Eggplant Salad and Goat Cheese Sandwiches

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How I Know It’s Almost Summer:

  • I want to buy an ice cold can of ginger ale at every bodega I pass. (So cold! So bubbly! So delightful!)
  • People on other blogs are somehow still non-ironically talking about “getting bikini bodies ready” and other bullshit like that. I mean, really? Do peoples’ bodies really fluctuate that much? Mine is the same literally all the time. Also I’ve had burritos for dinner twice this week. Go me. But, good news, I’ll probably look exactly the same in my bikini as I did last year!
  • (Is that the wrong attitude towards fitness?)
  • I need to find my tire pump. So I can use my bicycle. And get nervous every time I use it that it will get stolen again. Meh, I’ll just walk.
  • What do professional people even wear in summer? Do people who wear panty hose need to wear them in July also? How about people who run a theater summer camp in Midtown? What do they wear? Asking for a friend.
  • Our oven is only getting turned on for Daniel’s every few day need to re-season his cast iron pans. Easy dinner, please, present yourself.
  • Oh, fancy that! Look at this here recipe! Easy dinner personified (no oven needed). It starts with a lazy eggplant salad, like caponata but I feel like that’s something people argue about on the internet so I’m keeping this non-partisan with “salad”. Also my Grandma makes the best caponata and someday I hope to post her recipe here :).  Pile that salad on some soft bread spread indecently with goat cheese, topped with a kerfluffle of fresh herbs, call it a day. 
  • Also, ice cubes (to go back to that original heading). I refill our dumb ice trays so much more when it becomes pleasant in the world! (We’re talking temperature here, not general atmosphere of living in the world right now.)
  • Damnit I should go out on a positive note. SUNDRESSES!

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one year ago: herby sunchoke gorgonzola salad 
two years ago: grilled pineapple and homemade baked bean tacos and ginger coconut rice

Eggplant Salad and Goat Cheese Sandwiches

A Swanky Original

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 eggplant, cut into bite-sized chunks
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tomatoes, cut in chunks (don’t get rid of juices!)
½ tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dried basil
Squeeze or two of fresh lemon juice
s&p

Bread – I used an Italian focaccia-like loaf, cut into big squares
Sliced tomatoes (optional)
Goat cheese, at room temp
Fresh parsley

Heat a big skillet (for which you have a lid) and olive oil over medium-low heat. Add onion and cook for about 7 minutes, until they’re beginning to brown. Increase heat to medium and add eggplant, salt, and pepper. Cook for about 12 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until eggplant has started to brown and become jam-like. Partially cover the pan for short increments to speed this along.

Next, add garlic and cook for two more minutes. Then add tomatoes, their juices, and the tomato paste. Cook for 3 minutes, or until tomatoes start to break down. Next add the sugar, red wine vinegar, and basil. Give it all a good stir and cook for another 2 minutes, until flavors have combined. Squeeze in lemon juice, and hit with another dose of salt and pepper. Taste it and flavor to your liking.

Take eggplant salad off heat while you prep other ingredients. Cut bread and toast if desired (my bread was super fresh, but on day two it will certainly help!). Chop up your parsley and thinly slice the tomatoes. Spread a thick layer of goat cheese on one slice. Follow with tomatoes, eggplant salad, and parsley. Yum!

**Extra eggplant salad is delicious mixed with spaghetti and olive oil for a quick dinner. Or with crackers for snack the next day…

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Grilled Pineapple and (Homemade) Baked Bean Tacos

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The best thing that came out of my seder a couple weeks ago was not, amazingly, the secret to make gefilte fish taste palatable or the revelation that my hyper-logical-atheist boyfriend would embrace old Jewish customs “just because that’s how they are,” but something much more seemingly mundane.

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I’m talking, of course, about grilled pineapples (a natural seder conversation topic). After our requisite glasses of wine and long-winded discussions about The Prince of Egypt vs. the Rugrats Passover episode, the conversation led to lunches, and specifically grilled pineapple lunches. The idea took hold and led to this magnificent taco-burrito-wrap-meatless-Hawaiian-pizza hybrid that would disappoint Mexicans and Texans and Hawaiians of all sorts but makes this Jew oh so happy.

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This was my first foray into homemade baked beans! Despite using the wrong kind of bean, the flavor in these [beanie] babies was out of control delicious. And mixed with the pineapple? ohmygod make it now!!~*!!!^!! Even if it’s sorta ugly.

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(And let it be known Daniel added grilled ham-steak (is that a thing?) to his and then ate three, so… if that’s your sorta thing, go [hog] wild.) 

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Grilled Pineapple and (Homemade) Baked Bean Tacos

a Swanky original

1 batch baked beans (recipe below) or cheat and use a can
smallish flour tortillas (or corn if GF)
cilantro, chopped
½ a pineapple
smoked sea salt, chili powder, olive oil
OR
brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and butter
(depends on your mood) 

Cook/warm up baked beans according to how much time you’re willing to invest tonight. (MAKE the ones below. PEER PRESSURE! THEY’RE SO GOOD!)

