Spirit of the Cook; Recipes

This page is dedicated to a friend of mine who takes whatever is in the garden and refrigerator to creates an elegant meal.
Food, she says, is the ephemeral art, and she imparted these recipes verbally while I typed…

Eggplant Parmesan
Eggplant Parmesan

First create a basic marinara sauce; finely chop onion, garlic, sweet red pepper and sauté. Add a slight amount of hot pepper to taste then add chopped fennel bulb , celery and carrot (adds depth of flavor). Pour in a third of a cup of wine (usually red but tonight only dry white was on hand). Evaporate off.

Add a teaspoon each of oregano, dry basil, fennel seed (crushed in a mortar and pestle).

When vegetables are tender add one medium can of ground peeled tomatoes and sauce, no salt.

Let sauce simmer while eggplant is cooking (or make in advance).

Peal and slice eggplant into one-half inch slices (salt and weight if eggplant is very mature with dark seeds).

Dust with flour then dip the eggplant into a beaten egg and coat with a crumb mixture of pulverized melba toast.

Single layer oiled silpat mat on a rimmed baking sheet in a moderately hot oven of 400 degrees. Turn once after ten minutes. Fork tender and nicely brown.

Prepare to assemble the dish with sauce, eggplant and cheeses (parmesan is traditional but we added ricotta and cottage cheese).

These were done in individual stacks beginning with the sauce on the bottom, eggplant, another small spoonful of sauce, spoonful of cheese, healthy sprinkle of parmesan and then repeat. We used five slices of eggplant per stack. End with sauce and parmesan. Pour any remaining sauce around the stacks.

Heat at 350 degrees until bubbly and lightly browned.

Serve immediately with fresh salad.

Fresh Chanterelle and Autumn Leek Quiche

First create the pate brisee crust with butter, flour, water and salt (baked blind).

While baking blind the crust, lightly sauté the (in this case) leeks and garlic in a mixture of olive oil and butter (to skim the pan, about a tablespoon each).

Add the medium sliced chanterelles and criminis. Sauté until tender. Add a quarter cup of dry white wine (evaporate off), pinch of salt, grating of pepper, strew of dried or fresh herbs (thyme, marjoram, tarragon).

Add six little leaves of chopped chard at the end – found surviving in the garden after a recent cold snap.

After the wine is evaporated off, set the pan off the heat to make the egg filling.

Lightly mix or beat three local eggs, a cup and a third combination of dairy (what is on-hand – half-and-half, milk, etc), pinch of white pepper, a couple drops of hot sauce, a grating of nutmeg, teaspoon of dijon mustard.

Taking what cheese is in the drawer combine aged cheddar, white chevre, a bit of Beechers and other ends of cheeses.

Assemble in the pre-baked crust. First layer one-third of the cheese followed by one=third of the mushroom filling. End with cheese.

Carefully pour in the custard filling. Garnish with thin sliced tomato, sprinkle with parmesan and put into a 325 degree oven for forty-five minutes until puffed, firm (barely wiggly), and tests done with a knife.

Rest at least ten minutes before slicing.