Beef and Guinness Stew

I should be writing about something you can make for your Thanksgiving dinner but I made this for dinner last night and it is just too good not to share immediately and it might be something to make on the Sunday after the holiday when you have had enough of turkey leftovers.

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Loved the oven roasted potatoes

A few week ago a couple of girlfriends and I went on a road trip to Simon Pearce a handmade glassware company; its about an hour and half from my house in Quechee, VT. This is my second visit to the combination store, glass blowing workshop, restaurant and bar.

My first visit was on Mother’s Day which happened to be a lovely day in May when my husband and I were on our way back from a weekend in Montreal. It was an unexpected treat. The property is on the river and there is a beautiful covered bridge and waterfall which you can enjoy while eating your meal.

May Simon Pearce

our May visit

I would suggest if you want to eat here; and you should; put your name in for a table and then walk around the store and glass blowing workshop. Learn from our mistake, well mistake is a little harsh. It just gave us more time to walk around.

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I’m a dork I used a clothespin because I couldn’t figure out my daughters stand – till this morning

Both times my food was excellent and I would go back again; although after talking with our waiter and him bringing over a copy of the latest book that has some of the recipes included in it and of course I ended up buying it. Between me and my daughter (mostly my daughter) we are going to need a library just for our cookbooks/magazines.

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I had a 4 pound chuck roast I cut up

IMG_3647So I had their beef stew and the depth of flavor was so intense I figured it had to have been on the stove or in the oven for hours. I was pleasantly surprised that we were eating in just about 2 hours and most of it was the pot simmering on the stove.

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all the love on the bottom of the pan – scrape it up when you add the liquid

IMG_3650My daughter came home after work and reheated a bowl for herself and said it was ridiculously good and worth buying the book for.
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after an hour and half

Beef and Guinness Stew with oven-roasted potatoes
This is exactly how their recipe – I will also share how I made mine

Ingredients:
2 & 1/2 pounds of beef, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. black pepper
3 tbsp. olive oil

Instructions:
Season the beef with salt and pepper. In a large stewpot, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and brown the beef in batches, adding 1 tablespoon olive oil to each batch, over medium high heat. Using slotted spoon, remove the beef from the pot and set aside.

3 carrots, peeled and sliced (blanch and set aside)

1 large onion
2-3 cloves garlic
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp. Flour
1 bottle Guinness Stout
2-3 cups beef stock
(I used my carrot water and added a tablespoon of beef base plus a container of unsalted beef broth so mine was a little less thick than there’s)

Add onions and a small amount of olive oil to the stewpot and cook over medium heat until translucent. Once the onions are caramelized, add garlic, thyme, and bay leaf and cook for 5 minutes. Add flour and mix well. Add the browned beef back to the pot and add the Guinness. Bring to a boil and add beef stock. Bring the mixture back to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 1 & 1/2 hours, or until the beef is tender. Add the carrots and adjust the seasonings before serving

Ingredients:
2 pounds small red potatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp. Paprika

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the Paprika added a little heat – which was nice!

IMG_3652Instructions:
Cut potatoes in quarters.  In a bowl, toss potatoes with olive oil, salt, pepper, and paprika. Spread potatoes on a baking sheet in one layer (do not overcrowd). Roast for at least 1 hour in 400 degree F oven or until brown and crisp. Flip twice during cooking to brown every.

Recipe from the Simon Pearce Restaurants

Roast Chicken with Bread and Arugula Salad

I did it again; I made something that needs to be shared and didn’t take pictures. Why do I do this to myself? I often wonder if it is so I have to make it again? I doubt it I think I was a little pressed for time; who makes a new roasted chicken recipe during the week for friends? This girl does!
IMG_3634.JPGI knew it was going to be good since it was an Ina Garten recipe and she is a rockstar in the kitchen. And roasted chicken is her thang. Yes I wrote thang on purpose. I can’t be certain how many ways there are to roast a chicken, or how many different ways I have roasted chicken or even how many of them were Ina’s recipes. But everyone should have at least one favorite way to do so and make it often. This one is a keeper, very moist full of flavor and pairs perfectly with the arugula salad.

I actually roasted 2 chickens in two separate pans; one cast iron as instructed and the other in a stainless steel. The bread I used was not thick enough for the cast iron and came out too burned for me. It worked perfectly in the stainless. Thank you KP for asking if I was going to take a picture so I actually have a couple to share just before we dug in.
IMG_3633.JPGRoasted chicken for me is home, warmth, comfort, family and friends. What dish brings you home?

