Saturday, August 21, 2010

Chicago- Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Bruschetta

Last night a few of my intern friends came over to enjoy so good food, knitting, and Twilight (don't judge). Every time we get together we always have the best food. Last night's menu consisted of Primo's pizza with ranch dressing, homemade pretzels, homemade guacamole goat cheese dip, homemade hummus with carrots and cucumbers, Ben and Jerry's ice cream, and my own contribution: roasted eggplant and tomato bruschetta with eggplants from the garden! The recipe is an original of Joe's and it was delicious; by far the best bruschetta I have ever had. Way to go Joey!
Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Bruschetta
3 small Japanese eggplants, chopped
3 medium tomatoes
1 French baguette
4 cloves garlic
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
Salt & pepper
1/2 cup fresh basil, minced
Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Chop eggplant and tomato. Toss with olive oil and put on baking tray. Roast eggplant and tomato mixture in oven for 25 minutes; cool to room temperature. Slice baguette on the diagonal into rounds. Brush baguette slices with olive oil. Place bread slices on baking tray in oven until brown around the edges, about 15 minutes. While still warm, rub each slice with garlic cloves. Let bread cool. In a bowl, mix eggplant and tomato mixture with balsamic vinegar, 2 Tbsp olive oil, salt, pepper, basil. Spoon eggplant mixture onto each bread slice. Top each with Parmesan cheese.

Our garden also has produced the smallest green pepper in the world. Truthfully, it was still growing but it came off the plant prematurely. I'm not mad though because it is too cute.

Fits in the palm of my hand!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Chicago- Chocolate Zucchini Cake

In an effort to use the 3 zucchinis that were picked from the garden, I decided to make a delicious chocolate zucchini cake. I love zucchini bread, but lacked a really good recipe (tried Martha Stewart's and was sorely disappointed). Plus, Joe's grandparents had just gotten back into town from Florida and were going to be at his parent's house last night. As we always have dinner with Joe's parents on Saturday night, I offered to make a dessert. Thus, the chocolate zucchini cake with fresh zucchinis from my garden was created! Needless to say, everyone loved the cake. A great success! Now I have been bitten by the baking bug and want to keep baking things. Unfortunately, school work calls. Perhaps next weekend I can make another treat. Plus, Dina promised to send me her zucchini bread recipe so I can make good zucchini bread with the next couple zucchinis that pop up.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake
adapted from Mostly Foodstuffs blog.

3 cups grated zucchini
2 1/2 cups all-purpose floour
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
2 cups sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
4 eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla
2 Tbsp strong brewed coffee
1 cup chopped walnuts

4 oz cream cheese, softened at room temperature
2 tbsp butter, softened at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
squeeze lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup sifted confectioner's sugar
2 Tbsp milk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and grease and flour a 10-15 cup bundt pan.
2. Set zucchini in a strainer or colander for at least half an hour to drain out excess liquid.
3. Sift flour, salt, and baking soda together. Set aside.
4. Mix together sugar and cocoa with a fork to incorporate cocoa completely and get rid of any clumps.
5. Whisk sugar and cocoa mixture with oil, eggs, vanilla, and coffee.
6. Add flour mixture to oil mixture and gently fold together until just combined.
7. Fold in zucchini and walnuts.
8. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 45-60 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.
9. Let the cake cool in the pan for 30 minutes, then invert and finish cooling on the serving platter.
10. When cake is cool, make the frosting. Blend together cream cheese and butter until smooth.
11. Add vanilla and lemon juice.
12. Beat powdered sugar into cream cheese mixture gradually until smooth.
13. Mix milk into frosting to thin it out.
14. Drizzle over cooled cake as desired.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Chicago- Day 140: Vegetables!

I have vegetables! Hurray! The eggplant and zucchini are thriving with beans, peppers, and tomatoes on the way. The success of these plants is most likely due to the fact that Joe waters them twice a day because I am a lazy bum. Thanks to his TLC we will be snacking on veggies very soon.

We currently have 5 eggplants growing with one pretty close to harvest.
Look how large the zucchini plant has gotten.

Our first zucchini harvest. I think zucchini bread or zucchini cake may be next on the agenda.
Peppers are on the way. Look how cute.