Sunday, February 13, 2011

Cooking Sundays

Sundays tend to be the day I cook for the rest of the week. Saturdays are spent in errands, or lazing around recovering from the work week, or browsing through recipes planning things I'd like to try. But Sundays I get up, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to cook. Today the agenda called for polpettini, eggplant curry, a lamb stew or curry, and deviled eggs (for the apartment potluck reception  this afternoon).


This is a recipe slightly adapted from a contribution my sister and brother-in-law made to our family cookbook. The amount made here will make about 18 meatballs (3-4 servings), but you can easily double the recipe.
  • 1 tablespoon porcini mushrooms
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 260 grams ground beef
  • 1 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 beaten egg
  • 3 tablespoons bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoons Parmesan cheese freshly grated
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion very finely chopped (divided)
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • fresh parsley, to garnish
  1. Soak the dried mushrooms in the warm water for 15 minutes. Lift them out of the water and chop finely. Reserve the soaking water.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the meat with the chopped mushrooms, half the chopped onion, garlic, and herbs. Stir in the egg. Add the breadcrumbs and Parmesan, and season with salt and pepper. Form the mixture into small balls containing about 1 tablespoon each.
  3. In a large heavy frying pan or skillet, heat the oil. Add the onion and cook over low heat until soft. Raise the heat and add the meatballs, rolling them often to brown evenly on all sides. After about 5 minutes add the reserved mushroom water. Cook for another 5-8 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked through.
  4. Remove the meatballs to a heated plate with a slotted spoon. Add the wine to the pan and cook for a minute or two,  stirring to scrape up any residue on the bottom of the pan. then add the chopped tomato and reduce the sauce by about half.
  5. Pour the sauce over the meatballs , garnish with parsley, and serve with pasta or potatoes.

Bharta (Curried Eggplant)

One of my staple vegetables is eggplant. I love it in almost every imaginable guise—in baba ganough, in lamb stew, roasted, grilled, you name it, I love it. Yesterday I bought a package of three smallish ones, so I was on the hunt for some new recipes to use it up. The recipe I ended up using comes from an old cookbook that I was considering getting rid of. But this looks like it might be a bit premature, given how good this curried eggplant was!

Adapted from The Cooking of India

  • 500 grams eggplant
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh coriander, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seed
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes or small dried chili
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • salt
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • fresh coriander for garnish

  1. Preheat the oven to 210 C/450 F.
  2. Score the eggplants with evenly-spaced, 3 cm gashes, about 1 cm deep, on opposite sides of the eggplant. Place in a baking dish and bake in the oven for about 1 hour, turning them after 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, grind the coriander seed, cumin seed, turmeric, and chili flakes into a powder. (I use a coffee grinder).
  4. When the eggplants are very tender, take them out of the oven, cut them in half and scoop out the flesh. Chop coarsely and put in a bowl with the tomatoes, half the onion, half the garlic, and the spice mixture.
  5. In a large frying pan, heat the oil and butter over moderate heat until the butter foam subsides. Add the garlic and stir for 15 seconds. Add the ginger and stir for another 15 seconds.
  6. Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until they are soft but not brown.
  7. Add the eggplant mixture and continue to cook and stir until most of the moisture is evaporated (about 10-12 minutes).
  8. When the mixture masses together, drawing away from the sides and bottom of the pan, transfer it to a serving dish, sprinkle the garam masala over it, and garnish with chopped fresh coriander.
  9. Serve with rice, chapati, or naan and some dal.

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