Sunday, October 24, 2010

What's For Dinner?...Ina's Eggplant Gratin, and Double Chocolate Cupcakes

This dish should not be made by the health/figure conscious- it loaded with fat- albeit- delicious fat:)
This recipe, I saw Ina Gartin make on her show The Barefoot Contessa- back in the day when I actually had time to indulge in the viewing of the Food Network- I'm thinking it was either when Z was a bitty baby or before children...the dinner looked divine then- and I've made it many times (especially when I'm over run with eggplant from the farm)- and I can truly vouch for it's amazingness.
Here is my improvised version- a copy of the real recipe can be found here, and I typed it out at the end of the post.
I first combine the eggs, ricotta, salt, pepper, whole milk, shaved parm.- this creates a divine custard that will be layered with the eggplant and marinara.
Then- you slice the eggplant- I do it about 1/4" thick
Then fry it in some goooood olive oil. (I do not "bleed" the eggplant first as some recipes suggest)
I fried mine in batches- about 6 min or so until both sides were browned.  Then I drained it on paper towel and sprinkled it with S&P.
Then comes the layering part... I did a little marina on the bottom, a layer of eggplant, some of the ricotta mixture, a sprinkling of parm, more marinara, more eggplant, more ricotta, and then some more cheese, and salt and pepper.
The pan on the right is D's special casserole- I added sliced grilled chicken breast to his- because I am occasionally a sweet wife;)  I also topped both with fresh mozzarella- just because I had some that needed to be used- and also because I am always up for a little extra cheese!
Here's the finished product.  It's gooey, and cheesy, and totally indulgently delicious!!!  Perfect with bread (a must for dipping), and a nice salad- DIVINE!
Oh- and I almost forgot the dessert...

Martha's one bowl chocolate cupcakes (I've posted this recipe before), topped with
Granny Beth's Chocolate Frosting, my first time making the frosting- and it was fabulous!-like- eat it straight out of the bowl fabulous!

Eggplant Gratin
(I doubled this recipe, and improvised some of it along this way- but this a good baseline- oh another suggestion that I've used is added roasted red peppers into the layering)

Good olive oil, for frying
3/4 pound eggplant, unpeeled, sliced 1/2-inch thick
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
1 extra-large egg
1/4 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper 1/2 cup good bottled marinara sauce

Bake at 350 for 30 min, or until it's golden and bubbly.

Chocolate Cupcakes
I like this recipe because its quick and easy, and I had all the ingredients on hand- here is my improvised version- you can find the original by following the link above.

3/4 cups cocoa powder
11/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
11/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs
3/3 cup warm water
3/4 cup plain yogurt
3 Tbsp. canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla

Line 18 cupcakes pans with lines- bake at 350 degrees for 18 min., rotating pans 1/2 way through.

Granny Beth's Chocolate Frosting

1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
2 cups confectionery sugar
1/4 cup soft butter
 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup evaporated milk

(I doubled this recipe and had some left over).  First you mix the cocoa and sugar- then cream in the butter- it was a little dry so I slowly drizzled in the evap. milk, then added the rest of the milk and vanilla- and whipped it at my mixers highest speed for a couple minutes.  It's a great recipe!  Thanks Beth!!!

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