getting my groove back

26 Sep

I have been in a bit of a cooking funk.  Do you ever have that?

I go through these phases every now and again where I just am not interested in cooking…at least anything that requires effort.

I think this funk was brought on by the following reasons:

1. It’s been hot

2. I’ve been very busy at work

3. I had a vacation happen

4. Lack of interest

I’ve been in this funk for a few weeks. I’m lucky that Brette doesn’t mind picking up the slack when I start dreading my favorite hobby. He has no problem cooking for the both of us or just fending for himself.

I think though I’ve finally snapped out of it.  I’ve made a actual meal two nights in a row and both of them required a few steps and I enjoyed it both times. I think I’m starting to remember my love of the kitchen.

My mojo has returned.

Getting my groove back happened for one basic reason: a craving. I really wanted a good burger. I’d been craving one for the past week and I could not deny that craving anymore. I decided on elk burgers (did I mention we just bought a 1/4 elk?) stuffed and topped with blue cheese. I served them on a Baker’s Wife dollar bun with chipotle ketchup and grilled onions. It was everything I needed it to be. I served it along side roasted brussels sprouts and baked potato “chips”.

The next day I was compelled again to make a meal and have some fun with it. I had an eggplant and a big tomato to use so I went with an eggplant and tomato tart and an arugula salad.  It did take a little time to go through all the steps, but it was worth it. Brette’s enjoying it for dessert right now.

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Eggplant and Tomato Tart

Adapted from Cooking Light

Note: the dough was very crumbly and I had to really work it together. It gets better after its chilled, but it’s important to roll it out between plastic wrap. It is so much easier.

Crust:

  • 1  cup  all-purpose flour
  • 1  tablespoon  ground flax seed (wheat germ would work too)
  • 1  teaspoon  baking powder
  • 1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  cup  water
  • 1  tablespoon  olive oil
  • Cooking spray
  • Filling
  • 1  (1-pound) eggplant, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 3/4  teaspoon  salt, divided
  • 1/2  teaspoon  olive oil
  • 4  garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1  tablespoon  chopped fresh basil
  • 1 1/2  teaspoons  chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 1/2  teaspoons  chopped fresh mint
  • 1 large tomato or 2 smaller ones, sliced and patted dry with a paper towel
  • 1/2  cup  (2 ounces) shredded monteray jack cheese (or mozzarella or smoked mozarella)
  • 2  tablespoons  grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400°.

To prepare crust, combine flour and next 4 ingredients (flour through 1/4 teaspoon salt) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk; make a well in center of mixture. Add water and 1 tablespoon oil, stirring to form a soft dough. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead lightly 4 times. Gently press dough into a 4-inch circle on plastic wrap; cover and chill 15 minutes.

Slightly overlap 2 sheets of plastic wrap on a slightly damp surface. Unwrap dough, and place chilled dough on plastic wrap. Cover with 2 additional sheets of overlapping plastic wrap. Roll dough, still covered, into an 11-inch circle. Remove top sheets of plastic wrap. Fit dough, plastic-wrap side up, into a 10-inch round removable-bottom tart pan coated with cooking spray. Remove remaining plastic wrap. Press dough against bottom and sides of pan. Pierce bottom and sides of dough with a fork; bake at 400° for 10 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.

To prepare filling, arrange eggplant on several layers of heavy-duty paper towels. Sprinkle eggplant with 1/2 teaspoon salt; let stand 15 minutes. Pat dry with paper towels; brush eggplant with 1/2 teaspoon oil. Arrange eggplant in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes. Stack eggplant slices on a plate; cover with plastic wrap. Let eggplant stand 7 minutes to steam.

Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Add garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt, basil, oregano, mint, and tomatoes.

Sprinkle 2 tablespoons  jack cheese on bottom of baked crust. Layer eggplant and tomato mixture in crust; sprinkle with 6 tablespoons jack cheese and Parmesan. Bake at 400° for 10 minutes or until cheese melts. Cut into wedges and serve.

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