Sunday, May 29, 2011

Dressing without vinegar (almost)
and what to do with half an eggplant

It's not camping, but when you're vacationing in a cabin and a trip to the store is an expedition, it almost feels like it. So on our way here we stopped in town and bought eggs, lettuce, cucumbers, olive oil, egglant, tomato, peppers, zucchini, tofu, sausage, ice cream, oranges, grapefruit, bananas, chips, spaghetti sauce, garlic... We already had soy sauce and rice and pasta in the car -- and, we thought, balsamic vinegar.

The first surprise came when we realized that there was already a nearly-full bottle of olive oil in the house. No problem! But the second, that we had no vinegar (balsamic or otherwise) in the car or house, was not greeted with much enthusiasm; how would we make salad dressing? Fortunately, there was some spicy brown prepared mustard (which already had some vinegar in it -- yay!) so, remembering back some 30 years and adapting it, we had

Low-vinegar vinaigrette

Put into a small bowl (no larger than a cereal bowl and preferably smaller):
  • 2 tsp spicy brown prepared mustard
  • ½ clove garlic, minced (optional)
  • 2 tsp olive oil
and beat with a small spoon. (I used a table teaspoon -- not a precise measuring teaspoon.) You could use a small wire whisk, but this house ("cabin" doesn't do it justice; the rental agent calls it "Beaver Pond Lodge") doesn't have one

When you have what looks like rather a soupy version of spicy brown mustard, add olive oil, a little (no more than ½ tsp) at a time, and each time stir until thoroughly mixed, nearly homogeneous. But add no more than 1 Tbsp of oil beyond the original 2 tsp.

If what you have turns into mustard-colored bubbles in clear oil, you've added too much oil. Don't fret, but try to remember how much you added, and add a little less next time. A little pepper and salt won't hurt.

Leftover Pseudo-Italian Eggplant &c

Today, I contemplated what to do with a package of chicken sausage and half an eggplant. Roasting eggplant cubes in the oven worked well before, so here's a serviceable lunch entree.
  • Slice thinly:
    • ½ eggplant
    By "thinly" I mean maybe ¼ inch or so. 8mm wouldn't be too thick but I guess 1cm might be.
  • Dump the slices onto a baking sheet or some ovenproof dish. The lodge has a glass pie-pan so I used it. If you like, you can drizzle it with
    • olive oil
    and/or sprinkle with
    • salt.
  • Set oven for 450°F and insert the eggplant slices. (You can preheat the oven if you like but that seems overly diligent). Turn the slices every 5-10 minutes, and cook for about 30 minutes total.
  • While the eggplant is baking, slice thinly (about ¼ inch):
    • some sausage
    We have sweet Italian sausage made from chicken, and I used two links from the package. These are fully cooked, so I added them to the eggplant slices for the last 10 minutes or so.

    If your sausage isn't pre-cooked, you might add them to the oven earlier -- e.g., slice and add as soon as you put the eggplant in.

  • When done, top with
    • leftover marinara sauce
    if you have some. If you don't have any, no worries.

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