Yesterday started out pretty sad. I cried over the story about the young Emperor Penguin who lost his way from Antarctica and ended up on a New Zealand beach. The hope was that he’d head home as soon as possible, but instead he (the gender is arbitrary, as they haven’t determined that yet) stuck around. He began eating sand, apparently thinking it was snow, and became lethargic. Finally, the authorities intervened and popped him into an ice-filled cooler and carted him off to the zoo in Wellington. They’ve been trying to flush the sand out of his system, and have him hooked up to an IV to rehydrate. A friend of mine from New Zealand sent me a link to a story that said the young penguin (They’re calling him Happy Feet. Awww!) was doing better. He’s not out of the woods yet, but I remain hopeful that he will be okay. The attention this story is getting shows that people love penguins. How can you not? They’re adorable! I’m wishing for your speedy recovery, little friend!
Then came the news of the death of Peter Falk. I had heard that he was in poor health (it turns out that he had Alzheimer’s), but it was still sad news. Everyone loved his Columbo character, but one of my favorite comedy movies is “The In-Laws.” I started watching it again last night (I’ll finish it when I eat dinner tonight). He was a wonderful actor, and he left a legacy of many great performances. He will be missed.
I needed some good news after such sadness. The first of it came in the form of a federal judge saying that Indiana’s defunding of Planned Parenthood is illegal. YES! The state says they will challenge the ruling, but Governor Daniels has said that he will abide by the court ruling. So what are you going to do, Mitch? I’m sure this isn’t the end of it. But today Planned Parenthood began treating Medicaid patients again. This is a temporary victory that I hope will be made permanent.
Next was New York’s historic vote to allow same sex marriage! And there was much celebrating! The vote passed with several Republican votes, so maybe, just maybe, we’re finally on the right track in allowing equal rights for all of our citizens. We’ve got a long ways to go, but New York is a biggie. Congratulations, New York! Let’s keep it going!
Then in today’s paper, I saw that Indiana’s immigrant bill was also blocked as illegal (so to speak). I’m happy to see some pushback against these laws, and I think there are several states (including my own) that need to go back and read the Constitution again. I suggest paying special attention to Article VI, also known as the Supremacy Clause. It’s kind of a big deal.
Okay, on to the food part! Ken was on a business trip this week, and not only did I get busy and get a lot of cleaning and projects done, I got to cook some eggplant! Many of you know that when Ken goes on a trip, it’s my chance to cook myself some eggplant. I love the stuff, but Ken...not so much. (That’s putting it mildly!)
I had found a new recipe on the Hunts website: Eggplant Parm Rolls, and I was looking forward to trying it. (In the interest of not making this too long, I’ll just provide the link to the recipe. There seem to be a lot of other good ones there.) Here are some pictures and commentary, followed by a few things I did differently.
You have to slice the eggplant lengthwise into quarter-inch slices. It went pretty well until the last couple of slices…that was hard!
This is the start of the sauce. Onions (Vidalias…yay!), garlic, and sliced zucchini. I also tossed in a few scraps of eggplant that were left over from slicing them (sans skin).
Tomatoes added, along with salt, pepper, and a little sugar.
Grilling the eggplant. You could probably broil or fry the slices, too, but I recommend grilling for that sort of charred taste.
My wine choice. I usually prefer Cabernets, but I decided to go with this Merlot because…yes, the bottle was pretty. Not an expensive wine, but reds can be stashed away for a few years, and they just get better with time!
The cheese filling: ricotta, Parmesan, eggs, and fresh basil.
The assembled eggplant rolls. I had a little extra cheese mixture, so I just put it in the middle of them.
Then you spoon the sauce over the rolls, and put mini-marshmallows on it! No, that’s actually perline fresh mozzarella, and that was my mistake. I was thinking that the mozzarella went in the filling, so I thought the tiny balls would be better. I should have gotten the big ball and sliced it for the topping. It was still tasty, though.
Out of the oven and melty. Sitting for a few minutes to get a little more “solid.” This was initially a little juicy. I don’t know if it was because of the zucchini, or what. It specifically says to not drain the tomatoes, but I might drain at least one of the cans in the future.
Chow time! (Pardon the cord at the top of the picture. That’s my Rock Band microphone.)
Okay, here is where I strayed from the recipe. It calls for two large eggplants. I decided to cut the recipe in half, so only got one. It still made eight rolls, and I realized early on that I was still going to need the full amount of cheese filling and sauce. It calls for a can of stewed tomatoes, and I only got one of those, so I used an additional can of diced tomatoes. I didn’t use a full cup of fresh basil, maybe only a half a cup. I think a full cup would have made it even more flavorful. I used a slightly smaller dish than called for in the recipe, and it was pretty full. I really think two large eggplants is too much for the sauce and filling amounts provided in the recipe.
My assessment: very good, but not quite as good as Eggplant Parmigiana (still my favorite). Next time, I think I will peel the eggplant. The skin adds a nice color, but it was a little on the tough side, and I think I would prefer to not have that toughness. I peel it when I make Eggplant Parmigiana, and I think this dish would be a little better with the eggplant peeled (although perhaps less visually appealing). Also, I sprayed the eggplant slices all at once with cooking spray, before I heated up the grill pan. I should have known better, because I know how eggplant soaks up oil. By the time I got ready to put the slices on the pan, the spray had completely absorbed! I had to spray them all again before I put them on the grill pan.
I had it again last night, and I think it was better than the night I first made it. Sometimes it seems like flavors blend better together after sitting for a bit. I’ll be eating it again tonight, so maybe it will be even better!
There is nothing complicated about this recipe (I don’t think so, anyway), but it does take a little time. Probably the most strenuous thing was hand-grating the Parmesan cheese. But DO use real Parmesan, not the Kraft grated stuff, as well as fresh mozzarella as opposed to the block stuff. The flavors are completely different and so much better.
Will I make this again? Yes! Highly recommended if you like eggplant and zucchini. It’s a meatless dish, but I kind of like that once in a while, and the cheese should give you plenty of protein. If you make it, let me know how yours turned out, and what you think. Or what your family thinks, if you dare to make it for them!