In my kitchen: roasted eggplant with garlic yogurt & pomegranate

Cook with your hands. I’m convinced that there’s an invisible pipe that goes straight from your heart directly into your fingers, and there’s nothing better than eating a dish that has a little love running through it.

Using your hands teaches you about your ingredients – how things should feel when they’re raw, cooked, and combined. Having said that, there’s probably no food that I manhandle more than the eggplant, or aubergine as many refer to it. No matter what you call it, eggplant is something that I love, and has become somewhat of a staple in my kitchen. Grilled, roasted, baked, or all sauced up – there’s so much you can do with this plump, purple-skinned fruit, yes, its actually a fruit. I am talking about the dark shaded eggplant here as I have yet to try the white variety.

With a bitter taste and flesh that absorbs oil faster than moisturizer on cracked dry skin, cooking with eggplant can be tricky. Fortunately, there are ways to circumvent its challenges by learning how to choose your fruit wisely.

Look for eggplant that is light in weight, with shiny, smooth skin free of bruises and blemishes. It should be firm but not hard with a round brown mark on the fat, bottom end – a brown slit on the bottom might mean more seeds.

Some say that you have to salt the eggplant to remove bitterness. If I have the extra time, I’ll add this step, but more often than not, I skip it. I don’t find salting it makes that much of a difference. If you want to try it, cut your eggplant into slices, salt it generously and let it hang out in a colander for 30 minutes to an hour. Rinse it and pat it dry before cooking.

Add your oil right before cooking so that that it coats the surface of the flesh – that will help give your eggplant that beautiful brown finish.

Roasted Eggplant with Garlic Yogurt and Pomegranate

Serves 4 to 6

For the eggplant:

  • 2 to 3 medium eggplant, washed, dried, and cut into 1 ½ inch slices (salted, drained, and rinsed if desired)
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For the garlic yogurt:

  • 400 grams plain yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

To garnish:

  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts (optional), lightly toasted

Preheat your oven to 210 Celcius, 410 Farenheit. Position your rack in the lower third of your oven.

Cut eggplant into slices and toss generously with olive oil.

slicing eggplant

Add salt, pepper, lemon, and oregano.

Place on a large baking tray, and bake for approximately 15 to 20 minutes or until the bottom of the eggplant has started to turn brown.

eggplant on sheetpan

Turn the eggplant over and cook for another 15 minutes or until brown and soft. At this stage, you can eat the eggplant as they are (great as a vegetarian side dish). If you want to add the garlic yogurt, keep reading.

oven roasted eggplant slices

For the garlic yogurt:

Combine yogurt with garlic and salt. Taste and adjust salt if necessary.

Place eggplant on a large dish or platter. Spoon and scatter the garlic yogurt over the eggplant and garnish with pomegranate seeds and pine nuts (if using).

roasted eggplant with garlic yogurt sauce and fresh pomegranite

Serve warm or cold.

eggplant with yogurt sauce and pomegranite with pine nuts

Bon appétit!

Photos by: Tara Atkinson Photography

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I got it from my mama! A Mother’s Day post & a currant scone recipe

There’s a comfort in baking that I find difficult to put into words. Maybe it’s the memory I have of my mother immersed in her dough-making process in our flour-dusted kitchen. Or maybe it’s because as a young girl, my eager little hands would wait in anticipation to indulge in the fruits of her labor. Running to the kitchen at the first whiff of freshly baked bread, I can still remember how happy she was when she baked – singing and smiling like she was in her own secret world. For my mother, baking was an outlet that went far beyond cakes, cookies, and pies. Less about the end result, baking was a creative, soul-quenching time that gave her the chance to disconnect and let her imagination run wild and free.

Now fully immersed in the throes of motherhood, I find the same comfort in the kitchen that my mother did (although my singing voice isn’t nearly as good as hers). When I bake, time could literally stop and I probably wouldn’t notice. Yes, I really do find it that therapeutic! Whether it’s something as simple as whipping up a batch up fresh scones, or a bit more elaborate like a four-layered cake dripping in puddles of chocolate ganache, I find solace in folding fresh cream, melting chocolate, and swirling my whisk through ribbons of sugar and softly whipped egg yolks.

in the kitchen making scone dough

lidija and scones

A tiny part of me hopes my children will have the same memories that I have of my mother – with our flour-dusted kitchen table and my mama-bear-hands covered in dough.

I got it from my mama, and I know she would be proud.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Classic Currant scones

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 & ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 140 grams unsalted butter, cut into ¼ inch cubes and chilled
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup buttermilk (alternatively you can use ¼ cup full fat plain yogurt or cream mixed with ¼ cup milk with a squeeze of lemon juice)
  • ½ cup dried currants
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

* note that this recipe can be easily doubled if needed

Directions:

Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a bowl. Set aside.

Put the flour mixture in a food processor fitted with a steel blade (you can also do this with an electric mixer or by hand). Pulse a couple of times to distribute the ingredients.

Add the butter to the flour, pulsing several times (as many as 40 times if your butter is super cold!). Remember not to run your food processor or mixer continuously at this point. You need to see little lumps of butter in the mixture.

Combine the milk, cream, egg, and vanilla in a bowl and mix until all the ingredients have been incorporated well.

Add the wet milk/egg mixture and the currants to the flour mixture.

With your hands, combine all the ingredients together without over-mixing.

Put the dough onto a large, lightly floured surface and form into a rough shaped disk, measuring approximately 2 to 3 inches high.

Cut rounds out of your dough using a fluted cookie cutter (alternatively, make free-form balls).

The amount of scones your dough will yield depends on the height of the dough and size of your scone cutter. This batch makes roughly 8 large to 14 small scones.

Place your shaped scones you’ve made on a parchment lined baking tray, and freeze for AT LEAST 30 minutes or longer (I usually make my scones the night before I serve them, and keep them in the freezer until ready to bake. You can also freeze the dough shapes for up to a month and use as needed. Remember to store them in airtight freezer bags if storing for a long period of time. you can bake the scones directly from the freezer).

scone dough shaped on a baking tray

Preheat your oven to 200 C (400 F) and position your baking rack in the center of the oven.

Bake the scones for 25 to 30 minutes (time varies depending on size), until tops are golden brown and the smell emanating from your oven is insanely delicious.

currant scones on cooling rack

hot scones ready to eat

Serve hot, cold, or in between.

scone tower part two

Bon appétit!

Photos by Tara Atkinson Photography 

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