Whoa, this week. Between the heat and both kids being sick, I feel…heavy. Like I’m trying to do everything underwater, but, you know, really hot water. I catch myself daydreaming about our recent trip to VA and NC, where temperatures were probably pretty high, too, but we had the beach or pool to keep us cool and only fun things to tackle.
I’m also missing the awesome produce from my mother-in-law’s garden, particularly the eggplant. When we visit this time of year, we eat obscene amounts of eggplant – no meal is safe (I’m looking at you, breakfast). Grilled, roasted, sauteed, parmigiana’d…
We were sent home with a small bag of these precious beauties, both your standard dark purple and a magenta and white variety called Rosa Bianca. Rather than recreate one of our vacation experiences, I thought up a dip quite different from anything we’ve eaten recently. It’s inspired by this eggplant spaghetti with miso brown butter sauce, which haven’t had in over a year but still remember how deeply satisfying it was. This spread boasts those same nutty, salty, umami flavors but is versatile enough to use in any meal of the day, or even as a party appetizer.
We dug in the first night to this roasted eggplant dip with homemade brown butter pita chips, and then layered it with tomatoes and cucumbers for a pita pocket lunch the following day. For the third rendition, we re-made the pita pockets, added sauteed ground beef.
That last application was my favorite, but given the current weather conditions I’d probably just dip in cucumber rounds if I made it today.
Note: I put za’atar in both the dip and on the pita chips, but they’re both great without the extra nutty, herbaceousness. I’m just a little obsessed with this spice mixture.
Miso Brown Butter Eggplant Dip
2 medium eggplant
1 red onion, peeled and halved
3 garlic cloves, peeled
4 tbsp unsalted butter
3 tbsp white miso
1/2 tbsp za’atar (optional)
Place an oven rack on the second-highest position and turn on the broiler. Place the eggplant and red onion (cut-side up) on a baking sheet and top the onion with a splash of olive oil. Place the garlic on a small piece of aluminum foil, cover with a olive oil, seal shut, and add to the baking sheet. Broil the vegetables until the eggplant skins are burnt and everything is tender, about 20 minutes, flipping the eggplant after 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the butter in a small saucepan or skillet over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, being whisking and continue cooking until it becomes light brown and smells nutty, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
Peel the skins off the eggplant and remove the stem. Put the roasted eggplant, onion, and garlic in a blender or food processor. Add the brown butter (use a spatula to get all the browned solids), miso, and za’atar and process until smooth.
Brown Butter Pita Chips
4 tbsp unsalted butter
4 rounds of pitta bread, cut into 8 pieces each
1 tsp flaky salt
1 tsp za’atar (optional)
Preheat oven to to 375 degrees F. Heat the butter in a small saucepan or skillet over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, being whisking and continue cooking until it becomes light brown and smells nutty, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
In a large bowl, toss the pita triangles with the brown butter to evenly coat. Spread on a large baking sheet and sprinkle with the salt and za’atar. Bake until crispy and just starting to brown, 7-9 minutes.
Only eight hours before I’m head out of town for a ten day vacation! I’m anticipating this trip to be thoroughly exhausting (Exhibit A: Zane. Exhibit B: Ruby) but I am nothing short of stoked to hit the road with my favorite people. There will be lots of sun and water time and I’m leaving my laptop and DSLR at home so I can get as fully out of my daily grind as possible. Before I go finish packing, though, here’s a glance at my June articles for Recipe.com, Hellobee, and SheKnows:
Some people may consider kale and quinoa trendy foods, but around these parts they’re standard fare. These kale, edamame, and quinoa bowls are the kind of thing we often eat for dinner. Check out the ingredients image and that’s what I’m regularly aiming for: a rainbow of vegetables so we feel happily nourished at the end of the day.
While we try to eat mostly healthy food, I am always drawn to cake. Layer cakes in particular. There’s just something special and celebratory about them that can turn even a plain jane day into something amazing. (If you want to add some extra happy to your day, take a gander at my CAKE pinterest board.) So, I was pumped to make this vanilla cake with chocolate malted frosting for…absolutely no reason. I guess cake produces it’s own whys, though, and its creation prompted us to invite friends over for a cookout and a little “just because” dessert.
Speaking of cookouts, this mango and millet tabbouleh is the perfect contribution to one, or to any potluck-style event. Swap mango for tomato and gluten-free millet for bulghur and you’re on your way to a variation on tabbouleh that I daresay improves upon the original.
Do you ever have leftover chicken or vegetable broth? An awkward amount – not enough for another soup or risotto, but definitely too much to feel guilty pouring down the drain? I often use these leftover dashes to add a little extra depth to homemade sauces. These savory broth sauces are a good place to start if you’re looking for some ideas.
Last but not least: I made cheese curds! This is a great example of a project I’ll never take on again, but I’m still glad I did it once. Making foods from scratch helps me appreciate the time and effort that goes into making them. This is why homemade bagels are on my to-tackle list. I probably won’t make them regularly, but my culinary curiosity has me itching to give them a try.
Oh hey there! The blog has been quiet for the past month, but I’m making plenty of noise on Instagram and Twitter and working my booty off in work and life (as though those are two separate things?). I have a few things brewing outside my comfort zone that I’ll be sharing soon, and I just lined up some childcare for Ruby that I’m feeling great about so I can push full steam ahead on those new projects.
This blog tends to go through regular phases of neglect, as it’s low on the priority list, somewhere behind my family, paid work, my sanity…
BUT, all this creative inspiration and branching out has me itching to write again and explore what I can do with this space, at a minimum sharing more details surrounding this fertile world of culinary content as it intersects with my own life. That’s one of the reasons I love working with food – It’s impossible to separate from real life, as the two are inextricably intertwined.
Until then, here’s a little recap of some of my work to go live last month:
This pressed picnic vegetarian sandwich, heavily loaded with grilled vegetables, basil pesto, olive tapenade, and high quality olive oil. It improves overnight in the fridge, topped with something heavy, and transports easily for an on-the-go outdoor lunch. Iced tea or cold beer optional, but highly recommended. (Recipe.com)
I am digging sheet pan dinners right now. They just feel so easy – spread everything on the pan, throw in the oven, and play with the kids until everything is tender and caramelized. For this sausage sheet pan recipe I added a dill and pepita gremolata to bright up the dish and also discuss the art of sheet pan cooking. (Hellobee)