Spicy Eggplant

Spicy Eggplant…this is one of my favorite dishes to order when eating out at an Asian restaurant. Of course with COVID-19 I had been cooking almost all of our meals at home for over a year.

Most of the meals I like to eat are easily made at home so I just had to recreate this recipe too as I have been craving spicy, salty, sweet foods lately. Must be because we are in this pandemic longer than anyone thought we would. This dish checks all the boxes – spicy, sweet, and salty – truly delicious with plain steamed rice. As a bonus, you get your veggie serving in there too!

You can make this vegetarian by cooking it as it is but my boys like meat and frowns if they cannot find meat in their plate so I did add a couple of handfuls of chopped meat in there. You can also make it spicier buy adding more chili paste. As always, feel free to tailor my recipes to your tastes!

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For the Sauce:
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon plain white vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon chili paste (sambal oelek)
1/2 teaspoon ground bean sauce (or hoisin sauce)
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

To finish cooking:
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 pound eggplant, peeled, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons water

*I added about 200 grams chopped pork to this recipe when I was taking photos of it for this article. You can leave it out if you want, but it sure makes it taste better!*

1. Prepare the sauce by combining all the ingredients in a small bowl and mixing well. Set aside.

2. Heat oil in a wok to 350 degrees F.

3. Add the diced eggplant and cook, stirring once, for about one minute. Remove the eggplant with a slotted spoon and set on paper toweling to drain.

4. Remove all but about a teaspoon of oil from the wok. Turn the heat to high and add the garlic.

5. Add the chopped pork and let it brown for a few minutes.

6. Carefully pour in the sauce.

7. Let the sauce come to a simmer for 30 seconds.

8. Add the eggplant back to the wok and cook for 10-15 seconds while stirring.

9. Combine the cornstarch,

10. and water to make a smooth paste.

11. Stir it into the eggplant mixture.

12. Keep stirring until it thickens.

13. Let it come to a boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes.

14. Serve hot with lots of steamed white rice.

15. Enjoy!

Sourdough Focaccia

We have been making homemade pizza for a few years now and it’s become a staple that I have 2 outdoor pizza ovens at the moment.

I also make our sourdough bread every week and need to switch it up with a few varieties using different flours, inclusions, or liquid to flavor the bread. Marshmallow stout instead of water for a chocolate chip sourdough batard anyone??

Between bread and pizza, there’s also focaccia! And here is a very easy recipe complete with a timeline to guide you!

You can split this bread in half crosswise to use for sandwiches, or just cut into squares, or rectangles to eat as is! Dip in olive oil, Trader Joe’s Garlic dip, hummus, baba ganoush…..It’s crunchy and soft, salty and herby…just delicious specially when still warm from the oven.

I use really good olive oil and salt as I believe it contributes to the overall taste of the focaccia. The olives are dry cured from Trader Joe’s, tomatoes and rosemary are from the backyard.

I doubled the recipe and made 2 13”x9” focaccia to eat and have enough to trade with a dozen home grown eggs. So please don’t be confused by the discrepancy between the instructions and the photos. 😊

I hope you will like this recipe as much as we did!

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Ingredients:

423 grams all purpose flour

181 grams bread flour

460 grams water

11 grams salt, plus more for sprinkling

115 grams starter, I used one straight from the fridge

12 grams good quality olive oil, plus more for drizzling

Toppings of choice, chopped herbs, olives, tomatoes, etc.

Procedure:

1. 10 am to 11 am

In a large bowl, mix flours, water, salt and starter. Mix with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until the dough comes together.

Set aside for about 15 to 30 minutes to allow the flour to absorb the water.

Then mix the dough thoroughly, drizzling in the olive oil and pulling the dough up until well mixed. Use a plastic bench/dough scraper to help you pull up the dough and mix the oil in.

Cover (I use a clean, unused plastic hair cover!) and set aside for 30 minutes

#1

2. Bulk 11:15-1:15

#2
#3

Perform 4 sets of stretch and fold every 30 minutes, for 2 hours.

Photos 1 – 4 are the stretch and fold in the first 30 minutes, #2 at an hour, #3 at an hour and thirty minutes, and #4 was after 2 hours, the last of 4 folds. See how stretchy and smooth the dough looks after?

#4

3. Proof 1:15- 5:15

Pour some olive oil in a 13 x 9 inch pan.

Transfer dough to the pan and cover.

Every 30 minutes on the first hour, uncover the dough and stretch gently to fill the pan.

Cover and let rest for the remainder of the 4 hours.

4. 5:15 Preheat oven to 450F.

5. Drizzle the dough with about 2 -3 tablespoons of good olive oil.

6. Wet your finger tips and dimple the dough all the way to the bottom of the pan, multiple times.

7. Sprinkle with chopped herbs, olives, capers, cherry tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, caramelized onions, etc.

*I used halved cherry tomatoes, chopped rosemary, olives, and Maldon sea salt. The other focaccia had the same toppings except it did not have tomatoes, as I only got a handful from the garden.*

8. Sprinkle with good quality salt.

9. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until golden brown.

