Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Bake It Pretty Contest!

Hey Guys!

Just a quick little note about a couple of fun contests for all you pretty bakers out there.

A couple months ago I found out about Bake It Pretty through Walking the Vegan Line and I fell instantly in love. They have a little of everything to dress up your baked beauties to really make them shine. So check them out and check out My Aim Is True and Fresh Vintage for contests to win a $25 gift certificate to get you started. I know I wouldn't have any trouble spending $25 and then some there.

I think I'll go for the frog mold. Just too neato!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant

Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant is a great read. I definitely recommend picking it up from the library next time you are there but this post isn't about this book.

While in City Market a couple days ago I remembered to look in the sale produce section. The section is more like a couple baskets set a top one of the regular produce cases. They aren't very flashy (why would they be?) and they are mostly hidden almost exactly behind one of the hanging scales they have dotted about the place . So, whenever I have a final glance around before heading off to the bulk bins I usually miss having a look in them. This time I remembered. Often there isn't much to find there, some rediculously ripe avocados (way beyond guacamole stage I think), potatoes with eyes that have grown into something more like arms or legs, squashes well and truely beaten but it's always worth a look. In the past I have found bags of citrus that didn't look awesome but knowing that they would be fine to juice I snatched them up. This time there were two glorious eggplants. Why are these beautiful eggplants in here I wonder and pick them up to investigate. I found they both had been slightly damaged, an indentation as though from the corner of something had punctured each of them but otherwise they were perfect. I grabbed them without a second thought.

I don't know if I've ever really mentioned it here but I love eggplant. Love it. Strangely I don't eat it all that often. When Lex and I are in Greece we eat it almost daily (along with far too many olives but I'm pretty sure this has been covered). These eggplant would be roasted. The best way to enjoy it. This is not up for debate by the way, my mind is set. This brings me to a super simple and delicious dinner I whipped up for us last evening.

This can be prepared easily a few different ways depending on preference and doesn't require much in the way of ingredients. I just love the sweet creaminess that roasted eggplants impart. Why oh why don't I cook them more often?

Roast Eggplant & Tofu Pasta

3-4 servings whole grain spaghetti (or other whole grain pasta)
2 medium eggplants
1 lb extra firm tofu
14oz can diced tomatoes
Herbs of choice to taste (basil, oregano, thyme, whatever you have that sounds good)
Salt & pepper to taste

First roast your eggplant. Preheat your oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with foil (clean up can be a nightmare). Wash your eggplants and prick a few times with a fork to allow the steam to escape. We don't want any explosions. Roast until eggplants until they deflate, insides will become very soft. You can allow the skin char a bit, about 40 mins. Remove from oven and allow to cool enough to handle.

Meanwhile press your tofu for about 30 mins to force out some of the moisture. Cut it up into cubes or whatever shapes you desire. Prepare the fu either by browning it in a pan with a bit of oil or baking it (this can cut calories as you don't need to use oil if you do not wish) in the oven for about 30 mins, turning at least once to allow all sides to brown.

Start pot of water for pasta to boil. Add pasta and cook according to directions for al dente (or prefered texture). Continue on to prepare sauce while pasta cooks. Drain pasta when ready, rinse with cold water to stop cooking and set aside.

Once you can handle your eggplants, open them up and scoop out the flesh into a bowl. Discard skins. Using a fork mash the eggplant a little just to help break it up.

Heat a medium sized pan over medium heat. Add tomatoes and mashed eggplant and heat through. Add in herbs, salt & pepper. Tasting as you go. Add in prepared tofu. Allow flavors to combine. Add pasta to sauce mixture and toss to coat. Serve it up and enjoy.