Monday, November 5, 2018

Breaded Eggplant Sandwich with a Fancy Chocolate Balsamic Glaze

Eggplant is my favorite vegetable ever, I'm obsessed with all kinds of eggplant, especially the long, skinny, pretty, Chinese eggplant that tends to be less bitter than Italian eggplant.  However, here is the thing, I don't find eggplant bitter, I don't mind the seeds, I don't even feel the need to peel eggplant.  Maybe I'm a little lazy and that is why I don't mind all those things but I think they just bring out the eggplant flavor.

This sandwich is a perfect blend of soft and sweet and yet hearty enough for dinner.  The eggplant is tender with a touch of salt, topped with garlic goat cheese, spicy arugula and a chocolate balsamic glaze that gives the perfect finish.

I have included the recipe below (you can watch it or print it or both) notice I don't measure anything and you can swap out whatever you think.  You can make your own breadcrumbs (just toast any old  bread you have in oven until crispy and then process in a blender, food processor or vitamix.  Add spices like I have shown and store any extra in the fridge.)  You can also make your own glaze by slowly heating about 3 Tablespoons sugar with 1 cup balsamic over medium heat.  Stir often and don't let it burn.  Extra can be stored in the fridge as well.

You also have options!  Skip the bun and make an eggplant stack, change out the goat cheese for pepper jelly,  Add lemon to the arugula instead of olive oil.  Add honey to the goat cheese to sweeten the entire dish.  So many choices.....

This sandwich makes a great meatless option to your nightly routine and if you are tailgating, it is a great way to switch it up!!!

Click below to watch Tailgating Tidbits 
Featuring "Breaded Eggplant Sandwich"

Follow along below or  Click here to print
Once the recipe pops up, just use your file menu to print. 

Tailgating Tidbits
Breaded Eggplant Sandwich with Chocolate Balsamic Glaze, 
Spicy Arugula And Herbed Goat Cheese
Recipe courtesy of Celeste

2 eggplants, sliced in rounds (no need to peel)
1 cup flour
2 cups breadcrumbs (you can sub half with panko)
2 eggs
4 oz goat cheese
2 cups arugula
Chocolate Balsamic Glaze  (regular glaze will work here too)
Olive oil
Garlic Powder
Italian Seasoning
Dried Rosemary
Kosher Salt and pepper
Brioche buns, sliced and lightly toasted

You will need three bowls for this dish; a wide bowl is better

Add flour to bowl and set aside
Crack eggs in bowl, add 1 Tablespoon water with a pinch of salt and pepper
Season breadcrumbs with 1 tablespoon each of garlic powder, Italian Seasoning, Dried Rosemary, kosher salt and give a few cracks of black pepper

Mix Goat cheese with 1 teaspoon garlic powder and ½ teaspoon black pepper
Mix arugula with 2 Tablespoons olive oil
Over medium high heat, add olive oil to large skillet until the bottom is just covered

To bread eggplant:
Take each slice and dip both sides in flour, then egg wash, then your seasoned breadcrumbs .  I usually pat my breadcrumbs on the eggplant gently. 

Add to hot oil, they are done after a few minutes on each side.  
The eggplant should have a golden brown crust and will be soft inside. 

As soon as you remove from the oil, drain on paper towels and season immediately on with a pinch of kosher salt.

To assemble:
Spread a nice amount on each toasted brioche bun bottom
Top with our lightly dressed arugula
Add your hot eggplant

Drizzle with your balsamic glaze
Serve immediately 

Saturday, October 27, 2018

What is Calamari Anyway?

Fried Calamari is my favorite appetizer ever!  Some restaurants make it better than others; some add peppers or finish with a garlic aioli and some restaurants serve a perfect combination of rings and tentacles.  As long as there is lemon and a nice crunch, I am happy!  Calamari is so easy to make that my kids ask for it every week (when they don't ask for fries).  I have combined three flours for the coating however you can stick to just seasoned flour if you prefer.  Also, don't bother measuring anything, this recipe should be easy.  If you watch the video you will see I just throw the dry ingredients together, cooking is unlike baking in that regard.  Lastly, you can find cleaned calamari frozen almost anywhere or fresh at your farmers market, both work great.  OH, and what exactly is calamari?  Calamari is squid.  The kind you will buy most often has already been cleaned of the ink and outer skin.  The tubes or rings you are eating are the body and the tentacles (my favorite part) are indeed, the tentacles.  Calamari can also be sautéed or grilled, maybe we will try that next season!  

