Tag Archives: Eggplant

On the Table: Farm Stands of the North Fork, L.I.

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Dinner was at the Remsenberg, Long Island, home of my brother and sister-in-law. Remsenberg is about 10 minutes from the Riverhead “entrance” to the North Fork. I went there for a few days with my friend and At Home illustrator Pascal Lemaitre and his 7-year old daughter Maelle. The evening’s breeze had blown away the heat and humidity of the day so we had our Farm Stands of the North Fork dinner outside. It was my plan to divide our meal into “appetizers” and “dinner.” But it got late and we decided to enjoy everything at once on platters, “family style.”

With the exception of the shishito peppers that I picked up in Bordentown, New Jersey on the way to Long Island, and the nacho chips, everything came from my North Fork drive. As is always the case, I don’t exactly know what I will make when I start the drive. What I find leads me to a menu. The ability to use a big, outdoor grill — rather than just my trusty indoor grill pan — played a big role in determining my menu.

Our North Fork Farm Stand Menu
Garlic Sauteed Shishito Peppers
Tomatilla Salsa with Nacho Chips
My Mother’s Eggplant Salad
Sliced Pan-Seared Long Island Duck Breast
Brick-grilled Miloski’s Poultry Farm Chicken
Heirloom Tomato and Husk Tomato Salad on Leaf Lettuce
Grilled Ciabatta Bread
Creamy Roasted Corn, Sweet Pepper and Romano Bean Salad
Grilled “Fairy Tale” Eggplant and Baby Squash

Dessert
Grilled figs with Catapano Dairy Farm honey-lavender goat cheese
Cantaloupe

These are the wonderful small figs that I found.

Garlic Sauteed Shishito Peppers
These peppers came from a Bordentown, NJ farm. They simply require a quick saute in olive oil, toss in a little garlic at the end, turn on to platter and add lots of sea salt. See an upcoming post about Shishito peppers.

Tomatilla Salsa with Nacho Chips
Not the best photo. I love the sour acidity of a green salsa. Simply remove the husk from tomatilla, cut into food processor-friendly sized pieces and process until nearly a puree but still a bit chunky. Add garlic, a little jalapeno, red onion, lime juice, olive oil and lots of cilantro.

My Mother’s Eggplant Salad
The recipe for this is on page 79 in At Home. In making this, I took advantage of the grill to cook the eggplant rather than the oven as called for in recipe. Once eggplant is cooked it is scraped away from peel, coarsely chopped and combined with green pepper, scallion, garlic, lemon zest, olive oil, parsley, salt and pepper. I substituted red pepper and red onion for the green pepper and scallion.

Sliced pan-seared Long Island Duck Breast
The boneless duck breast was marinated in Dansom plum juice and honey. Just before pan-searing in oil, I dried the breast well. It takes about 3-4 minutes per side to cook medium rare. As with all meats and poultry, allow five to ten minutes for it to sit before slicing. This was conceived to be a little appetizer, but joined the dinner when we decided to enjoy everything at once at the table. It was served simply and unadorned and a huge hit.

Brick-grilled Miloski’s Poultry Farm Chicken
Pascal and I had eaten swordfish and soft shells the prior two nights so I passed on seafood. Miloski’s was a little off my tour path so Pascal, Maelle and I drove there the morning of our dinner. People sometime think chicken is a little pedestrian for entertaining. But a good roasted or grilled chicken can be a treat. My notion was to brick-grill the chicken which means using a weight on top. This gets explained and shown later in this post.

Heirloom Tomato and Husk Tomato Salad on Leaf Lettuce
Last evening Christina, Larry, my brother-in-law and I had a “tomato tasting.” It is easy to get caught up in the “heirloom” hype. I wanted to compare excellent, vine ripe “Jersey tomatoes” with a variety of more expensive “heirloom” tomatoes. They all were simply dressed with olive oil and salt and pepper. Of the six varieties we tasted, with the exception of one, the heirloom tomatoes had far better flavor and a nice balance of acid and sweet than the Jersey tomatoes and totally worth the price difference. Life is short and though it sometimes feels like this hot and humid summer will never end, before you know it, summer — and farm stand heirloom tomatoes — will be just a memory. Seize the day! Go get some heirloom tomatoes this weekend and share them with friends and family.

Grilled Ciabatta Bread
Ciabatta has a good crust and spongy texture that makes it an ideal grilling bread. Grilling bread makes for an easy embellishment to a summer’s meal. See yesterday’s post on Grilled Bread.

