19 November 2012

Plenty More Cooking

My schedule returned to normal, my stomach the same, and the arrival of "fall" in SF all lead to one thing: more cooking. The latest edition of Lucky Peach arrived last week and has proved excellent so far. While the recipes are not exactly basic, the lot seem less chef-ified than past issues. For a cooking night with E, we made a modified eggplant, soba, and mango dish from Plenty and a very heavily modified "vegetables stuffed with fish paste" from Lucky Peach - I used chicken sausage instead of fish paste.
The eggplant dish was excellent, as everything else from the book - cilantro, lime, onion, and red pepper provide the base, and the mango livens it up a notch. However: the slight modifications to the eggplant recipe, entirely my own doing, are not ones I would recommend. It asks for fried eggplant; please do so. The chewiness of baked eggplant was not the best. Also, the dish is intended to be cold. We, as hungry diners, ate it warm instead. The leftovers, having marinated in the liquids for some time, had more body.

Later in the week, E requested yams. For some reason, I decided the yam bruschetta would be a grand idea. It, as we discovered, is. We deviated from the bruschetta template by a large margin, so I may offend some with the name. Don't let that stop you from cooking this dish; tomato, yam, and a strong cheese create a winning combo. The yam baked until it is almost creamy and stacked with carmelized onions is a dream to bite into.
Yam Bruschetta
Serves 2-3 as dinner/4-6 as appetizer (depending on yam size)
1 medium-ish yam, sliced into thin rectangles
bread (we used a home-made pita-ish dough)
2-4 small heirloom tomatoes
1 yellow onion, cut as you would for a sandwich
watercress stems, cut slightly shorter than the bread
a strong, hard cheese (we used a goat gouda)
olive oil
Preheat oven to 425. Prepare the yam by slicing in, then lightly tossing in olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and potentially more seasonings. E was in charge of this part and I only remember cinnamon. Definitely something else. Put on a parchment-lined baking sheet and put in the oven.

Cut the onion into strips and put in a small pan over medium-low - the onion should completely cover the bottom and then some. Sprinkle with a little salt and carmelize slowly while you go about the rest of prep; after 10-15 minutes, stir every 5 minutes so they cook evenly and don't burn.

Slice your bread, tomatoes, cheese, and watercress. When the yams are soft so that a fork could spread them on bread, 40 minutes or so, remove from the oven (but don't shut it off). The onion should also be nice and sweet at this point.
Assemble the bruschetta - brush each piece of bread with a small amount of olive oil, then place a yam slice, a tomato slice, a few strands of onion, and a hint of cheese on top. Finish with 4-6 watercress stems and sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper.

Cook in the 425 degree oven for 10+ minutes until the tomato has started to give off liquid, the cheese has begun to melt, and some onion/green tips have blackened. Let them cool for at least a few minutes, lest you burn your mouth on the tomato.

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