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Birthday Eggplant

2012 October 2
by Thehousedaddy

Where has the summer gone?  I have been on a serious hiatus in posting and for that I am sorry.  Cooking has been such a rushed quick event that I have had scarce time to photograph or to write.  When I was a kid summer was always a time to relax and take a breath, but this summer was anything but relaxing and it came and went in the blink of an eye.  Soccer camps, first sleep away week for Noah, crazy work for Virginia, and a sick Samantha has really put the crimp on posting, but we were all able to have a moment on Noah’s birthday for a nice meal and few pics.

Much to the dismay of Sasha, Noah picked eggplant for his at home birthday dinner.  I have written about our birthday tradition of one meal at home and one meal out.  Birthday person gets to pick both and the lobbying by others starts as soon as the birthday discussion starts.  Everyone has a favorite and Noah, who absolutely loves everything, was excited to have our eggplant dish since his cousin was coming over to help us celebrate.  MartinLane loves eggplant and even though it would never be what Virginia would choose, she has grown a certain fondness for my eggplant dish.  Sasha has proclaimed his hate for it recently, but even though he says he hates it, he eats it.

So the little eggplants at Twin Springs have been great, but they now have a medium size one that has an amazing flavor and texture.  It really isn’t a hard dish to make, but it does take some time in the oven and since it is so freaking hot here in the summer, we have adapted this dish to the grill.

So when the kids were at their day camp and I was working, I carved out a little time for prep and assembly.  First thing is to halve the egglplants from tip to tail and then to scoop out the contents.  If you scoop with a spoon you need to either break it up or dice the meat once scooped into small amounts.  I put the eggplant interior into a large metal mixing bowl and then add diced onions, diced tomatoes, chopped scapes, red pepper, olives or caper, brown rice or quinoa, and chic peas.  I season it with fresh herbs, salt, pepper, olive oil and mix together.  I then lay out the eggplant shells in a large oiled dish and fill them and the pan with the veggies.  After packing it in, I put a layer of Diaywa mozzarella cheese on top and put it on the grill. 

Since I was walking to pick up the boys at the bus stop from a day of kayaking the Potomac river, I put the grill on low.  I knew I had about an hour round trip and at a low temp it could simmer slowly.  At that temp it could cook for about two hours, but I like it kind of crispy so I knew I could crank it up a little when I was around to supervise.

When we got home from the pick up, Noah declared he also wanted gazpacho to pass when everyone was assembling for dinner.  With the amazing tomatoes from Twin Springs and the onions and some of last remaining scapes and cucumbers, it took only a matter of minutes to make an amazing gazpacho served in coffee mugs as everyone milled around the kitchen talking.

Dinner was done and took very little prep time although cooking time can be an hour or two depending on the grill temp.  The best part is, it is hard to ruin this dish.  Undercooking is the worst offense, but it is hard to overcook.  Virginia’s made a birthday cake that was an insanely decadent chocolate, chocolate chip cookie mega desert while still being totally vegan and gluten free.  Next birthday is Sasha’s and I think he will choose the famous Rosti for his home dinner.

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