Adventures in Eating & Cooking
Hooray!~ I’m all matched into Ophthalmology, my dream career (because I’m pretty dorky and obsessive when it comes to eyeballs, hehe.) So what is a munchimonster to do when she is exonerated from the pressure of the match process? Invite my friends over for a feast of course!!! Because nothing is more joyous than sharing a piece of my excitement through a home-cooked dish.
The two dishes I made were inspired by my buddy K-Mart who had gotten me a book about Mediterranean cooking eons ago. People used to buy me tons of cooking books to subliminally message that I should feed them… And feed them I shall!
I started off with the Roast Chicken with Basil & Red Onions, with ingredients I hand-picked from TJ’s. Of course, I added much more garlic than the original recipe called for – because of my unwavering faith in the capability of freshly minced garlic to elevate a savory dish. Another key to this chicken is using fresh basil leaves and some grated lemon rind.
Preparing the chicken was an arduous task, as I tried to shave off some of the hidden fat pockets. The onions were fun to cut; slice up like pie to make red onion flowers. And my parents taught me never to waste the organs – chicken liver, gizzard, and neck. I panned these nubbins in some extra-virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, and mushroom porcini spice blend. It was delicious. I was very pleased with the final product, as the chicken was moist, tender, and aromatic. We devoured this glorious animal down to the bone; thank you Mr. Chicken for your sacrifice.
1. After prepping the chicken, stuff it with 6-7 basil leaves.
2. Crush the remaining basil leaves and garlic. Mix with the lemon rinds and extra-virgin olive oil, which you use a portion of to bathe the chicken in. Bake at 375 F (190 C) for 40 minutes.
3. Make 4 cuts in criss-cross shape on top of onion (like slicing up a pie) to make the bulb bloom. Season with some salt, pepper, garlic, and olive oil.
4. Brush the remaining olive oil mixture over chicken and roast for another 40 minutes or until thoroughly cooked. Carve!!
I had a blast making this Eggplant & Tomato Bake, which turned out to be a huge hit! I absolutely love eggplant, as it is the emperor of all vegetables. Just look at the beautiful dark purple skin that highlights its status. Anyways, this dish was fun to make because it required a lot of slicing and dicing – which I had some help from Gulnarnarnar and Acapella. This veggie dish was lightly seasoned with thyme, salt, and Parmesan-Romano cheese. But in general, the key to this dish was the quality of the fresh vegetables.
I was so happy because the Eggplant & Tomato Bake earned Miss Ratatouille’s stamp of approval. Miss. Ratatouille, my room mate, is ~1/4 Italian and grew up eating home-cooked Italian dishes – so to receive her praise for this was an absolute honor. I personally worried that the seasoning was too light, but the beauty of this is that it allows the natural flavors of each individual vegetable used, to shine~
1. Layer eggplants together, sprinkling salt in between each layer. Set aside for 30 minutes. Rinse and pat dry with kitchen towels.
2. Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C).
3. Fry eggplant slices in olive oil, turning once, until softened and browned. Remove and cool.
4. Stir fry onions and garlic for 3-4 minutes in same pan.
5. Arrange a layer of tomatoes, a layer of eggplant, then a layer of onions in ovenproof dish. Sprinkle thyme in between each layer. Continue layering in the same pattern until all the veggies are used.
6. Drizzle remaining oil. Bake for 20 minutes. Sprinkle Parmesan-Romano and bake for another 15 minutes.