Eggplant Parmesan (Melanzane alla Parmigiana)



With leftover marinara sauce and a fridge full of eggplants I thought that I would do an Eggplant Parmesan or Parmagiana di Melanzane. Normally an eggplant parmesan is coated in bread crumbs and fried in oil 0until crispy but I like a simple version where the eggplant slices are roasted in the oven until tender. If you prefer you could also coat the eggplant slices in the breadcrumbs and then bake them. Often when I make marinara sauce I will double the batch so that I can freeze the extras so that I will always have some on hand for quick dishes like this.

Eggplant Parmesan (Melanzane alla Parmigiana)

Eggplant Parmesan (Melanzane alla Parmigiana)

Servings: 4
ingredients
  • 2 eggplants (sliced 1/4 inch thick)
  • salt
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese (grated)
  • 1/4 cup parmigiano-reggiano (grated)
directions
  1. Salt the eggplant slices and let them sit for 30 minutes.
  2. Rinse the eggplant and pat dry.
  3. Broil the eggplant until golden brown on both sides, about 3-4 minutes per side.
  4. Place the eggplant on the bottom of a baking pan.
  5. Spread the marinara sauce on top of the eggplant.
  6. Spread the cheese on top of the marinara sauce.
  7. Bake in a preheated 350F oven until the cheese is golden brown, about 20-30 minutes.

Spaghetti alla Marinara

Marinara Sauce


A marinara sauce is a simple tomato based sauce that has many uses. At its base, a marinara sauce is tomatoes, garlic and olive oil. My favorite marinara sauce also includes a nice selection of vegetables including onions, carrots and celery. Using the recipe as follows will provide you with a nice chunky sauce but sometimes I want a smoother sauce and it is easy enough to puree it a bit in a food processor to get the consistency that I want. This is a sauce that I like to play around with and I try out different things each time that I make it. Some things that I have found that work really well are adding a splash of balsamic vinegar or a cup of wine. Simmering the sauce with the rind from parmigiano reggiano also adds a ton of flavour so I always freeze the rinds for use in sauces later on. During the late summer when tomatoes are at their peak I will use either fresh tomatoes or better yet, oven roasted tomatoes for even more flavour. Because marinara sauce is so useful in other recipes I often like to double this recipe and freeze the extras for later.

Spaghetti alla Marinara


Spaghetti alla Marinara

Marinara Sauce

Servings: 4 cups of sauce)
ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion (chopped)
  • 4 cloves garlic (chopped)
  • 1 stalk celery (chopped)
  • 1 carrot (peeled and chopped)
  • 1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon oregano (optional)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup red wine (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (optional)
  • 1 parmigiano reggiano rind (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon basil (chopped, optional)
  • 1 tablespoon parsley (chopped, optional)
directions
  1. Heat the oil in a pan.
  2. Add the onions and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Add celery, carrots, salt and pepper and saute until the vegetables are soft (about 10 minutes).
  5. Add the tomatoes, oregano, bay leaf, salt and pepper, wine, balsamic vinegar and parmigiano reggiano rind and simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens (about 30-60 minutes).
  6. Stir in the basil and parsley and turn off the heat.

Melitzanes Papoutsakia (Stuffed Eggplant)

Melitzanes Papoutsakia (Stuffed Eggplant)

The eggplants at the farmers market this weekend looked really nice so I picked up a bunch of them. The first dish that I tried with them was Melitzanes Papoutsakia or Stuffed Eggplant "Little Shoes". The aubergines are stuffed with a beef and tomato mixture and topped with bechamel sauce, a slice of tomato and some cheese. It takes about 2 hours to make so it is probably best to do on the weekend. The dish turned out pretty good. It both looked good and tasted good. Overall it was a good start to the use of the eggplants that I got.

Sweet Potato and Bean Enchiladas

Sweet Potato and Bean Enchiladas

I was looking for a way to use some of the leftover chipotle peppers in adobo sauce when I came across this recipe for sweet potato and bean burritos. The dish looked great and it uses sweet potatoes in a savoy/spicy way. It turned out pretty good and tasted amazing. The sweetness of the potatoes went really well with the cumin and cilantro and the heat of the peppers. I liked the crunch of the tortillas that were baked without being covered in sauce. I topped them with salsa and sour cream.

Apricot Tatin

Apricot Tatin

When I was at the market I saw some nice looking local apricots and I remembered seeing this really good looking dish. I noticed a problem almost immediately. The recipe was in mass rather than volume... I found a site that had conversions for standard ingredients and came up with what follows. Overall it turned out pretty good. On the down side, the crust seemed a bit heavy... On the up side the apricots tasted amazing. They added a really nice tartness. I really liked the way that the syrup was infused with the apricot flavour. Vanilla ice cream added a nice creaminess.

