Eggplant Involtini

IMG_2845A friend from church recently  brought me some vegetables from his garden which included several lovely Japanese eggplants so I made these rollups.  The time spent in preparation was well worth the finished dish!

Eggplant Involtini

3 Tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for brushing on parchment to line the baking sheet

2 medium Japanese eggplant, ends trimmed and thinly sliced lengthwise

1 Tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves, or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 28 ounce  can diced tomatoes, with liquid mostly drained and reserved for other use

1 onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

10-12 slices of thin sliced deli ham

10-12 slices whole milk mozzarella (I use the ready sliced logs of mozzarella, not sandwich slices)

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella for topping

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the slices of eggplant on the parchment paper, brushing both sides with 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil. Sprinkle with oregano, salt, and pepper. Bake for 10 minutes, turning once. This will make eggplant slices soft and easy to roll.

While eggplant is in the oven, saute onion for 3 minutes in the remaining olive oil. Add garlic and saute 1 minute. Add drained tomatoes then saute for 2 or 3 minutes.

When eggplant has baked, remove from oven and lower the oven temperature to 350.  On each eggplant slice, place a slice of ham and a slice of mozzarella. Roll the pieces from the small end forward and secure the bundle with a toothpick.

Put about a cup of the tomato sauce in  the bottom of a 9X13 baking dish, then arrange involtini in dish, seam side down.  Over each bundle, spread some of the tomato mixture, then sprinkle shredded mozzarella over all. Place in oven to warm for 15 minutes before serving.

Chicken Fricasee

IMG_2762An old fashioned and very French dish, Chicken Fricasee has been called a serving of history! Recipes exist that are said to have been served to Abraham Lincoln. Julia Child and other famous chefs made it. It is not often seen on restaurant menus now, and I had never eaten Chicken Fricasee much less prepared it, but I like saying the name and I was intrigued enough to try it. It was a great success in the Parker house, and has gone on our list of keepers. This is my version, but I found the recipe I started from in Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough’s Ultimate Cookbook. Once more, this was a matter of wanting to use ingredients I already had:  chicken thighs, leeks, and mushrooms! This is a fine entree to serve dinner guests.

Chicken Fricasee

3 Tablespoons butter

2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs

4 strips bacon, chopped

2 leeks, trimmed, washed, and sliced

8 ounces brown mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

1 teaspoon dried French tarragon (I used Penzey’s)

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 Tablespoon flour

3 cups white wine

In large heavy soup pot, melt butter, add chicken thighs and brown on both sides, turning occasionally. Do this in batches to avoid crowding.

While chicken is browning, add bacon pieces to an iron skillet, cook until browned Add leeks and stir while cooking about 5 minutes.  Add mushrooms to this mixture, stir and cook until their liquid cooks off, about 5 more minutes.  Sprinkle tarragon, salt, cloves, and pepper over vegetable mixture and stir briefly.  Sprinkle on flour, stir, and cook for a few seconds but do not brown flour. Slowly pour in 1 cup of the wine while and scraping up browned bits from pan. When simmering, add to chicken pieces in large pot while stirring with remaining wine.  Combine well, bring to simmer and allow to continue cooking for 30 minutes, or until chicken meat is very tender. Serve over white rice.

Pasta Caprese

IMG_2752A combination of two of our favorite summer salads, Pasta Caprese is perfect for Sunday lunch after church, for taking to a potluck, or as a side to serve with grilled meats or fish. We make a wide variety of pasta salads using ingredients that are in the pantry or frig. An all time favorite is Caprese made with fresh garden tomatoes, basil, and a slice of whole milk Mozarella. For this bowl of combined flavors, I use canned tomatoes and grated Mozarella, but you could also chop fresh tomatoes and/or use little Mozarella balls to make it even better. This recipe makes a large amount. Can be made ahead.

Caprese Pasta Salad

1 pound tube pasta such as penne or gemelli

1 28 ounce can or box of diced tomatoes, drained (reserve liquid for later use)

2 cups shredded mozarella

fresh basil leaves , shredded (I used a large bunch, but add this to taste)

sea salt and pepper,

1 cup balsamic vinaigrette

Cook pasta to package directions, al dente. Drain past, add to large bowl, and add drained tomatoes, shredded basil, grated cheese, salt and pepper to taste. Toss and add balsamic vinaigrette

Breakfast Ramekin with Sherried Eggs and Ham

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Perfect for breakfasts for lazy Saturdays, times when there are guests in the house, or for a light meal any time of the day – this is a tasty individual dish that is something old and familiar and something with a new twist at the same time!

Once again, I found a great starting recipe in my copy of Breakfast in Bed which has recipes from Northern California to British Columbia B&B’s. This is a variation of a dish served at the North Coast Country Inn in Gualala, California.

Breakfast Ramekin with Sherried Eggs and Ham

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Set desired number of buttered ramekins on baking sheet.  This recipe is for 2 individual servings, but may be multiplied by as many servings as you need.

3 Tablespoons finely chopped ham

4 eggs

2 Tablespoons half and half

2 teaspoons dry sherry

1/4 cup shredded Swiss cheese

Worcestershire sauce

sea salt

black pepper

paprika

Put finely chopped ham in bottom of buttered ramekins, Break 2 eggs onto top of ham. In a small bowl, mix half and half, sherry, a dash each of Worcestershire sauce and Tobasco, salt, and pepper.  W ith a teaspoon, carefully drizzle this mixture (divided evenly) over top of eggs. Sprinkle with shredded cheese on each cup and sprinkle with paprika.  Bake about 20 minutes, or until eggs are set. Serve hot.