Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A few more ideas

Last week my book group met again to enjoy each others' company, eat and drink well and discuss a lovely book. I had already read Tobias Wolfe's Old School (and blogged about it here), but was happy to read it again.

Actually, this time I didn't read it so much as listened to the book on CD while driving out to MA (while the critters were plugged into the portable DVD player with endless episodes of Pee-Wee's Playhouse). This time, I was laughing out loud at the telling of the Cow-Sci-Fi story that Ayn Rand chose as the winner of the school writing contest. The critters even pulled off their earphones and wanted to know what was so funny at which point in time I spluttered an incomprehensible summary which they promptly tuned out.

I still think this is a lovely book and the reader, Dan Cashman, did a fine job.

We accompanied our brisk discussion with food that felt like a celebration of the season.
Beverage and book (and Meg's elegant table)--ahhhh.

I brought a pitcher of peach basil sangria made with basil from the back deck and Red Haven peaches from the Farmer's Market. It was lovely, and the little pieces of peach bobbing in the glass soaked up the alcohol so they were like little boozy bombs when you got down to the bottom of the glass.

To keep us from getting too tipsy on them, I also made some eggplant caviar to go with sliced baguette. (It would be an excellent way to use up this week's farm share, come to think of it.)

I love eggplant caviar (recipe below) and don't remember to make it often enough--I usually just go the baba ganoush route but this dip/spread is more delicately flavored and really brings out the floral tones that eggplant can be convinced to release when treated with a slow roasting.

Then we moved from the front yard to the table and enjoyed Marilyn's beautifully composed salad with nasturtium blossoms, roasted beets and shaved Parmesan.

Our main course was broiled trout with basil sauce--a perfect homage to the Hemingway hero-worship by the boys in the book.
It was served with a corn flan that Ami made which was airy and sweet, and Jen brought an asparagus, roasted red pepper vegetable side dish.
Sarah and the mostaccioli
Then we wrapped it all up with Sarah's intense Chocolate Hazelnut Spiced Cookies (recipe here). One of our members is heading off to Germany for a year on sabbatical and while we're all a little envious, we will miss her greatly (and are maybe trying to figure out how to finance a visit...). She also has the strongest sweet tooth of the bunch of us so Sarah's cookies were a fine send off: nutty, spicy, chewy and most of all, Chocolate.

Eggplant Caviar
This makes a lot so you can easily cut the recipe in half.

2 large eggplants (globe type) or equivalent number of smaller ones
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and cut lengthwise into slivers
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 C olive oil
1 T soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste
1 small tomato, chopped
1/2 of a red pepper, chopped
1/2 C chopped basil leaves
1/4 C chopped flat leaf parsley leaves
1/3 C toasted pine nuts
1/3 C dried currants or golden raisins

preheat oven to 400.

Slice the eggplants in half lengthwise. Cut long slits in the flesh and stuff with the garlic slices. Place cut side down on an oiled baking sheet and cook for at least 1/2 hour or until collapsed. The remove and set aside to cool a bit.

In the serving bowl mix together the lemon juice, olive oil, soy sauce, salt and pepper. Then take the cooled eggplants and scoop out the flesh from the skins (along with the garlic) onto a cutting board. Chop coarsely then dump in the bowl with the dressing and mash with a fork.

Stir in the rest of the ingredients and taste for seasoning (you might want to add a dash of red wine vinegar if you like it a bit sharper). Refrigerate after making--it's good to make it a little in advance to let the flavors meld.

Serve with sliced baguette or as a spread on sandwiches.


Stella said...

mmmmm . . . sounds wonderful. I want a recipe for the Sangria!

Stacy Talamini Elenbaas said...

I'm a friend of Marilyn Rollinger. She was kind enough to share your blog with me, as I write one also. I love your blog. The food sounds amazing and the pictures are great. I'm reading a book called the Ominvore's Dilemma and was wondering if you read it. I would love to hear what you think of it. Keep up the fabulous work.
Stacy Elenbaas

jak said...

Hi, I've been reading about your experiences with the Tantre farm share. I've been looking into farm shares for a couple of years, but can't seem to make the plunge -- I'm too afraid I'm going to get an endless supply of zucchini and summer squash and not enough of the other stuff, so I've really appreciated that you've been documenting your stash each week. I can see and appreciate the variety you get. Since I live due south of Tantre, west of Manchester, Tantre would be an easy drive for me. Your blog may have convinced me that I need to participate.

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