Friday, August 27, 2010

Easy Grilled Eggplant

It's a shame there's really no way to make eggplant pretty, because it tastes so much better than it looks. As I've mentioned before, it's also perfect on the grill when it's sliced about 1/2 inch thick - won't fall through the grates and is substantial enough at that thickness that it doesn't get too mushy either! Combining a couple of salad dressings and brushing them on before grilling doesn't hurt.

1 medium to large ripe eggplant, sliced in rounds 1/2 thick
1/3 cup Ken's Lite Sun-dried Tomato Vinaigrette
1/3 cup Kraft Greek Vinaigrette salad dressing
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Kosher salt

Sprinkle the eggplant slices with salt and let stand for at least 30 minutes. Rinse well and pat dry. Lay the slices on a baking sheet and sprinkle with garlic powder and pepper. Mix the two salad dressings together and brush half of it over the slices of eggplant on one side.

Grill over medium heat until browned on the bottoms, turn and brush the cooked side with dressing. Continue cooking until the bottoms are browned as well and the eggplant is tender but still firm.

Note: I use a disposable grill pan with holes in it to do this because it makes it easier to transfer the eggplant to the oven, but you can grill it directly on the grate and use a spatula to put the slices back on a baking pan.

While the eggplant is grilling, preheat the broiler in the oven. When the eggplant is cooked, transfer the slices to a baking sheet (or just put your whole disposable grill pan on a baking sheet) and sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese. Broil until cheese is melted and just turning golden. As an alternative to mozzarella alone, feta, a blend of feta and mozzarella or an Italian four cheese blend would also be delicious.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Cheddar Garlic Biscuits

These are rather like the ones at Red Lobster, but in my humble opinion, better! I use freshly shredded sharp cheddar for more flavor and add a little garlic powder right into the biscuit mix so it can bake in, rather than just being on the top of the biscuits. My other secret to making the biscuits into light fluffly little pillows is to line the baking sheet with parchment paper, and to set the biscuits close together so that they don't get a crusty edge on them.

You can buy pre-shredded cheddar, but I think taking the few minutes to shred it freshly gives a better and sharper cheese flavor. To make cheese easier to shred, freeze the block for 10 minutes beforehand; cleanup is a snap if you freeze the shredder and then just brush the frozen bits of cheese off it before washing!

I have three different size biscuit cutters and I used the smallest one to make these, so I got 13 out of the batch. I think the smaller ones work better as an accompaniment to a stew or chili, which is what I made to go with these.

2 1/4 cups Bisquick (I think it works better than Jiffy Mix)
1/2 cup butter, divided
2/3 cup milk
1 cup finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese
3 teaspoons garlic powder, divided
2 teaspoons dried parsley

Preheat oven to 450. Melt 5 tablespoons of the butter and add half of the garlic powder and all of the parsley to it. Set aside.

Stir in remaining garlic powder into the Bisquick. Cut the rest of the butter, still very cold, into the Bisquick so that it is tiny pieces and is worked into the baking mix; it should look like small peas. If your oven is slow to preheat, at this point, stick the mixture in the freezer until the oven is ready. Mix in shredded cheddar and then stir in milk.

Turn dough onto a floured surface. Knead 8 strokes, and then roll out 1/2 inch thick. Cut into biscuits and place so they are NOT QUITE touching on a baking sheet covered in baking parchment. Bake on a rack in the top 1/3 of the oven for 8 minutes. After 8 minutes, stir the melted butter and garlic mixture and brush generously over the biscuit tops. Return to the oven for 2-3 minutes. Let cool 5-10 minutes before serving warm.