Zucchini and Onion Miso Soup

Zucchini and Onion Miso Soup

One of the nice things about miso soup is that you can use whatever ingredients are in season at the time. With zucchini or courgettes in season now, I have been enjoying zucchini and onion miso soup with my breakfasts.

Zucchini Carbonara

Zucchini Carbonara

I have really been enjoying the courgettes or zucchini so far this year. I was wondering how I could in corporate them into a pasta dish. I was looking in my fridge trying to find some inspiration when I saw some left over bacon. What could be better than a simple zucchini and bacon carbonara sauce? This dish was really amazing. I think the trick was to use the bacon fat to fry the zucchini rather than using oil. I will definitely be adding this recipe to my list of favorites.

BT (Bacon and Tomato) Sandwich

BT (Bacon and Tomato) Sandwich


Right now the hothouse tomatoes are looking really good and soon the field tomatoes will be in season. One of my favorite lunches is the simple and yet so tasty bacon and tomato sandwich. The key to a great tomato and bacon sandwich is ripe tasty tomatoes. I look forward to enjoying many more of these over the next few weeks.

BT (Bacon and Tomato) Sandwich

BT (Bacon and Tomato) Sandwich

Servings: 1
ingredients
  • 2 slices of bread (toasted if desired)
  • 4 slices of bacon (cooked)
  • 1 tomato (sliced)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise (optional)
directions
  1. Assemble sandwich.

White Chocolate Cheesecake

White Chocolate Cheesecake

Cheesecake is one of my favorite desserts and I have been meaning to make one for a while now. I had seen a few cheesecake recipes that include white chocolate which is another of my favorite flavours so I decided to go with a white chocolate cheesecake. One of the problems when cooking for one is that most recipes are made for more than one. I don't mind with most things as I can just use the leftovers for lunches. Desserts are different. Most of the cheesecake recipes required 3 or even 4 bricks of cream cheese. No matter how much I love cheesecake I didn't really like the idea of eating 3 bricks of cream cheese in the form of cheesecake over the next few days. Another problem with dessert recipes is that they often include eggs and it is hard to divide an egg in half so you are restricted in the amount that you can reduce a recipe by. Luckily the cheesecake recipe called for one egg per brick of cream cheese. Even when using the one brick recipe there was enough to fill 2 of my individual size spring form pans.

I used the same crust that I used in my Fresh Strawberry Pie . It worked much better with the cheesecake than it did with the strawberry pie. I was able to get the cheesecake out of the pan with the crust intact.

The cheesecake was amazing! It was creamy and good with a hint of chocolate. I will definitely be making this again. It was really simple to make and it filled my place with an amazing smell while it was baking.

French Toast Stuffed with Blueberries and Cream Cheese

French Toast Stuffed with Blueberries and Cream Cheese

Local blueberries are now in season here in Ontario. I have been wanting to do french toast and I had some cream cheese on hand so I tried throwing them all together. It was pretty good. There was a really nice compliment of flavours and textures. The french toast was nice and crisp, the cheese was creamy and the blueberries were juicy. It was a good start to blueberry season.

Cherry Teriyaki Chicken

Cherry Teriyaki Chicken

I really liked the combination of cherry and teriyaki chicken in the Cherry Teriyaki Chicken Lettuce Wraps that I made the other day. I thought: "How would just cherries and chicken teriyaki taste?" I was so intrigued that I decided to try it out. The recipe is pretty much the same as the Chicken Teriyaki but I add halved cherries to the teriyaki sauce as it simmers and reduces. It was pretty good. The cherry flavour in the teriyaki sauce was a little to subtle but when I bit into the teriyaki chicken and the cherries at the same time it was an amazing combination of flavours.

Htipiti (Greek Roasted Red Pepper and Feta Cheese Dip)

Htipiti (Greek Roasted Red pepper and Feta Cheese Dip)


When I was at the grocery store I asked for 100 grams of feta cheese from the deli section and I got more like 400 grams. I thought, no problem I really like feta I will take it anyways. So I needed a recipe to use up some extra feta cheese and I remembered seeing this recipe for htipiti or tyrokafteri or tyrokavteri, a Greek whipped feta cheese dip/spread. It has a lot of flavours that I really like, including feta, sun dried tomatoes and roasted red peppers. It also had some things in that I was not so sure about including the green onion and the jalapeno pepper. It was amazing! I finished all of it in one night. The roasted jalapeno pepper left a really nice warmth in the mouth. I think that I might even try increasing the amount of jalapeno the next time that I make this.

