Cocktail of the week: Peach Margaritas!

What do you do when you have a full bottle of tequila, you have given up corn syrup (as much as possible) so you don’t want to use limeade and someone graciously has dropped a bunch of super ripe fresh peaches?

peach margarita

Make peach margaritas of course!  The perfect Labor Day Weekend bevy, that is, if peaches are in season around your neck of the woods.

peach margarita

Take a blender, add about 1 cup of tequila, a glug of Cointreau (1/4 cup) or any orange liqueur, a long dash or two of lime juice, a slurp of simple syrup, 1.5 to 2 trays of ice cubes and about 3 small, peeled, slightly chopped peaches – more or less. I didn’t measure anything except the tequila. Blend away and pour into your glass and try not to swig it. Refreshing, peachy, cold, sweet and tangy!

peach margarita

What do you know, it is cocktail hour again! Happy Labor Day weekend!

i’m out

Menu of the week August 25th Eggplant, the King of Vegetables!

It’s eggplant this week!  Here is some very important eggplant information directly from wiki:

the perfect white eggplant

The eggplant, aubergine, or brinjal (Solanum melongena) is a plant of the family Solanaceae (also known as the nightshades) and genus Solanum. It bears a fruit of the same name, commonly used as a vegetable in cooking. As a night-shade, it is closely related to the tomato and potato and is native to India and Sri Lanka (no wonder I like it so much, I love tomatoes and potatoes).

The name eggplant developed in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada because the fruits of some 18th century European cultivars were yellow or white and resembled goose or hen’s eggs. The name aubergine in British English developed based on the French aubergine (as derived from Catalan albergínia, from Arabic al-badinjan, from Persian badin-gan, from Sanskrit vatin-ganah). In Indian and South African English, the fruit is known as a “brinjal.” Aubergine and brinjal, with their distinctive br-jn or brn-jl aspects, derive from Arabic and Sanskrit. In the caribbean Trinidad, it also goes by the Latin derivative “melongen”.

The raw fruit can have a somewhat bitter taste, but becomes tender when cooked and develops a rich, complex flavor. Salting and then rinsing the sliced eggplant (known as “degorging”) can soften and remove much of the bitterness. Some modern varieties do not need this treatment, as they are less bitter. The eggplant is capable of absorbing large amounts of cooking fats and sauces, allowing for very rich dishes, but the salting process will reduce the amount of oil absorbed. The fruit flesh is smooth; as in the related tomato, the numerous seeds are soft and edible along with the rest of the fruit. The thin skin is also edible, so that the eggplant need not be peeled.

The eggplant is used in cuisines from Japan to Spain. It is often stewed, as in the French ratatouille, the Italian melanzane alla parmigiana, the Greek moussaka, and Middle-Eastern and South Asian dishes. It may also be roasted in its skin until charred, so that the pulp can be removed and blended with other ingredients such as lemon, tahini, and garlic, as in the Middle Eastern dish baba ghanoush and the similar Greek dish melitzanosalata or the Indian dishes of Baigan Bhartha or Gojju. It can be sliced, battered, and deep-fried, then served with various sauces which may be based on yoghurt, tahini, or tamarind. Grilled and mashed eggplant mixed with onions, tomatoes, and spices makes the Indian dish baingan ka bhartha. The eggplant can also be stuffed with meat, rice, or other fillings and then baked. In the Caucasus, for example, it is fried and stuffed with walnut paste to make nigvziani badrijani.

As a native plant, it is widely used in Indian cuisine, for example in sambhar, chutney, curries, and achaar. Owing to its versatile nature and wide use in both everyday and festive Indian food, it is often described (under the name brinjal) as the ‘King of Vegetables’. In one dish, Brinjal is stuffed with ground coconut, peanuts, and masala and then cooked in oil.

It can block the formation of free radicals, help control cholesterol levels and is also a source of folic acid and potassium.

So as we can see, eggplant is very old, widely used in many cultures and has some health benefits, as most vegetables tend to have.  Plus, it tastes great!  This week on Jamie at Home, Jamie is making eggplant pickles, how perfect!

I grew a couple of different varieties of eggplant in my garden this summer and if I am lucky they will be ready to eat by October!  They are slow growing this year.  As you can see:

the eggplant corner with tiny eggplants

Menu of the week: Eggplant

The only problem I have with eggplant is that my boyfriend refuses to eat it and finds it every time I try to hide it.  So, I will compromise on some of the dishes, leaving half of it eggplant free or cook a side dish for him.

