Archive | December, 2009


11 Dec


The Canadian Press

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Heinz Canada are warning the public that Heinz Mixed Cereal for babies should not be consumed.

They say the product — Heinz Mixed Cereal, a Baby Cereal, Stage 2, From 6 Months, in the 227 gram package — may contain elevated levels of ochratoxin A and is being recalled.

Ochratoxin A is a mycotoxin produced by some fungi that can grow in certain food crops such as grains, grapes and coffee beans, and is classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a possible human carcinogen.

The affected product has best-before date codes of BB/MA 10 DE 26 and BB/MA 10 DE 29.

The product has been distributed nationally, but there have been no reported illnesses.

The CFIA says the cereal shouldn’t be eaten — but if it has, there is no need for other actions, since even the highest levels of ochratoxin A found in these products are not high enough to pose a health risk when consumed as part of a normal diet over the short term.

Eggplants are good for you

11 Dec

Eggplants are one of the night shade greens that is very delicious if you know how to cook it. Because of its fleshy nature it tends to soak up a lot of oil which can make a healthy food quite unhealty because of the amount of fat you have to put in the pan to get it to saute.

I have come across some shortcuts in the New York Times Magazine that will help you to by-pass that process and turn this meal into one you can share with company.

Roasted Eggplant

A roasted eggplant is fragrant and delicate, so no surprise that roasting is the first step in most of this week’s eggplant recipes. Large globe eggplants require from 20 to 25 minutes to cook, depending on how plump they are. Small narrow eggplants, such as Japanese eggplants, take about 15 minutes.

If you need for the eggplant to hold its shape, roast it for a shorter time, until you see the skin beginning to wrinkle.

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Cut the stem and calyx off the eggplant, and cut the body lengthwise in half. Score large eggplants down the middle with the tip of a knife, being careful not to cut through the skin. Japanese eggplants and other small eggplants need not be scored.

Cover a baking sheet with foil, and brush the foil with extra virgin olive oil. Place the eggplant on the foil, cut side down. Place in the oven and roast large, fat eggplants for 20 to 25 minutes, depending on the size; small, narrow Japanese eggplants (and other varieties) should be roasted for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven when skin has begun to shrivel, the edges and cut surface are browned, and the eggplant has softened but not collapsed. Remove from the oven, and use a spatula to detach from the foil if the eggplant is sticking. (If a thin surface of browned eggplant stays behind, don’t worry.) Place the eggplant halves cut side down on a rack set over a baking sheet, or in a colander. Allow to cool and drain for 15 to 30 minutes.

Advance preparation: You can roast eggplant several hours before you use it in a recipe.

2 pounds eggplant, preferably Japanese eggplants

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

1 tablespoon seasoned rice wine vinegar

1 small garlic clove, minced

1 to 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger (to taste)

1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil or walnut oil

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Pinch of cayenne or red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon chopped chives or cilantro

Optional: 1 small serrano chile, seeded if desired and minced

1 bag baby arugula, washed and dried, for serving

1 small red bell pepper, cut in thin slices, for garnish (optional)

1. If you can find Japanese eggplant, cut them in half lengthwise, then cut into pieces that will fit into your steamer. If using large globe eggplants, cut them lengthwise into quarters. Place in a steamer and steam 10 to 15 minutes, until thoroughly tender and you can cut through with the tip of a knife with no resistance. You will probably have to do this in 2 batches.

2. Meanwhile, make the dressing. Whisk together the lime juice, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger, sesame or walnut oil, olive oil, and cayenne or red pepper flakes. Set aside.

3. When the eggplant is tender, use tongs to remove it from the steamer, and transfer to a cutting board. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then cut into 1-inch wide slices. Season with salt and pepper and while still warm, toss with the dressing and the optional minced chile. Refrigerate for 1 hour or longer.

4. Remove from the refrigerator and gently toss with the chives or cilantro. Arrange the arugula on a platter and top with the eggplant. Garnish with the optional red pepper slices.

Yield: Serves 6

Advance preparation: You can make this through Step 3 several hours ahead of serving.

September 2, 2008


Eggplant and Tomato Gratin


This is a delicious, low-fat version of eggplant Parmesan. Instead of breaded, fried eggplant, though, the eggplant in this dish is roasted and sliced, layered with a rich tomato sauce and freshly grated Parmesan, and baked in a hot oven until bubbly.

For the tomato sauce:

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 small or 1/2 medium onion, chopped

2 to 4 garlic cloves (to taste)

2 pounds fresh tomatoes, quartered if you have a food mill or else peeled, seeded and chopped; or 1 1/2 (28-ounce) cans chopped tomatoes, with juice

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1/8 teaspoon sugar

2 sprigs fresh basil

For the gratin:

2 pounds eggplant, roasted

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons slivered fresh basil leaves

2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan

1/4 cup bread crumbs

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1. Roast the eggplant.

2. Meanwhile, to make the tomato sauce, heat the olive oil in a large, heavy, preferably nonstick skillet over medium heat, and add the onion. Stir until tender, about five to eight minutes, then add the garlic. Stir until fragrant, about a minute, and add the tomatoes, salt (1/2 to 1 teaspoon), pepper, sugar and basil sprigs. Turn the heat up to medium-high. When the tomatoes are bubbling, stir well and then turn the heat back to medium. Stir often, until the tomatoes have cooked down and are beginning to stick to the pan, about 25 minutes. Remove the basil sprigs.

3. If you did not peel the tomatoes, put the sauce through the fine blade of a food mill. If the tomatoes were peeled, pulse the sauce in a food processor fitted with the steel blade until coarsely pureed. Taste and adjust seasoning.

4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Set aside 1/4 cup of the Parmesan and mix with the bread crumbs. Oil the inside of a two-quart gratin or baking dish with olive oil. Spread 1/2 cup tomato sauce over the bottom of the dish. Slice the roasted eggplant about 1/4 inch thick, and set an even layer of slices over the tomato sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon a layer of sauce over the eggplant, and sprinkle with basil and Parmesan. Repeat the layers one or two more times, depending on the shape of your dish and the size of your eggplant slices, ending with a layer of sauce topped with the Parmesan and bread crumb mixture you set aside. Drizzle one tablespoon of olive oil over the top. Place in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until bubbling and browned on the top and edges. Remove from the heat and allow to sit for at least 10 minutes before serving. Serve hot, warm or room temperature.

Yield: Serves six

Advance preparation: The tomato sauce can be made up to three days ahead. The casserole can be assembled a day ahead, covered and refrigerated, then baked when you wish to serve it. Don’t add the last layer of bread crumbs and Parmesan, with the drizzle of olive oil, until right before you bake it.

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