Monday, August 26, 2013

Egg-free French Toast

Eggless French toast

On Sunday morning I was craving French Toast.  Of course, the roommate is the only one who ever buys eggs in our house and, since he'd been gone for a week, we had none.  I told myself I wasn't going out until I had done a deep-clean of the house, so there was no going to the store or our usual brunch spot.  It was time to get creative.

I figured if anyone knew how to make French Toast sans eggs it would be a vegan, so I did a quick search and found a vegan French Toast recipe.  We all know I am not a vegan chef so I of course un-veganized it - adding back in milk and butter.  It's a great way to make French Toast if you're allergic to eggs or, like me, a lazy grocery shopper.  It's crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.  It would be awesome topped with fresh fruit or berries.  Basically, it's just batter-fried bread, and who can complain about that?  Certainly not me!

Eggless French toast

Egg-free French Toast
adapted from chef chloe

1/4 c skim milk
1/4 c flour
1 tbsp maple syrup (plus more for serving)
1 tbsp ground flax seed
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
6 slices, 3/4" thick, french bread
1 tbsp butter

1. Whisk together the milk and flour with a fork in a small bowl until smooth.
2. Add the maple syrup, ground flax seed, salt, cinnamon, brown sugar and vanilla and whisk to combine.
3. Dip the bread in the batter until both sides are well coated.
4. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat.  Once melted, add the bread, making sure not to crowd the pan.  If you need to do it in two batches, that's better than squishing the bread.
5. Allow the bread to brown on one side, then flip and allow to brown on the other side.  I like to press the bread while the second side is browning.
6. Serve with additional maple syrup, warmed.

serves 2

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Rigatoni with Eggplant Puree

Eggplant rigatoni

We're back!  Our vacation was amazing.  We explored all over the Pacific Northwest then hung out at the beach in California for a few days.  We were out in the mountains and forests without cell service and it was the perfect excuse to check out from every day life for a little while.  There are lots of pictures up on my tumblr, strangeplaceforyoga, so go check them out!

Eggplant rigatoni

Cooking on our trip was well... minimal.  We picked up food from a few farmer's markets and cooked it over an open fire in the woods.  Usually this resulted in charred burgers and more baked potatoes than we'd ever eat at home, but we found a few treats as well.  Corn over the open fire was charred and absolutely delicious! I didn't even miss the butter.  Still, I was happy to get back home and start cooking again.

Eggplant rigatoni

The Monkey Scientist stayed out in California for a fellowship for a week after I left.  I have to admit - before he got back I was lazy.  But when he flew in the other night I put this meal together while his brother picked up him up at the airport.  It had just the amount of cutting necessary to relax me and remind me why I love cooking so much.  Plus, pasta = comfort food.  And pine nuts are my favorite.  I made a few pan-seared chicken breasts to throw on top because I knew he'd want some meat and they were an easy addition.  The dish is warm, cozy and comforting.  Despite the reliance on summer veggies, I'll definitely be bringing it back out this winter!

Eggplant rigatoni

Rigatoni with Eggplant Puree
from smitten kitchen

1 small eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved (I used the golden variety)
3 cloves garlic, whole
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 pound rigatoni pasta
1/4 cup torn fresh mint leaves
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 oz balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp freshly-squeezed lemon juice

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a large baking sheet with foil.
2. Combine the cubed eggplant, tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes in a large bowl and toss to coat. Spread the mixture evenly on the foil-lined baking sheet.  Bake for 35 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and the eggplant is golden and beginning to brown on the edges.
3. Meanwhile, in a very small frying pan (I use one designed for 1 egg) add just the pine nuts.  Toast over medium heat, stirring nearly constantly, until they begin to brown.  Remove to a small plate or jar and set aside.
4. At the same time, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Cook according to package instructions then drain, reserving at least 2 cups of the pasta water.
5. Combine 3 tbsp olive oil and the mint leaves in the bowl of your food processor.  Add the roasted vegetables, then puree.
6. Pour the pureed vegetables, Parmesan, balsamic vinegar, and lemon juice over the pasta.  The sauce will be thick, so add the reserved pasta water 1/2 cup at a time until it reaches your desired consistency.