What a great day, its Friday, the weather is cool and the sun is out…….All is right in the world today. I am working from home today getting my menu’s in order for school to start, my first full day feeding my girls will be on Thursday, September 9th, It’s going to be so much fun this year. It’s really a blessing to love what you do, I have always enjoyed cooking and have found pleasure in all of my jobs, even though some were too stressful, and then there was my forced retirement because of my carpal tunnel surgeries when I was told I couldn’t do this type of work anymore, or did they shouldn’t……hmmm, I forget. I was a manager for about 5 years having minimal contact with food, but if you haven’t been able to tell, I am a control kind of person, a true chef…..lol……and if the chef that worked for me wasn’t up to my standards, we had problems…..sigh…….so I found my way back into the kitchen, so my hands a little numb, oh well it could be worse. At least I’m loving my job.
So enough of ramblings let’s move on to why everyone’s here today. Turkish Orange Eggplant, need I say more…….I showed you these little beauties in my last post with an idea in mind, but needless to say, it didn’t quite come out the way I planned……but we’ll get to that in a little bit. So after scrambling to come up with an idea of how to best use these little beauties, it hit me yesterday with the clarity of my restaurant days! I would stuff them…….an aha moment!! I do love my aha moments, I was going to make a vegetable stuffed rice for them, I put my rice on to cook, and started to cut and scoop out my little eggplants. Then I had another aha moment, and let me tell you it was a good one!!!!! I would have served these in my restaurant and people would have loved them! Again, it’s not like I’m reinventing the wheel, it’ just being well-read, not being afraid to try things and sometimes fail, and a little thinking a little outside the box.
I think if I have a gift it’s blending flavors, knowing without knowing what will go well together, so not really having any idea of what I was doing I started adding to my stuffing. I thought raisins, (I had golden raisins, even better), I thought pistachio’s ( I guess you’ve figured out I love pistachio’s), of course, it had to have some caramelized onion, and there was the eggplant from inside those little beauties. I was getting ready to season them, keep it simple Dennis, and as I went in my pantry I saw it……unopened, beckoning me……have you forgotten me Dennis, I was meant to be used, not stored…..sigh……yes my friend I had forgotten you.
I had read about Dukka (Egyptian Seasoning) and I think I even had a recipe for making it and had wanted to try it at school, so when I saw the seasoning at Wegman’s I thought it would be a good way to get acquainted with it. For those of you unfamiliar with it, it is a blend of ground hazelnuts, sesame seeds, salt, coriander, cumin, black pepper, and cinnamon, how good does that sound. I have to say it smelled heavenly, I added some barrel-aged feta, and also some low-fat Greek Yogurt and I was in business……I had some green chili sauce in my pantry and I used that as a base to bake my little stuffed beauties, and it was a good choice. Now I know what you’re saying, chef, I’m appalled, you didn’t roast your own Chile’s and make your very own green chili sauce. I know, bad chef…..but there are only so many hours in the day, and sometimes you find good products that make life easier. The green chili sauce was one of them. So here are my Stuffed Turkish Orange Eggplants.
Stuffed Turkish Orange Eggplants
2 cups cooked rice or grain of your choice
1 cup chopped Eggplant (insides of the one your stuffing, get rid of seedy parts)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic chopped
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup chopped pistachio’s
1 Tablespoon finely chopped Cilantro
1/2 Tsp Sea Salt
2 Tbsp Nile Dukka
1/4 cup Barrel Aged Feta (or any feta)
1/2 cup Low Fat Greek Yogurt
In a sauté pan, add some olive oil and sauté your onion, eggplant and garlic for a few minutes, then add the raisins, pistachio’s, salt, dukka and cilantro. Let this mixture cook for 2-3 minutes then add your cooked rice to your mixture and blend it all together. (other grains would work too, I think Quinoa might be really good with this!),
Remove from heat add in your Greek yogurt and feta and set aside to cool.
When your mixture has cooled stuff your eggplants with it and make a nice mound on top.
