Tag Archives: oregano

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

Tomatillo Chili w/Pork and Hominy – or as I referred to it as running with scissors

I am definitely open to trying new things; I actually encourage everyone to at least try something before you decide “I don’t like it”. Which is a far cry from how I grew up; I had a strict rule I would not eat anything that was green; except iceberg lettuce. Thankfully I have changed my ways or life would certainly be pretty boring and I would not have a damn thing to write about.

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This week I totally went out on a limb; at least for me.  I have never bought tomatillos, hominy or Poblanos before.  I will also confess I have never heard of hominy before until I heard Guy Fieri say he LOVED them. So I at the very least I wanted to try them. I think that is HUGE growth for me and I won’t say love just yet; but I definitely liked them.

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Tomatillo

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Poblano Pepper

This recipe is another with some prep up front you can let the slow cooker finish the job.  If you don’t have a free night during the week than try this on the weekend!

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Tomatillos 15-20 medium, husks and stems removed, rinsed well, dried and halved

1 large onion, cut into 1 inch pieces

4-6 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp cumin

Pinch of ground cloves

Pinch of ground cinnamon

3 tbs vegetable oil

2 cans white or yellow hominy, drained and rinsed

2 ½ cups chicken broth

2-3 poblano chilies, stemmed, seeded, and minced

3 tbs minute tapioca – I found mine in the baking isle of my local grocery store

2 tsp sugar

2 bay leaves

1 4lb boneless pork butt roast, trimmed and cut into 1 ½ inch chunks

Salt and pepper

½ cup minced fresh cilantro

Position oven rack 6 inches from broiler, toss tomatillos, onion, garlic, cumin, cloves and cinnamon with oil and spread onto aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Broil until vegetables are blackened and begin to soften. 8-12 minutes rotating pan halfway through.

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Let vegetables cool slightly, pulse vegetables along with juices in a food processor until almost smooth. About 10-15 pulses; transfer to slow cooker.

Stir hominy, broth, poblanos, tapioca, sugar, and bay leaves into slow cooker. Cover and cook until pork is tender, 9-11 hours on low or 5-7 on high.

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Let chili settle for 5-10 minutes, then remove the fat from the surface, discard bay leaves, stir in cilantro, season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with your favorite chili toppings.  Shredded cheese, sour cream and salsa it’s all good!!!

Signing off to watch the super bowl – GO PATS!!!!

Mexican Pork Stew – easy and delicious

In cooking I truly believe that a recipe is just a place to start; use it more as a guideline than a rule. I have heard many people in my classes that only feel comfortable with following the recipe word for word. I do try to make a new recipe as written but more times than not I end up changing it, a little more of this, less of that, I’m not a mushroom fan so I have been known to grind them up, I probably shouldn’t have confessed that. Sometimes I change it for my families’ tastes; other times it is just a matter of finding what I can at my local grocery store. I would never, not try a recipe that sounded interesting to me just because I couldn’t find one particular ingredient, there are always exceptions to this rule but as far as flavorings go I feel you can use whatever floats your boat.

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Case in point a couple of years ago my sister-in-law was visiting for Christmas and while I was at work she put together her rendition of Mexican Pork Stew. She didn’t have her recipe on hand but had made it many times before so she headed out to our local grocery store.  It recall chuckling while she told me what was supposed to be in it versus what she found to substitute for the ingredients that she couldn’t find. Just recently she photocopied the page in her cookbook with the actual recipe.

Original version                               Adapted version

Canned tomatillos                               Salsa verde

Diced/seeded tomatoes                      Canned Diced tomatoes

Green hot chilies seeded                    Can diced green chilies

Since I had never had the “real” one and the one she made from my store was delicious I have made hers a few times and every time it gets eaten as a snack just heated up in a small bowl, made into a taco, and served over rice or noodle.

I hope you get a little adventurous and don’t shy away from a recipe just because there is something in it you are not a fan of, just substitute it for something you do like. Who knows you could come up with something even better than the original.

