Thursday, December 2, 2010

Soiree chez nous: Melanzane alla Parmigiana

WE were about to have a few friends over to meet "le cousin". Part of his visit this time consisted of a trip to Rome to see the relatives, and so he didn't get a chance to see everyone on his list.

 Still,  the men wanted to do one dinner.   So I was lucky to just putter around, light the candles, don pink stockings, turn on KFSM jazz  and tweak the silver and napkins.

Although I was not cooking, I was there in the kitchen with my trusty Canon S90 and can fill you in on most of what happened at our house last weekend.  The recipe was for Eggplant Parmigiana for 6 people.

When I arrived on the scene,  there were from  6-8 eggplants peeled, sliced and salted under a weighted pan over a colander.  After  2 hours  there was about an inch of brown liquid that had oozed out and was tossed away.

My husband was making his special tomato sauce who's special ingredient is reduced wine syrup.  This secret elixir serves to cut the acidity of the tomatoes and add dimension. It is something he came up with on his own so it's his recipe, really.

Our other chef " cher cousin" had on his apron and was setting out the dredge in this order:   flour,  beaten eggs with a couple of T of water ( we had egg left over), and crushed bread sticks seasoned with salt and pepper.  The guys crushed them with a wine bottle used like a rolling pin.  They were breadsticks with sesame seeds.

 I have never seen commercial bread crumbs here in FRance and how would you know if they are fresh, anyway? It would seem very un-french not to do them yourself.

The slices were then piled up on a plate ready for sautéing. ( omg, the blog font just put in the accent mark automatically! astounding.)

The "boys" had covered the bottom of a big skillet with a thin  layer of olive oil and turned it up to moderately high to brown the eggplant slices on both sides.

This takes quite a while. And once browned, the slices need to be drained with paper towels to get off  excess oil.

 In the meantime about 4 balls of fresh buffalo mozzarella were cut into chunks to layer with the eggplant and tomato sauce.  The oven is already preheating on #6 convection oven.  (With our old clunker we have to turn it on the rotating fan setting or it won't get hot enough.)

Here is the dish before it goes in the oven with a layer of parmesan sprinkled on top. We waited until it was bubbling all around the edges before it came out. 

And here is the same dish about 30 minutes later with a sprinkling of parsley for color.  Apparently, this is a very popular dish in America but I have never made it so forgive my stating the obvious.

The best thing about this entree is that it can be prepared earlier in the day and can be put in the oven well after the first glass of champagne is consumed and everyone is comfortably settled in and hungry.  It was at that point that we served it up and brought it to the table. 

The wine we poured was 2000 Hermitage rhone wine from Paul Jaboulet and a special bottle of "ermitage" 1996 spelled without the "H", by M. Chapoutier.  

   After second rounds, I served a salad of mache, mesclun and endive with toasted walnuts and bits of kaki pomme( apple- like persimmons not soft). The dressing was a simple vinaigrette with excellent quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  I thought it turned out well.  

It has been like Christmas around here with all of the bags and bags of treats and tasty foods  and other gifts that "the cousin" has brought us like a generous Santa.
 Much later in our evening,  we had a wonderful apple, upside-down-cake baked by another friend.  And still another guest brought the beautiful bouquet of amaryllis in greens, whites and pale pinks that you see here.   It was a sumptuous evening.

And I am basking still.   What great folks I have come to know here.   Vive la France et vive l'amitie!

1 comment:

  1. I recognize your "legs" in the pink, now who do the others belong to?xx