Last night's dinner. Rice, beans, and guacamole - delicious Trader Joe's things. Eggplant tomato caviar - scrumptious and handmade. And this chicken? I rocked this chicken's world.
When it comes to lunch and dinner food combinations, the policy around here has pretty much always been along the lines of "what's in the fridge and tastes good?" Don't get me wrong - I love watching the Top Chef judges mull over whether the slightly acid quality of the sauce overwhelms the sweetness of the potatoes, whether those flavors enhance the protein selection, and whether all of that combines poorly with the choice of garnish. But those very composed meals feel very traditional and fifties to me.
When I am being self-complimentary, I call my style "tapas" - you know, a little of this, a little of that, things that taste good in and of themselves, but don't necessarily need to be resolved with one another. I guess a more realistic description is Joey eating Rachel's accidental trifle/shepherd's pie combo - "What's not to like? Custard? Good. Jam? Good. Meat? Goooooood." Wow, people, that's a blast from the referential past. Seriously, remember "Friends"? That was a good show.
Anyway, I thought I'd share the eggplant and chicken recipes since they are easy and good - and, you know, the delicate acidity of one enhances but subtly downplays the exuberant umami of the other.
- Bake a large eggplant whole, unpeeled, at 375 degrees for approximately 90 minutes.
- Wait for it to cool, peel, and finely mince the eggplant meat.
- Grate enough tomatoes into the eggplant for mixture to assume the color in the photograph - or add more to taste.
- Grate one medium white onion into mixture.
- Press one clove of garlic into mixture.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Optionally, add two-three tablespoons of olive oil (that's what my grandmother does, but I like it without the oil also).
- Let sit in the fridge for at least a couple of hours - best overnight.
You can eat it plain, like salad, or do what Misha does: multi-grain toast, a layer of goat cheese, topped with the caviar.
Chicken Whose World I Rocked:
The chicken is even more fun, because it just involves staring at the inside of your fridge door and rediscovering all the condiments that you no longer knew you had. At least that's what I did to come up with the following marinade:
- Soy sauce
- Juice of a fresh lemon
- Olive oil
- Balsamic salad dressing
Mix together "some" of each, or add in other things you think might go (maybe ketchup? maybe BBQ sauce? maybe Worcestershire sauce? maybe honey? or for the very daring, maybe Vegemite/Marmite?), let the chopped up chicken parts sit in the marinade overnight. Bake at 350 degrees, for 45 minutes, basting every 15. (Or, if you're like me, instead of basting, you will just take tongs and swish each chicken part around in the jus at the bottom of the pan and close the oven door again.)
Oh, and cyndyava asked about stock for my kitchen sink soup. I don't make stock ahead of time - vegetable stock is basically mirepoix (diced carrots, onion, and celery), boiled in water with spices and potentially other things. As long as you have those on hand, and put them in the soup water first and let them boil for a while before you add other things, you're ok for stock.