Find a baking dish that will hold everything upright and not allow them to fall over, add your can of Green Chili sauce tot the baking dish and place all your eggplants in the dish. Cover with foil and bake for about 30 minutes, uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes.
This would be a great filling for tomatoes, zucchini, or any other stuff-able vegetable you might want to use, you may just need to adjust your baking time.
These Turkish eggplants were certainly a hit with my wife’s family, they looked great, no one had ever seen one before, and the spices blended perfectly, there was some heat to it, but it was a tasty heat, not overwhelming at all. The eggplant itself was a little bitter when raw, but cooked well and absorbed flavors well. I will definitely use the stuffing again, and most definitely use dukka at school, my girls will love it!
Now for the second part of my post. I had originally decided to use the Orange Turkish Eggplant as a topping for a Goat Cheese Tart. I had seen a gorgeous tart from Victoria @ Le Petit Plats de Victoria she had made a zucchini goat cheese tart, with a wonderful shortbread crust and I thought it would be great with Grilled Eggplant!! The shortbread crust intrigued me, so I pulled out my food processor and whipped up a few batches of dough, it was certainly simple enough, the only addition I made was to add fresh herbs to the flour before mixing in the butter, pulsing it to mix it well throughout the flour.
I made two crusts, one with fresh Basil which I did a sliced Tomato topping on, and one with fresh Rosemary and fresh Thyme that I did the Turkish Orange Eggplant on.
Goat Cheese Tart
2 1/4 cups All Purpose Flour
3/4 cup chilled Butter cut into pieces (original recipe said softened butter)
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp fresh chopped herbs ( use more if you like)
1/4 cup Ice Water
1 Large Egg (lightly beaten)
1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
in your food processor add flour, salt and fresh herbs, pulse until herbs are well blended throughout the flour.
add chilled butter and pulse until you get soft crumbs, add ice water and pulse again 4 or 5 times.
remove from the food processor and add your egg and balsamic vinegar, work these in by hand. (I’m not really sure why but the original recipe said to). Chill your dough for about 30 minutes so its easy to work with.
Goat Cheese Filling
6 oz Goat Cheese
3 oz of Feta
1/4 cup of Low Fat Greek Yogurt
2 Large Eggs
salt and pepper to taste
Mix together all your ingredients till smooth. This can be done ahead of time and placed in the refrigerator.
Set up your tart crust, either free form or in a tart pan of your choice, (the shortbread recipe should give you enough for two regular sized tarts, my free form tarts were huge) . Flour your working area and roll out your dough to a circle, or just use your hands to form it. The recipe did not call for it, but I would bake the shell for about 10 minutes, the center of my free form tart just wasn’t cooked enough. Then top the tart with your goat cheese mixture and vegetable of your choice, I grilled the Turkish Orange Eggplant first, but my tomatoes were raw. Bake your tart at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes depending upon your topping.
I cooked the tarts on my pizza stone, I don’t know if that made any difference, and the one problem I had was my dough was too thick, even as large as I had made the tarts. That’s why I suggested rolling it out and using tart pans. The rosemary/thyme dough was incredible, the basil didn’t really come out in the dough as well (maybe adding sundried tomatoes to it would help). I only really had one problem with my finished product that I couldn’t overcome and hadn’t anticipated, and it was a biggie…….my wife doesn’t like goat cheese…..sigh…..she thought it was ricotta, took a big bite, and the expression on her face told it all.
Now if you do like goat cheese, you will love these tarts, especially with the shortbread dough, which she did like. Again my only suggestion would be to make these in tart pans, an oblong one would even be nice if you had one, and to make the dough thinner on the bottom, just make like you would make a normal tart. The recipe should make enough dough for regular size two round tarts. The original recipe called for straight goat cheese, but you know me and I had to add my own touch, so I added some of the barrel-aged feta I had and some low-fat Greek yogurt.
They were very good and worth making, I added a little mozzarella and basil for the last 5 minutes of baking on my Tomato Tart, and you can’t see it but I added a little marinara on top of the goat cheese under the eggplant on my eggplant tart. Feel free to experiment with your own variations!