Archive for the ‘Eggplant’ Category

Goat Cheese Pizza

“Oh how yummy! One more piece….and another and another.”

Yes, that is what I sound like when I’m indulging in one of my favorite “treats” – goat cheese.

I had always liked goat cheese, but after our vacation to visit my husband’s family in Spain a couple years ago – I have become a fan of goat cheese. Goat cheese on crackers, with salami, top on a salad or pasta, stuffed with chicken….there are so many wonderful combinations.

I cooked a variety of meals with local goat cheese at the farmers market this year and I had many consumers explain that they were not fond of goat cheese.  I explained that many times the goat cheese found in stores isn’t stored and handled properly.  Sometimes many of the grocery stores that sell goat cheese haven’t properly stored the cheese at proper temps, therefore making the cheese have a “rancid” taste. I assure you there is nothing rancid tasting about local goat cheese, quite the opposite – goat cheese is smooth, creamy and a “taste for the ages.”

If you are one of these type people that has tried goat cheese only once and now swears you will never try it again – I’m here to change your mind.

In Missouri we have lots of wonderful goat cheese operators that sell their products at many farmers markets and other marketing outlets.

Another benefit of Goat cheese, like goat milk, is it is easier on the human digestive system and lower in calories, cholesterol and fat than its bovine counterpart (but that doesn’t keep me from my cow’s milk). Goat cheese is rich in calcium, protein, vitamin A, vitamin K, phosphorus, niacin and thiamin. So, why not give it a try – improve your taste palate and your health!

One of my family’s favorite goat cheese recipes is our McConnell Goat Cheese Pizza. You can incorporate whatever your favorite vegetables are (we like to use bell peppers, eggplant, olives and sun-dried tomatoes).

McConnell Goat Cheese Pizza
1 teaspoon honey or sugar
2 tablespoons yeast
3 cups unbleached white flour salt
2 tablespoons olive oil

Sauce (try using a pesto instead of a tomato based sauce)
8 ounces Goat Cheese (Chevre, Teleme and/or Feta)
1 1/2 cups topping of choice: sliced bell peppers or roasted red peppers, caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, eggplant, chopped olives, sun-dried tomatoes or anchovies.

Dissolve honey or sugar in 1 cup warm water. Add yeast, and set in a warm place for about ten minutes. Foam will form on the surface of the yeast.

Meanwhile, put the flour into the food processor (using metal blade) with a dash of salt. Drizzle in the olive oil, followed by the yeast mixture. When the dough forms a ball (motor will begin to slow down), place it in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours.

Punch down and roll into desired shape.

Cover the surface of the dough with sauce, and top with 8 ounces of goat cheese and toppings of choice. Bake in preheated 400 degree oven for 10-14 minutes until crust turns golden. Brush the edge of the crust with a little olive oil before serving.

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Here is one of my favorite recipes that I prepared at the Camdenton Farmers Market in August – this dish was a crowd pleaser.

I start with small patty pan squash, I like cooking with the vegetables that are still young and immature because they are tender and have less seeds.  Then using my mother’s batter I coat the squash in an egg wash and then a cornmeal batter and deep fry to golden perfection!

You can also use this batter on eggplant, zucchini and a variety of other vegetables.

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We celebrated my father’s 68th birthday this weekend – it’s bewilders me to say that my father is 68 years old. I still look at him like he is my young father and it’s hard to imagine that he will turn seventy soon.

But, he might be 68 years old – and acts like a kid.  He keeps active on our family farm, could probably out walk me and kicks back for a good laugh constantly.  He says, “keep your mind young,” which he does do.  And, “keep your body healthy,” which he also does.  Eating out of our large garden and reaping what he and my mother sow.

I prepared a celebration dinner for him which included: filet mignon, roasted squash and zucchini with feta, grilled sweet corn with a spicy chipotle sauce, grilled eggplant and tomato stacks and southern red velvet cake.  It was quite a feast for us all!

Below you can find the recipe for the eggplant and tomato stacks, which I found from EatingWell.com.  This is a great site if you are looking for fresh and healthy recipes that taste amazing.

Grilled Eggplant and Tomato Stacks from Eating Well

Grilled Eggplant and Tomato Stacks
from Eatingwell.com
2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 medium eggplant (3/4-1 pound), cut into 6 rounds about 1/2 inch thick
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, divided
6 teaspoons prepared pesto
2 large beefsteak tomatoes, each cut into 3 slices about 3/4 inch thick
4 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into 6 thin slices
6 fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Preheat grill to medium-high or place a grill pan over medium-high heat until hot.

Use 2 teaspoons oil to brush both sides of eggplant slices; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Grill the eggplant slices for 5 minutes. Turn; continue grilling until tender and marked with grill lines, 3 to 5 minutes more. Transfer to a large platter.

