Spiced Mashed Eggplant


Why, oh why, is there never an eggplant around when I need it?  Seriously, every eggplant in Fargo, North Dakota has up and disappeared simply because I want to make spiced mashed eggplant for dinner tonight.

When I was on vacation I picked up a new Indian cookbook, called Recipes From An Indian Kitchen.  The recipes used spices I already had on hand and the ingredients easily found in local grocery store, except, apparently, that eggplant.  If finding an eggplant is an issue for you, just do what I did and substitute 1 pound of white mushrooms for it.  This recipe  would also be a great place to use the Coriander Scented Untoasted Spice Blend or The English Style Madras Curry Powder I posted last week.

Spiced Mashed Eggplant


2 large eggplants or 1 pound of mushrooms

2 TBS butter

1 onion, finely chopped

1 tsp grated fresh ginger

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 fresh green chili, finely sliced

2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp ground tumeric

1/2 tsp garam masala

2 1/2 TBS finely chopped fresh cilantro

Prick the eggplant all over with a fork and roast them under a medium – hot broiler, turning occasionally, for 20 – 25 minutes, until the skin blackens and chars.  The eggplants are cooked when a knife is easily pushed into the center like it is going through soft butter.  Let cool until cool enough to handle.  Remove the skins and coarsely mash the pulp.  Set aside.  Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet.  Add the onions and saute 5 -6 minutes, until softened.  Add the ginger, garlic and chilies.  Saute for 1-2 minutes.  Stir in the tomatoes and salt.  Cook for 12 – 15 minutes.  Add the chili powder, paprika, coriander, cumin and tumeric.  Stir in the reserved eggplant flesh and cook 3 – 4 minutes.  Stir in the garam masala and chopped cilantro. 




French Dijon Rub for Chicken

I guess I am not the only one “suffering” from an excess of chicken parts in their freezer.  So here is another great way to season chicken.  As the butter melts it bastes the chicken leaving the seasoning on the chicken.   If you want more chicken, just double the recipe.

French Dijon Rub for Chicken


1 1/2 TBS softened butter

1 1/2 tsp red wine vinegar

1 1/2 TBS Dijon mustard

1/4 tsp chili flakes

1/2 tsp dried thyme

2 bone in, skin on, chicken thighs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Combine all ingredients in a bowl until well mixed.  Set aside. Gently insert your fingers between the skin and meat of the chicken thigh, separating the skin from your chicken meat.  Gently insert some of the butter mixture between the skin of the chicken thigh and the meat of the chicken thigh.  Roast the chicken in the oven for 25 – 30 minutes, or until the meat is no longer pink.

Ginger and Garlic Pastes

1035One idea I really like from 660 Curries was the idea of making garlic, ginger and onion pastes and freezing them in tablespoon quantities.  I can see using these pastes in all my cooking experiments not just my Indian cooking experiments. I know that it can be a pain to have to make ingredients before you start cooking but these pastes come together relatively quickly and can be made a head of time. I made the pastes up over the weekend and froze them in tablespoon sized quantities. When they were frozen I popped them out of the tray put them in a labled quart sized freezer bag.  When I needed garlic paste for my Pork with Spinach and Cream, I just grabbed two cubes and tossed them is the pan and continued to cook as they melted.

Garlic Paste


50 medium cloves garlic, peeled

1/2 cup water

In a blender place the water and the garlic cloves.  Process, scraping down the sides as needed, until about the consistency of thick apple sauce.  It will keep in the refrigerator in an air tight container for up to a week.  You can freeze it for up to 2 months.

Ginger Paste


8 oz fresh ginger, peeled and cut into chunks

1/2 cup water

In a blender, place the water and ginger.  Process, scraping down the sides as needed. imto; about the consistency of thick apple sauce.  It will keep in the refigerator in an air tight container for up to a week.  You can freeze it for up to 2 months. 

Basic Greek Marinade

In the weeks running up to my vacation, I decided to clean out my fridge by using what I had on had rather than grocery shopping for much.  By the end of the second week I was really regretting my decision to do so. Apparently, somewhere along the line I got an extraordinarily good deal on chicken.  Chicken here! Chicken there! Chicken, chicken everywhere!!!!! I was really running out of creative ways to cook chicken and I didn’t think that was possible.

Hoping to get inspired I hopped on my pintrest boards and did some browsing.  Most of my pins were DIY spice blends, spice rubs and marinades.  Since I already have several favorite spice rubs I decided to try some marinades. I picked the basic Greek marinade because I already had all the ingredients on hand.

I have to admidt I was kind of sceptical about trying any of the marinades on my board.  I have tried marinades in the past and didn’t think they imparted much flavor to the meat no matter how long I let it marinate.  The Greek marinade, however, had a subtle taste due to the large amount of oregano and thyme.  It would have probably been a stronger flavor if I could have found my zester to zest the lemon.

Basic Greek Marinade


4 TBS olive oil

1 TBS lemon juice

1 TBS lemon zest

1 clove garlic

3/4 tsp oregano

1 1/2 tsp thyme

Mix all ingredients together.  Place chicken in a small plastic bag and pour the marinade over it.  Press all the air out of the bag and zip shut.  Marinade the chicken for a minimum of 30 minutes up to 3 hours.

Spiced Ground Beef

In the headnotes to this recipe the author described these sandwiches as the equivalent of American sloppy joes only packing more  oomph. The author wasn’t kidding.  The only change I made to the recipe was to use one Serrano pepper instead of two.  I think that was a wise decision.  The resulting spiciness was a pleasant burn that disappeared quickly.  It didn’t build up and over whelm your mouth by the time you were done with the sandwich.

This recipe uses the garam masala we used for the Pork with Spinach and Cream.

Spicy Ground Beef Sandwiches


2 TBS canola oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 cup finely chopped red onion

2 slices ginger, 2 inch long by 1 inch wide by 1/8 inch thick

2 Serrano chilies, finely chopped

2 TBS tomato paste

1 tsp cumin scented untoasted blend

1 tsp kosher salt

8 oz lean ground beef

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add the cumin seeds and let them sizzle until they turn redish brown and smell nutty, 10 -15 seconds.  Immediately add the onion, garlic, ginger and chilies.  Stir fry until the onion is light brown around the edges, 3 –  5 minutes.  Stir in the tomato paste, cumin scented untoasted blend, and salt.  Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until there is an oily sheen on the surface and around the edges of the sauce, 3 – 5 minutes.  Break up the ground beef, if necessary, and add it to the skillet along with the cilantro.  Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the meat is partially cooked, 5 -10 minutes.  Stir in 1/2 cup water and continue simmering the curry, covered, stirring occasionally, to let the flavors mingle, 5 – 8 minutes.  Serve on buns.