It is better to travel well than to arrive.

The first time I tasted garlic eggplant was at a vegetarian restaurant in Santa Cruz. Even though I had grown up eating Chinese food, this particular dish was never made either at my house nor in any of the places where I had eaten all over NYC. The version I tried was tasty enough that I started ordering it more often in places where it was offered, but it never had quite enough garlic for me, so I started making my own and adding a few twists 🙂

I start by browning on medium high heat about 1 tsp chopped fresh ginger in some oil (use a high smoke point oil use grapeseed or peanut, but olive will do if you watch the heat).

I add one whole medium sized chopped onion and one head of garlic (peeled, ends cut off and any root in the center removed). You may of course use less, but then I would just call this an eggplant recipe;)

If you want to add some heat, add in either your favorite dried chili or pepper flakes to taste at this point.

Once the onions are translucent, add 1 large peeled and chopped eggplant. You don’t have to peel your eggplant, but I find the skins can be tough unless you are using Japanese eggplants (if you are, use about 6 instead of 1 large one). Stir and lower heat to medium.

I love the organic vegetable better than Bouillon, so I add about 1 tbsp dissolved with 1/2 to 3/4 c of hot water to the cooking vegetables.

Let the vegetables cook until soft and the eggplant becomes soft, stirring and adding salt and white pepper (black is ok if you don’t have white). When the eggplant is fully cooked (taste one to know for sure), add 1 tsp of premium oyster sauce and stir thoroughly.

Just before serving add in some chopped scallions or chives for color and freshness. Served with any grain like kasha, rice, or quinoa, this is a great vegetarian meal 🙂

I found a simple and very tasty blueberry muffin recipe on Inspiredtaste.com that may now be my favorite variation of this classic treat. I changed it slightly (of course), but you may enjoy the original, so the link to it is here.

It really only requires the ingredients, one big bowl, a whisk, a fork, some measuring spoons and cups, and an 1 or 2 cup liquid measuring cup.

All the dry ingredients get whisked together; I adjusted the sugar down to 1/2 cup instead of 3/4 cup (I used my vanilla bean infused raw sugar).

The wet ingredients go into a liquid measuring cup (I used oat milk)

that you whisk together

then you add the vanilla to the whisked wet ingredients and use a fork to combine with the dry ingredients, being careful not to overmix.

Fold in the blueberries, either fresh or frozen (I used ones I had frozen myself).

The only other variation I made was I coated the blueberries with some flour so they wouldn’t sink to the bottom of the muffins.

The finished product was absolutely FABULOUS! Crunchy top with the light sprinkle of sugar, and very tender crumb from the oil. Since they freeze well, I may have to make a double batch next time 🙂

Going grocery shopping only once every 10-14 days now, so cooking up fresh vegetables that will last for a few meals has meant substituting some ingredients for classic recipes when there aren’t good fresh choices.

Cooking one big pot that lasts for several meals is also a great timesaver, especially since the flavor gets better the next day. The following recipe serves 4-6 depending on whether you are eating it as a side dish or a main course.

Ratatouille has always been a classic when tomatoes are season, but I found that using canned San Marzano tomatoes makes for a great substitute when the only fresh ones have no aroma and are as hard as a rock. All the other ingredients were available, so that was the only substitution I made 🙂

I always salt my cut up my eggplant in a colander in the sink for about 30 minutes before cooking to alleviate any bitterness. Always rinse thoroughly before using!

Equal amount of chopped zucchini, cut into equal sized pieces; for a large eggplant count on 2-3 large zucchini.

 Depending on your love of onions, 1-2 onions also chopped to similar size.

I always use a minimum of 4 cloves of garlic, but of course you can adjust to your preference;)

I use one red/orange/yellow bell pepper for a bit of color and slightly different texture in the finished dish.

I add one can of San Marzano tomatoes (about 1.75 lbs) if great fresh ones are not available. I would say if your choice is mediocre fresh or San Marzano canned, go for the canned. I usually cut in half or quarters before adding to the pan.

Sauté the onions in olive oil until translucent over medium heat in a big 6-8 quart stock pot. Add in the garlic and red bell pepper, stirring until softened.

Add your preference of 1 tb dried herbs, e.g., herbs de Provence, thyme, marjoram, and a bay leaf or two. It may seem like a lot but there are many vegetables in this dish and the tomatoes will become a tomato sauce during the cooking process to absorb the flavors.

Add the zucchini, eggplant, and tomatoes, one at a time in that order, stirring and cooking a bit after each addition. Once all the vegetables are in the pot and softened, you may lower the heat to medium low or low and simmer for about 1 hour. If you have Pernod, you may add a tablespoon 😉

Add salt and pepper to taste after the hour because the acidity of the tomatoes will change as they cook down. If it is slightly too acidic, add 1/4-1/2 tsp of sugar (no sugar substitutes!)

The bubbling pot of vegetables will make you want to eat it all at once, but it gets better the next day, and is great over pasta, rice, in an omelette, or as a side dish to any protein.

Bon Appétit!

Learning how professional chefs make meals at home has been one of the bonuses of the California Stay Home Order. One of my favorite chefs is Eric Ripert, and one of my favorite breakfast treats is French Toast so of course I had to try his method!

I started with organic thick sliced gourmet white bread from Trader Joe’s. Since it was fresh, I dried it out in a toaster oven set at 150 F for about 15 minutes, so that it wasn’t toasted, buy had a slightly “dry” top texture like stale bread.

I spooned oat milk all over the slice

then I spooned a beaten egg over the milk

(it takes about 1 beaten egg per 2 slices of bread)

 then I spooned some raw vanilla sugar over the egg.

I melted butter in a nonstick pan over medium low heat and placed the prepared bread slices face down in the pan. While you are cooking the prepared side, repeat the mild, egg, and sugar process on the exposed side. Turn over after a few minutes.There is no need for syrup since the sugar caramelizes, but you may want to add some fresh berries or a side of bacon or sausage 🙂

Bon appétit!

The Stay At Home order here in California has led me to be creative with what is in my pantry and whatever groceries are leftover at the end of the week since zipping out for a quick trip to pick up a missing ingredient is no longer a wise or feasible action. Luckily with fresh rosemary growing in the garden, basics like garlic, canned tomatoes, and pasta at hand, I found this recipe for ground turkey and broccoli pasta, so here is my variation (of course I doubled the amount of garlic in the recipe:)

Chopped garlic and fresh rosemary

organic broccoli florets

organic onion

Trader Joe’s staples from the pantry

I finally used up the leftover elbow macaroni

the kosher ground turkey was my last fresh uncooked protein for the week

This is the bubbling delicious result 🙂

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From @tbl0604

April

Distance

Brings

May

Existence

all the

beautiful sentiments

in the world

weigh less than a single lovely action

James Russell Lowell

When you step away and see a different perspective, you understand the more complete meaning …

May you all discover more perspectives that enhance your life 🙂

With the “Shelter In Place” in California, I won’t be posting a regular restaurant blog post, but you can still follow my food (and life) adventures via Instagram. I may change the format a bit to be recipes that I’m making (or inventing), or take out I’m getting, or maybe a new food related inspiration will emerge.

If you would like to help your local restaurants survive, please take a look at https://www.saverestaurants.co/ , buy takeout directly from the restaurants you love, buy a gift card, or simply ask them what they would like you to do to support them.

Sending love and appreciation to all my food service friends; please DM me if you need anything and I will either help or find a resource to help.

A reminder that even while it rains, warmth can be created 🙂

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