Heat a grill pan so it’s nice and smoky (or, ya know, a grill, if you have that sorta thing). Cut top and bottom off pineapple, and then carefully slice off the skin. Cut into ½-inch slices, careful to avoid the core. Then, you have a choice! For smoky-spicy pineapple (which I thought went better with the beans), rub both sides with olive oil, smoked sea salt, and chili powder. Or, for brown sugar caramelized pineapple, mix together about ¼ c brown sugar with 1 t cinnamon and a sprinkle of salt, and rub it on both sides. For either version, grill about 2-4 minutes on each side, until you see nice grill marks and the pineapple has darkened on the outside and softened in the inside. (For sweet version, you can mix the leftover sugar/cinnamon mixture with a bit of melted butter and baste pineapple as it grills for some added zing.)

The make your tacos! Char your tortilla if desired, and fill with grilled pineapple slices, baked beans, and plenty of fresh cilantro. Repeat. Go into food coma.

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Quick Vegetarian Baked Beans

adapted from picklesnhoney 

1 medium onion, chopped small
½ green pepper, chopped small
1.5 T olive oil
2 cans of navy beans (I didn’t have those and instead used 1 can each pinto and pink beans; it was fine but not the completely right texture)
¼ c + 2 T BBQ sauce
2 T molasses (I used pomegranate molasses and it was great!)
¼ c apple cider vinegar
3 T maple syrup
2 T spicy brown mustard
2 T ketchup
2 t worcesteshire sauce
1 t smoked paprika

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In an oven-safe Dutch oven, warm olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, sauté for about 4 minutes. Add bell pepper and continue sautéing until onion is translucent and peppers are soft, about 4 more minutes.

Add everything else! Bring pot to a simmer; then cover and stick in oven. Cook for as long as you feel like it (more time = more flavor), but I would go for at least 45 minutes (I think I did mine for an hour).

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Smoky Beet Reuben Sandwiches

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Things that make me feel badass:

  1. Motorcycling to New Jersey from Brooklyn. (Never mind that it was for a salsa dancing pool party, which is decidedly un-badass but very decidedly fun. Also never mind that I will never be the Super Badass driving the thing, but alas always the eye candy holding on tight. Ah, how hard the life, being eye candy… JOKES.)
  2. FINALLY buying a motorcycle jacket, which is good for all seasons, not made of leather, not a gazillion dollars, and has great padding and is almost sexy (note above comment about eye candy). Plus, persons at said salsa pool party said I looked like I was from the Matrix and/or Battlestar Galactica. I will take that as a compliment.
  3. Making incredibly delicious and fattening and filling vegetarian sandwiches. Just because there isn’t any meat does not mean we are sacrificing flavor or calories here, people.
  4. Having my roommate tell me, after consuming above-mentioned delicious and fattening and filling sandwich, that I should open a sandwich shop because this was sooo gooood. She took a picture of the sandwich and sent it to a boy on Tinder and pretended she made it, so that’s probably a pretty good sign too.
  5. If I had a sandwich store it would definitely be called a SHOPPE, because letsbereal, those are always the best and most legit.

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This is how Daniel would’ve written this blog entry, according to a late-night gchat where I kvetched about not knowing what to say:

Daniel:  Ok: “I MADE SANDWICHES NOM NOM NOM NOM NOMMMMMMM” the end.

Simplicity is key.

He has a point. I know you want to nom nom on a sandwich now.

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Smokey Beet Reubens, or “Ruebeets” if you think you’re cute
Makes 3 sandwiches
adapted, barely, from Food and Wine magazine

2 beets
smoked salt (we used Hickory Smoked Sea Salt from The Spice and Tea Exchange)
ground coriander
1/4 cup mayo
1 T ketchup
2 t fresh lemon juice
s&p
6 slices rye bread
softened butter
sauerkraut
6 slices Swiss cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drizzle beets with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and rub in until evenly coated. Wrap individually in foil and cook for about 1 hour, until easily pierced with a fork. Let cool. Peel off beet skin and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices. Sprinkle slices with smoked  salt and ground coriander.

To make Russian dressing: Mix mayo, ketchup, lemon juice, s&p.

To assemble sandwiches, preheat broiler. Spread butter on all the bread slices and broil for 3ish minutes, or until slightly toasty. Set aside 3 slices toast, and flip over the remaining 3 on broiler pan. Top each slice with a healthy schmear of Russian dressing, a pile of sauerkraut, a layer of smoked-salted-beets, and 2 slices of cheese. Return to broiler for one minute, or until cheese is melted. Top with buttered bread and dig in while still piping hot! Have a pile of napkins nearby.

Sandwiches were delicious with a side of mustardy potato, kale, and green bean salad!

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Sourdough Tofu Banh Mi

This was tonight’s dinner. Tonight’s dinner made me very happy. That is an understatement. Here, look at what I ate! Mega sandwich!

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This is Daniel’s version. It has steak:

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This is our messy prepping:

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This is sorta how we made it:

Pile atop sourdough (or any other bread you love):

  • very thinly sliced carrots (1 or 2) which sat for 20 minutes in 3/4 c white vinegar, 1 T sugar, and half a lime’s juice
  • thinly sliced radishes
  • thinly sliced cucumber
  • cilantro
  • grated pickled ginger
  • sriracha mayo: 1/3ish cup mayo with 3 big squirts sriracha and half a lime of juice
  • tofu marinated in splashes of rice vinegar, sesame oil, honey, sriracha, lime juice and then lightly pan-fried

or steak. He cooked it on the stove AND the oven. That’s the extent to which I know how to talk about cooking steak.