Tuesday, March 29, 2011

blog the eleventh...recipe the 8th

I have been thoroughly enjoying the act of revisiting some of the cookbooks on my shelves. However, I decided to venture out of my home library and visit my town library to see some of their offerings. I was very pleased by what I found. First, I need to explain that I live in a very small town. My public library is housed in a former church built two hundred or so years ago. There is only one musty floor, a few computers, and big chairs to take up space. When a hot new interesting book comes out, inevitably you are put on a wait list because it has to be ordered from another library. So hopefully I've painted a clear picture, we are not dealing with a thriving metropolis. Now, please don't get me wrong.....I couldn't imagine living anywhere else. I love the small town feel and unbelievable quirkiness that the community exudes.
On Saturday I dropped off my daughter at basketball practice. I knew I would only have twenty minutes until her game began. So I am sitting on the floor tucked between two rows of cookbooks, lost in recipes. I heard a familiar voice as one of my best friends strolled past me with a variety of her family members. They were headed upstairs to the meeting room where a lecture was being held. The point of the lecture was for community members to stroll down memory lane, and discuss the days of olde in our little hamlet. (sounded a bit witch-hunty to me). My friend and I took it in stride that I was on the floor surrounded by books as she was attending the lecture.
During my search I came across a great book, Parisian Home Cooking: Conversations, Recipes and Tips from the Cooks and Food Merchants of Paris by Michael Roberts. He talks about a concept that is near and dear to my heart; buying food that is local, fresh, and shopping for the meal.  The Parisians have the art of grocery down to a science. Shoppers have their favorite stall for eggs, cheese, breads, meats, asparagus, etc. People are experts at their craft and the markets with their customers reflect that. Now if I can only transport my beloved town closer to the Paris markets.......

Gratin d'Aubergine
Eggplant and Onion Gratin

1 1/2 pounds large eggplant
kosher salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 onion finely chopped
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese

1. Peel the eggplant and slice it into 1/2 inch rounds. layer the slices in a colander, sprinkling each layer with a little kosher salt. Set the colander in  the sink or over a plate and leave for 1 hour. Press down occasionally to help rid the eggplant of its liquid.
2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
3. Firmly press each slice of eggplant between kitchen towels to get rid of the salt. Brush the eggplant slices on both sides with the oil and arrange in a single layer on baking sheets Place in the oven for 25 minutes, turning once. Remove from the oven and set aside. (leave the oven on.)
4.Meanwhile prepare the bechamel: Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, or until softened. Mix in the flour and cook for another minutes. Add the milk, nutmeg, thyme, and pepper. Simmer, stirring, until thick, about 5 minutes.
5. Lightly oil a 6 by 8 inch baking dish. Arrange a layer of eggplant in the bottom of the baking dish and spread with a little of the bechamel. Sprinkle with some grated cheese. Repeat until all the eggplant is layered, using about half the cheese and ending with a layer of bechamel. Sprinkle the surface of the gratin with the remaining cheese.Place the baking dish in the oven for 40 minutes, or until bubbling. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

No comments:

Post a Comment