Eggplant & Mango Soba Noodles

For Cookbook Club this month, we’re cooking Plenty, by Yotam Ottolenghi. I love Ottolenghi… he’s one of my favorite chefs to follow on social media and I find his recipes universally delicious! I was introduced to him several years back when my sister gave me the cookbook Jerusalem that he co-authored with Sami Tamimi. It remains one of my favorite cookbooks. The pictures are gorgeous and the recipes are wonderful. While most of Ottolenghi recipes fall squarely into my comfort zone (mmmm… Middle Eastern food!), Plenty is a little bit outside it. The entire cookbook is vegetable-based! We love veggies here, but it’s rare that we eat truly vegetarian – especially our main dishes. I’m looking forward to embracing the challenge!

This first recipe caught my eye right off the bat, because the combination of ingredients seemed so unique to me. Who ever heard of combining mango and eggplant?? But as a thought about it, I figured it would probably be delicious. So here we are. And I was right – it IS a delicious combo. The dressing and the mango are sweet & sour, the eggplant is earthy, and the pepper and onions give it just a little bite! It’s also very easy to make – definitely doable on a weeknight or for a lunch.


Eggplant & Mango Soba Noodles

(Adapted from Plenty, by Yotam Ottolenghi)
Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp
  • 1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 lime, zested & juiced
  • 1 cup oil (for frying)
  • 1/2 of a large eggplant, chopped into bite-sized chunks
  • 4 oz soba noodles
  • 1 mango, chopped into bite-sized chunks
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Instructions:
  1. Warm the vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small pot, just for a minute or two, until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in the Aleppo pepper, garlic, and sesame oil.
  2. Once cool, add the onions, lime zest, and juice from about 1/2 the lime. Set aside.
  3. Heat the oil in a tall-sided pan. Shallow fry the eggplant pieces in batches, removing when golden-brown, about 3-4 minutes. Place in a colander, sprinkle with salt, and allow them to drain off excess oil and water.
  4. Meanwhile cook the soba noodles in a pot of salted water, for 6-8 minutes, until al dente. Once cooked, rinse under cold running water.
  5. Once all the ingredients are cooled and dried, combine everything (dressing, eggplant, noodles, mango, and herbs) in a large bowl. Toss well. Serve cool.
Serves 2

Goodbye 2019!

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Happy New Year! Another year of blogging down! As I always say this time of year, I’m proud of us for keeping up with Bon Appetit Baby! for another year. With pregnancy and new parenthood, we’re still not blogging quite as much as we used to, but we’re still here! This was a big year for us, clearly. We welcomed our daughter to the world in July. We’ve learned (and are still learning) how to be parents to her. The rest of the events of the year pale in comparison to her, but we definitely ate some good food!

Speaking of, for New Year’s Eve this year, we didn’t blog our meal, but it was amazing! Selim made a stock from all manner of bones that we’ve been saving (chicken, turkey, pork ribs), cooking them down for hours with alliums, herbs, a few Asian touches (miso, fish sauce), and a couple surprise twists (loomi, cinnamon sticks). It sounds weird maybe, but the man is a genius when it comes to make unique sauces and soups. The result was the most delicious broth I think I’ve ever had! We used it as the base for a ramen that we shared with my parents and siblings for a fun New Year’s Eve dinner. I attempted ramen noodles from scratch, but didn’t quite get it right. They were fine, but I didn’t get that super chewy texture and yellowish color. They were certainly edible, but not exactly what I hoped for…

As we’ve done in previous years, we’re going to share some favorites, fun facts, and statistics from the past year of the blog. We obviously don’t write this blog for money or anything, so to be quite honest, we rarely look at our statistics except for when writing the year end review. It’s fun to see! So without further ado…

2019 Year in Review

Favorite Dishes of the Year:

♥ Ally: Pasta with Clams & SausageMaple & Mustard Pork with Shallots, & Sausages & Roasted Veggies in Agrodolce

♥ Selim: Rainbow Rice Krispie TreatsPumpkin Chip Bread, & Herby Stuffed Dates

Visitors: 

♥ 6,628 visits to the site, from 4,363 unique visitors! We’re always shocked to see this!

Nationalities of Visitors:

♥ US, Canada, UK, Australia, Germany, Netherlands, France, Ireland, New Zealand, India, South Africa, Italy, Chile, Singapore, Japan, Turkey, Algeria, Switzerland, Philippines, Poland, Spain, Mexico, Israel, Nepal, Bermuda, UAE, Austria, Sweden, Hong Kong, Finland, Denmark, China, Romania, Brazil, Faroe Islands, Russia, Cyprus, Thailand, Serbia, Greece, Norway, Bahrain, Belgium, Portugal, South Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Latvia, Hungary, St. Kitts & Nevis, Guatemala, Qatar, Colombia, Kenya, Ghana, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Guam, Ecuador, Nigeria, Azerbaijan, Tunisia, Jordan, Vietnam, Lebanon, Ukraine, Dominican Republic, Namibia, Argentina, Morocco, Kuwait, Lithuania, Malta, Estonia, Taiwan, Puerto Rico, Luxembourg, Croatia, Macedonia, Czech Republic, and Costa Rica!

