Three buxom broads called to me from their perch Saturday morning, to lure me in. “Come closer, my friend, you should take us home. You could do magic with us.”
That was enough for me. I handed over my dollar and the three, plump, silky purple beauties were mine. It is eggplant season in Minnesota and I couldn’t resist a come on like that and they were right, we have made magic this week.
There is something called kitchen magic which I think most people who love cooking understand, even if they haven’t ever verbalized it. It is a little different for every cook. I have a friend who describes his kitchen magic as losing himself in a dinner rush and being incredibly happy and totally satisfied with the single-mindedness that jamming out batches of good food with no other head distractions can provide. Magic is also found gliding through hours, coaxing mediocrity out of a single green pepper with garlic and the perfect amount of curry in a bacon fat laced long, soft, cast iron heat. All to propel an egg sandwich to the divine. That is magic.
My kitchen magic comes on random nights of the week, usually when I don’t have kids, when I can lose myself in the smells, taste, touch, sight and sound of a food story being created. I stretch from my normal cooking place these nights and eating is never the end game. For me it is more about the process and building the flavors and how the ingredients mingle and trying new techniques and also about clear headed, totally focused work. That is my magic.
My purple girls have provide magic this week. A classic eggplant parm, baba ghanoush and a terrible salad that I had to toss. Use any baba recipe you can find and monkey with it. This time I added ground caraway, cumin, paprika, lemon zest and tripled the garlic and roasted it. It would make the baba ghanoush sheriffs reel. Serve it for an app or I have it often with crackers and veg on nights when I am not feeding my kiddos.
Simple Baba Ghanoush
1 large eggplant
4 tbsp tahini
1/4 c lemon juice
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
parsley for garnish
Wash the eggplant and throw it on the grill. Char all sides and then remove from the grill to let cool. Peel the skin and rinse the remaining skin off in cold water. Scoop the pulp into a food processor and add the remaining ingredients. Process until you have a smooth dip. Add any other seasonings you wish in small amounts. They intensify as the baba sits in your fridge.