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Mexican Pork Stew – My version adapted from Debs’ which was adapted from San Francisco A la Carte cookbook

3 pound boneless pork cut into 2-inch cubes

2 tbs olive oil

1 large onion diced

3 cloves crushed garlic

1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes – I had some small tomatoes I needed to use so I seeded, chopped and added them

1 4.5 ounce can of green chilies

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp cumin

Salt and Pepper to taste

2 chorizo sausages skinned, sliced browned

1 cup chicken broth

In a saute pan add the oil and brown the pork on all sides small batches at a time; careful not to over crowd, place your crock-pot near the stove and transfer the browned pork into the crock-pot. Brown the chorizo I placed all of these in the pan and watched to get some brown on them, add to the crock. If the pan is dry use a little more oil. Saute the onions for a couple of minutes; add the garlic and cook a little longer; careful not to brown the garlic. Add everything to the crock-pot; cover to about halfway up the pot with chicken stock. Cook on low all day or on high 4-5 hours.

Serve with a sprinkle of cheddar cheese and some sour cream.  Sliced avocado is also wonderful served on top. Great served over rice or pasta or served with mashed potatoes. Also great as a taco, be sure to use a slotted spoon to drain the liquid.  I also just love some in a small bowl with a sprinkle of shredded cheddar cheese and a dollop of sour cream.  endless possibilities.

Eggplant Parmesan – that will convert you

All through high school I worked at a local Pizza place, there were a few items that I swore that I would never try; they looked and smelled WAY too funky for me.  Here is yet another example of never say never.  Feta cheese came in a metal vat filled with what I believe was oil or a vinegar maybe.  We had to take a chunk out at a time and crumble it; the smell was horrid. Another was breaded eggplant, it just looked and felt wrong on all levels and then there was the dreaded anchovy the smell and look was just plain rancid; we used to flip to see who had to make the anchovy pizza when someone ordered it.

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Now as an adult I love feta cheese, it adds so much tart briny flavor to anything you put it on.  I love adding it to pasta salad it makes it pop. I still would not order an anchovy pizza but I do appreciate a true Caesar salad made with them and I understand why and when they are needed; I even have a can of them in my pantry as I write this.  The recipe I am going to share now for Eggplant Parmesan has completely changed my mind about the veggie and I am now open to and have used eggplant so much so, that I am thinking of planting it in next year’s garden. With age comes wisdom – or as I explain it; you have to try new food as you get older your taste buds change.

I have also used the sauce for a quick pasta sauce during the week; it has a great taste and a little kick. My mother and a friend were here visiting the last few weeks and I made this; they both loved it and wanted the recipe. My mom even said and I quote “I thought mine was really good but this one I want the recipe” I hope she is reading this and smiling…

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Sauce

2 tbs. good olive oil

2 medium onions, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic minced

1 tsp. red pepper flakes

1 ½ tsp sugar

2 28-ounce cans whole San Marzano plum tomatoes

Kosher salt

Eggplant

2 medium eggplants sliced ½ inch thick rounds

½ cup flour

Kosher salt

Fresh cracked black pepper

3 large eggs

1½ tbs milk

2 cups Italian style breadcrumbs

1½ tsp dried oregano

1½ tsp thyme

Vegetable oil for frying – about 1 inch in the pan you are using

12-16 ounces fresh mozzarella thinly sliced

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 cups sliced provolone

Slice the eggplant and sprinkle both sides with kosher salt and let sit while you make the sauce.  Place on paper towels on a sheet pan.

In a large skillet add the olive oil heat over medium. Add the onions saute for 1-2 minutes; add the garlic and season with salt and pepper and the red pepper flakes.  Saute till the onion are translucent about 6-7 minutes.  Add the sugar and tomatoes, while you are pouring them out of the can squeeze to break them up a bit. Reduce heat to medium low and cook stirring occasionally about 15-20 minutes.

Rinse the eggplant under water and dry off thoroughly with some paper towels. The reason we do this step draws out some of the liquid and removes some of the bitterness.