Creamy Roasted Corn, Sweet Pepper and Romano Bean Salad
Caught up in the “roasted corn” offered at North Fork Farm Stands, I decided to do a roasted corn salad. In addition, as raw peppers do not agree with Pascal’s constitution, I decided to roast the red peppers I would typically add to a corn salad for color. I had some Roman beans left-over from the prior night’s dinner. And that’s how this salad ended up on the menu. If I was doing it again, I would stick with simply blanched corn. I think roasting robs the corn of its essential sweetness. On it’s own and simply on the cob, roasting transforms the sweetness of corn into a sweet nuttiness. But it got lost in the complicated salad. Its dressing was a fresh, olive oil based mayonnaise, though you can certainly use a good store-brand.

Grilled Variegated “Fairy Tale” Eggplant and Baby Squash
These little beauties simply got split, brushed with olive oil and grilled. Raw eggplant is unpleasant so it is important to be sure eggplant gets fully grilled including the thicker, meatier end. You can tell when eggplant is fully cooked when you have the skin-side down and you can see the eggplant flesh on top slightly “bubbling” and pushing up.

Grilled figs with Catapano Dairy Farm honey-lavender goat cheese
Cantaloupe

There certainly were lots of fresh-baked farm stand pies that would have made a great dessert — especially slightly warmed in the oven and served with good vanilla ice cream. But after a big meal, something lighter and simpler worked better. Along with the duck breast, these perfectly ripe figs — split, lightly brushed with honey and olive oil and grilled and served with a simple fresh goat cheese, were dinner stand-outs. Here Maelle tries to control her impulse to consume all of the figs herself! Because the figs were so tiny, I grilled them indoors in a grill pan. The grates of an outdoor gill would have been too small for these little wonders.

Some behind the scenes looks

Grilling eggplant for My Mother’s Eggplant Dip and peppers for the Roasted Corn, Pepper and Romano Bean Salad.

Grill-roasting corn for the corn salad.

Grilling Fairy Tale eggplant and baby squash — everything get split in half and brushed with garlic-scented olive oil.

Making the Brick-grilled Chicken from Mikowski’s Poultry Farm

Ingredients included two chickens, two limes, dried farm stand chilies, garlic and cilantro.

I removed the backbone enabling me to butterfly chicken.

I used both the lime rind and lime juice to marinate chicken as well as lots of chopped garlic, diced dried chiles, lots of cilantro and salt and pepper.

The chicken marinated for about six hours. Overnight would have been fine.

The chickens were placed on the grill over moderate heat and weighted down with a large piece of slate found by my brother when I assigned him to locate a substitute for bricks which we did not have. The slate flattens the chicken and increases its contact with the grill. A single large weight was a challenge to handle requiring two substantial grilling tongs.

Nicely grilled on top…

..and bottom.

Finally cut up into friendly sized pieces and ready to platter.

Do Ahead Strategy
As I contend each time, this is a dinner you could do and with some planning and getting a few things done days ahead, you can get one relaxed hour…and more before guests arrive. And you can certainly pick and choose and do a less elaborate dinner.

Up to 3 days ahead
Complete all shopping except corn
Make Tomatilla Salsa
Make My Mother’s Eggplant Salad
Chop garlic

Day before
Buy corn
Split and marinate chicken
Rinse lettuce
Roast corn and peppers, blanch Romano beans and make corn salad
Marinate duck breast
Slice melon
Trim stems and halve figs
Pull and label bowls and platters
Set table
Refrigerate wine or beer

Day of up to five hours before guests arrive
Grill fairy take eggplant and squash
Split and grill figs
Slice tomatoes, onions and platter tomato salad – cover and refrigerate

As dinner approaches
Sear and slice duck breast
Grill chicken, cut into pieces and platter
Grill bread
Dress tomatoes
Platter everything not already plattered
Put everything out

Last minute
Saute shishito peppers

Enjoy and be proud!!

In the Coming Weeks — On the Road and On the Table
A Trio of Philadelphia Neighborhood Farmers’ Markets – Clark Park, Rittenhouse Square and Headhouse Square
Farm Stands of Lancaster County, PA
Farm Stands of Hudson Valley, NY
A Backyard in Moorestown, NJ
Farm Stands of The South Fork of Long Island, NY

Thank you for visiting.

Steve
Your Home Entertaining Coach

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Filed under On the Table, Tips

Grilled Eggplant & Assorted Sweet & Hot Peppers Recipe

I love mixing mildly hot peppers into a mix to provide an occasional surprise in the mouth.  My apartment does not have an outdoor grill so I do my grilling in a grill pan. Works just fine, but this goes much more quickly on a grill with generous cooking surface. I have to do mine in several batches.

Do Ahead I would happily make this two days before serving. Store, well-covered in refrigerator and allow to reach room temperature and re-toss before serving.

