Spiced Roasted Eggplant Tomato Soup with Fresh Goat Cheese

Since it’s cooling down in some places (certainly not in Los Angeles!), here’s one for a crisp afternoon or cold evening – using the end of summer eggplants from  your local farmers market.

Spiced Roast Eggplant Tomato Soup

Spiced Roasted Eggplant Tomato Soup with Fresh Goat Cheese

Yield: 8 servings

1 large Italian eggplant, peeled and diced medium (approximately 7 to 8 cups)

7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling

½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

2 large yellow onions, peeled and diced small (3 cups)

6 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped roughly (2 tablespoons)

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme

¾ teaspoon garam masala

⅛ teaspoon crushed red chile pepper (chile flakes), or to taste

1 dried bay leaf

1 teaspoon ground paprika

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained, preferably fire-roasted

4 cups chicken or vegetable stock

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more to taste

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint

Fresh Goat Cheese/Chevre, for serving

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position, then preheat the oven to 450ºF.

In a large bowl, toss the eggplant with 3 tablespoons olive oil, and season well with some salt and pepper.

Lay the eggplants in a single layer on two sheet pans lined with parchment paper. Place into the oven, and roast, uncovered, until lightly colored, approximately 30 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes.

Add 4 tablespoons olive oil and the onions to a small pot over medium heat, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the onions are soft and translucent.

Stir in the garlic, thyme, garam masala, chile flakes, bay leaf, and paprika, and cook until fragrant, 1 minute

Pour in the tomatoes and stock and add the salt and pepper.

Turn the heat to high, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.

Check the eggplants; if they are lightly colored, remove them from the oven.

Add the eggplants and the stock to the tomato mixture and stir. Increase the heat to high and bring to a simmer.

Remove from the heat and discard the bay leaf.

Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth.

Add lemon juice, a healthy pinch of salt, and a few really good grinds of pepper. Blend once more. Taste and adjust seasoning once more with additional lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

Serve in soup bowls with a drizzle of olive oil, a little goat cheese, and a sprinkling of the chopped parsley and mint.

Sustainable Seafood Tacos for National Taco Day!

Mark your calendars and join me in celebrating ocean-friendly seafood during October – National Seafood Month – by enjoying a sustainable seafood taco on NATIONAL TACO DAY, this SATURDAY, October 4! (What a great day!) Chefs across the country are joining together to give this year’s celebration a sustainable twist and so can you. 

Choose a seafood from Seafood Watch’s best choice list to make your own sustainable seafood tacos at home OR you can use my recipe for Spiced Mahi Mahi tacos with Salsa Fresca and Chipotle Crema. Either way, be sure to share your dish on social media using the hashtags: #MakeItSustainable #taco 

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Mahi Mahi Curry

I mostly cook French/Mediterranean/California style cooking, but sometimes I just want something different. More flavors, more spices-a trip beyond the Mediterranean. This dish is all about something new – going a bit beyond my comfort zone as far as recipe development. It may look like a lot of ingredients, but trust me, this dish is well worth it. Warm, balanced, flavorful, delicious. It’s like a vacation for your palate – no passport necessary. (Bonus: it’s a sustainable seafood dish!)

Mahi Mahi Curry

Mahi Mahi Curry

Yield: 4 servings

 

3 tablespoons coconut oil, divided

1 large yellow onion, diced small, 3 cups

1 fennel bulb, diced small, 2 cups

6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1 serrano pepper, seeded and deveined, diced small

1 tablespoon ginger, peeled and minced

2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

1 ¼ teaspoon ground cumin

1 ¼ teaspoon ground fennel

¾ teaspoon turmeric

1 sprig fresh curry (approximately 16 fresh curry leaves)

¾ teaspoon garam malasa

1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and julienned

1/2 pound small red potatoes, sliced into ¼-inch thick rounds

1 14-ounce can light coconut milk

1 cup chicken or vegetable stock

1 ¼ pounds US Atlantic mahi mahi filets, cut into 6 equal sized pieces

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup quartered cherry or grape tomatoes

½ cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro

1 lemon, halved

 

In an oval Dutch oven over medium-high heat add 1 ½ tablespoons coconut oil. Heat the oil until it’s shimmering, approximately 1 minute.

Add the onion and fennel and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent and lightly caramelized, approximately 6 to 8 minutes.

Add garlic, Serrano pepper, ginger, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, cumin, fennel, turmeric, curry leaves and garam masala. Stir and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until fragrant.

Add 1 to 2 tablespoons water if pan feels dry after adding the spices and then add bell pepper. Stir and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to break up any brown bits. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for approximately 3 to 5 minutes, until bell pepper has softened.

Add the potatoes, coconut milk and stock. Stir and cover. Let simmer on medium-low for 20 to 30 minutes, until the potatoes are al dente.

In the meantime, remove fish from refrigerator. Pat dry and season (both sides) with 1 teaspoon of salt and the black pepper.

In large sauté pan oven over high heat add 1 ½ tablespoons coconut oil. Heat the oil until it starts to smoke, approximately 1 minute.

Add fish pieces and let cook, undisturbed, for 2 to 3 minutes, until the fish is seared nicely on one side. Remove fish from the pan and set aside.

