Both dishes will be made again, not least because I could make them with no reference to the recipe, and because O, as always, promotes the "rough chop". The eggplant comes out creamy with a crispy spicy top, and the salad (which you'll see I subbed in barley because I had some already cooked) is friendly alongside. The soup is so exciting that I am wandering around today in a snowstorm trying to find a microwave on campus. If you are a vegan, skip the (ammmaazzzingg) step of yogurt, and instead add a tbs or so of rice when you first add the broth for substitute creaminess.
Both recipes were striking, not least because they were very close to things I make on my own, but with a very clearly upped game. I roast eggplant, but I do not slather it in a spice mix cut with the salty brine of preserved lemons. I toss together a Bulgar salad, but I do not trust it to be delicious with no dairy or oil. I relish a green soup, but mostly as a vechicle for something carby.
One of my favorite private games involves finding a recipe in a cookbook or magazine which comes with a stunning photo, making that recipe, and then comparing the results. This is not original, and in fact not as interesting as this. But! It is pleasurable because it is one of the few times that I mostly follow the recipe, and because it reminds me to at least attempt to arrange, rather than smush, my food onto a plate. I got trapped in an airport this week and, as far as I am concerned, the only upside to this is perfect license to live like someone who will never leave the airport for a few hours: buying anemic cocktails and flaccid hamburgers, curling your body around the armrest in a misguided attempt to sleep, reading overpriced magazines twice. The newest Bon Appetit, however, contained not only a story and set of recipes from my beloved Pok Pok, but also some gorgeous vegetables from Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty, which I've been putting in and out of my amazon cart for months. Smack in the middle was a thick green soup and a tattered roasted eggplant, and, always, I'd eat that.
P.S. My only actual contribution to this cooking party is not a recipe, but a process for making two stage veggie broth. The first stage is light, but tasty, takes no time at all and helps you get dinner onto your plates, while the second is rich and caramelized, and therefore slow. It's great when you have a bunch of odds and ends to use up, need a broth soon, but also would like some long term stock prospects.
Ingredients: (all rough chop, skin allowed)
2 large carrots
2 medium onions, any color
1 stick of celery (I am a celery phobe, so add more to taste)
2 cups mushrooms
1 head garlic, smashed
generous handful of parsley
wine (any) (optional)
2 tbs tomato paste
1 tsp peppercorns
For about 10 minutes, brown the first five ingredients in a large stockpot or dutch oven. You can even just toss them in as you chop them, as they can't really be over caramelized. Add water to fill your pot nearly full, as well as the tomato paste and other aromatics. You can throw in any left over wine at this stage as well. Salt to taste. Bring to a boil, and then turn down to low and simmer.
At 30 mins, you'll have a light tasty broth, suitable for a soup that has a lot of other flavors to support it.
At 45 mins, you broth will be a bit deeper, and more suitable for central roles.
At 90 mins, you'll have a real vegetable broth, that can be risottofied quite successfully.
If you leave it on low for 8hrs+, you'll end up with a deep russet stock, full of glutamates and firmly in the "this has meat, right?" category
I may have a problem. See, I have this friend who worked at a fruit stand in a farmer's market over the summer. One evening she came over to my tiny apartment with 4 boxes full of over-ripe peaches, some plums, and a huge bag of strawberries. All of the fruit was going to be dumped out, and we just couldn't let that happen! So what did we do? We had a jam session. A seven hour jam session that converted 4 boxes and 2 bags full of fruit into something like 40 jars of jam and a freazer full of seeded and sliced fruit for future jamming. It's been an amazing culinary adventure, but we still have this problem of having a freazer full of fruit and a tabletop covered in jam jars. Guess what everyone got for Christmas this year?