2 pounds assorted sweet and mildly hot peppers – 2-3 times sweet than hot
2 pounds assorted small eggplant
2-3 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
1/2 cup good olive oil
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

1. Combine garlic and olive oil in large bowl. Mix well.
2. For eggplant, remove stem end and discard. Cut each eggplant in half lengthwise. Down length of each half, cut deep slits into flesh about 1/2-inch apart taking care not to cut all the way through. These slits allow oil to penetrate without drenching eggplant in oil, helps steam escape during grilling and generally facilitates cooking.
3. For the peppers, remove the stem and top and discard. Cut peppers in half lengthwise. Remove all seeds and trim away membrane. Take care in handling hot peppers not to touch soft membranes like your lips and eyes or you will cause burning. Wash hands well after handling hot peppers.
4. Prepare eggplant for grilling. You can’t just toss eggplant into garlic oil. Eggplant acts as a sponge and that’s not good. One eggplant could absorb most of this oil. Instead, place your fingers into garlic and oil mixture. Generously rub and coat each eggplant. Continue with all eggplant. Eggplant should have modest patina of oil.
5. Prepare peppers for grilling. Unlike eggplant, peppers do not absorb oil. Combine what’s left of garlic oil with peppers and toss well.
6. Preheat grill to moderate.
7. To grill peppers, start peppers skin side down. Cook until scorch marks are formed — three to five minutes. Turn peppers and continue cooking until peppers become very limp. Transfer to bowl and stack. Stacked peppers will continue to cook from their own internal heat and you want this to happen. Allow peppers to cool.
IMG_4738

8. To grill eggplant, start flesh side down and cook until well scorched and marked — about 3 to 5 minutes. Turn so skin side is down. Continue cooking. You will see moisture within slits bubble and steam and eggplant will swell as internal moisture turns to steam. Oil will also seep into eggplant through slits. Skin protects eggplant through this process. Continue cooking until eggplant are limp and very pliable. Undercooked eggplant is not a good thing. Set aside to cool.

IMG_4739

Here I use my Grill Press to facilitate “marking” by putting downward pressure on eggplant. A Grill Press is a recommended but not essential list of kitchen equipment. You will get my full recommendations in our upcoming book.

IMG_4741

Eggplant are well marked and spend a while “on their backs” as they cook fully through. Look for the sizzling in the slits as a sign that heat has deeply penetrated eggplant.

9. Cutting peppers and eggplant. There are two approaches to this – big pieces or more fork-friendly pieces. If you are using small eggplant, these look better as they are without cutting them up. Depending on size of peppers, you may have to cut some into somewhat smaller peppers. This approach assumes your guests have a knife and a stable place to cut the peppers and eggplant on their plate. Neither are easy to cut with a fork as each has a skin. Alternatively, cut peppers into generous, but not too long strips. Cut eggplant into large chunks, but not so large that your guest could not fit it into their mouth.
IMG_4742

Eggplant cut into manageable pieces.

10. Toss together eggplant and peppers in bowl. Add lemon juice or balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and toss again. In addition to flavoring the dish, the acid from lemon juice or pepper serves to cut the richness of oil. To serve, spread onto low platter taking care to have a nice mix of peppers running throughout.

IMG_4744

Looks pretty good!

Yield A pound of eggplant and a half pound of peppers will serve 6-8 depending on what else is on the menu.

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Eggplant & Peppers Recipe + Yellow & Green Beans Recipe

Book Update
Yesterday, we received the “soft proofs” of At Home by Steve Poses: A Caterer’s Guide to Cooking and Entertaining. Looking great. We are now less than a month from having books in hand and ready to ship. If you are enjoying these posts, you will love the book — sort of these posts on steriods multiplied by 512 pages! If you buy the book now you will receive a signed, limited first edition.

Two More Do Ahead Labor Day Recipes
Ah, Labor Day Weekend! The third and last of summer’s holidays. Memorial Day weekend, summer’s just begun and produce stands and stalls just tease us. Come July 4th, summer’s in full swing — except maybe for corn. But by Labor Day, market baskets are brimming with peppers, tomatoes, beans, eggplant, herbs and, of course, corn.

Grilled Eggplant & Assorted Sweet & Hot Peppers
My Maple Acres farm stand always has an array of small multi-hued and unusual eggplant and a rainbow of sweet and hot peppers. Grilled together these make for the ideal Labor Day do ahead dish — whether a part of your backyard menu or your contribution to someone else’s party.

IMG_4733

I love mixing mildly hot peppers into a mix to provide an occasional surprise in the mouth. Some recipes are more idea and technique with some seasoning than they are a careful step-by-step procedure and this is one. Pay attention to the tips and hints and you can then set this actual recipe aside and just do it. My apartment does not have an outdoor grill so I do my grilling in a grill pan. Works just fine, but this goes much more quickly on a grill with generous cooking surface. I have to do mine in several batches.

Do Ahead I would happily make this two days before serving. Store, well-covered in refrigerator and allow to reach room temperature and re-toss before serving.

