I haven’t been able to participate much these last few months. I didn’t need another cookbook, and I have only a few Diana Henry recipes available but this week is POTLUCK with The I Heart Cooking Club so I knew I had a recipe I could use. Lucky for me Amazon offered a copy of Ottolenghi’s PLENTY for the Kindle and I have been looking through his yummy dishes. He has a whole section of eggplant recipes. Like this one.


    Eggplant Croquettes.

I had just picked up a couple of eggplants at the store so I was ready for this new side dish.

    4 medium eggplants
    2 medium russet potatoes – cooked, peeled and mashed {I used my ricer for a smoother texture}
    1 large egg
    5 oz Feta cheese
    3 Tbl grated Parmesan
    1/2 tsp salt
    black pepper
    1 3/4 cup breadcrumbs {I used 1/2 regular crumbs and 1/2 Panko}
    Sunflower oil for frying {I used Canola}

Set the whole eggplant over a flame and burn until crispy all around. Cool and then remove the flesh with a spoon. Make sure you leave behind all the charred skin. Place the flesh in a colander and allow to drain until most of the liquid is gone. This takes about 30 minutes or so.
Mix about 1/2 of the the breadcrumbs, Feta, Parmesan, egg, potatoes, eggplant, and seasonings in a bowl and mix with a fork until well combined. Shape into small patties and cover with the breadcrumbs.
Allow to chill in the fridge for about 2o minutes which will firm them up.
Place about 1 inch of oil in a pan and heat til hot. Gently place patties in the oil and fry for about 3 minutes on each side until golden brown. All the ingredients are already cooked so it’s just a matter of browning them.
Drain on paper towels. Adapted from Plenty

Crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside, these were very good and are definitely keepers. I would like to try them with another cheese – Fontina, maybe, or Gruyère for a different flavor.

Check out the other POTLUCK choices at IHCC


Over the last few years I have discovered and developed a taste for Balsamic vinegar. I love the sweet/tart taste of it. It adds a ton of flavor to just about any thing. Like the sauce that goes with this chicken breast.


All you have to do is slice a large eggplant. Place it in a baking dish. Place a boneless chicken breast on top and then pour over a sauce of OO, tomatoes, capers, and balsamic. Oh, a little brown sugar and salt and pepper. It sounded delicious. But I didn’t really care for it. Sorry, Gaye.


Maybe with a thinner breast – pounded maybe. The sauce was great! But check with Gaye, Sarah, and Chaya for their take on this chicken dish.

The recipe is from off the shelf on page 99. Or you can find it HERE.

AHHHH! The Mediterranean.


The food! The sea! The Food! Experiences that are fun! Food that is, usually, good for you!


All of these things line up when thoughts turn to that area of the world. Which is where our thoughts turned for this week’s I Heart Cooking Club when we did Mediterranean dishes from Nigel Slater.

I needed something simple so I went with pasta. With a sauce made from roasted eggplant and basil. I was leery that the sauce would be creamy as Nigel said but it was a lovely silky sauce that clung beautifully to the mini rotini pasta and turned out much better than I expected.


While not very colorful it was very tasty. Eggplant, pasta, basil, olive oil, lemon juice. That’s it! Five simple ingredients! And then garnished with pine nuts.

Roast the eggplant and let it cool. Then remove the meat into a food processor. Process until smooth and gradually drizzle in the Olive oil until creamy. Fold in the basil, shredded, and a shot of lemon juice. Season wit salt and pepper.

Cook pasta until al dente. Mix with the eggplant sauce. Garnish with toasted pine nuts. Enjoy! You can find the original ingredients HERE. I made 1/3 of the recipe and it was plenty for two servings. And defintely repeatable.

What other dishes appear from the Mediterranean on the IHCC buffet. Well – click over and see!

Thanks, Sara, for picking one of the recipes in Modern Classics that I have had marked forever to make.


Baba ghanoush

    “The Arabic term means “pampered papa” or “coy daddy”, perhaps with reference to its supposed invention by a member of a royal harem.

The eggplant is charred over an open flame, peeled, mashed and mixed with tahini, garlic, and various other flavors. In Donna’s case, lemon juice. Add some olive oil and you have a dip for pita, roasted veggies, or even corn chips if you are so inclined. Me? It was good with some toasted crusty bread. I do think I put a little too much garlic in mine. And to be truthful, while I liked the flavor the texture was just too soft.

If you want to make it – page 86 in Donna Hay’s modern classics

I used to think that I would never find ANYTHING on a Vegetarian Blog because I don’t eat a lot of veggies. I have my fave few – brocolli, cauliflower, eggplant, corn, asparagus, lentils – but there are many I don’t eat – well, yet anyway. Asparagus and lentils are new to me, eggplant almost as new. So when the word vegetarian comes up I tend to shy away.

No more! Not since I joined the Secret Recipe club and have been ‘assigned’ several over the past couple of years!! YAY Veggies!!

