Monday, August 31, 2015

Eggplant Salad

     Eggplant salad is a classic Mediterranean dish that contains no major allergens (or corn, yeast, or sesame): this is one recipe I haven't had to tamper with. Any wax containing corn, soy, or dairy products on the outside of the eggplants or peppers is peeled off.

     2 medium eggplants 
     2 Anaheim peppers (You can easily substitute other peppers, but Anaheims 
          have plenty of pepper flavor without much heat and are especially easy 
          to peel.) (See Produce in the Glossary)
     juice from 1/2 lemon (See Juice in the Glossary)
     3 Tb. olive oil (See Oil in the Glossary)
     2-3 green onions, sliced
     4 cloves of garlic, pressed
     small handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped roughly (
See Produce in 
          the Glossary)
     salt to taste (See Salt in the Glossary)

For this recipe you need around 2 cups of cooked eggplant,
or about this much raw eggplant. The index card on the right is 4" x 6
     You can cook the eggplants and peppers on a grill or about 6 inches under a broiler, turning as needed to cook them thoroughly on all sides. The eggplants should be well charred on the outside (this gives a distinctive smoky flavor) and very soft on the inside. The peppers should be softened up, and their peels should be brown and bubbling up. The eggplants will need more time than the peppers. Cover the eggplants and peppers with a lid and let them sit for a few minutes. Besides letting the vegetables cool off a bit, this allows steam from inside them to loosen the peels.
This is what the peppers and eggplants should look like
when you take them off the grill or out from under the broiler.

     Peel and chop the eggplants. Peel and chop the peppers. Stir in all remaining ingredients.  (Do not delay adding the lemon juice, or the eggplant will turn a yucky brown.)

Friday, August 21, 2015

Raspberry Lemonade

     Most commercial lemonade is made with corn syrup. Like other bottled fruit juices, it can also contain yeast and/or mold.  Fortunately, lemonade is very easy to make at home. If you happen to have some raspberries and aren't allergic to them, you can easily add a distinct raspberry flavor to your lemonade and turn it a pretty pink.

     2 c. sugar (See Sugar in the Glossary)
     3/4 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice (See Juice in the Glossary)
     8 c. water
     1/4-1/3 c. raspberry juice*

     Stir all the ingredients together. Chill.

*The easiest way to make raspberry juice is to put raspberries through a juicer.  Alternatively, you can break down some raspberries by heating them briefly on the stove, let them cool, pour them into a bowl through a strainer lined with cloth, and wring the rest of the raspberry juice through the cloth. This method wastes less raspberry juice than the juicer.

Corn-Free Vanilla Extract

This vanilla extract has steeped for several months.
You can see that the vanilla beans have turned
 the vodka quite dark.
     Vanilla extract, like extracts generally, is about a third alcohol. This is because alcohol is an excellent solvent for leeching tasty molecules out of plants. Because of the subsidy on corn in this country, the alcohol in an extract is likely to have been made from corn. Fortunately, it is very simple to make your own corn-free vanilla extract using vodka.  

     Not all vodka is made from potatotes.  A lot of it is “grain alcohol,” and there’s no way to be sure what grain they’re using. Look for potato vodka. 

     Even if you’re allergic to alcohol, you can flavor desserts with vanilla. Keeping a vanilla bean in your sugar canister works surprisingly well, but you will probably need to keep two sugar canisters: you probably don’t always want vanilla sugar in your green tea or your BBQ sauce. Alternatively, you can simply slit a vanilla bean open and scoop a small bit of the soft interior into pudding base or cake batter in place of vanilla extract. Stir it in thoroughly.

     8 vanilla beans, split lengthwise and cut into 1/2" chunks
     750-mL bottle of potato vodka

     Drop the cut vanilla beans into the bottle of vodka.  Let the mixture steep for at least a couple of months, giving it a shake once in a while.