Click below to watch Tailgating Tidbits 
Featuring "Fried Calamari"

Follow along below or  click here to print
Once the recipe pops up, just use your file menu to print. 

Tailgating Tidbits 
Fried Calamari 
Recipe courtesy of Celeste

1-2 pounds calamari, cleaned, rinsed and sliced in rings if using tubes.
2 cups flour
2 cups corn masa flour, also called masa harina
1 cup corn meal
kosher salt
1 Teaspoon Pepper
1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 Teaspoon Sweet Hungarian Paprika
2 Tablespoons Tony Chachere’s seasoning
6 cups peanut oil 
3 lemons
Marinara sauce for serving/dipping

Soak cleaned and sliced calamari in buttermilk for a few hours or overnight

                                                      Get ready: 
Line a huge sheet pan with brown paper 
(I usually overlap lunch bags)
Slice 2 lemons in half and 1 in wedges 
to serve on the side
Grab your salt and have it handy
Heat your marinara and add to a small bowl and place on sheet pan
Heat your peanut oil to about 350 degrees 
(I never measure the temp, I just throw in a pinch of flour to see if it bubbles up, that means it is ready).

Mix flour, masa and corn meal in a large bowl with salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika and Tony Chachere’s Seasoning, mix together.

Strain calamari

                                                      You are ready to fry:
Take a huge handful of calamari and 
add to flour mixture,
toss to coat or mix gently
Add to hot oil and stay near
Calamari will cook very quickly, 
it will only take a minute or two. 
Remove with a wire strainer and spread out over brown paper. 
Sprinkle immediately with salt and half lemon

Repeat with another huge handful of calamari

Repeat until you have cooked all the calamari

Eat immediately! 

Note:  Unlike when I make my French fries, I do not re-use this oil.  I wait until it cools and add it to an empty pickle jar to discard in the trash.  Do not throw it down the sink.  

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Everyone loves a good Cuban Sandwich

Although I grew up in South Florida, home of some of the best Cuban Sandwiches, it wasn't until  I moved to Atlanta that I tried my first one.  Now, if I'm being honest, I still prefer a pastrami on rye with melted provolone and spicy mustard any day of the week.  But, there is a great Cuban restaurant, La Fonda, that my husband and I adore.  The have a few variations on the typical Cuban and over the years we have tried many of them....the classic with Roasted Pork, Sweet Ham and Swiss paired with dill pickles and cuban bread is still the best.  In my version, I used deli pork just because it saved me time, however, I think this sandwich should be on the menu the day after you roast a pork or enjoy pork tenderloin for dinner.  If you make this on a grill, I would use indirect head and smash your sandwich between a brick covered in aluminum.  If you have a panini press, that is the fastest way to achieve perfection however a fry pan and some butter with another pan to smash your Cuban will work just as well.  Just attempt this sandwich like you would attempt a grilled cheese.  And...if you are feeling frisky, try adding some thinly sliced salami like they do in Tampa.

Click below to watch Tailgating Tidbits 
Featuring "A Great Cuban Sandwich"

Follow along below or Click to print here  
Once the recipe pops up, just use your file menu to print. 

Tailgating Tidbits 
Cuban Sandwich
Recipe courtesy of Celeste


1 loaf of Cuban bread
Softened Butter for griddle or grill pan 
1/2 pound deli ham, sliced thin
1/2 pound deli roast pork, sliced thin 
(unless you have leftovers from dinner) 
2/3 pound deli swiss cheese, sliced thin
*1/2 pound hard salami, sliced thin 
(optional for Tampa version) 
Yellow mustard
Kosher dill pickles, rounds or stackers 

Slice open bread and butter inside
(or butter griddle and lay bread on butter for a minute) 
Spread yellow mustard on both sides of bread
Layer with swiss, ham and pork, finish with swiss
Top with pickles 

Place sandwich on griddle or fry pan over medium heat, 
the same heat for a grilled cheese. 
You have to smash sandwich.  
You can use a brick covered in aluminum 
or a heavy pan to smash sandwich.

The sandwich is ready when the 
cheese is melted and the bread is toasty. 

Cut on the diagonal and enjoy!