Harold the Purple Eggplant

So I started the summer with all kinds of dreams and aspirations of having an amazing drunken garden from where I would concoct all kinds of classic cocktails, make splendid simple syrups and revel in my horticultural skills. Key words here being dreams and aspirations. I also aspire to be an Academy Award winning actress. But that’s not going to happen any time soon either.

My drunken garden is ‘meh’ at best. I’m responsible for the demise of at least half a dozen plants. My mint, which should be flourishing, which I indicated that even my dogs could grow is spindly and sad. Almost too sad to be used in any sort of cocktail without being terribly embarrassed. Note that I used the word ‘almost.’ Once you muddle some mint with rum for a mojito or with some good Kentucky bourbon for a mint julep, does anyone really care what it looks like?

I have had a few minor green thumb successes. The hydroponic basil I bought at Trader Joe’s which a certain someone told me wouldn’t grow is indeed growing. Sometime this week it will become pesto.

And there’s also my lone eggplant. I call him Harold. (if you’re old enough you may remember Harold and the Purple Crayon). Harold was given to me by my lovely friend’s lovely  mom who happens to have one of those amazing organic gardens that you read about in magazines. One morning we went to help plant and she rewarded me with some plants. One of them being Harold. And I have to say Harold is still alive and with us. He’s not very big and I wonder if he’ll get much bigger? Which begs the question, does size really matter? It was there. I had to use it. I have all kinds of plans for him if he does reach full size. Okay, since he’s only a solitary eggplant, what I do make with him has got to be pretty special. No eggplant parm or baba ganoosh for this eggplant. When Harold is ready he will become this …Yotam Ottolenghi’s Sweet Corn Polenta with Eggplant Sauce.

Who wouldn’t want to make Yotam Ottolenghi’s Sweet Corn Polenta with Eggplant Sauce? First I need to find out if  Yotam Ottolenghi is a person or a little known Eastern European country.

Eggplant Sauce

  • 2/3cups vegetable oil
  • 1medium eggplant, cut into 3/4-inch dice
  • 2teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1/4cup dry white wine
  • 1cup chopped peeled tomatoes (fresh or canned)
  • 6 1/2tablespoons water
  • 1/4teaspoon salt
  • 1/4teaspoon sugar
  • 1tablespoon chopped oregano
  1. Heat up the oil in a large saucepan and fry the eggplant on medium heat for about 15 minutes, or until nicely brown. Drain off as much oil as you can and discard it — the safest way to do this is to scoop out the eggplant to a plate using a slotted spoon, then pour off the oil into a bowl before added the eggplant back in. You can save the oil to fry lamb chops or eggs in tomorrow.
  2. Add the tomato paste to the pan and stir with the eggplant. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the wine and cook for 1 minute. Add the chopped tomatoes, water, salt, sugar and oregano and cook for a further 5 minutes to get a deep-flavored sauce. Set aside; warm it up when needed.

The fancy people with way more culinary cred than me make their own polenta. From real corn cobs. Impressive. Chances of me doing this are pretty limited. I’ll buy some Bob Mills polenta and go from there. Yes, I know I’m lazy.

But for you ambitious cooks out there, have at it…

Polenta

  • 6ears of corn
  • 2 1/4cups water
  • 3tablespoons butter, diced
  • 7ounces feta, crumbled
  • 1/4teaspoon salt
  • Black pepper
  1. Remove the leaves and “silk” from each ear of corn, then chop off the pointed top and stalk. Use a sharp knife to shave off the kernels — either stand each ear upright on its base and shave downward, or lay each ear on its side on a cutting board to slice off the kernels. You want to have 1 1/4 pounds kernels.
  2. Place the kernels in a medium saucepan and barely cover them with the water. Cook for 12 minutes on a low simmer. Use a slotted spoon to lift the kernels from the water and into a food processor; reserve the cooking liquid.
  3. Process them for quite a few minutes, to break as much of the kernel case as possible. Add some of the cooking liquid if the mixture becomes too dry to process.
  4. Now return the corn paste to the pan with the cooking liquid and cook, while stirring, on low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the mixture thickens to mashed potato consistency. (Be aware that if you have a lot of liquid left in the pan, it can take a while to cook down the polenta, and it will sputter. Consider holding back some or all of the liquid. Alternately, if you like the consistency after processing, you can skip to step 5.)
  5. Fold in the butter, the feta, salt and some pepper and optionally cook for a further 2 minutes. Taste and add more salt if needed.

If you make this, let me know how it turns out. Feel free to brag about making fresh polenta.

Recipe courtesy of food52 one of my fav websites.

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