Saturday, September 4, 2010

It Sure Feels Like Fall

It seems like fall has arrived right on time as September arrived. Fall-like weather pulled in following the torrential rain Thursday night. Perhaps, not coincidentally, my slow cooker made an appearance on the kitchen counter this week. I had heard word of the approaching cold front and thought it would perfect timing to try a recipe I saw in the Isthmus last week.

The recipe for Eggplant Sausage Stew appeared in an article by Terese Allen discussing the problem that is the eggplant. It seems I’m not the only one who doesn’t know what to do with them. I don’t like any of the usual recipes, such as baba ganoush, eggplant Parmesan, or ratatouille. Unlike beets, which I’ve learned to like, I don’t really care for the purple vegetable anyway you slice it. I’ll tolerate it in moussaka, because of the heavily spiced meat and béchamel sauce, but if I had my choice, I’d replace with it zucchini in a heartbeat.

The other recipe, Eggplant Curry Pizza, covered the taste of the eggplant in curry sauce and then used them as a topping for pizza. Although I love curry, I wasn’t sure I could stomach a pizza where curried eggplant was the main ingredient.

The Eggplant Sausage Stew called for spicy Italian sausage, which I substituted with turkey sausage for no other reason than I know where it is on the shelf in the grocery store. Since I don’t buy meat very often, it’s the same way I buy most meat.

I made the stew early in the week before the temperature dropped, on a night when I knew I would be getting home from work late. It smelled so welcoming to open the door to a home-cooked meal. I did a little prep work, such as browning the turkey sausage, onions, garlic and eggplant the night before and then including all the other ingredients together in the slow cooker before I left for work.

As with other recipes I’ve converted to the slow cooker, it worked quite well, with the tomatoes cooking down during the day and melding with the other ingredients. The only thing I noticed was that the stew tasted very boozy. Sure enough, afterwards I did a little research and found some evidence that less moisture is lost during slow cooking, making less of the alcohol evaporate. Next time I will use a little less wine and substitute either water or broth for the rest. Overall the stew was wonderful and will find a permanent place in my recipe binder. I'm glad to say I've found a new way to eat eggplant.

Because I’m not ready to say goodbye to summer, entirely I made a cold Thai cucumber salad to go with my stew. I made it earlier this year for a Thai cooking club dinner, but this time I only used what I had on hand. The complete recipe is listed in the recipe panel, but I only used a few ingredients in this week's rendition. It actually turned out quite well. Mine included 1 chopped cucumber, 1 clove crushed garlic, a few sprigs of parsley chopped, 1 tablespoon of fish sauce, 1 1/2 tablespoons of lime juice, a dash of sugar, and chopped peanuts. It was completely different than the stew and made me remember that summer really isn’t over yet. At least I hope not.

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