Thursday, April 05, 2012

Emily's Stuffed Eggplant

Inspired by my February outing to Anatolia Turkish Restaurant in Nashville, I've been making a fair number of eggplant dishes lately. Anytime I see them dip below $1.99 a piece, I snag a few of these purple beauties for stuffed eggplant. My version of the dish is less saucy than Anatolia's. Plus ground turkey or chicken sub in for the cubed lamb and I added some mozzerella to the top to weld it all together.

If you'd like to try it:

1. Halve eggplants and slather in olive oil before placing cut-side down on a large baking sheet. I use a jelly roll pan lined with oiled foil. Bake at 400 degrees until eggplant is extremely tender and skins are a little shrivelled. (Somewhere around 45 minutes)
2. While eggplants are getting soft, saute your favorite vegetables to go inside, such as bell peppers (any color), mushrooms, zucchini, onion and tomato. (Maybe 2 peppers, 1 cup mushroom, 2 zuch, 2 tomatoes, 1/2 onion.)
3. Next, saute a pound of ground turkey or chicken with onion powder, garlic powder, oregano and a dash of cumin. Add fresh chopped onion and garlic and salt to taste. All the seasonings are to taste. You can't really overdo it with any of them except the salt, in my opinion.
4. Blend the tender vegetables with the cooked ground meat in a bowl.
5. Take eggplant out of the oven and flip each half over. Scoop the vegetable and meat mixture over each half and top with a generous sprinkling of shredded mozzerella.
6. Return to oven and cook until cheese has melted or slightly browned.

This recipe makes enough for two or three eggplants-- so four to six servings-- depending on the size of the eggplants and how many veggies you cook and whether you like to have still crisp veggies or completely soft veggies. For this dish, I like everything to be uniformly mushy :) It's the ultimate vegetable-rich comfort food.

Another note: When selecting eggplant, I find it's best to choose slender fruits rather than the seedier bulbous ones. If you do get a lot of seeds, you can scoop some of it out after the first baking and before you stuff them with filling.

Blissful Cupcakes

Stephen was a good helper at Aldi yesterday, so I decided to swing by Blissful Cupcakes on Sixth Street for a little reward. Julie, the owner, had already sold out of my suggested Magic in the Middle cupcakes (inspired by Joe's favorite chocolately-creamcheesy treat growing up), so Stephen had Lemon Drop with Chocolate Frosting.

Rockam had a cookie from my purse.

Mostly, Stephen just licked all the frosting off.

Julie's downtown shop is probably causing Hopkinsville to collectively gain a few hundred pounds. Since she opened four months ago, she's had several days of selling out before closing time. Last week she closed at 3:00 one afternoon after selling 3,000 cupcakes in a day. Her cupcakes sell for $1.50 and feature natural ingredients. For example, she juices real strawberries to go into her strawberry buttercream frosting. I could taste it.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Anatolia Turkish Restaurant in Nashville

Ever since our good friends, the McQueens, moved to Turkey, I've been a little obsessed with all things Turkish. Despite my love for ethnic food, I'd never been to a Turkish restaurant. So when the 34th birthday arrived, I chose Anatolia Turkish Restaurant in a quiet part of Nashville for our night out without children.

I had studied the menu before we came and knew I wanted to try the Anatolia Eggplant from their "Classical Turkish Home Cooking" section of the menu. At $15.95, the eggplant half is roasted to a silky texture and brimming with cubes of lamb, tomatoes and bell peppers. It might not look very pretty, but I ate the entire thing up to the woody stem tip.  It was that melt-in-my-mouth tender. Joe ordered kabob of some sort, but ate it too quickly for me to remember the details. Sorry about that. I was really fixated on my own eggplant deliciousness.

Soft spotlights, Turkish wines, rugs and pottery decorate the walls. The ambiance was quiet, but friendly, with lots of what seemed to be Turkish accents coming from the servers, all of whom were friendly and unobtrusive.

And for dessert, we ordered kunefe-- a warm, crisp nest of pastry over chewy unsalted goat cheese oozing with sticky rose water syrup. Think baklava meets pizza and turn it upside down. The dessert paired perfectly with the clean flavor of hot Turkish Tea. Joe enjoyed sticking his pinky out as he sipped the very manly Turkish coffee out of a very girly demitasse.

Months ago, my cousin Amy was dreaming about Kunefe, the dessert her friends raved about, which she had never sampled. I'm going to have to figure out how to make it. The difficulty will be finding shredded filo twigs that form the top crust... I think mozzerella would serve in for the goat cheese and I could get rose water the next time I pass through Champaign on my way to Chicago. Now I'm dreaming about it too.

Anatolia Turkish Restaurant on Urbanspoon