Tortang talong (eggplant omelette) in 5 easy steps

Tortang talong

My husband doesn’t care much for eggplant.  Unfortunately, this meant that one of my favourite vegetables became unwelcome in our home.  In the eight years that we’ve been together, the only times I could use it in the kitchen was during tax season (when my husband disappears into the void for 3 months) or on nights where I’m left to cook for myself.  What a terrible dietary restriction.

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Since our trip to the Philippines, Kurt has happily relaxed his scorn.  His new interest in eggplant is thanks to a simple dish that most Filipinos know and love: tortang talong.   Below is a visual recipe of the dish that is no longer blacklisted from our household.

Tortang Talong (Eggplant Omelette)

Step 1: Torch eggplant

Step 1 – Torch Eggplant

My favourite step. Using a gas stove, roast eggplant on all sides until skin is puffy and charred.  If you don’t have access to open flame (like our kitchen, sob) you can use your oven’s broiler, set on high. It’ll take a little longer to do.

Step 1b: Blister eggplant

Optional Step 1b – Steam Eggplant

If you are finding it difficult to peel the blackened skin off the eggplant, you can wrap said eggplant in foil and let steam a few minutes. The skin will peel off like panties at a Tom Jones concert.

Step 2: Peel eggplant

Step 2 – Peel Eggplant

Remove the skin from your roasted eggplant. It should look like this.  Having trouble? Try Step 1b above.

Step 4: Egg eggplant

Step 3 – Egg eggplant

Scramble an egg in a bowl and submerge your eggplant into it. Fan out the eggplant fully with a fork. Season with salt and pepper if desired.

Step 4: Fry eggplant

Step 4 – Fry Eggplant

Heat a frying pan with a smidgeon of olive oil (low-med heat).  When the oil is ready, use the stem of your eggplant to lay it onto the pan. Make sure to fan the body of the eggplant out and use extra egg to fill in any gaps. Fry for 1-2 mins on each side or until each side is a toasty golden brown.

If you have extra egg left over, you can fry that up separately. It’ll taste like the eggplant omelette but without the veggie bits.

Step 5: Eat eggplant

Step 5 – Eat Eggplant

Blot excess oil off the omelette with paper towel if desired and you are done!

In my family, these omelettes are served over steamed rice and accompanied with some sort of pork. I usually eat it with pork chops but have been known to eat it with (gasp) Spam as well. If you want to be truly Filipino about it, create a dipping sauce of equal parts bagoong and white vinegar and spoon a little over each bite.

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Football-friendly recipes for Super Bowl XLIII

UpdateBuzz Bishop and I discussed Super Bowl food options on Virgin Radio 95.3 this evening.  Below is a clip of our chat, where Buzz suggests selecting beer according to team colours.  Great idea!

Tiny Bites talks about Super Bowl XLIII eats on Virgin Radio (95.3 FM)

macro of mcaffrey bobblehead (by horcubee)

Do you go gaga over the NFL? If so, you’re either hosting a Super Bowl party this Sunday or going to one. This year, we’re finally doing the former (even though Kurt’s Broncos and my beloved Patriots are not in the running…boo hoo).

now 17-0 (by horcubee)

You shouldn’t be surprised that we won’t be ordering pizza. Instead, we’ve scrounged the interweb for munchies that will represent the cuisine of Pittsburgh and Arizona without getting too gourmet on our  football-crazy friends.

Below is our shortlist of dishes from which we’ll choose from.

Go Steelers! Pro-Pittsburgh eats

Go Cardinals! Pro- Arizona eats

[What can I say? We like us some Bobby Flay.]

Other football-friendly eats

Spicy oven-baked chicken wings

Partisan beer choices

If you’re a guest to our or others’ Super Bowl parties this year, consider bringing beer representative of the team you’re cheering for.  Iron City seems to be the popular choice for Pittsburgh brew while Arizona-founded Chili Beer looks mighty intriguing. See if you can find them in Vancouver – I’ve been having a tough time with this search myself.

Brew connoisseur Rick Green of BC Brews chimed in with a pseudo-Arizona pick from Victoria-based Phillips Brewing Company. Look for their Phoenix Gold Lager at a BC Liquor Store near you.

Enjoy the game around town

If the bar scene is more your style, check out what some of  Vancouver’s pubs and restaurants are offering for sustenance on February 1, 2009.  Know of others showing the game in the city? Drop me a comment here.

