Chermoula Eggplant

If you are a reader of food blogs you've already heard everyone extolling the virtues of the Yotam Ottolenghi and his cookbooks Jerusalem, Ottolenghi, Plenty, and Plenty More. I bought Jerusalem early this year on a whim: it's an absolutely gorgeous book, full of fabulous photography and overflowing with detail on the regional cuisines that have influenced and inspired Jerusalem's. I really enjoy when cookbooks are more than a collection of recipes, when they have a narrative that elevates the recipes on their pages. So yes, I highly recommend Jerusalem if you are an adventurous eater who likes to eat her vegetables. Moreover, this book has hands down the best way to cook eggplant in the history of forever and ever amen. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise, score the flesh with deep cuts across the surface (without cutting through the skin), and slather some good marinade yum yums all over it (i.e. chermoula). When you roast it at a high temperature, the marinade seeps down into the all those crevices you've made, and you end up with soft, velvety eggplant that tastes super good. Yup. It's delicious. Ottolenghi is the based god of vegetables.

Chermoula is a marinade used in Algerian, Moroccan, and Tunisian cooking. This recipe in particular combines preserved lemon, garlic, cumin, dried coriander and chili, and paprika, but there are variations that include saffron, fresh coriander (a.k.a. cilantro), onion, black pepper, et cetera. If you've never had preserved lemon before it is divine and you should buy some immediately, or make your own if you are so blessed to have citrus growing near you.

nekkid chermoula eggplant with all-dressed-up chermoula eggplant

You probably won't hear from me again until the new year, so ¡feliz año nuevo! I'll be in New Hampshire for Christmas festivities, then in Wisconsin for more holiday festivities before returning to Chicago. I'll probably be asleep for most of break, because that's what vacation is for, but I'll at least be awake to eat too many cookies (is there such a thing?), play games (SCRABBLE YAS), and do the gifting thing. Let the holiday food coma begin!

Chermoula Eggplant
from Jerusalem

2 medium eggplants, sliced in half lengthwise
2 tablespoons preserved lemon peel
2 garlic cloves
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon chili flakes
1/4 c olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Score the flesh of each eggplant half with deep, diagonal cuts without piercing the skin. Mix together the rest of the ingredients, lemon peel through olive oil, for the chermoula. Spread the chermoula over each half, and place on a baking sheet with the cut side up. Roast for 40 minutes, or until the eggplants are completely soft.

Meanwhile, make the bulgur salad.

Bulgur Salad
slightly adapted from Jerusalem

1 c bulgur (you can substitute rice if you prefer)
1/4 c olive oil
1 handful cilantro
10-15 leaves mint
1/3 c golden raisins
1/3 c green olives
1/3 c sliced almonds, toasted
1 handful green beans
Kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 c Greek yogurt

Soak the raisins in a little hot water to reconstitute them. After 10 minutes, drain and set aside. Cook the bulgur or rice, adding in the green beans in the last minute or so, then add the olive oil and salt. Finish with the herbs, olives, almonds, and lemon juice.

Once the eggplants have cooked, serve with the bulgur salad, a spoonful of yogurt, and a drizzle of olive oil.


Thanksgiving Turkey + Leftovers

Friends, Thanksgiving was excellent. The turkey, cider cranberry sauce, sage and onion stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potato biscuits, roasted root vegetables and brussel sprouts, and berry pie all turned out as planned (although there was a slight debacle with the meat thermometer). Snaps all around to my lovely sous chef and amazing apartment cleaner Tor, and to my parents for buying wine and champagne (and the turkey). The parental units didn't make it to my dinner this year unfortunately, but I had 14 people, and everyone left well-fed and happy, with leftovers to spare.

Dropped the ball on the photography again, but certainly didn't drop the ball in the food department.

I made sure that the turkey carcass wasn't discarded this year (Papa Z got an ear full from me last year when he threw it away in the chaos of post-dinner clean up) so I could make stock and turn it into some delicious chili. This recipe is fabulous, and I've been eating it over swiss chard and mashed potatoes for lunch for the past couple days (I made even more mashed potatoes this week after my leftovers ran out, no shame). Of course, I also made a glorious post-Thanksgiving sandwich with brie and mustard, because that's the point of making Thanksgiving dinner.


Now it's tenth week, which means finals the next. I'm so, so excited for this quarter to be over. Until then, I will be playing The RiverCooler than Latch (remix of Latch), and Blank Space basically on loop.

In other news, happy second birthday today to this blog! Time for those terrible twos.

Roast Turkey
from Alton Brown

1 cup Kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 gallon vegetable stock
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1/2 tablespoon allspice berries
1/2 tablespoon chopped crystalized ginger
1 gallon heavily iced water
1 apple, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup water
4 sprigs rosemary
6 leaves sage
Canola oil

2-3 days before you want to roast the turkey:

Thaw the turkey in the refrigerator. Once thawed, combine the vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries, and candied ginger in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve the sugar and salt, and bring to a boil. Remove the brine from the heat, then refrigerate until cold.

1 day before you want to roast the turkey:

Combine the brine, water and ice in a 5-gallon bucket (or thoroughly cleaned cooler). Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining.

On the day you want to eat:

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Remove the bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine. Place the bird on roasting rack inside a half sheet pan and pat dry with paper towels.

Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Add steeped aromatics to the turkey's cavity along with the rosemary and sage. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with canola oil.

Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes. Insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Set the thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees F. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil for at least 15 minutes before carving (I let mine sit for almost an hour and it was still hot).