Get out 3 pie plates or whatever you use when you batter and fry.  Flour goes in one, eggs and milk in another and the third combine the breadcrumbs, oregano and thyme.  Make sure to salt and pepper each pie plate. Dredge each eggplant round in the flour, shake off excess. Dip in the egg mixture and then the breadcrumbs, coating both sides. Lay each round on a baking sheet in a single layer.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until it begins to smoke lightly (between 380’ and 400’) Use tongs to add and flip the eggplant, making sure to each piece is golden brown, I like them a little extra crispy so they are not mushy.  Transfer to a sheet pan covered with paper towels.  Repeat until all pieces are fried.

Preheat oven to 350’ using an 11 x 13 baking dish

Spoon some sauce in the bottom of the baking dish. Layer eggplant over sauce slightly overlapping, top with some mozzarella and the some provolone; repeat with remaining sauce, eggplant and cheeses.  Press the layers firmly into the dish. Bake until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbly. About 35-40 minutes.

Lasagna throw down

Last weekend a girlfriends’ mother asked “would you like this magazine (all recipes) I won’t be making anything out of it” I generally grocery shop on Sunday’s; I take a look at my supermarket flyer, ask the guys what they might like and have a tentative weeks’ worth of meals planned before I head out.  I am pretty lucky that my family are willing to try anything at least once; or maybe they are the lucky ones that I love cooking new recipes. You never know when you will come across a winner and in some cases a dud.

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I took the magazine and immediately ripped out 6 recipes I would like to try. I ended up making 2 of them on Sunday 2 more by Wednesday.  A couple of them were definite keepers (Gumbo, Slow-Cooker BBQ Ribs), one was very good (Stuffed Peppers) but maybe not a weekly/monthly meal but I will be making them again. The last turned out to be a pretty sweet surprise for me.  It was dubbed “World’s Best Lasagna” I was very intrigued how this could be; I never had a formal recipe for the lasagna that I have been making for many many years. I followed this recipe and instructions exactly.  Since it makes a 9×13 inch dish I invited my in-laws over to share. The consensus was it was good, but they all liked mine better.  They said my lasagna had more of a bite than this one.  Everyone was in agreement that you could serve the “World’s Best” to just about anyone and they would all like it, it was a solid good lasagna.

OK not a real thrown down but 5 people voted mine better – might not count since they were all family but if you knew my family they will let you know if they like something or not. if you get my drift.

Here is my recipe – I only make a huge pan of it if we are having guests otherwise I use smaller dishes and freeze all but one that we cook up and eat for dinner with a nice salad and some yummy bread.

Package Sweet Italian Sausage casing removed and crumbled and cooked

2 jars’ of your favorite spaghetti sauce

Large yellow onion diced

4 cloves Garlic crushed

Olive Oil if needed

White wine

1TBS dried oregano

1TBS dried basil

1 TBS Garlic powder

Kosher salt

Fresh cracked Black Pepper

32 oz. Ricotta cheese

2 Eggs

2 TBS dried Parsley

1 ¾ Cup freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano

2-3 Packages Mozzarella

1 Box no-bake Lasagna Noodles

The amounts above can all be adjusted to your taste

In a large stock pot cook the sausage to well done.  Remove and set aside; add the onions to the sausage oil and sauté until softened about 4 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute or so.  Add sauce, take the wine and swirl around the empty jars; add to the pot.  Add oregano, basil, garilc, salt and pepper to taste.  Allow to simmer for 20-30 minutes. In the meantime mix the Ricotta, eggs, parsley and ¾ Cup parmesan cheese.  Once you have the above made you can decide if you want to make 1 9×13 pan OR 3 or 4 smaller one.   The layering is the same.  1/3 of the Sauce – Noodles slightly overlapping – Ricotta – Mozzarella – Parmesan cheese; repeat 3 times.  Cover with tinfoil and cook for 45 minutes, remove tinfoil and cook for another 45 minutes.