Most Viewed Post & Most Pinned Post: 

♥ Another year, another win for Bay Scallop Risotto

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Accomplishments This Year: 

♥ A Brand New Kitchen! (Our second-most viewed post this year)

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♥ Had a baby. She’s the best!

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♥ Joined The Kitchn’s Cookbook Club

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Here’s to 2020! Hopefully it’s another year full of delicious food!

River Doughnuts

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Growing up, we would visit my grandparents at their home on the Rappahannock River for days and weeks at a time in the summers. We’d spend all day in the water and when we weren’t in the water, we were eating. The best was when my grandfather, known for his sweet tooth, would make us River Doughnuts for breakfast! What is a River Doughnut you ask? Well, it’s a way to add more sugar and butter to an already delicious and low-cal Krispy Kreme doughnut. It’s also a way to improve leftover, almost-getting-stale doughnuts, if you were unfortunate enough to not eat them before they got to that state. It’s so simple that I don’t even know if it can even be called a “recipe,” but we’ll share anyway.

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River Doughnuts

Ingredients: 
  • Leftover glazed doughnuts
  • Butter
  • Sugar
  • Cinnamon
Instructions: 
  1. Slice the doughnuts in half.
  2. Spread a thin layer of butter on each half. Top with generous sprinkles of sugar and cinnamon.
  3. Place under the broiler for just a few minutes, watching closely, and removing when the tops are just beginning to brown.

Pumpkin Chip Bread

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December’s cookbook of the month is a classic – Joy of Cooking. Originally written  and self-published by Irma Rombauer in 1936,  this quintessentially American cookbook has sold more than 18 MILLION copies. We don’t own it, but I knew someone in my family did, so we borrowed a copy of the 1997 edition from my aunt. I’ve never cooked out of it before… It’s quite the behemoth! The tiny font and the lack of pictures makes it hard to approach, but the sheer number of recipes in here is amazing. I’ve decided that the best way to cook through JoC is to pick an ingredient you want/need to cook with and see what recipes in the book use that ingredient. Chances are, there will be several! That’s exactly what I did here. We had leftover roast pumpkin from our Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie, so I decided to let that be my guiding ingredient for my first JoC foray.

The biggest modification I made to the book recipe is the addition of the chocolate chips. Selim thinks everything is better with chocolate chips, so we had to add some. It turned out well. It’s a perfect use of leftovers and a quick pathway to an easy treat!

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Pumpkin Chip Bread

(Adapted from Joy of Cooking, 1997 edition)
Ingredients: 
  • 1 1/2 cup AP flour
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 stick (8 tbsp) butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 small baking pumpkin (or 1 cup pumpkin puree)
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Instructions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Slice the pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds and pulp. Place halves facedown on a cookie sheet. Roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the flesh is tender and skin easily peels back.
  3. Decrease oven heat to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan.
  4. Sift together the first 8 dry ingredients (flour though baking powder).
  5. In a different bowl, whisk together the milk and vanilla.
  6. In a third bowl, cream the butter with the sugars. Now beat in the two eggs. Follow that with 1 cup of pumpkin.
  7. Now add the flour mixture and the milk mixture, alternating each, while beating on low speed.
  8. Once well-combined, fold in the chocolate chips.
  9. Pour the batter into the loaf pan. Bake for ~1 hour, until a toothpick comes out cleanly.

 

Cranberry-Lime Pie

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In case you thought we hadn’t shared enough pies recently… here’s the THIRD of the pies I made for Thanksgiving. I was eyeing the Cranberry Crumble Pie from Sister Pie, but when I read it in more detail, it just had a few too many steps for me to tackle along with the other pies. But the idea of cranberry pie really appealed to me and then lo and behold, Bon Appetit magazine’s Instagram account goes and posts this recipe for Cranberry-Lime Pie! It was fate! We had to make it. A little less traditional for Thanksgiving, but delicious none the less! Flavor-wise, it reminded everyone of a key lime pie – sweet and sour! The color screams cranberry, but honestly the lime flavor comes through the most. I think my family was a little skeptical at first (they don’t always embrace change so well…), but it ended up being a hit! This pie was also the easiest of the three I made, with a super simple crust and a filling that set in the freezer. And the candied whole cranberries on top might have been my favorite part!

