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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Caponata


Prep time: 90 minutes Cook time: 10 ½ hours Intermediate Yields: 1 quart


Ingredients
2 lbs eggplant (not Asian)
2 T plus one tsp sea salt
2 ¼ - 2 ½ cups olive oil
2 heads garlic, peeled and chopped
2 T tomato paste
1 20 oz can whole Roma tomatoes, finely chopped with juice reserved
5 celery ribs, ½” dice
1 large onion, chopped
1 large red or yellow bell pepper, ½” dice
1 cup large pitted green olives, ¼” chop
¼ cup capers, drained and rinsed
1/3 c red wine vinegar
¼ c sugar
½ tsp black pepper
¼ cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
Special equipment: a deep-fat thermometer


Directions
Cut eggplant into 1/2-inch cubes and transfer to a colander. Toss with 2 tablespoons sea salt. Let drain 1 hour.
While eggplant drains, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 4 to 5 quart heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté three fourths of garlic, stirring, until golden, about 1 minute. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add tomatoes with their juice, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 20 to 25 minutes.
Bring 3 cups salted water to a boil in a 1 to 1 ½ quart saucepan, then cook celery until tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold water to stop cooking.
Gently squeeze eggplant to remove excess moisture and pat dry. Heat 1/4 inch oil (about 2 cups) in a 12 inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until it registers 360°F on thermometer, then fry eggplant in 4 batches, stirring and turning constantly with a slotted spoon, until browned and tender, 3 to 5 minutes per batch. (Return oil to 360°F between batches.) Transfer to paper towels.
Pour off all but 2 tablespoons oil from skillet, then reduce heat to moderate and cook onion, bell pepper, and remaining garlic, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 10 minutes. Add tomato sauce, eggplant, celery, olives, capers, vinegar, sugar, pepper, and remaining teaspoon sea salt and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes. Cool to room temperature, uncovered, then chill, covered, at least 8 hours.
Just before serving, stir in parsley and basil. Serve cold or at room temperature.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Freezing Fresh Corn On The Cob

"Putting Up" Sweet Corn


You'll need:
large stockpot(s) of boiling water
long handled tongs
colander
cutting board
sharp knife
pint (or quart) freezer bags
1 cup measurer
bathtub (or large tub) of cold water
raw corn on the cob
patience

Husk however many ears of sweetcorn you've got, trying to get as much of the silk off the ears as possible. If you husk any earlier than 3 hours before cooking, ears must be refrigerated. Place as many ears of corn in the boiling water as will fit without over crowding. You want the ears to be covered with water so they cook evenly. Bring the water back to a boil and allow ears to cook only one minute more. Overcooking will make it chewy; when you reheat, you'll finish the cooking process. Take ears from boiling water to collander, then plunge into cold bath to stop cooking process. Repeat as often as necessary until all ears are cooked and cooled. One at a time, stand vertically on a cutting board and "shave" corn from ears with a sharp knife. Be careful not to get too close to the ear; you'll get cob in your corn. Cut all corn from ears and place 2-3 cups in each pint bag. Seal and freeze. To heat corn, defrost bag in the fridge overnight and heat until warm in a small sauce pot on stove top, or microwave, covered, for 1 1/2 minutes. In either case, add butter, salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

Side note: This is an incredibly time consuming and MESSY job. If you have patience, you will end up with a wholesome, fantastic product. Putting up corn really is gratifying if you take your time. Give yourself at least four hours for a minimum of 6 dozen ears. I did 200 ears and it took me six hours start to finish.

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