Robert Irvine’s Eggplant Parmesan

I’m rather picky when it comes to Italian food. I blame my trip to Florence for spoiling Americanized Italian food for me forever. Luckily, there are a few recipes that measure up to my expectations and one of them is this delightful Eggplant Parmesan from the Food Network with a few modifications.

eggplant, peeled (we particularly enjoyed an heirloom variety) and cut into disks
2 cups buttermilk
4 cups vegetable oil (we used our deep fryer)
1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup Parmesan powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder (we used a bit more)
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley (we used about 2 tablespoons, since we didn’t have fresh oregano)
1 teaspoon dried oregano (or minced fresh if you have it)
1 teaspoon ground white pepper (we used a little more of this too, about 2 teaspoons)
1 cup all-purpose flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
2 cups egg wash (which for us, was four eggs and one cup milk)
1 pound penne or fusilli pasta, cooked (we used bowtie because that’s what we had)
2 cups red sauce
Grated Parmesan cheese, for sprinkling (we used Mozzarella)
cooking spray of your choice (we used Pam Olive Oil spray)

To bread the eggplant, first add the eggplant disks into the buttermilk and allow to soak, 1 to 2 hours (we let it soak for about an hour and a half).
Next, over medium heat, bring the oil to 350 degrees F in a wide shallow saucepan or deep fryer; then hold the oil warm until frying. Combine the breadcrumbs, Parmesan powder, garlic, parsley, oregano and pepper in a bowl. Remove the eggplant from the buttermilk, and then coat with flour and tap off the excess. Dip the eggplant in the egg wash and finish with the breadcrumb-Parmesan mixture, coating well. Repeat the process with each eggplant, and then fry in the preheated oil. Allow the eggplant to brown, and then flip the cooked eggplant to ensure even cooking. Once golden brown on both sides, remove the eggplant and place on paper towels to allow the excess oil to drip off.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Drain the cooked pasta and once all the water is removed, toss with 3/4 cup of the red sauce. After tossing the pasta with the sauce, portion the pasta on plates. Place the cooked eggplant on a cooking spray covered baking sheet and finish with the remaining sauce. Add some cheese and bake, 4 to 5 minutes or until cheese is bubbly. After baking, place the eggplant over the sauced pasta and serve.

My opinion:
This is the best and simplest Eggplant Parmesan recipe we’ve found. I wouldn’t hesitate to serve this to friends and family.

Lamb Kofta and Harissa Yogurt Sauce

There’s a Lebanese restaurant in Cleveland, Taza, that J and I LOVE. We eat there nearly every time we’re in town. Until now, the recipe for their delicious lamb kofta has eluded us. This weekend when everyone else was grilling hamburgers and hot dogs, J finally managed to perfect this recipe with the help of Arabic Food Recipes kitchen.

Kofta Ingredients (plus our modifications):
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro (fresh makes a HUGE difference!)
2 tablespoons grated fresh onion (we used white and about 3 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons 2% Greek-style plain yogurt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric (we used slightly more)
2 teaspoons minced garlic (we used slightly more)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound lean ground lamb
Cooking spray

Kofta Directions:
Combine cilantro and the rest of the ingredients in a bowl. We used a spatula to combine it all. Shape into 12 oblong patties around pre-soaked bamboo skewers. Don’t try to make them too big, the weight will cause them to fall off the skewer. Spray a grill tray with cooking spray and set the skewers on the grill tray. Grill for about 10 minutes per side (you’ll know it’s time to turn when the edges are a bit crisp). Tip to flip: don’t lift the kofta, roll it over using tongs or two forks.

Harissa Yogurt Sauce Ingredients:
1/2 cup 2% Greek-style plain yogurt
1/4 cup chopped bottled roasted red bell pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (we’ll use more next time)
1/4 teaspoon salt

Harissa Yogurt Sauce Directions:
Combine the ingredients in a small bowl. Let sit for about half an hour in the refrigerator. Mix again. Serve sauce with kofta.

My opinion:
I couldn’t stop eating this dish. When it was gone, I wanted more. The only change I’d make in the future is to add more spice to the Harissa Yogurt sauce. I can’t wait until we make this again.