ll Cibo é L'essenza Della Vita....

"The rooms that you use on a daily basis are the rooms people will always want to sit in, because they have soul." --Bunny Williams


"If you want to live forever and ever, drink wine and eat maccheroni." ~~~Sicilian Proverb

Monday, August 2, 2010

Meatless Monday!! Timbales, Baby Artichokes and a Wonderful Eggplant Spread

Hi Everyone! It's Monday and you know what?? That's not a bad thing because it means we celebrate ....
Meatless Monday!!
Our regular readers know that we've been TRYING (with a few hiccups- like the fact that Mr B is a hard-core carnivore and won't play with us) to stand by the tenets of Meatless Monday
From the website :  “Meatless Monday is an international movement to help people reduce their meat consumption by 15%, in order to improve personal health and the health of the planet. We are a non-profit initiative of The Monday Campaigns, in association with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The tradition of Meatless Mondays began in WWI, when the FDA encouraged the rationing of meat, wheat and other staples to help the war effort. The campaign was relaunched in 2003 as a public health campaign to help individuals reduce their saturated fat intake.”
For an Italian cook, coming up with a meatless meal is not at all difficult. The Mediterranean diet relies heavily on fresh fruits and vegetables, pastas, breads, cheeses, and grains. 
(not to mention fabulous wines! Oh, right....we're talking healthy here. Ummmm, wine has tons of antioxidants, so there you go!)
This week has been a bit difficult here at Casa Bramasole. I've been a bit under the weather and, as tends to happen at such times, my Grandma Josie has been on my mind a lot. 
I've mentioned my closeness to my grandmothers frequently, but my relationship to Grandma Josie (or Nanni to my children) was special simply because she was here. I grew up living in her house till I was 12, then saw her weekly till I was 16, then daily till she passed away when I was in my late 20s. Her influence in my life can not be understated. 
For those of you who might be interested, I wrote a little bit about her here. Anyway, Grandma was a very typical Italian housewife in that NOTHING was ever wasted. She trained me to use all the bits and pieces that tend to be left in the typical fridge. This morning I noticed that a few of our tomatoes were VERY ripe, so I decided to roast them
Tonight we'll have a roasted tomato Caprese with a sweet balsamic reduction

As they were roasting, I started to forage through the fridge and this is what I came up with for tonight. Now I did cheat a bit- I had a salmon filet left from yesterday that needed to be used, so 4 of the timbales were lined with salmon. This was done rather quickly as I had several appointments today, so I didn't focus too much on "pretty and perfect"- but I can assure you it all tastes good!
Braised Baby Artichokes

a bag (about 10) of baby artichokes halved with choke out and rubbed with lemon, tender leaves only
1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
3 sliced garlic cloves
2 long yellow sweet peppers, seeded and sliced OR you can use hot pepperoncini, left whole- do not cut them open- you just want the whisper of heat here
2 TBLSP oregano leaves
1 large onion, sliced thick
2 rosemary sprigs
1/2 cup white wine
1 TBLSP fresh lemon juice or white balsamic
1/4- 1/2 cup of chicken broth
Salt and cracked black pepper
roasted peppers- optional

Put oil, garlic, peppers and oregano on low in a large deep skillet. Gently warm til garlic is soft about 5 minutes. Add onion, rosemary and cook over low heat until onion is soft. Add wine, lemon juice and broth. Bring it to a boil then reduce to a simmer, add the artichokes and cook til tender. Cool and  serve warm or room temperature. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in roasted pepper strips if desired

I had some eggplant laying around this weekend and was planning on making a caponata. As I was browsing my emails, I happened to see a recipe for Eggplant Caviar on David Lebovitz's blog. Now normally I would have just read his post ( I love his blog) and skipped right on by the recipe as I have one that I've used for years. But his was SIMPLER than mine. Easier to do and lets the eggplant shine. So I tried it, we really enjoyed it, and I think you will too. I even spread a little in a tomato and fontina panini I made this afternoon- YUM!
Eggplant Caviar
adapted from David Lebovitz

 2 medium eggplants
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus additional for preparing the pan
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic or shallot, peeled and minced (or both)
1/2 teaspoon smoked or sea salt
1/8 teaspoon chili pepper powder
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, parsley, cilantro, or basil

 Brush a baking sheet with olive oil and sprinkle it with a bit of salt. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Preheat a grill to medium high.

 Poke each eggplant a few times with a sharp knife ( this is important- don't ask me how I know) and grill, turning them infrequently with tongs, until they're charred on the outside and feel soft and wilted. Depending on how smoky you want them, roast them for five to ten minutes.

 When cool enough to handle, cut the eggplants in half lengthwise, and place them cut side down on the oiled baking sheet.