And April brought me another foray into delicious veggies – I still mainly stick to my faves but I am learning new ways to cook them all the time. And cooking with Nayna at Simply Foods was such fun! Nayna lives in the United Kingdom where she creates all kinds of lovely dishes – including 44 curries. Yes, FORTY-FOUR!! I was in heaven.


I started with her Aubergine and Pidgeon Peas Curry which I adapted only slightly. I could not find Pidgeon Peas so I used frozen green peas instead. Now I want to make it with yellow lentils!!

    6 baby aubergines {I had one large so I used that.}
    120 grams frozen or fresh pidgeon green peas
    1 teaspoon tumeric
    3/4 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon chilli powder {I doubled all the spices except for the salt}
    1 teaspoon cumin powder
    1 teaspoon coriander powder
    2 medium tomatoes1 14.5 oz diced tomatoes, drained
    1 teaspoon tomato paste
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    2 teaspoon garlic paste, diced
    1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
    1 tablespoon fresh chopped coriander for garnish.

Chop the tomatoes and puree them in blender
Peel the eggplant and cut into large dice.
Add the oil to a large skillet and when hot, add in the mustard seeds and garlic. Sautee until garlic is tender.
Add the eggplant pieces and peas and saute until tender.
Thoroughly mix in the salt, chilli powder, cumin and coriander powder and turmeric and saute for another 2-3 minutes.
Mix 1/2 cup of water {I used the liquid from the drained canned tomatoes} with the tomato paste and add to the eggplant mixture.
Cover and cook the curry till peas and eggplants are tender and cooked and most of the water is absorbed. (approx 15 minutes)
Transfer to serving dish and garnish with fresh coriander. (Original Recipe)

Or what about Nanya’s Sweet Potato Halwa


    1 large sweet potato
    3 tablespoons Splenda {only because we are cutting back on our sugar.}
    2 tablespoons milk
    1 tablespoon ghee butter
    Pinch saffron
    Pinch nutmeg
    Chopped Almonds

Cook the sweet potato in a microwaveable dish with until completely cooked – about 5 minutes.
Let cool slightly, peel, and process the sweet potato until smooth.
Heat the milk and add a few strands of saffron and set aside until the saffron flavor has infused the milk.
Melt the butter in a pan and add the mashed sweet potato and milk. Stir.
Add the Splenda and nutmeg and cook about 3 minutes. Keep stirring the halwa at all times.
Spoon into small bowls. Sprinkle with chopped almonds and a few strands of Saffron. Original Recipe

This is listed as a sweet treat, but it makes a nice mid-afternoon snack that is high in protein and low in calories.

Not all of Nayna’s recipes are Indian. On my list to try: Greek Baklava ROLLS (easy roll recipe), Watermelon pops this summer when we harvest ours, Greek Phyllo Triangles Mexican Quesadilla..oh, wait I had that for lunch! And the only thing I changed was to add a little spicy chicken to the mix.


– just to name a few of the 31 recipes I have pinned. So much good food, so little time!!!

If you want to get to know Nayna just read the poem she wrote:

    Cinnamon clove and star anise
    Fragrant aromas to tantalise and please
    Cooking, baking, mixing with a whizz
    Desserts, cakes, and ice creams that you can freeze please.
    Sweet and sour with a hint of bite
    Maybe a salad for that something lite light?
    Flour, eggs, and buttermilk
    Chocolate soufflés that fall down and sink turn out like silk.
    A savoury touch with some special spice
    Something that gives a kick and goes with rice
    Eastern, Western or a European dish
    Culinary delights to earn you a kiss fulfil your every wish.
    Day and night I think dream of food
    I know for my waistline this is no good
    So instead I write my creations in a blog

      ….and then go visit her blog!! You won’t be sorry!!

And to visit the other MEMBER’s Treats and Goodies :

So here we are again. Time for a whole new batch of blogs and recipes from The Secret Recipe Club.

I have to admit that as I was starting to go through my assigned blog I thought I would have a lot of trouble. I just couldn’t find anything….oh, wait…now I am. How could I have doubted that I would find some wonderful goodies on Eliot’s Eats!!! So now I have a new problem. I can only do so many of Eliot’s recipes….

Of the 16 I narrowed it down to I had to narrow it down even more. I ended up with some sweets and some savories.

But before we ‘eat’ you need to know a little something about Debra. At first I thought her name was Eliot, but….

    “Why the name Eliot’s Eats?

    T. S. Eliot is my favorite poet. (And, your guess would be correct here—I was an English major. Nobody else would be that fond of Eliot’s verse.) So, it was natural that when a stray kitten showed up literally on our doorstep, we named “him” Eliot. We found out later that our little boy kitten was actually a little girl kitten but the name stuck.” {And he is beautiful!}

She is a major movie fan. Many of her blog posts are dishes designed to ‘match’ a movie. This trend is part of her participation in Food-n-Flix. She loves to cook, grown her own veggies, visit local businesses. What’s not to love about all that?

NOW! On to the food!

I love eggplant, and still have a couple left in the garden, so when I saw Eliot’s pasta I knew I had to try it immediately. I made it for lunch.


