Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Empty that fridge

It is one week until we depart Chicago. It is beginning to sink in at last. WHERE HAS THAT TIME GONE! Now we have to do those mundane but necessary things like empty the refrigerator and work out what we eat/throw/donate... As someone that hates wasting food, I will have to use a little ingenuity.

The first item for tonight's dinner 'hit list' was a white eggplant the boys chose at a recent farmers markets. I think they loved the way it looked (as Master 5 is not a great fan of *eating* eggplant). I also had abundant coriander, basil, tomatoes and fresh mozzarella from last weeks market, some parsley and a pound of frozen ground lamb from Mint Creek Farm.

I decided that the eggplant would be turned into a baba ghanoush. This would also help to finish our tahini, drain a bottle of olive oil and use up a lemon. The coriander and lamb would make great meatballs and I could use the tomato, basil and mozzarella in a simple salad dressed with salt and olive oil. I thought this might look a little lonely on the plate so I opened a tin of garbanzo beans (chick peas) and dressed these with some chopped parsley, olive oil, salt and lemon juice.

Eggplant - medium to large (white is less bitter)
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
juice of half lemon
olive oil
2 tblsp tahini

Using tongs, turn eggplant in flame on gas stovetop to char surface. If not quite cooked, zap in microwave for a minute (alternatively, rub with olive oil and roast in an oven). Peel the charred skin off then press out bitter juices in a colander. Using a stick mixer, blend with pinch of salt, chopped garlic and tahini. Add lemon juice and olive oil to taste. Stir through parsley. Alternatively just mash all ingredients with a fork if a chunkier consistency is desired.

1 pound (500g) ground lamb
pinch salt
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground allspice
1 cup coarsely chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves
olive oil

Blend onion, spices and coriander in a food processor. Add lamb and process until smooth. Shape into small balls or wrap around a wooden skewer (soaked in water for 30 mins). Fry in small amount of olive oil until brown and cooked through (or grill or broil kebabs on sticks). Drain on paper towel.

These recipes were adapted from The Cooks Companion by Stephanie Alexander. The absolutely brilliant tome and ONLY cookbook I will ever truly need.

The kids LOVE chick peas (garbanzo beans*) so I always have a tin handy. A great source of protein and fiber, these can quickly be turned into a hummus or simple salad or curry. The kids will eat a whole tin between them if I don't rescue them quickly enough.

This was a very successful meal with Master 3 and Little Miss 11 months eating everything without complaint. Master 5 brought up his aversion to eggplant, but insistence that it was really like 'Hummus' from Master 3, helped persuade him to finish his dinner.

* Master 5 once misheard and thought these were called Rapunzel beans - so we often call them by this name :-)

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