Notes: Season the chicken 24 to 48 hours before you roast it
I hate reading a recipe and get excited about making it and then find out I should have started it a day or so before. 

Roast Chicken with Bread & Arugula Salad
Ingredients

1 (4-4½ pound) whole chicken (try finding a Bell & Evans)
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 large garlic cloves, smashed flat
1 lemon, quartered
2 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 or 4 thick slices of country bread – ¾ in thick
Olive oil
Arugula salad (see below)

Directions
Place the chicken in a baking dish, Using your fingers, gently loosen the skin from the breasts without breaking the skin. Carefully slide the sprigs of thyme and the garlic under the skin. Put the lemon in the cavity. Ina ties the legs together and tuck the wings under the body. I didn’t do either of those thing and it worked out for me. You do you!
Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of salt and pepper. Cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 or 48 hours.

Preheat the oven to 500’F, take the chicken out of the fridge to warm up a bit. Place the bread in a medium 10” cast iron skillet in a single layer. Pour a little olive oil over the bird and place the bird breast side up on the bread. Roast for 30 minutes, turn the bird over and roast for another 15 minutes, or until the juices run clear. Wrap the skillet tightly with aluminum foil and allow the chicken to rest at room temperature for a full 30 minutes. The bread will be almost burnt on the bottom and soft with the pan drippings on top.

Place the dressed arugula salad in a large, shallow serving platter. Put the chicken and bread on a cutting board. Cut the bread into 1 inch squares and sprinkle it on top of the salad. Carve the chicken into thick slices and place it on top of the salad. Spoon the juices over the chicken, sprinkle it with sea salt and serve warm.

Salad ingredients
¼ cup Champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
½ cup olive oil
½ cup thinly sliced scallions, white and green parts
2 tablespoons dried currants
6 cups baby arugula, lightly packed (6 to 8 ounces)

Directions
Whisk the vinegar, mustard, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper together in a mason jar, or small bowl. Whisk in the olive oil, stir in the scallions and currants, and set aside.

Place the arugula in a large bowl, add the vinaigrette, and toss well.

Recipe: Ina Garten make it ahead

Creamy Pasta and Beef

Tis the season for comfort food – do you really need a season to enjoy comfort food? I don’t think so! I know I can and do make and enjoy a comfort meal more times than not. My comfort food go to meal starts with roasted chicken. I can and have roasted a whole chicken for Sunday dinner more times than any other Sunday meal. Sometimes I even roast two. Which is why there are at least 3-4 containers of chicken stock in my freeze at all times.
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Soups are another one of my comfort food staples. I usually make a soup over the weekend for a quick grab and go lunch option for the week. So I guess it’s good thing I always have stock available. Maybe it’s all part of the cooking equation; I have so I make. That kinda makes sense now that I say it out loud.

Maybe they call it comfort food because it’s on the heavier side of the food pyramid? (I do know that it isn’t) For the record I love salads but I wouldn’t call it comfort food. I would call it more of a necessity, again probably because of the roasted chicken dinner with mashed potatoes and gravy and the rich broth soups I need or should eat a salad or two only so the scale doesn’t roll it’s eyes at me; another for the record – it does all the time.
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So here is a quick and easy comfort food meal that you can make any night of the week. And maybe make a tossed salad to go along side of it. Plus don’t forget the fresh loaf of bread; remember you are also eating a salad so it’s totally legal.

Ingredients
box of medium pasta shells – cook according to directions and set aside
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound of ground beef
1 medium sweet onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning – if you don’t have this see below
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups beef stock
15 ounce can of tomato sauce
¾ cup heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1 1/2 cups shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese

Directions

Heat olive oil in a stock pot or large skillet over medium high heat, add the ground beef, crumble and brown till cooked through ;drain the excess fat and remove the beef to a bowl or plate.

Add the onion cook for about 2-4 minutes until they are translucent then add the garlic stirring frequently. Cook for another minute or so. Add seasonings cook for another minute or so. Add the flour and cook till it is slightly browned this should take a couple of minutes.

Gradually whisk in the beef broth and tomato sauce. Bring it to a boil; reduce heat stir occasionally and simmer until it thickens around 10 minutes.
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Add the Pasta, beef and cream until everything warms and melds together. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.  