    Spicy Eggplant Sauce and Pasta

It was sooo good. Just the right hint of spice. Next time, yes, there will be, I plan to cut the eggplant larger so I get more of the taste! But it was good!

    1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
    1 1/2 to 2 lbs. eggplant, cut into small dices
    6 cloves garlic, minced
    1/2 t. red pepper flakes (more to taste)
    1 (26.4 oz.) carton Pomi diced tomatoes (or two cans diced tomates)
    2 t. fresh oregano, chopped
    1/2 T. balsamic vinegar
    1 c. water
    Sea Salt
    Freshly ground black pepper

1 lb. favorite pasta, cooked according to directions.
In a large sauce pan or kettle, heat oil. Once oil is very warm add eggplant, garlic and red pepper flakes. Stir frequently to prevent eggplant from sticking and cook for about 8 minutes.
Stir in tomatoes, oregano, and water.
Cook another 30-40 minutes on low until eggplant is thoroughly cooked.
Add balsamic and season with salt and pepper.
Cook pasta according to directions. Drain.
Stir pasta into sauce and serve.
May garnish with a bit of fresh herbs or Parmesan.

I made the whole recipe and served it with Penne so the sauce would be everywhere! Good stuff!

I was out of ice cream (GASP!!) and cookies. Problem quickly solved by Debra.

First off I made Chocolate Ice Cream using cake mix!! WHAT a great idea! And it added such great flavor.


Chocolate Cake Batter Ice Cream

    1 (4 oz.) container Egg Beaters {I forgot to buy these so I used two eggs instead and heated some of the cream to temper the eggs before adding to the ice cream}
    3/4 c. sugar
    1 pint whipping cream
    1 c. 2% milk
    2 t. vanilla
    1 c. chocolate cake mix

In a mixing bowl, beat Egg Beaters until thick, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle in sugar while continuing to beat. Once all the sugar has been added, continue to beat for 1 minute.
Pour in the cream, milk and vanilla. Mix to combine. Mix in 1 cup of cake mix and continue to beat until incorporated.
Chill for one to two hours in the refrigerator then freeze according to ice maker’s instructions.

    Yield: about 1 quart

Talk about good rich flavor, this had it. And, as Debra said, you can use any flavor cake mix. I think maybe Red Velvet next, or maybe carrot cake, or it could be….

Then we had to have cookies to go with the….well, we didn’t HAVE to, but….ice cream. {PS. I needed ice cream this wknd so I used Carrot Cake Mix – Oh, Yeah!! I added some chopped pecans and coconut. Spicey and Perfect!} Like Debra I usually have bits and pieces of chocolate, coconut, sprinkles, candy in the pantry so when I saw her…


    Cupboard Cookies

I knew the recipe was perfect!

    3 1/4 c. flour
    1 t. baking soda
    1 t. fine sea salt
    1/2 c. softened butter
    1/2 c. shortening
    3/4 c. sugar
    3/4 c. dark brown sugar
    1 t. pure vanilla
    2 large farm fresh eggs
    2 c. mixed baking chips (milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate)
    1 c. roasted, unsalted sunflower seeds

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and shortening. Add sugars and vanilla and continue to beat. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add chips and sunflower seeds and mix until just incorporated.
Using a cookie scoop, drop cookie dough onto prepared baking sheets. Place in oven and bake for around 10 minutes (give or take a few). Remove from oven and cool on cookie sheets for a few minutes then remove to wire racks.

I followed Debra’s lead but changed my add-ins a little. Yes, to the choco chips, no to the seeds – used macadamia nuts instead, added about 1/4 cup of coconut and 1/4 cup of mini M&Ms and 1/4 cup of butterscotch chips. All ingredients I had just a little of. Every bite of cookie was different. Little chocolate here. Little coconut there. Perfect recipe for using up bits and pieces. Odds and ends. Tads and smidgeons. And now they are all gone.

Okay, three recipes down 13 to go. All pinned. All looking delicious. All on my To Make List!

Thanks, Debra, for so many delicious treats. I will be back!!

There are lots of good recipes going out today from the other members of The Secret Recipe Club (group C) so check them out.

Eggplant is one of my favorite veggies. I grow them every year and if I am lucky I actually harvest enough to cook with. Last year was a bust, this year, hopefuly, will be better. I have about 5 different kinds planted. Fingers crossed. And one of the reasons I am hoping I get a bountiful harvest is so I can make this again….


This was probably the easiest Moussaka I have ever made. Mostly because it did not include a Bechemel Sauce like others I have made. The meat sauce, which called for ground lamb {and I used beef because one doesn’t find ground lamb here}, was a tasty onion-y, cinnamon-y, garlic-y, tomato-y combination. I made about 1/3 of the recipe which fit nicely into a 7′ by 7′ casserole. I used one eggplant, 1/2 of the other ingredients, except the cheese – I used all of the Parm and Mozzerella Donna called for. It made a perfect 3 servings.


You can find Donna’s recipe on page 110of modern classics: Book 1.

Check out the Moussaka from

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