Tuesday, December 28, 2010

'cuz I can

I wonder how many titles I've "stolen" from P!nk.  Despite the success that dinner was tonight, it's probably better to refrain from using one of her newest songs, "F**kin' Perfect." 

Thanks for the new CD, Mom!

Anyway...thanks once again to my opportunity to test for the Urban Vegan Part Deux (by the way, I'm just making these names up - there is no official title for the new book that I am aware of), our dinner was flavorful, time-consuming (in a good, slow-simmering kind of way), and a little off the wall.

Tonight, I made Chickpeas with Tomatoes, Eggplant, and Kale and served it on top of Rutabaga-Fennel Clapshot.

There are so many things to love about dinner tonight.  Mister and I are huge fans of mashed potatoes - we even ate a whole tub of those microwave-and-eat Country Crock mashed potatoes during our honeymoon...for dinner.  We ate a ton of junk food that week - that might have been one of our healthier indulgences.  In any case, we love mashed potatoes, so the clapshot was right up our alley.  As you can imagine, rutabaga was involved, which was primarily responsible for that lovely hue (no matter how much I want it to be from the Earth Balance).  It made for a lighter version of mashed potatoes.  I actually stole the idea of mashers as the starch base upon which dinner sat from Isa (yes, I did read Appetite for Reduction cover to cover on Sunday).

Although the fennel seeds look pretty cool, kind of like the mashed equivalent of rye bread, it was a little unsettling to bite into one in the midst of pillow-soft clapshot.  Aside from that, these are easily the creamiest Mashed Anything I've ever made.

The Chickpea dish was a decent bit of work, which I enjoyed since I got so many neat culinary toys for Christmas.  I'll tell you, I was holding my own alright before with my play knives, but with only a couple of days under my belt with my shiny, new knives, I am stunned by how much easier it is to prep.  I feel like a pro now and I didn't even realize I was struggling before.  I knew I needed to get better knives, but I had no idea what a huge difference they would make in the time it takes me to prep.

It was time-consuming, between the decent amount of chopping and the luxurious length of time it simmered in my brand new Le Creuset stockpot (LOVE!).  In retrospect, my saute pan would have been of adequate size to contain the ingredients, but I really wanted to use my new pot.

I hemmed and hawed a little bit before selecting this recipe for two reasons.  The first hesitation on my part is that I really don't like onions and Dynise, apparently, really does, since it seems this is the third recipe I've made by her that involved me confronting a member of the onion family I had previously avoided.  Today's sibling was Sweet Onion.  I got over my initial reticence by thoroughly pureeing the onion with a healthy amount of garlic until I could not distinguish one from the other.  It actually set up a sweet-n-savory scented base for the other components I would soon add.

If you even remember the title of this post, you're probably wondering by now just what the heck it has to do with anything.  Here comes your answer: the other ingredient I was a little worried about was the eggplant.  Mister really doesn't like eggplant.  I've fooled him into eating it and liking it before, but it would be a lot easier to work with "secret ingredients" if my kitchen had walls to block his curious glances.  Nevertheless, I did manage to sneak this:

into our dinner and into his belly without complaints.  I had to be sure it was undetectable, so I read the recipe at least three times to ensure that unless he saw it whole, he would never know it was in there.  Once I was assured of its roasted-pulpness, I went for it.  I've never roasted eggplant before, but I was amused by how the insides shrivel away from the skin (which is normally what gives it away).

So, why did I feed Mister eggplant, knowing that he doesn't like it?

'Cuz I can.

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