If you don’t have a jar of Italian seasoning – it is generally made up of the following spices so I suggest adding a sprinkle or two of the ones you do have. Or pick the ones you like the best. Oregano, Marjoram, Thyme, Basil, Rosemary, Sage and Parsley

adapted from online Damn Delicious

Cider-Sage Pork Roast

Sometimes dinner just comes together; at least in the beginning; I’ll explain more about that in a bit. I had picked up a pork roast on my last shopping trip. There was a little cider leftover in the fridge and some of my herbs are still going strong especially the sage.
IMG_3582.JPGLast Tuesday I think I was a little over ambitious; I blame vacation and not having a kitchen for a couple of weeks and the weather; fall is coming, well actually weather wise it is here and I love cooking roasts; it helps take the chill out of the air in the house. My husband keeps saying “winter is coming” but he is a Game of Thrones fan and he loves to ski.
IMG_3570.JPGThe front cover of one of my favorite foodie magazines Fine Cooking had a roasted pork loin on the cover that I wanted to try. It does help to actually read a recipe through before jump in and start making it. Which I hadn’t done; thankfully there was exactly 4 cups of cider left in the fridge; it was meant to be. If nothing else the brine was easy and made the pork taste exactly as I thought it would. A little sweet from the cider, just enough salt and very juicy – which you need to cook it to the correct temperature to help with the juicy part.
IMG_3575.JPGI had to run to the store after work to pick up the things I didn’t have on hand and that’s when it went and usually does go sideways. I needed a couple of apples and ended up grabbing enough to make an apple pie. Really Donna on a Tuesday night; what is wrong with me? There were going to be 5 of us for dinner and I started with making the pie crust around 5:30 I think we finally ate dinner around 7:30 – 8:00.
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While the pork was outstanding and cooked to perfection, I will admit it wasn’t because I had a firm grasp of the cooking process. It smelled like something was burning so I checked the oven and my potatoes, apples and onions were mostly charcoal. Since it was getting late I flipped the convection switch and the oven was on a ridiculously high temperature plus everyone was around the island looking at vacation pictures. Needless to say I was distracted and shit happens. But I made apple pie 🙂

Cider-Sage Pork roast

Brine
4 cups apple cider
½ cup sugar
⅓ cup kosher salt
3-5 cloves garlic, cut in half
3 lb. center cut pork loin

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, whisk together 2 cups of the cider, sugar, salt and garlic and bring to a simmer until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Add the other 2 cups of cider and cool to room temperature. Add the roast to a bag or bowl and cover with the brine, seal and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
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Roast
16 fresh sage leaves
3 large granny smith apples, 2 inch wedges
1 ½ lb small potatoes, similar to Yukon gold, halved – I used my potatoes from our garden
1 large red onion, ½ inch wedges
3 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups apple cider

Preheat oven to 425’F with the rack in the center of the oven
Bring the roast out to the counter to come to room temperature about 20-30 minutes.
IMG_3578.JPGIn a large roasting pan, toss the apples, potatoes and onion with half of the olive oil and 1 teaspoon of salt. Roast until they are mostly tender around 20 minutes. While they are in the oven remove the pork from the brine and place on some paper towels. Discard the brine. Dry the pork. Using kitchen twine or if you are lucky enough to have silicon bands like mine. Tie in three evenly spaced spots. Take 12 sage leaves and place them under the twine. Season roast with black pepper.
IMG_3579.JPGWhile the veggies and apples are roasting, in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat, Add the rest of the olive oil, and when hot sear all sides of the loin, don’t move the pork until it releases from the pan, which will ensure a nice brown crust.

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sorry about the lousy picture – but you get the gist

Place the pork roast onto the apples, potatoes and onions in the roasting pan. Reduce the heat to 350’F (which I didn’t do, another part of my problem) roast for about 60-80 minutes or until the roast registers 145’F check on it after 60 minutes. Once done let it rest for about 15 minutes.

I also missed this step. While the pork is resting, make a pan sauce. Pour off and discard any of the fat. Set the pan over medium-high heat. Add the butter, flour and the rest of the sage leaves torn into large pieces. Cook making sure to stir up ant brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the cider and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring until it thickens, about 5-10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
IMG_3574Remove the twine and thinly slice the pork. Serve with the apples, potatoes and onions along side the sauce.

Adapted from Fine Cooking

Gyros – Greek street food

We had a wonderful time in Greece, looks like we got out just in time though. They have had a couple of horrible storms where they had to shut down all of the ferries; parts of Athens was flooding and some of the Peloponnese islands are getting hit really hard. I guess my ferry ride into Mykonos harbor pales in comparison to what they are experiencing now. Though at the time it was a new experience for me trying to get into the hull of the ship to get ready to disembark being tossed around like a rag doll due to high winds and rough seas. Looks like we had it easy!

