Friday, October 11, 2013

The Eggplant Sandwiches of my Dreams

I had a dream recently that my mother and I were in the kitchen cooking. She was making eggplant sandwiches and I was making cheese sauce, which was getting all over the place! I have no idea what the dream is supposed to mean symbolically (maybe that my motherly side is of substance, while my childlike side is like character junk food?), but I woke up with the compulsion to make eggplant sandwiches. Let me clarify that I do not mean some eggplant between slices of bread. Rather, the eggplant substitutes the bread. And it's battered and fried. Is your mouth watering yet? In between the succulent yet crispy eggplant slices is gooey mozzarella cheese and savory prosciutto with sweet and spicy marinara sauce. If your mouth isn't watering now, check your pulse, you're dead. There was one obstacle in my way to preparing this delicious dish. (And for once it wasn't funds!) I have no idea how to cook eggplant, let alone batter it. So I did what any reasonable Tech Gen-er does, I asked my Facebook friends. And then I posted pictures of the result. And then people wanted the recipe. So here, by popular demand (sort of) is the recipe for eggplant sandwiches. It's stupid easy. Serves 2. Prep and cook time about 20 min.

 Eggplant Sandwiches over Pasta Marinara

 You will need:
A big ass pan. Mine is like 12" in diameter
A small sauce pot
A medium pot
A sharp knife, a large-ish spoon, a fork
A large colander
A small colander or steamer basket
A small bowl
Tomato sauce
A large-ish eggplant
Two eggs
Some flour
Some sort of pasta. I used fettuccine but linguini or spaghetti would be fine. 
Some fresh kale (I used three leaves of the dark green curly-leafed kale, but kale is something you want to use to taste. Fresh spinach would be a good substitute. You could also add 2 or 3 mushrooms.)
Italian spices
Garlic powder
Half an onion
Olive oil
Mozzarella cheese rolled up with proscuitto (You can skip the prosciutto if it's prohibitively expensive for you or want to go vegetarian with it. It doesn't make a huge difference. Don't buy that crap shredded "mozzarella" in the bag though. It's bad for you and it sucks.)
Grated Parmesean cheese
I know that looks like a lot of stuff but it's really not. Trust me, I'm a doctor. No, I'm not, actually; that's an even better reason to trust me. [Dah-DUM-Schi]

1.  Go ahead and get out all your pots and pan; it's just easier this way.
2. Cut the eggplant in slices about 3/4 in. thick and remove the peel. You'll need eight slices. My friend told me to salt them and put them in a paper towel to soak up the excess moisture but that sounded like a time-consuming pain in the ass, so I didn't and they turned out great. Oh yeah, chop up that half onion now too.
3. Crack a couple eggs and scramble them. Get out your flour.
4. With a spoon or your fingers, sprinkle a layer of flour on the eggplant slices, flip and repeat.
5. Grab that egg and spoon it out onto the slices. This is sort of a pain. It will get everywhere. You'll have to smear it around with the back of the spoon. Then you'll get tired of that and just use your hands. Theoretically, you could just dunk the slices into the egg but I figured this would get the flour everywhere. Ask someone smarter than me about that, I guess. Flip slices and repeat.
6. Repeat the flour step. Flip, repeat.
7. Coat your pan with a medium-thickness layer of olive oil and turn the burner on medium. Throw in that onion.
8. Pour your sauce into the small pot and turn on medium-low.
9. Your oil is ready to throw the eggplant on when you sprinkle some water in and it spatters.
10. Place the eggplant slices in a single layer in the hot oil. Be careful or you'll lose your eyes! Don't bother moving the onion out of the way, it will stick to your eggplant slices and will taste delicious! Turn the heat down to medium-low.
11. Sprinkle a thin layer of salt, pepper, and garlic on the top side of the eggplant slices.
12. Throw some Italian spices in with the sauce (to taste) and cover, stirring occasionally.
13. Put the pasta water on to boil (high heat). Use the small colander or steamer basket to steam the kale over the pot. Cover the pot. Throw the pasta in when it starts to boil (turn the heat down a little).
13. Flip the eggplant slices when the bottom side is golden brown and it looks like they're starting to get mushy, but not all the way through. You might have to shuffle them around a bit; if your pan is warped at all it won't heat evenly and some slices will cook faster than others. The middle will always cook fastest, so you'll want to swap that one with the one from the coolest part of the pan (the least brown slice). After flipping, do a very light dusting of the salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
14. When the kale loses crispness, but is not yet soggy, take it out of the steamer and throw it in with the pasta sauce. Now is also a good time to throw in your mushrooms, if you so choose. Please don't forget to wash them and chop them into slices about 1 cm thick.
15. Your eggplant is done when the new bottom side is golden brown. Identify which slices are a similar size and shape. Slice the mozzarella (about 1 cm thickness) and place in a single layer on four of the slices, top with the corresponding piece. Cover if you have a lid big enough. Turn off the burner (or put to lowest setting for gas burners).
16. Your sauce and pasta should be done by now. Turn the sauce off, give it a good stir. Drain the pasta.
17. Flip your little sandwiches and cover again.
18. Plate your pasta, spoon sauce over it, leaving a small amount in the pot. Dust with generous amount of Parmesean.
19. Place your sandwiches on top of the pasta, and spoon remaining sauce over them. I originially envisioned the sauce between the slices rather than on top, but I think that would interfere with the mozzarella melting and sticking the slices together.
20. Enjoy with a glass of red. I had Shiraz Cabernet, but could have gone for something a little lighter.

Cheap chicken soup from scratch.
1. Buy a rotisserie chicken.
2. Eat it until you can't stand it.
3. Put the dessicated carcass in a big ass pot and completely cover with water, simmer on medium-low for, like, ever.
4. Throw in whatever random veggies and starches you have laying around the house.
5. Add a carton of chicken broth.
6. Simmer it for another eternity.
7. Take out all the bones.
8. Delicious.
9. You'll have tons left over unless you throw a party. Freeze that shit.