A mother-daughter conversation on food and cooking (mostly)

Friday, December 21, 2007

Food as Religion Again

Now I’m into the good part of Christmas: making food for gifts. Had I been a Wise Man, I would have brought the Christ Child lemon curd or homemade salsa. Tonight I’m making pear chutney, and I have my marmalade and lemon curd recipes at the ready.

Which brings me to the topic of today’s discussion—my recipe card file was getting really messy and I failed to find both my pear chutney and eggplant salad recipes on the first go. I sorted them, archived some of them (put in a more deeply buried file), and even threw some away. In doing so, I came across James Peyton’s recipe for green chile enchilada sauce. I had written it out for my card file for convenience, but I had forgotten to make those particular enchiladas for several months. Well! I had the same religious experience as last year about this time, involving love, longing, intense nostalgia, and activation of the saliva glands. We’re going to have them tomorrow. Silly, since we live in Arizona and can have enchiladas any day we want. Maybe this is how Norwegians feel about lutefisk, and is why some people are Lutherans. I really don't know.

Here is the eggplant salad recipe. It’s the one pictured on our masthead. Very flexible and wonderful.

Roasted Eggplant Relish

1 large eggplant (peeled if desired), or several small ones
Olive oil

Cut the eggplant into ½-inch cubes. Toss with 1 teaspoon salt. Place in colander to drain for 30 to 60 minutes. Rinse lightly, drain, pat dry. (I sometimes skip this step if I’m lazy).

Place the eggplant cubes on a large rimmed baking sheet and toss with 1 or 2 tablespoons olive oil. Roast at 425 degrees for 20 minutes, stirring once or twice, until tender and the edges are touched with brown.

Now you can do anything with these tasty little morsels. You can eat them as is, like a pig, standing at the kitchen counter. You can put them in a pasta sauce. My favorite way is to make them into this relish that’s halfway between a salad and a condiment. You can make this very simple with just a little parsley and tomato, or you can make it rich and complex with olives and chiles.

Chopped tomatoes
Parsley, cilantro, basil, dill, and/or other fresh chopped herbs
Minced red onion, or sliced green onions
Ripe or green olives if desired
Finely minced jalapeno, optional, or powdered cayenne or crushed red pepper
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 clove garlic, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
1 or 2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper

Mix gently. Serve at room temperature.

1 comment:

Eva said...

Funny -- I wrote about your Christmas marmalade and other holiday food gifts for a Free Times piece that was originally scheduled to come out before Christmas. Now it's coming out the day after, so I think I edited out the marmalade part. But I've definitely been thinking about it!