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Theirs

Last week I shared some of the food we had eaten on our journey. Bare with me for another week of Greek food I even made some this week at home and shared it with my son and in-laws. Sorry this one might be a little wordy too.

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Ours – first try don’t judge me too hard!

We rented a car for the day on the island of Mykonos no sure my husband was thrilled with this idea; especially since he was driving; but I wanted to and they say if you are going to rent a car, ATV, or side by side; this is the island to do it as there is less traffic that some of the other ones. My husband might disagree a bit with this. The roads are narrow, the traffic was less but the uneven stone walls leaning in make for a scary ride at times. We did get a little too close to some bushes while a bus was coming at us. Thankfully no damage. Sorry back to food – I read about a few restaurants that you Must Visit while here. We came a across one of them and decided to check it out for dinner; after we handed in the car; no one wants to or should drive there at night especially after a glass of wine or two.
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Our dinner at Bill and Coo was the most expensive meal we had but what an experience in fine cuisine. I’ll share the photos of what we had but I couldn’t begin to tell you how to make any of it. There are several high end restaurants that might break the bank but you can also eat on a dime and still enjoy some great tasting food and have a wonderful experience. After having several gyros on the islands and mainland my husband asked “why are these not more popular back home?” I’m sure they are somewhere in the states, just not anywhere near us.

Enjoy some Bill and Coo food porn!IMG_1245IMG_1246IMG_1247

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The night before we were leaving I wanted to bring back 2 things from Greece. I loved their Pistachios and their pita bread. I found a shop for the nuts but had to ask one of the bellhops at our hotel where a grocery store was so I could get some pita to take home. He tried not to laugh at me but found it hard while saying “um don’t you have pita bread back home?” I get it, of course we do but I have never come across thick ones that wasn’t a pocket; if that makes any sense? for 1.5 euros I packed a 10 pack of pitas in my luggage.

Here is my first attempt at making a chicken Gyro – it won’t be my last; everyone loved them!

Souvlaki is marinated meat skewer which you then take the cooked meat along with some other ingredients; roll everything up in a grilled pita and you got yourself a Gyro
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Souvlaki dry rub for marinade – combine all the below in an airtight container

2 tablespoon dried oregano
2 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper

Take 1 tablespoon of the above mixture and combine it with 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice and 2 tablespoon olive oil. Cube up your chicken, pork or lamb and add to a ziploc bag along with the marinade. Make sure all pieces are covered and let sit up to 24 hours.
I made mine in the morning and had it ready for dinner that night.
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I didn’t skewer them or cook them over the grill only because it was getting dark out and I didn’t want to 🙂 I did grill my Greek pita over an open flame on my stove top. You can eat this as a deconstructed gyro but I think you need to try it as I made it at least once.
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Tzaziki
1 medium Cucumber – grated and drained
1/2 cup Greek yogurt – plain
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice – fresh is best
1 -2 garlic cloves – minced
2 teaspoons dill or mint – fresh
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Grate unpeeled cucumber seeds and all. squeeze out as much of its liquid that you can.
add all the ingredients together. Let it sit for 10 minutes to let it meld. Adjust the ingredients above to your taste. It should last about 4 days in the fridge, that is if you have any leftover. Before serving drizzle a little olive oil on top.
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Gyros
Meat – marinated and cooked
Pita
potatoes – french fries
tomato – chopped
red onion – sliced thinly
Tzaziki

Grill the pita bread, layer the rest of the ingredients, top with fries and tzaziki – roll and enjoy!

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Easy no-fry Eggplant Parm & Garden Salsa

OK so you are probably wondering when she is going to stop writing about her damn garden; but this year was a super year and I need to use up or give away what I pick; plus the season is winding down. It is Labor day weekend, there are school buses everywhere and we are supposedly not supposed to wear white anymore – pfff I wear what I want!
IMG_3103.JPGSo this week was another one of those busy weeks but I had a plan to use up what I have for tomatoes and peppers. I came home from work on Wednesday and started chopping. Halfway through we lost power so I finished chopping by candlelight. I made a pretty large bowl of salsa with my tomatoes, green peppers, onions and jalapenos. It was pretty cool since I haven’t been able to make it in a couple of years; it was a terrible year for green peppers last year and the year before I didn’t get any tomatoes. Yeah I know I could have gone out and bought some of what I needed  but that just doesn’t appeal to me for making “homemade salsa” I have issues I know!
IMG_3094Tonight (Thursday) I wanted to use up all the eggplant that was in the fridge. This is only the second year of growing eggplant and who knew there were SO many kinds out there. I had only seen the large oblong ones from the store but mine are long and thin. Which is great for slicing up and adding them into things. I know I have shared this recipe before but it is worth repeating since it comes together fast and tastes excellent with probably the fewest iIMG_3095
I add Sweet Italian sausage basically because I love it, and I think it brings a lot to the dish and my husband won’t ask why there is no meat. I very rarely keep the sausage link as a full link. For this recipe I sliced a couple of the links into coins or minim meatballs. I do this for spaghetti sauce sometimes; or I’ll remove the casing and smash the sausage up and brown it. Either way I am all in.
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I deglazed the pan with a little leftover red wine – totally optional