  • Library Square Public House – my husband’s fave after-work hangout. Stadium-style menu, $16.10 buckets of Budweiser, $3.90 sleeves of Granville Island brew, and a roast pig! Come in after 3pm.
  • Kingston Taphouse – 11am marks the start of Kingston’s Super Bowl specials .  Drop in to enjoy the game, door prizes, and even a comedy act, or buy a $20 ticket to assure you a seat, a Prime Rib Burger and some Granville Island Beer.
  • Memphis Blues’ Super Bowl All-You-Can-Eat Party – The fun gets going at noon. $10 pitchers. Another $20 gets you unlimited pulled pork, chicken, catfish, rib ends, coleslaw, potato salad, BBQ pit beans, and Memphis Blues’ signature BBQ sauce. (Commercial and North Van locations only)

Other Super Bowl XLIII resources

These additional sites may help you with the planning of this year’s Super Bowl shenanigans:

What will you eat and drink on Super Bowl Sunday? Send me your tips and/or your favourite Super Bowl recipes.

Bacon weave Bacon weave, frying Slider patties Roethlis-burger sliders Spicy oven-baked chicken wings

Blueberries in season: celebrate with this blueberry-banana bread

This is Blogathon post #21 of 48 in support of the David Suzuki Foundation

Tis the season for blueberries! Your grocer should be brimming with bulk packages of bluey goodness by now. Ours was, so we used half of our container to make our favourite summer baked good: blueberry-banana bread, care of our trusty Betty Crocker cookbook.

Blueberry-banana bread

The one thing I’ve changed is the timing of the preheat. Most modern day appliances get to the set temperature in under 10 minutes. If that describes your appliance, follow the directions below. If you have an older oven that takes longer to heat up, preheat the oven as you grease the pans.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed *very* ripe banana (3 medium ones should do it)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup fresh (or frozen) blueberries

Directions

  1. Move oven rack to low position so that tops of pans will be in the centre of the oven. Grease bottoms only of 2 8″ loaf pans or 1 9″ loaf pan.
  2. Mix sugar and butter in a large bowl. [You can use your stand mixer from this point on, which is what we do.]
  3. Stir in eggs until well blended.
  4. Stir in banana, buttermilk, and vanilla and beat until smooth.
  5. Stir in flour, baking soda, and salt until just moistened.
  6. Stir in blueberries.
  7. Preheat oven to 350 F. Divide batter evenly between pans.
  8. Bake 8″ loaves for 1 hour or a 9″ loaf for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pans on a wire rack.
  9. Loosen sides of loaves; remove from pans and place top side up on wire rack. Cool completely, about 2 hours, before slicing. [We usually can’t wait that long and start eating it as soon as it stops burning our tongues!]
  10. Wrap tightly and store at room temperature for up to 4 days or refrigerate up to 10 days.

Making artisan sausages with Slow Food Lions Gate

Update: Read what Slow Food Lions Gate co-founder Brenda Farrell had to say about this workshop on the Slow Food Lions Gate blog.

Group shot 1

My first encounter with the local Slow Food scene came in the form of a fun sausage-making workshop care of Slow Food Lions Gate. Sebastian and Jessica of West Vancouver’s Sebastian & Co took us through a demo of how to make their Sicilian beef sausage before we broke up into groups to make our own.

Sebastian's sicilian beef sausage

We were given 6 recipes to choose from but were encouraged to branch out from that. A couple of groups did experiment, making bratwurst as well as a pork/beef blend with fennel seed and cumin. My group attempted Sebastian’s chorizo recipe which calls for four different hits of heat.

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs pork, 40% hand-chopped
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon chili flakes
  • 3/4 cup chipotle in adobe sauce, pureed
  • 2.5 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon crushed black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne

Directions (with visuals)

  1. Choose a casing for your sausage. Sheep casings are the smallest and most delicate at 2/3" – 1" in diameter, and are usually used for breakfast sausage. Hog casings are the more commonly seen size at 1.25" – 1.75". Beef casings can be as large as 4.25" in diameter. They are typically used for salamis or garlic sausage. Another option is synthetic casing, made from reconstituted collagen. These come in uniform packs and are made in a range of sizes.
  2. Sausage casings packed in salt

  3. Untangle your chosen casing from the bundle it came from (it is usually hard-packed in salt). Rinse the salt thoroughly from the outer shell. Fill the inside of the casing with water like a hose and squeeze it through to rid the salt from its interior. Let soak in a bowl of cold water while you prepare the sausage filling.
  4. Washing the casing