Htipiti (Greek Roasted Red Pepper and Feta Cheese Dip)

Htipiti (Greek Roasted Red Pepper and Feta Cheese Dip)

Servings: 4
ingredients
directions
  1. Mix everything in a food processor. (Add some oil from the sun dried tomatoes if it is too thick.)

Fava Bean Pesto on Fettucini

Fava Bean Pesto on Fettucini

When I was at the market on the weekend I saw some fava beans and I remembered seeing an interesting recipe for a fava bean pesto. I thought the combination of fava beans, mint, pecorino and lemon sounded interesting. I was hoping to do this with tagliatelle pasta but I could not find any and ended up using fettuccine. It was pretty good. The mint added a really nice "coolness". I would say that this would probably also be good on crostini.

Cherry Teriyaki Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Cherry Teriyaki Chicken Lettuce Wraps

With local cherries in season I have been looking for interesting cherry recipes. In particular I was looking for some savory dishes in addition to sweet dishes. I came across this dish which looked very tasty. I of course made some changes. Instead of frying the chicken in ginger I made chicken teriyaki . I also dropped the honey as my teriyaki sauce is sweet enough. I used "boston" lettuce leaves and they held together while they were being eaten. This dish was very tasty! I imagine that it would also be good as a salad or as a wrap.

Chicken Teriyaki

Chicken Teriyaki

Chicken teriyaki is one of my favorite stand by dinners. It is really easy to make and tasty. You can broil the chicken like the salmon teriyaki but I prefer to pan fry it until it is golden brown and crispy on the outside. The teriyaki sauce is reduced in the pan until it is thicker, more like a syrup. I like to put the chicken on rice so that the rice soaks up all of the excess teriyaki sauce.

Cherry Jam

Cherry Jam

This weekend there were local Ontario cherries at the market and a got a lot of them. The first thing that I did with the cherries (other than eating a bowl of them) was make cherry jam. Pitting 6 cups worth of cherries took a long time! But it was worth it. The cherry jam tastes amazing.

I accidentally grabbed the "light" version of the pectin crystals which ended up being alright as it called for a higher ratio of fruit to sugar. The jam did not seem to set and it is a bit runny.

Strawberry and Rhubarb Crumble

Strawberry and Rhubarb Crumble

I could not let strawberry season go by without doing strawberry and rhubarb something. Strawberries and rhubarb are a classic combination. The sweetness of the strawberries goes really well with the tartness of the rhubarb. I decided to go with a rolled oats crumble. You cannot go wrong with rolled oats, brown sugar and butter. It was really tasty. Vanilla ice cream went well with it.

Spinach and Strawberry Salad with Butter Toasted Almonds

Spinach and Strawberry Salad with Butter Toasted Almonds

Strawberry season is pretty much over and there were still a lot of recipes that I wanted to try. There were still a few stalls with strawberries at the market and I picked some up. One of the the recipes that I wanted to try was Spinach & Strawberry Salad with Buttered Almonds from Seasonal Ontario Food . I used the recipe pretty much as is, though I added some chopped mint and reduced the amount of oil. It was really good. A perfect use of some of the last of the strawberries of the season.

Cucumber and Smoked Salmon Rolls with Dill Cream Cheese

Cucumber and Smoked Salmon Rolls with Dill Cream Cheese

I was surfing food blogs when I came across this post on "Zucchini Rolls with Salmon and Cream Cheese" that looked really tasty. I ended making some changes to the recipe. I changed the zucchini to cucumber and swapped the chives for dill. The "Cucumber and Smoked Salmon Rolls with Dill Cream Cheese" were really good and they were simple to make. (Note: A mandoline really helps to slice the cucumbers thinly.)

I learned something new; the difference between hot and cold smoked salmon. Hot smoked salmon is essentially "cooked" by the heat of the smoke. For cold smoked salmon the smoke is cool when it gets to the salmon and it is essentially cured. (Cold smoked salmon is called lox when when herbs are used.) I was able to find some nice looking hot smoked salmon at the St. Lawrence market.

The dill cream cheese mixture is amazing all by itself. I imagine that it would go nicely on crackers or crostini or pitas, etc. You might want to make the dill and cream cheese mixture a little bit ahead of time to give the flavours a chance to mingle.

Zucchini and Onion Teriyaki

Zucchini and Onion Teriyaki

I was looking for a vegetable side dish and I had some zucchini on hand. I thought that I would try the zucchini done in the flavours of Japan and found this dish. The zucchini along with some onion are fried in sesame oil and teriyaki sauce and garnished with some toasted sesame seeds. This is a very quick and tasty zucchini dish.

