Friday, July 19, 2013

The Eggplant are Here!

I can't even begin to tell you how thrilled I was to arrive for my CSA pick up and find that the eggplant had produce faster than anticipated in the sweltering heat we have here in Connecticut! YIPPEE!!! Why am I so excited you ask?? Because in that basket were a bounty of Japanese eggplant! The absolute most necessary ingredient when making Mamma Agata's Eggplant Parmesan a.k.a. the greatest stuff on earth! I had the good fortune to attend her cooking school while vacationing in Italy last year. It seriously was one of the greatest experiences of my life. Worth every darn penny! As part of that experience she shared with us her recipe and preparation tips for her eggplant Parmesan. While I can't divulge her recipe - you will have to buy her cookbook for that! I can give you a few secrets. The first and foremost being that Japanese eggplants are a MUST! They are long and skinny and have better flavor and texture and less water. Second tip, go sparing on the sauce! Unless, of course, you WANT a soggy mess. Third tip, and this is a no brainer - always use the freshest high quality ingredients that you can find, within your budget (Hey, I work for a living too). And for your viewing pleasure I do have photos of my magnificent and oh so delicious eggplant that I will post next week!

Chiara (Mamma Agata's daughter) Presents the Eggplant Parmesan Ready for Baking! And here is mine (wish I had that lovely deep glass baking dish of hers)!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Hot, Hot, Hot!

Damn this July 4th holiday was a sizzler! I mean HOT - mid90's and HUMID! Lucky for me my brother has a little pool that is perfect for cooling down. Especially since our central air shit the bed (GRRRR). We had a great holiday and hope you all did too. I cooked up a storm for our little party but by far these spicy sausage balls we the biggest hit. Hubby said they were "gangsta". I am not quite sure what that means but it must be good because he asked me to make them again on Sunday! LOL!

Spicy Sausage Balls

3 cups biscuit mix (Bisquick or Jiffy)
1 pound uncooked Hot Italian Sausage
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese (8 ounces)

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (8 ounces)
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
½ cup milk
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 can fire roasted diced green chiles
½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Allow sausage and cheese to sit out at room temperature for about 30 minutes before preparing.
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a large bowl combine sausage and biscuit mix, using hands or a stand mixer with paddle attachment. Once ingredients are combined, add cheeses, chiles, milk and spices. Mix well with hands until completely combined.

Using a 1 tablespoon scoop or a heaping teaspoon, portion mixture and shape into balls, about 1” in size. Place them on parchment paper.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately remove from pan. Serve warm with sauce (marinara, ranch, even enchilada) for dipping. Enjoy!