Spread each eggplant slice with 1 teaspoon pesto. Top with a slice of tomato, a slice of mozzarella and a basil leaf.

Drizzle vinegar and the remaining 1 tablespoon oil over the towers; sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper.

Make Ahead Tip: Prepare through Step 2, cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day. Bring to room temperature before serving.

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The Market Lady, Lane McConnell, will visit the Laclede County Farmers Market in Lebanon, Mo., Saturday, August 6.  The Market Lady and video crew will begin at 7:30 a.m., with two cooking demonstration incorporating products from the market and will be interviewing producers and consumers for various other segments. 

“I strive to inform folks on the ease of preparing homemade meals for their families through shopping at the market,” said McConnell.  “Consumers can log on to our website or Facebook page to view short videos of interviews with the farmers that grow our food, topics such as food safety, organic, naturally grown and learn how to cook simple meals.”

The purpose of The Market Lady Project is to educate consumers about eating healthy, locally produced food found at their farmers market.

“We are happy to welcome The Market Lady crew at our market,” said Market Master Linda Bethurem.  “We hope that customers will come out to the market and bring their families to watch The Market Lady cooking demonstrations.”

Below is one recipe that The Market Lady will be preparing at the market. Be sure and come out to the Laclede County Farmers Market on August 6 to meet the Market Lady and video producer Kelsie Young in the St. John’s Hospital parking lot.

Eggplant Dip
4-6 roasted small eggplants, skinned and minced
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. cumin
Handful of chopped cilantro
2 T. olive oil

Warm oil in skillet and cook onion until soft and lightly browned.  Stir in garlic add eggplant pulp.  Simmer for 10-15 minutes.  Season to taste with salt, pepper, lemon juice, cumin and cilantro.  Perfect served with pita chips.

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Eggplant is one specialty crop that gets overlooked at the market.  Most consumers know one way to cook these delicious produce- deep fried.  But, there are many other avenues to travel down when searching for eggplant recipes.

Before you run out to your local market to purchase eggplant, there are a few tips I want to offer.

Eggplant Season: Mid-July through September.

Growing:  Eggplant lives off hot weather and sun, yum yum!

Expectations:  Pick ‘em with firm, shiny skins and resilient flesh for freshness.  Smaller, younger eggplants like you find at the market have thinner, edible skins, & smaller seeds, unlike the big purple-black ones, which have to be prepped to cut their bitterness, concentrated around their larger seeds.

Nutrition:  Eggplant is high in fiber and low in calories.  It has a fair amount of potassium, anti-oxidants, and low amounts of a variety of other nutrients.

Storage: Keeps a week in the fridge if in an open plastic bag – it needs some air, but the bag will keep it from drying out, too.

Why buy it local: Variety!  There are wide array of colors and lengths of eggplant at the farmers market.  Be sure and ask your farmer about the varieties they offer.

Preparation Tips:
– If your eggplant is the large classic kind, you should salt it to leech out the alkaloids that cause bitterness.  Cut into ½ inch slices or cubes, and sprinkle with salt all over.  Let sit about an hour, then rinse well and squeeze to remove extra water.  This is not needed for little eggplant varieties, which are much lower in these unpleasant compounds.

– Salting also helps prevent excess grease absorption during cooking, by compressing the little pockets of moisture which also pull in the fats.

– With the big kind, you may also want to peel it if it seems tough.

Ways to Cook Eggplant
– Roasted (My favorite): For whole little ones, pierce a few times with tip of a knife to vent steam, & place on tray in 350 oven for around 30 minutes, until very soft.  For big ones, cut in half, salt as above, & place cut-side down on oiled baking sheet & bake longer.  Or grill ‘em- so worth the smokey flavor.

– Stir-fried: The little ones work best.  Slice & add to a heated oiled skillet.  Stir frequently over high heat until well browned (try mixing with quartered mushrooms & splash of soy sauce).

– Fried-fried: Cut in ½ inch thick slices, & salt & squeeze your eggplant well for this one.  Heat half an inch of oil in a skillet until very hot (but not yet smoking), and gently slide in eggplant. Don’t crowd the pan, or they’ll be soggy. Turn a few times until well browned and tender.

Eggplant Spread

Eggplant Spread
4-6 roasted small eggplants, skinned and minced
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. cumin
Handful of chopped clinatro
2 T olive oil

Warm oil in skillet and cook onion until soft and lightly browned.  Stir in garlic add eggplant pulp.  Simmer for 10-15 minutes.  Season to taste with salt, pepper, lemon juice, cumin and clinatro.  Perfect served with pita chips.

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