Soba

Soba

Today it was quite warm in Toronto and I did not feel like eating anything warm. I decided to have cold soba noodles. It is a tasty meal that is sure to cool you down a bit. The soba noodles are served cold and they are dipped in mentsuyu which is also served cold. You can add extras to the soup such as green onions, wasabi, daikon, etc. The extras in the soup will generally get caught in the noodles as you dip them in the soup and eat them. The soba noodles should be eaten with chopsticks and they should be slurped.

Soba noodles are thin Japanese noodles made from buckwheat. You should be able to find dry soba noodles at your local Asian grocery store. The usually come wrapped in individual servings.

Mentsuyu is a soup that can be used in warm soups or as a cool dipping soup. You can either buy mentsuyou or you can make your own . You should be able to find mentsuyu at your local Asian grocery store. Mentsuyou typically comes in a concentrated form and it should be dilluted with water or dashi.

Mentsuyu

Mentsuyu is a Japanese soup base. It is used both as a cool dipping soup and as a warm soup. It is quite simple to make and tasty. It can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge for a couple of days. My favorite use for mentsuyu is as a dipping soup for cold soba noodles.

You can play around with the ratios of dashi to soy to mirin to find the flavour that you like best. I have also seen sake and/or sugar added.

Mentsuyu used for warm soup it usually more diluted and would use 1 cup of dashi.

Mentsuyu

Mentsuyu

ingredients
  • 1/2 cup dashi
  • 2 tablespoons soy
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
directions
  1. Heat everything in a pan until it comes to a boil and remove from heat.

Grilled Lamb Chops in Red Currant and Rosemary Sauce

Grilled Lamb Chops in Red Currant and Rosemary Sauce

When I was at the market two weeks ago I saw some red currants that looked really nice. I searched the internet for some recipes that used red currants but I could not find much. In the end I decided to use this recipe for grilled lamb chops as a base and I modified it to use red currants. Since the few recipes that I did find with red currants used red currant jam I decided to add some honey to balance the sourness of the vinegar and the currants. This weekend I picked the red currants up when I was at the market. The dish turned out surprisingly well. The red currants added a really nice tartness. I will definitely be making this again.

Strawberries Dipped in Sour Cream and Brown Sugar

Strawberries Dipped in Sour Cream and Brown Sugar

One of my favorite ways to enjoy strawberries is to dip them in sour cream followed by brown sugar. The combination of the strawberries, sour cream and brown sugar has such a wonderful array of contrasting and complimentary flavours and textures. This is one of those foods that brings back memories of childhood; of warm Summer days sitting on the front porch with my family dipping strawberries into sour cream and brown sugar. What a treat it was! Now a days I make sure to enjoy strawberries dipped in sour cream and brown sugar at least once (and often many more times) each Summer during strawberry season.

Chazuke

Chazuke

Chazuke(チャズケ) is a quick simple meal that consists of rice and toppings submerged in green tea. This dish is a good way to use up leftover rice. It is commonly eaten as a late night snack or as a quick breakfast.

I have been meaning to try chazuke for a while so I made sure that I had some leftover rice and teriyaki salmon from the night before. Overall it was a little plain and flavourless...

I was in such a rush to take some photos that I forgot to garnish it with nori and sesame seeds.

Teriyaki Sauce

Teriyaki (????) is a Japanese way of cooking where the food is broiled or grilled in a sweet soy sauce mixture. Many foods can be cooked in teriyaki style such as salmon, tuna, chicken, beef, zucchini, etc.

Teriyaki sauce is one of my favourite Japanese flvours. It is simple to make your own teriyaki sauce that tastes great. You can make a lot of teriyaki sauce and store it in the fridge until needed.

Mirin is a sweet rice wine that is similar to sake. You can also get an imitation mirin that has no alcohol in it. You should be able to find mirin in the asian section of your local grocery store or your local asian grocery store.

You can change the flavour of the sauce by changing the ratios of the soy, mirin, sake and sugar. The sugar can also be replaced with another sweetener such as brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, etc. You can also add extras like garlic or ginger.

Teriyaki Sauce

Teriyaki Sauce

ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons soy
  • 3 tablespoons mirin
  • 3 tablespoons sake
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
directions
  1. Heat in the soy, mirin, sake and sugar in a small saucepan until the sugar is dissolved.

Veal Scaloppine with Lemon Cream Sauce

Veal Scaloppine with Lemon Cream Sauce

Tonight was a night for cleaning out the fridge. I had some veal, cream, parsley and of course some lemons. I really liked the lemon and cream combination. I imagine that a lemon and cream sauce would work well on many dishes.