Saturday: Mexican

Tacos al Pastor (marinated pork based on a recipe by Rick Bayless), garden salsa, guacamole, refried beans and Mexican rice

Sunday: All American grill out

Friends over for grass fed bacon, green chile, cheese burgers on the grill, new potatoes (from the farm) sauteed with garlic, dill and parsley, homemade bourbon baked beans and cucumber dill salad.

Monday: Indian (working late and Indian cooking is quick!)  Must also prepare lunch potluck item for Tuesday.

Eggplant Masala (gutti Vankaya), coconut fish curry, brinjal pickle, and lemon rice.

Tuesday: Greek

Moussaka with grass fed beef, eggplant (only on half), garden tomatoes and a bechamel sauce to top it off.

Wednesday: Italian Tex Mex

Eggplant rollatini based on recipes from Mario Batali and Giada De Laurentiis.  Some grilled chicken sausages on the side for my sweetie and a nice green salad. I need to use the leftover Tex Mex cheese dip I made for the potluck, so I will be using it as stuffing for blue corn enchiladas with a red or green chile sauce – depending on how many green chiles are ready to be picked in the garden.  I will have to post this dip as it is great and a little different.  Plus, I didn’t really think about eggplant in my menu for 5 nights in a row, need a break (but I still love eggplant).

Thursday: Mid Eastern

Baba ghanoush, shish kabobs with grass fed beef and veggies, minted rice pilaf, and lemon tahini sauce

Friday: Thai

Pork Pad Ped with little green eggplants, zucchini, pork, basil, and red chiles (based on my local Thai restaurants version)

i’m out

Here are some great menus for this week’s gluten free menu swap:

Karen of Gluten Free Sox Fan has one of my favorites planned: Blue cheese burgers with caramelized onions.  She is also going to attempt to make moussaka and hide the eggplant from her eggplant fearing hubby.  My advice (although it didn’t work when I tried it) is to mince the eggplant so the flavor is there but not the large visible rounds.   Band practice will not be allowed to interfere with good cooking I am happy to see, but we will have to wait to see what she comes up with for Thursday.

Kim of Gluten Free is Life Is going to both PF Changs and Cheeseburger in Paradise this week!  I am jealous as our local Cheeseburger in Paradise closed.  She has filet mignon and ribs on the menu in between, sounds like grilling weather in her neck of the woods.

Manda of Asparagus Thin claims her menu is a bit lack luster, I do not agree!  I don’t know what Indian shutko is, but since I love Indian food, I am looking forward to finding out. Manda is on the move this week leaving the big city of Philly for Phil’s arms in Concord.  Eggplant will be featured in her Italian night.

Kate of Gluten Free Gobsmacked It’s Kate’s first week back at school and she needs a stress free week and pozole is a great Mexican comfort food to incorporate.  I hope you post your version for the rest of us to drool over!  The salmon chowder sounds great too, cool season cooking is just around the corner.

Sea of Book of Yum Sea is starting the week by busting out her baba ganoush recipe.  Reading her Mexican menu and Indian menu makes me wish I lived closer!  Have fun and delish dining in the Pacific NW for Labor Day weekend!  I bet she will be heading to the Hawthorne Fish House for some GF fish and chips.

Rachel of All She Is has yet another guy that we all cook for who does not like eggplant, but she doesn’t care for it either.  Her menu features breakfast, lunch and dinner – I am not so organized as that!  Rachel is dining on lots of enchiladas (who doesn’t love those?) and is also making salmon chowder! 

Cheryl of Gluten Free Goodness I could barely get past the picture of the cashew chocolate tart to read on to the menu!  Cheryl like me, tries to use her garden veggies as much as possible and tomatoes are ripe in her corner of the world too.  They will be featured in her tomato soup with caramelized onions.  She also has an Indian night with chaat masala and pappadams – two of my favorite things!  Peppers are ripe in her garden too and are the key ingredient for next week’s menu, which Cheryl is hosting.  She is attempting roasted eggplant after a long hiatus so give her some aubergine encouragement!