*After baking, tops should be golden and edges crusty.

*Bottom should be toasted. This looks perfect!

Cut for sandwiches, this is what the crumb look like on my bake. Yummy!

Lime Pickled Onions

A very easy to make, yummy pickle recipe that only requires 3 ingredients!

I use this in my sandwich, as a side to add flavor to my meals, straight from the jar, and of course, with any Mexican/South American food.

The color is just stunning!

Ingredients:

1 large red onion, halved and thinly sliced

1/2 cup lime juice, from about 6 limes

1 1/2 teaspoons salt, adjust to taste

Thinly sliced onions

Here’s how to make it:

1. Place the sliced onions in a bowl. Pour boiling water over, enough to cover the onions. After about 10 – 15 seconds, pour into a colander to drain.

Taco bowl

2. Place the onions in a glass jar and add the lime juice and salt. Stir well. Let sit for 30 minutes before serving. Store in a covered glass container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks (doesn’t last that long in my home though!).

Yummy!

3. Serve as a side in any way you like. It is so good that I’m sure you’ll love it as much as I did!

Chicken Enchilada

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Electric Lunchbox #47: Quinoa Salad/Tabouli

Let’s start September right with a vegetarian side dish!

Quinoa!

It’s getting cooler in the evenings here in Southern California, but still really hot in the daytime. And for lunch, I usually want some protein and a salad. I am not a fan of leaf salads, though. I like pasta, potato, or grain salad. Like this one here.

You can easily make this a good meal by grilling some chicken or steak to go with it. Or add some fried tofu to keep it vegetarian. Yum either way!

Remember to wash your quinoa really well, otherwise it will taste soapy/bitter. I do this by placing it in a fine meshed strainer and rinsing under running water, or swirling it in a bowl of water, changing it a few times. Drain well and then it’s ready to be cooked.

*NOTE that this recipe uses regular sized measuring cups, NOT the tiny ELB cup, unless specified.*

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1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed very well

1/2 cup water

1 tablespoon olive oil

1-2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 stalk green onion

1/4 red bell pepper

1 garlic clove, minced or 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic

A handful of cilantro/parsley, chopped

Salt to taste

Additional olive oil, if desired

1. Place quinoa, water, and olive oil in the big bowl of the ELB .

2. Place the bowl in the ELB and add 2 ELB cups of water to the base. Cover and let steam until it shuts off, about 35 minutes.

Bell peppers from my garden can’t decide if they want to be green or red!

3. Meanwhile, chop green onions and bell peppers. Mix with garlic, cilantro/parsley, and a generous pinch of salt. Set aside.

4. Check quinoa for doneness. If needed, add 1/2 to 1 ELB cup of water and steam until done.

5. Mix cooked quinoa with the chopped vegetables and squeeze in the lemon juice. Taste, adjust seasoning, and add additional olive oil if needed.

6. Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!

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Electric Lunchbox #42: Aloo Matar (Potatoes and Peas Curry)

We’re making Indian food today! And it’s vegetarian too!

This recipe is made from potatoes and peas, cooked in a tomato based sauce with garlic, ginger, onion, cumin, coriander, etc. then sprinkled with cilantro just before serving. Yum!

I like to cook the spices with oil on the stove to release all the lovely aromas, caramelize the onion, and take the edge off the garlic and ginger. I think this little extra step will give you a more flavorful dish than my usual “place everything in the bowl and cook” recipes. Specially since this is a vegetarian dish, I definitely encourage you to follow this step.

After sautéing the spices, you can cool and add them to the bowl and take it to work if you’re cooking at work. Otherwise, do as I did and just add it to the prepared vegetables in the bowl and cook. It will taste amazing, I promise!

*NOTE that this recipe uses regular sized measuring cups, NOT the tiny Itaki cup, unless specified.*

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I only had seeds, so I had to crush it first.

1 tablespoon oil

1 teaspoon coriander

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon garam masala

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon minced ginger

1 small onion, peeled and diced

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

1 potato, peeled and diced

1/2 cup peas

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup water

120 ml (3 little cups) of water for the base

Chopped cilantro, to serve

*An optional step is to combine the spices and salt in a food processor and whirl until it becomes powdery. I only had whole coriander seeds, so I crushed it then run it through the food processor with the other spices to blend. *

1. Heat a pan over medium low heat. Add oil, then add coriander, cumin, paprika, garam masala, turmeric, and ginger. Stir until fragrant. Add onions and garlic. Sauté until wilted and slightly browned. Set aside. *You can leave it in the refrigerator at this stage and add the potatoes, peas, and water when ready to cook.*

2. Place potatoes and peas in the big bottom bowl of the electric lunchbox. Pour the sautéed mixture over and add tomato paste and salt.

3. When ready to cook, pour 1 cup water in the bowl and stir everything together until the tomato paste dissolves.

4. Place the bowl in the base of the electric lunchbox and add 120 ml water to the base. Cover and let steam until done, about 55 minutes.

5. Carefully open the lunchbox and check the potatoes for doneness, it should be tender yet not falling apart.

6. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with rice, or flat bread.

5. Enjoy!

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