Now I am looking forward to filling up the fridge again. I have a meal plan and a grocery list and I will be heading out to the market tomorrow.

Veal Scaloppine with Mushroom Marsala Sauce

Veal Scaloppine with Mushroom Marsala Sauce

When I was at the grocery store I saw some nice looking veal and picked it up. I tried chicken marsala a while ago and really liked it so I decided to do a veal marsala. I started with Marcella Hazan's recipe for "Veal Scaloppine with Marsala" and added mushrooms and fresh parsley. It was really tasty. The marsala sauce goes really well with veal.

Kolokithakia Gemista (Stuffed Courgettes) with Avgolemono Sauce

Kolokithakia Gemista (Stuffed Courgettes) with Avgolemono Sauce

Zucchini's are in season and I have been looking for new tasty recipes to try. Peter's post on Kalofagas for " Stuffed Courgettes (Kolokithakia Gemista) With Avgolemeno Sauce " was inspiring. It combines several of my favorite flavours including lemon, dill, and mint with the zucchini. The stuffed zucchini's are a bit of work but they are a one dish meal.

The stuffed zucchini's go well with the avgolemono sauce both flavour wise and ingredient wise. The egg whites left over from the avgolemono sauce can be thrown into the zucchini stuffing and the stock that is used to simmer the zucchini's can be used as the stock in the avgolemono sauce.

This recipe makes a lot of food. The 4 large stuffed zucchini are enough for 4 servings and only about half of the stuffing fit into the cored zucchini. There was enough stuffing left over for another 2-3 servings. The stuffing tastes good all by itself so I had a few lunches for the work week.

The avgolemono sauce did not thicken enough but it tasted great. I tried making the sauce a second time and I was able to get the sauce to thicken properly. The avgolemono sauce is similar to a hollondaise sauce .

Avgolemono Sauce

Avgolemono Sauce

Avgolemono is a mixture of egg yolks, lemon juice and broth. It can be used in anything from a sauce to a stew to a soup. As a sauce it can be used on vegetables or meats. For soups and stews the egg yolk and lemon are mixed in at the end, after everything is cooked. It is important to not boil the mixture as it will curdle.

This is very tasty! I tried on stuffed courgettes and I am thinking that it would go well on asparagus or meat balls or... I am going to have to look for a recipe for an avgolemono soup.

Avgolemono Sauce

Avgolemono Sauce

Servings: 1 cup)
ingredients
  • 1 egg
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 lemon (juice)
  • 1/2 cup liquid (asparagus water, vegetable broth, chicken broth, etc.), hot
directions
  1. Whisk the egg in small sauce pan until frothy.
  2. Slowly whisk in the lemon juice followed by the hot liquid.
  3. Whisk the mixture over medium heat until it thickens, about 5-10 minutes.

Bolognese Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Spaghetti Bolognese - Carbonara

When I came across this recipe I thought it was very interesting. At first it looked like a carbonara sauce but what were the Italian sausage and tomato sauce doing in there? I do not think that you can go wrong by adding Italian sausage to a pasta dish... It was pretty tasty. The meat sauce by itself (before tossing with the egg yolk and cream mixture) is very tasty and could go by itself. It is alway fun to experiment with dishes; adding things, removing things.

Ichigo Daifuku

Ichigo Daifuku

Ichigo daifuku is a Japanese sweet that is a strawberry wrapped in anko wrapped in mochi. Ichigo daifuku are very tasty and have an interesting texture. The mochi is chewy and then there is the paste and in the middle is the juicy strawberry.

Tsubushian (Japanese Sweetened Red Bean Paste)

Tsubushian (Japanese Sweetened Red Bean Paste)


Sweet red bean paste is a common ingredient found in Japanese sweets. It is made by simmering azuki (red beans) in water along with a sweetener such as sugar or honey or maple syrup, etc. You should be able to find sweetened red bean paste in your local Asian grocery store. It can be a little difficult however as it has several different names. Common names include: an, anko and ogura. If that were not enough it can have different names based on the consistency of the red bean paste as follows:

Tsubuan - whole red beans simmered in water with a sweetener
Tsubushian - red beans simmered in water with a sweetener and then mashed
Koshian - red beans simmered in water with a sweetener and then mashed and then sieved for a nice smooth finish

If you cannot find it in stores it is easy enough to make your our. All you need is some azuki (sometimes called adzuki) beans, some water and a sweetener such as sugar. Regular grocery stores near me carry canned azuki beans which are easier to work with. If you can only find dried azuki beans then soak them over night and extend the simmering time until they are nice and tender.

Tsubushian (Japanese Sweetened Red Bean Paste)