M-Elle of Cooking and Uncooking has never had eggplant before and is bravely trying it this week.  I am sure she will love it and be able to add to her dip repertoire. The ginger almond nori rolls have me intrigued, but of course I like anything with ginger.  Stay tuned for her TBA eggplant dish on Friday.

Kimberly of Living Free is going with menu unplanning this week as she is feeling a bit overwhelmed, so stop by and cheer her up!

Carrie of Ginger Lemon Girl is secretly posting her GF menus on her frugal site Heart of a Servant.  I love using waffles for sandwiches too!

Sally of Aprovechar has been adding whole grains and greens to her breakfasts.  One of my fav’s, beans and greens, is on her dinner menu as well as a tasty sounding tomato basil pasta dish.  Sally is a locavore, as I try to be.  I hope those tropical depressions don’t hurt the local harvests!  Gluten Free buckwheat noodles will be in her Asian Noodle Slaw – if anyone knows where I can get those and what brand, do tell!

Angela of Angela’s Kitchen joins us and has her whole week planned, not just her menu.  The French dip sounds terrific, as does the apricot glazed porkloin and avocado BLTs. Happy 13th to her son!

Kay of Gluten Free Kay offers a recipe for stuffed eggplant that she cooked earlier this month.  Skip the butter and this recipe is easily vegan as well as GF, corn and soy free.

Esther of The Lilac Kitchen might make yet another moussaka dish, if she can find some aubergines.  She is having gammon, eggs and potatoes one day and I sure hope she tells us what sort of British treat gammon is.  She sees some baking in her future with a gift of apples, mummm, fall and apples.  I can almost smell an apple pie.

This is great!  I don’t think we have had 15 menus to swap with in a while.  I am happy to see such love for the eggplant!

one tiny purple unfocused eggplant

It’s never too late to submit your menu, so send them this way!  Either leave a comment or email me at celticjig1 at yahoo (dot) com.

Happy eating!

Rub of the month: Mexican magic

Mexican magic rub

Ancho Chile rub aka Mexican Magic

3 ancho chiles, seeded and hand-torn into pieces
2 pasilla chiles or guajillo chiles
3 chile de arbol (the little long ones)
2 cinnamon sticks or more (about 3 inches long)
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
1 tablespoon NM red chile powder or pods (2)
1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano
1 tablespoon garlic powder or more
salt to taste

Toast all chiles, let them cool and then place them in a food processor. Toast all seed and spices, place in food processor. Pulverize items in processor. Add everything else but salt and mix. Add the salt to taste (rubs should be about ¼ salt, no more). Adjust to your taste.

jar of mexican rub

grilled pork with mexican rub

i’m out

Menu of the week August 18th

This weeks menu is hosted by Mary Frances of Gluten Free (Cooking School).  Please visit her blog and check out all the menus and recipes!

Next week I am hosting the menu of the week and the key ingredient will be Eggplant, so start planning! The garden is out of control, so to tame it, I must harvest a few things like the 5 foot high fennel.  I canned 2 dozen pints of tomatoes last week and will have to do the same this week.

Sunday: Lunch (up at the cottage with friends)  Tomato bisque with loads of garden tomatoes and basil.

Dinner: Grass fed beef tacos with frijoles de olla and fresh salsa from the garden produce.

Monday: Bistro

Dilled fingerling potato salad (both the dill and potatoes are from the garden), grilled pork loin with a peppercorn crust and a salad with fresh local goat cheese, tarragon and blueberries topped with a tarragon vinaigrette.  My lettuce is mostly bolted now, so the salad might be a challenge.  Green beans with shallot tarragon vinaigrette as the lettuce is super bitter.  Time to plant more lettuce (3 weeks ago).

Tuesday: French Bouillabaisse with fresh tomatoes, herbs and fennel from the garden, frozen fish, scallops and shrimp from the freezer and white wine from MI.

Wednesday:  Thai

Rad nah (or lard nah) with tofu (still have some left from last week).  I might try this method.  I will be using collard greens as they are taking over one of the raised beds in the garden and shading my eggplant which I need next week!

Thursday: Italian

Homemade pesto from the garden basil over pasta with grilled something, probably chicken.

Friday: Vietnamese

Ga Xao Xa Ot  using a combo of this, this and this recipe skipping the red bell pepper (not a fan unless it is roasted).

Happy eating!

i’m out