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Sunday, August 28, 2011

The joys of being a Foodie

No, not the "Foodies" who work at Central Market, though that might be fun too. I've considered it and decided my back and feet couldn't stand those concrete floors for eight hours. I mean the kind of foodie I am--someone who loves to cook and eat. One of the joys is anticipation. I've been a planner all my life, and I used to make lists of what I'd serve the kids each night for the coming week--how else did I know what to buy at the grocery? Now, living alone and eating alone a lot but not all the time, I'm still not the kind of person who wanders into the kitchen at six o'clock saying, "Hmmm. Wonder what's for dinner?" At the very least I pull something out of the freezer at noon. Once on Halloween at my oldest daughter's house we made it to the kitchen at 8:30 and I asked, "What's for dinner?" I was appalled when she said, "I have no idea." I scrambled--she had jarred spaghetti sauce, which I sparked up, a meat patty with jalopenos, and spaghetti plus salad greens. We ate late but well.
But today I really had lunch and supper in my mind, and I ate meals most of my family would shun--though a few would love (well, maybe not the eggplant!). For lunch, I knew yesterday I would have lox, cream cheese, red onion and tomato on toast (I don't really like bagels). Jordan had a tuna salad sandwich and Jacob refused the chicken slices smeared with cream cheese and wrapped around cheddar sticks--didn'tlike the chicken.
For dinner, I had pulled an old page out of my Entrees Tried folder. It has two recipes and the one I tried tonight was tuna tonnato with eggplant salad. I adjusted and substituted as I saw fit and here's what I did:

Eggplant salad
Baked a small eggplant at 400 for 30 minutes and let it cool.
Skinned and chopped eggplant. Added chopped garlic (about a large clove), coarsely chopped parsley, lemon zest (I like a lot, so I probably used two tsp), about a tsp red wine vinegar. Put it all in the blender. What I did wrong: blended it too much so it was eggplant dip instead of salad. To give it a little crunch, I added diced cucumber.

Tonnato sauce:
I opened one of my cans of that special Pisces tuna (7.5) oz. and put maybe a quarter of a can in the blender. Added an anchovy filet (two wouldn't have been too much), a small amount of mayonnaise, lemon juice, a tsp of capers, and a generous splash of olive oil. Blend until a paste.

To serve:
Layer eggplant salad, tuna, tonnato sauce, toasted bread cubes  (I left those out), halved cherry tomatoes sprinkled with chopped mint (my front porch herb garden comes in handy). Drizzle it all with olive oil.

No, it wasn't the best thing I've ever eaten, but it was interesting and the flavors blended well. There are some strong flavors there--the eggplant, the tonnato sauce--but no one overshadowed the others. You're supposed to serve this in a wide-mouth jar--for cute effect, I guess--but I just used a plain old bowl. Actually, for company, it would be fun to use jars but that's another day.
The other recipe on that magazine page layers haricots vert, egg salad, arugula and smoked salmon. I love the combination of egg salad and smoked salmon, so I'll do that soon, maybe tomorrow.

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