A few weeks ago, I swore off new cookbooks. 101 Cookbooks? Ha! That's nothing! With all the will power of a limp noodle, I lasted ... um, well, would you believe, all of two days? Katy, bar the door!
At a cookbook swap, I spent all of four bucks for six cookbooks. Turns out, all are inspiring, good introductions to cuisines and specialty dishes with many recipes for a health-conscious home cook. First up, Jewish Cooking whose author, Marlena Spieler, has written many cookbooks on the same subject.
This recipe for eggplant (aubergine, anyone?) casserole caught my attention for two reasons. First, unlike most eggplant recipes, the eggplant actually looks like eggplant not blobs of colorless eggplant flesh. Second, it can be served either hot from the oven or at room temperature, which makes it perfect for potlucks, buffet suppers and big family gatherings. I liked it both ways, though perhaps a smidgin better served warm. It's rich but not heavy. Paired with a salad, it would make a good vegetarian supper but I served it on the side. It slices beautifully into pie-shaped pieces so looks impressive too.
GATHERINGS? You bet! Fellow food blogger Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy is hosting a virtual cocktail party to mark her blog's first anniversary. What with all the party food, I suspect there'll be nary a vegetable in sight so am sending her thin slices of this Balkan Eggplant Casserole.
BALKAN EGGPLANT CASSEROLE
Time to table: 90 minutes
Serves 8 or more
1 large eggplant, about 1 pound, ends trimmed, skin left on, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup milk
Freshly grated nutmeg
Cayenne pepper to taste
2 eggs, lightly beaten
6 ounces Parmesan, grated (reserve some for the top)
Salt & pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350F.
Brush one or two large skillets lightly with oil, heat on MEDIUM HIGH until water flicked off your fingers into the pan sizzles. Add a few eggplant slices to the skillet and let cook on one side until slightly golden, turn over and repeat. Set aside while completing the remaining slices.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in the flour until smooth and let cook a minute, stirring continuously. A tablespoon at a time at first, add the milk, stirring in what's added until adding more. (This tablespoon at a time process ensures that the sauce will end up smooth, not lumpy with bits of flour.) Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens. Season with nutmeg, cayenne, salt and pepper. Let cool a bit. Whisk in the eggs until smooth, then the Parmesan (reserve some for the top).
ASSEMBLY Grease a low-profile casserole dish such as a quiche pan. Arrange a layer of slightly overlapping eggplant rounds, then top with some of the sauce. Repeat until eggplant is gone, leaving some sauce for the last layer. (Today's casserole used three layers, a perfect 'thin' slice after baking.) Top with reserved Parmesan.
Bake for about 35 minutes or until top is golden and eggplant is hot and bubbly all the way through and the custard is firm. Serve immediately or let cool to serve at room temperature.
It takes awhile to cook the eggplant, so two skillets does help.
Eggplant will suck up oil like crazy so use just enough to brown the slices. I found that in non-stick skillets, I needed to only brush the surface of the pan each time to have enough oil to create a bit of a crust and achieve the golden color.
~ Eggplant Steaks ~
~ Thai-Roasted Eggplant Salad ~
~ Baba Ganoush ~
~ Caponata ~
~ more eggplant recipes ~
~ more vegetable casserole recipes ~
~ Eggplant & Bean Thai Curry, a Quick Supper ~
~ Dimply Plum Cake, perfect for all ~
~ Chilaquiles, can't get chilaquiles often enough! ~
~ How to Save Money on Groceries, Part Three ~
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