What an experience to be reading about the backgrounds of the 50 Women Game Changers highlighted on the Gourmet Live Blog. And trying their recipes…I don’t know who’s enjoying it more, my family or me? The boys get to eat the results of my education and they really are enjoying it! This week 25, Mary at One Perfect Bite and we other gals are blogging about Paula Wolfert, the Mediterranean recipe queen. Mmm… those flavors.
In case you don’t know who Paula Wolfert is, she is the guru of Mediterranean cuisine. She has nine published cookbooks; the most recent are The Food of Morocco, Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking, and The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen. Paula has won several prestigious awards: the James Beard Award, The Julia Child Award, and the M.F.K. Fisher award among others. The road that brought Paula to the point where she is now started quite some years ago when she walked into a cooking shop and she saw a beautiful piece of pottery. It was a tangine used for cooking tripe, she didn’t know that then, but she loved the pot and had to have it. Later Paula lived in Moracco where she learned a phenominal amount about cooking with clay pots. Since then Paula has been unshakeable in her quest for learning more about Mediterranean food and cookery. Nowadays you can find her on facebook.
I’ve chosen Paula’s recipe for Mediterranean caviar (courtesy Paula-Wolfert.com), or samfaina as it’s properly called in Cataluña. In Spanish, samfaina is pisto and both samfaina and pisto variations of ratatouille. Paula noted that Josef Pla, a Catalan food commentator, calls it “a dish of optimism” because, as Paula paraphrases Pla, in autumn when the vegetables at their perfection, the dish can become a great thing. That’s what I hope to cook up in my kitchen, something wonderful and great! Last summer while I was in Spain I ate salt cod in cooked with peppers and it was truly wonderful, so when I saw her recipe I knew that was the one for this week. It’s a healthy food choice and it’s delicious!
Cooking Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes
Yield: 1 1/2 cups
Servings: 7 1/2 cup servings
1 eggplant (1 1/4 pounds) firm, smooth-skinned
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced thin
1 large, fleshy sweet red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into small squares
1 small green bell pepper, cored, stemmed, seeded, and cut into small cubes
1 medium tomato, peeled, seeded, and chopped, or 1/2 cup drained canned plum tomatoes, seeds discarded
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 flat anchovy fillets, drained and crushed with a fork (optional)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Procedure: Pre-heat the over to 425°
1) Prick the eggplant; brush it with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and place it in a baking dish. Bake 40 minutes, turning midway. Place the peppers (red and green) in a baking dish and set in the oven to bake for 20 minutes, stirring them midway, too.
2) Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over low heat in a heavy skillet; add the onion and 3 tablespoons of water, and cook, stirring, for 10 minutes. Add the tomato and cook until very thick, about 5 minutes. Add the baked peppers and the garlic, and cook over a low heat, stirring, until the mixture thickens, about 10 minutes. Fold in the anchovies and cook 1 to 2 minutes. Leave the mixture in the skillet off the heat.
3) Remove the eggplant when it is completely soft and the skin is blistery. Scrape the flesh from the skin (this is very easy if you first split the cooked eggplant lengthwise while still hot, then allow it to cool for 10 minutes under a kitchen towel). Discard any hard seeds and the skin. (See note.)
4) On a wooden work surface, mash the eggplant with a wooden spoon until smooth. At the same, time work in the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the eggplant, salt, and pepper to the other vegetables. Fry, constantly stirring, until all the liquid evaporates and there are only oil and vegetables left, about 15 minutes. Stir carefully to avoid scorching but be sure to allow the mixture to become somewhat dark in color. Season to taste. Cool, cover, and refrigerate the mixture until you are ready to serve. Return it to room temperature before serving.
Note to the Cook: However carefully you select them, some eggplants will be extremely bitter. After scraping off the baked skin, taste the flesh; and if necessary squeeze the warm pulp through the fingers to remove the bitter juices.
*Tip – You may want to double the recipe to have leftovers.
Check out what delicious recipes these other bloggers have come up with:
Val – More Than Burnt Toast, Joanne – Eats Well With Others, Taryn – Have Kitchen Will Feed, Susan – The Spice Garden, Claudia - A Seasonal Cook in Turkey, Heather - girlichef, Miranda – Mangoes and Chutney, Jeanette – Healthy Living, April – Abby Sweet , Katie -Making Michael Pollan Proud, Mary – One Perfect Bite, Kathleen -Bake Away with Me Viola - The Life is Good Kitchen, Sue – The View from Great Island, Barbara – Movable Feasts, Kathleen – Gonna Want Seconds, Amy – Beloved Green, Linda - Ciao Chow Linda, Linda A - There and Back Again Martha – Lines from Linderhof, Nancy – Picadillo, Mireya - My Healthy Eating Habits, Veronica – My Catholic Kitchen, Annie – Most Lovely Things