BaltimOregon to Maine

Locavore Cooking with Southern Efficiency and Northern Charm

Posts Tagged ‘eggplant

Awesome End-of-Season Avjar (Roasted Red Pepper and Eggplant Dip)

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Sweet peppers and eggplant roasting on my gas burners.


For weeks, I’ve been meaning to post this delicious recipe for tangy, smokey avjar, the Balkan roasted red pepper and eggplant dip that’s known as “Serbian salsa.” At least we still have some local peppers and eggplants at markets here, thanks to an unusually late summer harvest that was otherwise miserable for farmers.

Avjar: The tangy, smokey finished product, all blended up.

I first encountered the spread at Ziba’s Pitas, a favorite (and the only) Bosnian food cart in Southwest Portland. Unfortunately, apparently she uses the jarred version. Hey, at least Ziba makes her own dough for the flaky, stuffed pitas.

Reading about Vanessa Barrington’s new D.I.Y. Delicious cookbook inspired me to make the dip (scroll down for the recipe). It’s easy to roast the peppers and eggplant on your stove-top if they are powered by gas. Of course, roasting does make a bit of a charred mess on the burners that your husband may complain about later. But avjar is worth it. Feel free to adjust the ratio of red pepper to eggplant in the recipe. I like mine more red peppery (sweeter) than I made it last time, and I see some recipes, like the Julia Mitric’s one for NPR, call for more peppers. And don’t worry about not having Aleppo pepper. I’m pleased with the results I’ve gotten using regular paprika. Then there are recommended ways to preserve avjar, like they do in the old country. But I’m not sure how the food safety behind this approach would check out. I decided to just freeze some (that hadn’t been cooked to death first)  instead.

Avjar is a great appetizer spread to put out, perhaps alongside some homemade hummus, when you have people over. I love it slathered on crusty French bread and topped with a crumble of goat cheese or feta for creamy contrast. I’ve also been known to eat it by the spoonful right out of the bowl.

I like it served as brushetta, on toasted French bread, with a little crumbled feta on top.

Thank you, Mrs. Eggplant Head!

Written by baltimoregon

November 5, 2010 at 6:33 pm

Diva Cukes and Sun Gold Cherry Tomatoes

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Sweet Sun Golds are finally ripe.



Raw dinner of rice wine vinegar- and-sesame oil-marinated cukes and cherry tomatoes bathed in olive oil, garlic and basil and tossed over pasta.


Maybe I should only try to blog during the academic term, and then I wouldn’t leave my readers hanging come summer. Believe me, I so wanted to blog these past few weeks, and have the pictures and notebooks full of musings to prove it. But the Great Firewall of China wouldn’t let me. and Facebook are blocked; though news sites such as NPR and the New York Times (which was in 2000) now aren’t. How I now treasure the freedom to troll the Web at leisure.


My first eggplants.



My first peppers, too.



One delicate zucchini. When more come, I'll turn to these recipes.


It’s refreshing to come home to garden-fresh veggies after two weeks of slurping down greasy sauces and fatty pork belly. Thanks our dear accupunturess friend, our tomatoes, eggplant, beans, cukes, zucchini and herbs remained watered in our absence. So today, orange Sun Gold cherry tomatoes, Diva and slicing cucumbers, some small strawberries, basil, tarragon, some baby eggplant and gone-to-seed fennel welcomed us home. Sweet, raw goodness. For a light dinner, I marinated the cherry and yellow pear tomatoes in olive oil, garlic, basil, tarragon and salt and pepper. I shaved in a delicate zucchini and small green pepper (also from the garden) for good measure. Then we served this raw sauce over pasta. To ease the transition back from Asia, I quick-pickled the cukes with seasoned rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, red onion, garlic and a tad of salty ume plum vinegar. Dan was tired of those flavors. But somehow they still had some lingering appeal for me.

Written by baltimoregon

August 30, 2010 at 12:28 am

Purple Things

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Rajasthani Eggplant from Vij in Vancouver

Rajasthani Eggplant from Vij in Vancouver

Ripening pinot noir at WillaKenzie.

Ripening pinot noir at WillaKenzie.

Everything’s coming up purple these days. Eggplants. Blackberries. Plums. Pinot Noir grapes. Of course you wouldn’t know it looking at the picture of my Rajasthani Eggplant (with some leftover ofkra) dish. This aromatic Indian stir-fry featured lots of enticing spices — black cardamom seeds, asofoetida, green mango (amchur) powder — but way too much ghee (clarified butter). I made a special trip to the local Indian store for these far-flung ingredients, to be paired with local eggplant and the last remaining red onion from the garden. I would recreate this dish, with less fat. Vij’s is Vancouver’s famous Indian restaurant that we didn’t get to. We were too busy with the unparalleled Japanese cuisine there. Vij must have a regular column in The Globe and Mail. See other eggplant curry recipes from him here and here (with papaya, oh-la-la).

Then there are purple beans from the garden sitting the fridge. I’m not sure pickled beans are my thing. But I’m still refining my process. Fermentation, rather that quick pickles with vinegar, is what’s currently captured my imagination. I’m brining just a quart jar of red cabbage with caraway and celery seeds. It smells funny after just a few days, but hopefully that’s natural. The white film on top of the pickles apparently is!

Purple beans (among others) from my garden.

Purple beans (among others) from my garden.

Purple cabbage kraut.

Purple cabbage kraut.

And the purple grapes are weighing down vines at wineries across the Willamette Valley. Dan’s colleague gave us his tickets to attend an open house at WillaKenzie Estate Winery in Yamill last week. Then the New York Times just so happened to name their wine the best value of Oregon’s pinot noirs (at @$27, it’s still not cheap!).

Other purple things? Italian plums to dry into prunes are plopping on the sidewalks here. I’ve borrowed the OSU extension service dehydrator to try some. Our next-door neighbors have a prolific tree whose fruit they shared last year. And purple fruit is even turning up in beers here. We finally sprang for the $7 Growler Sundays special at Block 15 and filled it up with, what else, boysenberry wheat beer.




Written by baltimoregon

September 4, 2009 at 12:36 am

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