 

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I put this a baggie for another use – fridge or freeze it for another day!


Mock Eggplant Parmesan

1 large or several small Eggplant(s) diced
Marinara sauce – your favorite jar
1 small Onion diced
1 package Mozzarella
2 links Sausage (optional)

Saute the onions until they sweat, add the sausage if you are using it. Cook the sausage till it is done. Add the marinara sauce, stir and then add the mozzarella. Cover and let it simmer for about 30 – 40 minutes.

Serve with a side salad and some bread

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I posted this recipe way back in 2013 wow I have been doing this a long time!


Homemade Garden Salsa

6 tomatoes (roma)- seeded diced
1 Green bell pepper – seeded diced
1 Onion – diced
2 Jalapeno peppers – seeded chopped
5-6 cloves of garlic – pressed
1 Lime, squeezed
Fresh cilantro – chopped
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper
dash Balsamic vinegar
1-2 packets of sweet and low

Dice and seed the tomatoes and set aside to drain while you dice the peppers and onions, press the garlic, and chop the cilantro. Mix everything together add a dash of balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste and a packet or two of sweet and low.

Hint 1: you can make it hotter by leaving the pith and seeds in the jalapenos or milder by removing them before chopping.

Hint 2: By seeding the tomatoes your salsa will be less watery

Braised Eggplant – Greek Style

There were a couple of reasons I was drawn to this recipe. One is I had to use up some of my eggplant, tomatoes and green peppers from my garden, the other is it said it was “Greek style” and my husband and I will be visiting Greece in a few weeks. I figured we maybe we should try to get a glimpse of some of the flavors.
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I honestly had to look up what made this “Greek” as I wasn’t entirely sure. If you did know; bear with me for a few minutes. The spices widely used in Greek food are Oregano yeah that one surprised me too, Cinnamon I am a little nervous about this one as I have never been a fan of it in savory dishes; probably so used to it with sugar and butter I guess I miss the sweet aspect of the cinnamon. Parsley, Mint and black pepper. I am a fan of parsley and pepper; mint not so much. This will be an interesting culinary experience for us. My husband feels the same way about cinnamon and mint so at least we have that!
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I am thinking of writing my blog while I am there but since I won’t be cooking I would only be able to share what I am eating along with pictures instead of sharing a recipe.  If you wouldn’t mind I am game! 

IMG_3072Let’s discuss eggplant just a little. I just started eating it a few years ago and now I grow it in my garden. My first introduction to eggplant was when I worked at our local pizza barn. Lets just say it didn’t look or feel appealing to the teenage me.  I changed my mind when I made eggplant parmesan. The very next year I tried growing it. Oh how I have evolved wink wink!

Braised Eggplant – Greek Style
Directions – preheat oven to 400’F

1 large or a couple small Eggplant
Kosher salt
Olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
1 carrot, peeled and diced
6 large cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 28 ounce can chopped tomatoes – I used my own tomatoes and added a small can of tomato sauce
2 15 ounce cans chickpeas – I didn’t have any so I used great northern beans  
Fresh parsley or mint for garnish

Dice the eggplant into cubes and place in a colander, sprinkle with some salt and let it sit and drain out some of the bitterness while you chop the rest of the veggies.
IMG_3070In a dutch oven add a little olive oil with the onion, pepper and carrots. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic, cook another minute. Add the spices and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, eggplants and beans. Bring to a boil 8-10 minutes and then transfer to the oven for about 40-50 minutes.
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Keep an eye on the liquid so set a timer for 20 minutes to make sure it isn’t too dry. 
If it is add ½ cup of water – or a little of the red wine you are drinking.
IMG_3079.JPGServe alongside some warmed up pita bread if you have some on hand.


Adapted recipe  – the Mediterranean dish