 Bake the eggplants until the flesh is thoroughly cooked, which should take about twenty minutes, but may vary. 
Remove the eggplants from oven and once cool enough to handle, scrape the pulp from the skins into the bowl of a food processor. 
 Add the tablespoon of olive oil, lemon juice, garlic or shallot (I used both), salt, and chili pepper powder.

 Pulse the food processor a few times, until the mixture is almost smooth. Add the herbs ( I used basil and mint) and pulse a few more times.

Taste, and add additional salt, lemon, or other seasonings, as desired.

To serve, spoon into a bowl and make a well in the center. Pour a bit of olive oil in the middle and sprinkle with chili powder, sumac, or some chopped fresh herbs. 

The real "throw-together" part of this meal ended up being these timbales. I used a basic technique, but no real recipe, so I just wrote down what I added. 

Broccoli Potato Timbales (with or without salmon)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. I had a salmon filet. I sliced the meat off the skin in thin slices. Discard the skin. Salt and pepper the salmon. Cut into long strips and wind into the bottom of greased ramekins leaving a hole in the center.

  1. Steam 1 large head of broccoli. Place in a food processor and pulse till chunky. I boiled 3 medium sixed potatoes (peeled and halved crosswise), then put the potatoes through a ricer. I let them cool for about a half hour. (it wasn't intentional- we had a video game emergency going on)

  1. Add to the food processor along with 4 ounces mascarpone cheese, 3 x-large egg yolks (I'm sure large would work fine), about a tablespoon of grated fresh ginger, 3 cloves crushed garlic, paprika, nutmeg, and a pinch of cayenne. I also juiced half a lemon in there. I divided the mix into the greased ramekins (I had 4 with salmon liners and 2 without) and put the ramekins in a baking pan. I poured boiling water into the pan halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for about 20-25 minutes. Remove ramekins to a wire rack to cool for 20-30 minutes. Unmold. If you have time and really want to make this pretty, you can press finely chopped nuts (hazelnuts or pistachios would be nice) around the sides of the plain ones. Or sprinkle them on top. Grandma Josie would be proud :)

Because I'm not feeling my best and because things are somewhat crazy around here now as Casa Bramasole prepares for a move, I'm not certain how many tablescapes we'll manage for a while (Mr B. is being very unreasonable- he insists that ALL the dishes can't stay unpacked! Men!) We will continue with recipes, design issues, and just plain talk for as long as possible 

As Always,
 Buon Cibo, Buon Amici,
Pattie and Allie


    1. Hi ladies, Hope you feel better soon and I was thinking of my (yiayia) grandmother...she passed away 2 years ago end of July. Take care and hope you can rest...dishes so pretty too.~Emelia~

    2. Oh dear, in my life as a wife to a VA medical man, we have had many, many moves. It's never easy--even when the government comes in, packs you up and whisks you away! So, I fully commiserate with you.

      I grew up in the same home as my fraternal grandmother. In fact, it was her home and my father, being an only child, did the correct "southern" thing by living with her with his family. It was a WONDERFUL experienceI

      And thanks for passing along the delicious recipe. I was thinking caponata for my oodles of eggplants but the eggplant caviar sounds like a delicious alternative.

      Hope you feel better soon.


    3. How do you do it? I just love each recipe! I was at a farmer's market in Washington DC this weekend and got itty bitty artichokes. I can't wait to make them!
      I love the eggplant caviar. YUMMY. When I was in Israel I ate something very similar. It was delicious. I have so many eggplants this year. Do you think this would freeze well? I could make a vat of it and freeze it for a delicious treat!
      I have been thinking of you and your move! Hope all is well!

    4. you did a great job with meatless monday, so many wonderful choices....I can do meatless a couple days a week, but I gotta have chicken or something resembling it 2x a week and then throw in some seafood! Where are you moving too?

    5. We are eating more and more meatless meals in this house. To be honest I enjoy vegetables and grains more than anything else! Your dishes look fabulous! You got to love David L!

    6. You come up with the most interesting recipes that all sound and look so good. I don't envy you having to pack up your house. At least it will give you a chance to weed through your things.

    7. I love both the dishes you featured here today. They sound delicious. I'm sorry to hear that you are feeling poorly. I hope you are soon back up to speed. Take care of yourself, Pattie. Have a good day. Blessings...Mary

    8. I subscribe to David's emails and saw that eggplant caviar - it looks delicious! I also love the look and sound of both timables.

      Good luck with the packing, Pattie. I know you'll be very busy so take time to take care of yourself too!

    9. My best to you and your family going forward. Delightful job with your meatless post. Love the eggplant caviar. Very clever.

      Be well


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