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Cranberry-Lime Pie

(Adapted from Bon Appetit magazine – Nov ’16)
Ingredients: 
  • Crust
    • 4oz gingersnap cookies
    • 1 cup pecans
    • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
    • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • Filling
    • 16oz fresh cranberries, divided
    • 2 1/2 cup sugar, divided
    • 3 eggs
    • 2 egg yolks
    • Zest of 1 lemon
    • 2 limes, zested & juiced, divided
    • Pinch of salt
    • 3/4 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
Instructions: 
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    2. Grind cookies and pecans up finely in a food processor. Add the butter and brown sugar and pulse until combined.
    3. Pour into a 9 inch pie dish and using your fingers, press into the bottom and up the sides of the dish.
    4. Bake for just 10-15 minutes until darkened slightly.
    5. Bring 12oz cranberries, 1 cup sugar, and ¼ cup water to a boil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Then reduce heat and simmer for about 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until all of the cranberries burst and the mixture thickens.
    6. After the mixture has cooled, puree in a blender or food processor until smooth.
    7. Now whisk together the cranberry puree, eggs, egg yolks, lemon zest, lime juice, salt, ½ cup sugar, and zest from 1 lime. Place this mixture in a glass bowl.
    8. Bring water to a simmer in a pot of a size that matches your glass bowl. Set the glass bowl on the pot, above the water. Stir the mixture frequently as it thickens, for ~ 10 minutes.
    9. Now beat the butter into the mixture with a hand mixer. Once well-combined, pour into the crust.
    10. Place the pie into the freezer for ~2 hours.
    11. Meanwhile, combine another 1/2 cup of sugar with a 1/2 cup of water in a small saucepan. Bring it to a simmer, dissolving the sugar. Then add the remaining 4oz of cranberries. Cook for just 2-3 minutes, until the cranberries have started to soften, but aren’t bursting. Transfer the berries to a wire rack to cool.
    12. Now zest the remaining lime into the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar. Once the berries are cool, toss them in the lime sugar until well-coated. Top the pie with the sugared cranberries. Keep chilled until ~1 hour before serving.

Pumpkin Pie

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Happy Thanksgiving! We hope everyone has a wonderful holiday! We both love Thanksgiving, and Selim is extra happy this year because I made him his favorite Thanksgiving treat – pumpkin pie! Selim has very strong feelings about pie and dessert in general, and this pie was deemed worthy of Thanksgiving! (I actually made three pies – remade the Salted Maple Pie and a Cranberry-Lime Pie – recipe coming!) We were busy celebrating with family and didn’t take too many (or good) pictures of the pies, but they were all delicious! This pumpkin pie is made with real roasted pumpkin and is full of spices, but cheats with the crust. I made three pies in an afternoon ok? Something had to give! We’re both of the opinion that the filling makes the pie, so we’re not too worried about the crust. But by all means, make real crust yourself!

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Pumpkin Pie

(Adapted from this recipe here!)
Ingredients:
  • 1 medium baking pumpkin
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3/4 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 pie crust (we like Trader Joe’s if you’re not making your own)
Instructions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Slice the pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds and pulp. Place halves facedown on a cookie sheet. Roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the flesh is tender and skin easily peels back.
  3. Turn oven temperature up to 425 degrees.
  4. Once pumpkin is cool enough to handle, scoop 2 cups into a large bowl. Add all of the remaining ingredients, except for the crust (obviously). Using a hand mixer, beat all the ingredients together until smooth.
  5. Prepare pie crust per your own recipe or as instructed on box. Place in pie pan.
  6. Pour filling into the crust.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees. Then decrease heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for another 45 – 50 minutes.
    • Keep a eye on the crust – consider covering the edges with foil if it’s getting too dark.
  8. Cool on a trivet or a wire rack for 2+ hours before serving.

 

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The real highlight though – Granddaddy’s AMAZING oysters!

 

 

Salted Maple Pie

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So it seems like our cookbook club is the only thing that’s keeping us blogging this fall… I guess that’s a good thing! We’re still really enjoying participating and are loving the variety of cookbooks selected. For November, we’re cooking (or baking as it were!) through Sister Pie, by Lisa Ludwinski. The selection is certainly appropriate, given how pies abound during November and December. Ask Selim about this; he feels VERY strongly about the necessity of pie on your Thanksgiving table! We’re still reluctant bakers over here, so it’s good we had the book selected for us. Maybe one day we’ll finally feel comfortable with baking. But until that day, we’ll keep following baking instructions to the letter! That’s a great thing about this book – there are very detailed instructions about all aspects of creating the pies and especially the dough. Which we definitely appreciated. So there’s very little that we changed about this recipe from the original.

