef has turned a good dark brown on the bottom you can stir it around to brown some more.
  4. Remove the beef from the pan and leave the fat. Saute the onion and the garlic in the fat left behind in the pan.
  5. Add the tomatoes and cook until they start to break down.
  6. Return the beef to the pan, add the potatoes, stir everything together.
  7. Add enough water or stock to cover the ingredients and simmer until the potatoes are soft. It should finish a little soupy.
  8. Season with fish sauce to taste.
  9. Serve over steamed jasmine rice.

Enjoy
-Matt

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