This week’s menu selection was all over the proverbial recipe map at The Schell Café. We roamed from Hawaii to Rome with a stop at El Arroyo in between.
Tuesday night I made Spicy Eggplant with Chicken from the Honolulu Junior League Cookbook Another Taste of Aloha. This was a welcomed diversion from the Provence and Tuscan inspired meals I’ve fallen into the delicious habit of preparing. The Asian flavors of ginger, soy sauce and rice wine vinegar danced across our palates making us think we were eating lettuce cups at P.F. Chang’s. I served the dish with Forbidden Rice. I remember reading about this beautiful rice in one of my foodie mags. The rice appears black, but cooks a deep eggplant purple. The nutty, flavorful rice was tasty as well as pretty on the plate. (I would have documented this gorgeous pairing, but my previous plea for a new camera has gone unanswered).
Spicy Eggplant with Chicken
1 tsp fresh gingerroot, minced
3 T soy sauce
1 T rice wine vinegar
3 cloves garlic
1 T sugar
2 – 3 fresh red chili peppers, minced with seeds
1 tsp cornstarch
¾ lb eggplant, sliced diagonally ½ inch-thick
¾ lb ground chicken or turkey (I used turkey)
2 T evoo
Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish
Mix the ginger, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, sugar, chili peppers, and cornstarch. Set aside.
Sauté the eggplant in the oil in a large skillet until the slices are slightly browned. Set aside. Sauté the turkey in the same pan until browned. Return the eggplant to the skillet and add the sauce. Cook until thoroughly heated. Garnish with cilantro. Serves 4.
Hump Day at El Arroyo. ‘Nuf said.
I am taking complete liberty to rename tonight’s dinner. To give credit where credit is due, the Philadelphia Jr. League calls this recipe Zesty Linguine in Rosy Tomato Sauce. For me it’s called Saturday Night Linguine in Tito’s Vodka Sauce. Any recipe that calls for ½ cup of vodka would be better on a Saturday night. It took all the will power I could muster not to sip a chilled glass of Tito’s while I made this sauce. But, the weekend is still 24 hours away. Or maybe I’m coming down with something?
The sauce filled the house with an intoxicating smell of garlic, onions, plum tomatoes and, well, vodka. Smelltheroses came to pick up her son at just the right time and got a spoonful of the sauce. My apologies to her though as she tasted it before the final touch of seasoning and 3 tablespoons of Parmesan Reggiano blessed the sauce. The cheese cut the spice of the crushed red pepper perfectly.
The girls fell asleep before we sat down for dinner, but DS actually liked the linguine. Alert the media. I think he enjoyed twirling the noodles on his spoon and slurping them with great gusto more than he appreciated the taste, but regardless of the reason, he ate. And Husband requested that I make the sauce again soon. I think I will. Saturday night. And I may get a little sauced off the sauce and enjoy my usual vodka on the rocks with three olives.
Saturday Night Linguine with Tito’s Vodka Sauce
2 T evoo
3 T butter
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28-oz) can Italian plum tomatoes
1 T chopped fresh basil
1/8 tsp dried red pepper flakes
½ c vodka *
½ c cream
3 T grated Parmesan Reggiano
12 ounces fresh linguine (I used whole wheat)
Freshly ground black pepper
Chopped parsley for garnish
Combine the olive oil and butter and sauté the onion over low heat for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté another minute or two. Add the tomatoes, basil, red pepper and vodka. Simmer about 15 minutes until the sauce is reduced. Add the cream and simmer until thickened. Add the Parmesan Reggiano and blend well. Cook pasta according to package. Drain and add cooked pasta to sauce. Toss well and garnish with black pepper and parsley. Serves 4.
* For testing purposes only, I used Tito’s Handmade Vodka. On Saturday I plan to test the recipe with Grey Goose. I’ll let you know the results.