Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Well this is something new.

Ok so where to start. My name is Mary and I live in rural Ohio. To be fair we live in the county seat so it's not like I'm surrounded by farmers all the time.

Just some of the time.

How did I get here? Well. I fell in love. I was going through life as a power trading, really really bad triathlete and then I moved to my tiny little town, got married, and now work as my husband's secretary in his law office. As a terrifically type A individual who's mighty resistant to change this has all been a bit overwhelming. So I've been baking. I'm getting downright roly poly to be honest.

In my quest to find new baked things, I've discovered the food blog universe. I sit and ogle those creations of the daring bakers - floating cakes on eggy custards, whipping out softball sized cinnamon buns oozing with caramel. I've drooled over cupcakes and galettes and calamari sauces. Fortunately for my ever expanding rear end, I live in the aforementioned middle of nowhere county and unless I make the trip to the Meijer in the next county, there's not a lot of fancy ingredients to be had here. And although Meijers makes a good stab at it, they just don't have everything.

But they did have tahini. Tahini is a sesame seed paste that is so delicious I would eat tahini sandwiches instead of peanut butter, had it not been for a fateful look at the nutrition label. But I digress. Because Meijer had tahini I can bring you our dinner. Last weekend I was in Michigan for a not very happy event, while there I took advantage of the shopping and picked up two beautiful eggplants from the Westborn market darn cheap. I pulled out my A Taste of Lebanon cookbook (when you're from the Detroit area, Lebanese food is comfort food) and made a big bowl of Baba Ghanouj. I also opened up my new Bon Appetit Cookbook and made Spiced Moroccan chicken with onions and prunes. So it's two recipes for my first posting. And then I'm off to lurk in the shadows again...

By the way, I don't normally eat on these placemats, but they just felt so right for posting about lurking and it is Halloween after all!

Baba Ghanouj
Adapted heavily from A Taste of Lebanon

1 large eggplant
2 cloves garlic (crushed)
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup Sesame Seed Paste (Tahini)
2 Tbsp. water
1/4 cup lemon juice

Set oven to 375 degrees. Wash the eggplant and remove stem. Pierce with a fork 4-6 times. Place in baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes or until tender. Remove from oven and run under cold water. Peel and mash and set aside.

In serving bowl combine garlic, salt and tahini. Gradually add water and lemon juice, beating well. Fold in mashed eggplant.

You can garnish with lemon wedges, finely chopped parsley and a sprinkle of oil. Scoop up eggplant pieces with Pita Bread or serve as a side dish with any meal. I think it also makes a really great midnight snack eaten by the spoonful.

Spiced Moroccan chicken with onions and prunes

4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves
2 tablespoons olive oil*
1 3/4 cups chopped onions
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 Tbsp all purpose flour
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
2 cups low salt chicken broth
1 cup pitted prunes
3 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp honey
chopped fresh cilantro**

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; saute until brown and just cooked through, about 4 minutes per side***. Using tongs, transfer chicken to plate. Add onions and garlic to same skillet. Saute until onions begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Mix in flour, ginger, cinnamon, and cumin; stir 1 minute. Gradually whisk in broth. Add prunes, lemon juice, and honey. Boil until sauce thickens enough to coat spoon, whisking occasionally, about 8 minutes. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Return chicken to skillet. Simmer until heated through, about 2 minutes.

Transfer chicken and sauce to platter. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

* We received some fabulous Calphalon Anodized One cookware as a wedding present and I make this without the oil. But I am a lucky girl.

** My Cilantro was the sad victim of an aggressive weeding session in my herb garden. So I just left it out.

*** I hate it when they say the chicken should be cooked all the way through in mere minutes per side. I had food poisoning from undercooked chicken once and I use my little instant read thermometer to check and make sure it hits 140 degrees before I take it off the heat.