2 pounds assorted sweet and mildly hot peppers – 2-3 times sweet than hot
2 pounds assorted small eggplant
2-3 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
1/2 cup good olive oil
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

1. Combine garlic and olive oil in large bowl. Mix well.
2. For eggplant, remove stem end and discard. Cut each eggplant in half lengthwise. Down length of each half, cut deep slits into flesh about 1/2-inch apart taking care not to cut all the way through. These slits allow oil to penetrate without drenching eggplant in oil, helps steam escape during grilling and generally facilitates cooking.
3. For the peppers, remove the stem and top and discard. Cut peppers in half lengthwise. Remove all seeds and trim away membrane. Take care in handling hot peppers not to touch soft membranes like your lips and eyes or you will cause burning. Wash hands well after handling hot peppers.
4. Prepare eggplant for grilling. You can’t just toss eggplant into garlic oil. Eggplant acts as a sponge and that’s not good. One eggplant could absorb most of this oil. Instead, place your fingers into garlic and oil mixture. Generously rub and coat each eggplant. Continue with all eggplant. Eggplant should have modest patina of oil.
5. Prepare peppers for grilling. Unlike eggplant, peppers do not absorb oil. Combine what’s left of garlic oil with peppers and toss well.
6. Preheat grill to moderate.
7. To grill peppers, start peppers skin side down. Cook until scorch marks are formed — three to five minutes. Turn peppers and continue cooking until peppers become very limp. Transfer to bowl and stack. Stacked peppers will continue to cook from their own internal heat and you want this to happen. Allow peppers to cool.
IMG_4738

8. To grill eggplant, start flesh side down and cook until well scorched and marked — about 3 to 5 minutes. Turn so skin side is down. Continue cooking. You will see moisture within slits bubble and steam and eggplant will swell as internal moisture turns to steam. Oil will also seep into eggplant through slits. Skin protects eggplant through this process. Continue cooking until eggplant are limp and very pliable. Undercooked eggplant is not a good thing. Set aside to cool.

IMG_4739

Here I use my Grill Press to facilitate “marking” by putting downward pressure on eggplant. A Grill Press is a recommended but not essential list of kitchen equipment. You will get my full recommendations in our upcoming book.

IMG_4741

Eggplant are well marked and spend a while “on their backs” as they cook fully through. Look for the sizzling in the slits as a sign that heat has deeply penetrated eggplant.

9. Cutting peppers and eggplant. There are two approaches to this – big pieces or more fork-friendly pieces. If you are using small eggplant, these look better as they are without cutting them up. Depending on size of peppers, you may have to cut some into somewhat smaller peppers. This approach assumes your guests have a knife and a stable place to cut the peppers and eggplant on their plate. Neither are easy to cut with a fork as each has a skin. Alternatively, cut peppers into generous, but not too long strips. Cut eggplant into large chunks, but not so large that your guest could not fit it into their mouth.
IMG_4742

Eggplant cut into manageable pieces.

10. Toss together eggplant and peppers in bowl. Add lemon juice or balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and toss again. In addition to flavoring the dish, the acid from lemon juice or pepper serves to cut the richness of oil. To serve, spread onto low platter taking care to have a nice mix of peppers running throughout.

IMG_4744

Looks pretty good!

Yield A pound of eggplant and a half pound of peppers will serve 6-8 depending on what else is on the menu.

Yellow & Green Bean Salad

This very simple salad is both colorful and has a distinctive flavor that results from being dressed in lime juice and a touch of sesame oil. With this salad I cut beans into half-inch lengths — an unexpected look for what is typically a salad of long beans — and much more fork friendly.

Do ahead Beans may be cooked up to a day ahead but best not to dress salad until ready to serve.

1/2 pound yellow beans
1/2 pound green beans
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, about half a lime
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds, optional

1. Snap stem end of yellow and green beans. Line up beans and cut into 1/2-inch lengths.
2. Bring a generous amount of generously salted water to a full boil. Add beans and return to boil. How long to cook depends on tenderness of beans. Young and tender beans will cook in 4 to 5 minutes with more mature beans taking longer. The best thing to do is taste as you cook until beans are tender, but still al dente. Once beans are cooked to your liking, drain and immediately run under cold water to stop cooking and set color.
3. In a bowl, combine beans and lime juice and toss. Add olive oil, toasted sesame oil, salt and pepper. Top with optional toasted sesame seeds.

Yield 1 pound of mixed beans will serve 4 – 6, depending on what else you are serving.
IMG_4736
To toast optional sesame seeds
While you can toast seeds and nuts in the oven, I find the quickest way to do a small batch is in a small fry pan over medium heat.
IMG_4734
Place seeds in cold fry pan over moderate heat. Shake occasionally. Once seeds begin to tan, shake frequently until they reach a deep tan. Be careful at the end to not let seeds go to far.

IMG_4735

Turn seeds out on to a plate to stop cooking.

Tomorrow: Lemonade Alternative: Lime Rickey

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