Monday, August 30, 2010

Summer Strata with Spinach, Basil & Garlic Custard

This yummy summer dinner dish comes from a fun new blog that my roommate Sally introduced me to: eat me, delicious. There are also some killer baked goods dishes on her site. When Sally and I made this we halved the recipe - which was enough for about five servings. The one below should serve ten.

Caramelized Onions (start this early!)
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
4 yellow onions, sliced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup vegetable stock or water
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp freshly-ground pepper
1 tsp minced fresh thyme, sage or rosemary (or a combo)

1 lb sourdough loaf, cut into 3/4" cubes (you could use whatever bread you wanted - we used a simple white-whole wheat loaf)
2 bunches of spinach, wilted, squeezed and chopped OR a big bag of baby spinach (no need to prep, it'll wilt when it's being baked)
1 recipe caramelized onions
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes (not oil packed)
1/2 cup chopped basil
1/2 cup chopped parsley (optional)
1 1/2 cups grated fontina cheese, divided

6 eggs
2 1/2 cups milk (no-fat is fine)
2 bulbs roasted garlic, mashed OR four cloves raw garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly-ground pepper

Caramelized Onions
1. Heat olive oil and butter over medium heat until the butter begins to foam. Add the onions and stir to coat. Add salt and cook for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.

2. Sprinkle in the sugar and wine and reduce until the liquid has evaporated. Add stock, vinegar, pepper and herbs. Cook gently until the stock is reduced and the onions reach a creamy texture.

Filling and Custard
1. Soak the sundried tomatoes until soft, strain and chop coarsely.

2. To make the custard, whisk the eggs in a large bowl. Whisk in the milk, cream, mashed roasted garlic, salt and pepper. Stir in the bread cubes, cover and let stand for up to 1 hour. Stir occasionally to ensure that all of the bread is evenly soaked. Stir in the remaining filling ingredients, reserving half of the grated cheese.

3. Heat the oven to 350F. Butter or oil a 9"x13" baking dish and scoop the bread pudding mixture into it. Sprinkle with the reserved cheese and bake until crusty, golden brown and just set in the middle (about 45 minutes). Let stand for several minutes, cut into squares and serve.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Soy-Sesame Grilled (or Broiled) Eggplant

I always love the idea of eggplant but often don't like the way it's prepared. I wanted to make something asian-inspired, thanks to the delicious eggplant dish we had in July at Pok-Pok. I found this recipe in Andrea Chesman's "Serving Up The Harvest" and it was great!

2 large-medium eggplant, sliced 3/8" thick
Canola or peanut oil
5 T soy sauce
2 T dark sesame oil
2 T Chinese rice wine
1 T rice vinegar
1 T chili paste with garlic (or 1/2 T chili powder)
1 1/2 T sugar or honey
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 scallions, whites and tender greens, finely chopped

1. Prepare a medium-hot fire in the grill or preheat the broiler. Brush eggplant with oil.

2. Grill the eggplant until browned, 5-7 minutes on each side. Or broil the eggplant on high (2-4" from the top) until brown, 5-7 minutes on each side. The eggplant should be slightly crusty on the outside but soft and moist inside.

3. Slice the eggplant into bite-sized pieces (I left mine fairly large so I could put them on bread). Transfer to a bowl.

4. Combine soy sauce through scallions in a small bowl. Mix well. Pour over the eggplant and toss to mix.

5. Let stand for about 30min to allow the eggplant to absorb the flavors of the marinade. You can refrigerate the dish for up to 3 days. You can serve warm or cold.

Optional: sprinkle with sesame seeds before serving.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Wheat Berry Salad

I made this salad for Bruce and Tova and it was a big hit! The right mixture of texture, taste, and color.


  • 1 1/2 cups hard wheat berries
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup tart dried cherries or dried crangerries
  • 1 scallion, white and green parts, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


In a large pot combine the wheat berries and enough water to come 2 inches over the wheat berries. Bring to a boil and cook uncovered for 1 hour, or until tender. OR, cook wheat berries in rice cooker with this proportion: 1 cup berries to 2.25 cups water. I added a few garlic cloves, a chopped onion, and a bay leaf to the water. Use as is, or drain if there is excess fluid.

Toast the walnuts in a medium dry skillet over medium-high heat until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the wheat berries, walnuts, celery, dried cherries, scallions, parsley, olive oil, balsamic vinegarl and lemon juice. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.