Going back to your oval dutch oven, once potatoes are al dente, add the tomatoes, stir and then nestle fish pieces in the pan, seared side up, and continue simmering, uncovered, for 15 to 25 minutes until fish flakes apart easily. If your filets are thin, it will take a shorter amount of time, so check on your fish for doneness frequently. (My oval dutch oven had an inner ring of rapid simmering liquid in the center of the pan and I nestled my fish around that inner circle of bubbliness so it wasn’t directly in the boil, but just snuggled up to it.)

Remove from heat, squeeze half a lemon over and season to taste with salt, pepper and additional lemon as needed. Garnish with cilantro and serve to hungry guests. Have lemon wedges on hand.

Sweet Pickled Cucumber and Fennel Salad

The perfect make ahead salad. The longer it sits, the better it tastes!

Sweet Pickled Cucumber and Fennel Salad

Sweet Pickled Cucumber and Fennel Salad

Yield: 3 to 4 servings

 

3 persian or Japanese cucumbers, cut into 1/8-inch rounds

½ fennel bulb, cut into 1/8-inch slices

2 medium shallots, cut into 1/8-inch slices

¼ teaspoon crushed red (chili) pepper flakes

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

7 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 cup water

1 cup rice wine vinegar (unseasoned)

½ cup distilled white vinegar

¼ cup toasted white sesame seeds

 

Mix all ingredients, except toasted sesame seeds, together in a medium bowl.

Cover and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

To serve, strain and discard the liquid and divide the salad onto plates. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds.

Watermelon Ginger Juice

There are still delicious ripe watermelons on offer, so let’s juice them up with some mint and ginger. Mmmmm. A perfect end of summer refreshing drink.

 

Watermelon Ginger Juice

Watermelon Ginger Juice

Yield: 2 cups

 

2 ½ cups watermelon flesh

20 mint leaves (stems on)

½-inch by ½-inch knob of fresh ginger

2 drops vanilla extract

 

Place mint leaves followed by the ginger and watermelon in a juicer and process. Stir in the two drops of vanilla extract. Drink up!

Quick and Easy Drop Shortcakes

When it comes to quick and easy desserts, this one takes the cake (see what I did there?!). How quick and easy, you ask? Well, it takes about 30 seconds to make your dough – which, by the way,  you do in a food processor. Yup, easy. And then 20 to 25 minutes to bake. Sounds like a quick and easy winner dessert (or, let’s face it – breakfast) to me!

P.S. Watch me make this recipe on YouTube!

Quick and Easy Drop Shortcake Recipe Quick and Easy Drop Shortcakes

Yield: 8 shortcakes

2 ¼ cup unbleached all-purpose flour

¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, divided

2 teaspoons baking powder

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

8 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

¾ cup buttermilk

1 whole egg

Grapeseed oil, for greasing measuring cup

Place an oven rack on the middle position and preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place flour, ¼ cup sugar, baking powder and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine.

Add butter and pulse until dough resembles coarse meal.

Whisk together buttermilk and egg in a small bowl. Turn on food processor and stream into dry ingredients. (Set bowl aside – do not wash yet!) Let food processor run for approximately 20 to 30 seconds. A dough ball will form and it should get whipped around the food processor, kneading the dough.

Measure dough into a greased 1/3 measuring cup and drop dough on a parchment lined sheet pan.

Remember that small bowl that you whisked the egg and buttermilk in? Brush the tops of the shortcakes with any remaining liquid left in the bowl and then evenly top biscuits with the remaining tablespoon of sugar.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until shortcake is golden brown on top. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool before eating.

Tuna and White Bean Salad

This is the perfect salad to make when you don’t have much time and just want to grab a few things from the pantry to make a delicious dish. Good for lunch or dinner and perfect for a hot day, like the one we are having here in Southern California! (Bonus: this is a sustainable seafood dish!)

Tuna and White bean Salad

Tuna and White Bean Salad

Yield: 4 servings

 

Vinaigrette:

1 large garlic clove, peeled and minced (1 teaspoon)

1 medium shallot, peeled and diced finely (3 tablespoons)

¼ teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano

1½ tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (juice of half a lemon)

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

 

Salad:

2 (5-ounce) cans of sustainable skipjack or albacore tuna in extra-virgin olive oil, undrained (I like Ocean Naturals, American Tuna & Wild Planet brands)

1 (15-ounce) can of white beans (Great Northern beans), rinsed and drained

2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained

1 (12-ounce) jar artichoke hearts, drained

1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley, plus some whole leaves for garnish

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

4 cups arugula, rinsed and dried

Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, not pre-grated, for serving

 

In a medium container with a tight fitting lid, combine the garlic, shallot, oregano, lemon juice, vinegar and olive oil, close the lid tightly, and shake well to combine. Or, whisk to combine the ingredients in a medium bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Open the cans of tuna and put them into a small bowl. Use a fork to break up the tuna, then season to taste with salt and pepper. It will need some seasoning—trust me.

Mix the white beans, capers, artichoke hearts, and chopped parsley with half the vinaigrette; season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve one cup of arugula on a plate with a scoop of the bean salad and one quarter of the tuna. Use a vegetable peeler to top the with some shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano, then sprinkle with the whole parsley leaves. Drizzle any remaining vinaigrette over the salad, if desired.