  5. Grind the meat as specified. Chorizos are generally hand-chopped and/or coarsely ground. Breakfast sausages are made with finely ground pork.
  6. Inside the meat grinder

  7. Assemble the wet and dry ingredients that make up your marinade. Massage this into the ground meat until thoroughly blended.
  8. Chorizo marinade

  9. Cook a sample patty of your sausage filling for a taste test. Correct the seasoning as needed; it’ll be much more difficult to change the flavour profile after the sausages have been stuffed!
  10. Sample sicilian beef patty

  11. Stuff the filling into the casing using whatever equipment you have available. At home, that could be a pastry bag, a sausage attachment on your stand mixer, or even with your hands. Key points: tie a knot at the tail end of the casing; keep natural (animal) casings wet throughout the entire stuffing process; leave a bit of slack (do not overstuff) or the casing may rupture. Twist off and/or tie a knot at the other end of the casing when you are done.
  12. Sausage in the making

  13. Twirl the first segment of sausage 4-5 times away from you to create the first link. For the next segment, twirl a similar length of sausage 4-5 times towards you to create the second link. Repeat, alternating the direction that you twirl each link.
  14. Our finished chorizo

  15. You generally want to hang your linked sausage for at least a day before separating into individual links. Separating them too soon may cause the casing to break apart.

After all of that, you should get beautiful chorizo much like this:

Our hand-made chorizo

Since each group tried a different recipe, we all took home samples of each other’s creations. I arrived chez nous with a package containing our chorizo, Sebastian’s demoed Sicilian beef, lamb sausage with rosemary, bratwurst, the pork and beef blend with cumin and fennel seed, and a mild Italian chicken sausage.

At home with our new artisan sausage collection

That night we ate simply: a trio of fried sausage on a creamy bed of polenta.

Artisan sausage trio with polenta

For the next sausage dish, I took the Sicilian beef out of its casing and rolled it into mini-meatballs, tossing it with stellene, julienned asparagus, smoked hot paprika, olive oil, and roasted garlic. Fan-freaking-tastic.

Stelline aglio e olio with sicilian beef sausage and asparagus

This workshop was educational and fun, costing only $16 for a week’s worth of dinner. What more can you ask for? It also re-ignited my love affair with chorizo. However, I will no longer be satisfied with the bland mass-produced chorizo at our downstairs grocer. I’ll have to make a trip out to Sebastian’s shop in Dundarave soon and get us another fix!

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Tinolang Manok: ginger chicken stew with spinach and papaya

I’m back home from my trip to Atlanta, trying to eliminate the massive sleep debt I’d accumulated over the past two weeks! There are also hundreds of photos to sift through and quite a few pages of restaurant observations to decipher from my little notebook. While I get that sorted out, here’s a recipe handed down from my mother’s side that should assuage Bruce’s craving for something soupy.

Chicken tinola

Tinolang Manok (Chicken Tinola)

The Filipino idea of soup is a little different from Western notions. Nearly everything, including our soups and stews, are eaten on a bed of steamed rice. We throw ingredients into a giant pot, let it simmer for a good long while in its liquid, and then attempt to eat the stewy or brothy mess on a flat plate using only a fork and spoon. Don’t bother asking for a knife—the meat should already be falling off the bone, as intended.

This recipe is one of the quicker ones: under an hour from prep to finish, serving 4 comfortably or a couple with baon (leftovers) for the next day. If green / unripe papaya is difficult to find, a couple of chayotes works fine. We have also tried it with ripe papaya in the summer months. Doing so does change the flavour profile quite a bit, but you may enjoy the colour contrast and additional sweetness that ripe fruit will lend to the broth.

Chicken tinola: ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 8 – 12 chicken drumsticks
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 2-inch-long piece of ginger, sliced wide and thin
  • 1 bunch or bag of spinach
  • 1 green papaya, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 litre chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon patis (fish sauce)

Directions:

  1. Sweat the ginger and onion over medium-low heat until the onion goes translucent. Raise heat to high. Add chicken and saute until the meat is no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add patis and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Turn heat down; cover and simmer until chicken is fork-tender, about 20 – 30 minutes.
  3. Add papaya and simmer another 10 minutes or until soft.
  4. Taste the broth. Is it seasoned enough? If not, add more patis to taste.
  5. Turn off heat. Stir in spinach, covering until ready to serve over steamed white rice.

To be extra Filipino, make individual dips of patis and Tabasco for each place setting, spooning a little bit of the dip on your spoonful before it enters your mouth.