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So our first selection from this cookbook jumped out to both of us. Salted Maple Pie – how could we resist?! Selim loves maple, and I love anything sweet that’s salted. We spent a lovely but chilly weekend with some friends in the mountains and this was a perfect dessert! Decadently sweet, with great maple flavor and perfectly topped with salt! It’s a perfect dessert for these cool, late-fall, almost-the-holidays weekends. And it’d definitely be a welcome addition to your Thanksgiving spread. One big note though: making this pie is time-consuming, with several resting/cooling periods. So I’d advise reading the instructions all the way through before starting!

So after all this work, what’d we think? We all loved the flavor! The crust was nice and flaky – I think we were successful in not overworking it. A tough crust was a common complaint in the Cookbook Club Facebook group, and the consensus is that overworking the dough is the problem. The texture was not quite what we were expecting. We both thought it would be like a pumpkin pie, but it’s more custard-y than that. Selim kept describing it as “eggy,” and I think the texture through him off a little bit. Full confession though. We only let it cool for an hour (instead of the prescribed 4-6 hours) before digging into it. The filling definitely had set a little better by morning when we had some more for breakfast. Sooo… edible and delicious as soon as it’s cool, but better after sitting for awhile!

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Salted Maple Pie

(Minimally adapted from Sister Pie)
Ingredients: 
  • Crust dough:
    • 1 1/4 cup AP flour
    • 1/2 tsp sugar
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/2 cup butter, very cold
    • 3 tbsp cold water*
    • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar*
  •  Filling
    • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted & cooled
    • 1 cup maple syrup
    • 3/4 cup brown sugar
    • 1/4 cup fine yellow cornmeal
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 3 eggs
    • 1 egg yolk
    • 3/4 cup heavy cream, room temperature
    • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Etc
    • 1 egg, beaten
    • Flaky salt
Instructions:
  1. Place your stick of butter in the freezer for ~20 minutes prior to getting started.
  2. *Take a 1/4 measuring cup and fill with just an inch or so water and place in the freezer too.
  3. In large bowl, combine dry ingredients – flour, sugar, and salt. Working quickly, use a box grater and grate the butter from the freezer into the bowl. Stop a few times and gently incorporate the butter with the dry ingredients.
  4. *Get that measuring cup with the now-frozen water. Add the apple cider vinegar and then fill up the rest of the way with water. Add this mixture to the bowl.
  5. Scrape the sides of the bowl, pushing dough from one side of the bowl to another, until there are no longer any pools of liquid. Now switch to your hands -“scoop up as much of the mixture as you can, and use the tips of your fingers… to press it back down onto the rest of the ingredients.” Keep doing this until you have a fairly combined dough ball. Don’t overwork it – stop when the ball is just holding itself together.
  6. Remove from the bowl and pat down into a thick disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
  7. Now it’s time to roll out the dough. Lightly flour the counter. Using your rolling pin, “press and roll along the edge of the [dough] round one single time, enlarging the circle. After each press of the edge, rotate the disc 45 degrees.” Now place the rolling pin in the center of the dough and rolling outwards. Keep rotating the dough disc and rolling outwards from the center until the dough reaches a diameter of 12-13 inches.
  8. Invert your pie pan in the center of the dough circle. Cut out a circle of dough with ~3 inches of dough outside of the pie dish. Flip the pie dish back right side up. Gently fold the dough in half, place in into the dish, and unfold.
  9. Next you should crimp the crust. Or don’t. We didn’t quite figure this out. You’re on your own for this step. Good luck!
  10. Place the crust in the freezer for at least 15 minutes.
  11. Ok, now we blind bake the crust. Preheat your oven 450 degrees. Place a large piece of aluminum foil inside the pie dough and fill it up with dry beans. Bake for 25-27 minutes on a cookie sheet. Allow to cool for a few minutes before removing the aluminum foil and beans.
  12. Decrease the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
  13. Now we’re moving on to the filling. Whisk together the melted butter, maple syrup, brown sugar, cornmeal, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolk, heavy cream, and vanilla. Then slowly pour the egg mixture in the maple mixture, stirring until just combined.
  14. Brush the pie crust with the beaten egg. Then fill it with the maple mixture.
  15. Bake for 45 minutes – 1 hour, until just the center jiggles slightly when the pie pan is shaken. (Ours took the full hour.)
  16. Place the pie on a wire rack to cool for 4-6 hours. Once cool, top with the flaky salt.
Direct quotes come from Sister Pie. I quoted where I thought her explicit directions were important or hard to paraphrase.