Saturday, April 19, 2008

Some Tidbits

It's not like I haven't been out to dinner lately... I just haven't written about the experiences. I did actually cook last week.

Three friends had birthdays within a week of each other, so seven of us got together at Luca in Locust Point. We had a nice dinner there a few weeks ago, but the experience was ruined by some totally classless trashy drunk 20-something girl who had the most shriekingly loud voice.

We had the owner move us because the drunk was so distracting. They were very gracious to us and asked her to pipe down, which she didn't do. I fault them for not asking her to leave, since other patrons were complaining, and when we finished dinner and came back downstair, she was throwing back shooters. Yep... her mother would have been proud. As we say in my house, classy with a K.

Luca's doesn't have a website, but they're owned by the same family who owns Matthews on Eastern Avenue in Highlandtown. The restaurant is two levels, the bar and some tables on the first floor and a nice open second floor with lots of windows and tables. At the b-day dinner, we had the entire second floor to ourselves, luckily.

We started with a pesto and crab dip, which we polished off - and we ordered two servings! One of the birthday boys wanted his favourite drink, a Purple Mother, so we asked the waiter, and he obliged... after looking up the recipe on Google. Should you ever be foolish enough to think you might want to try one, here's the recipe. To my mind, it tasted like cough medicine.
Three bottles of wine later, and after some very nice entrees, none of which I can remember, including mine, it was time for the cake. I'd taken the afternoon off from work to make this, and the warm weather and kitchen took its toll on the buttercream icing. The cake was a plain white cake, and I made a double recipe so I would be able to have six layers. I cut each layer in half and spread raspberry jam on each layer. I used the buttercream recipe on the side of the Domino Sugars box. I did use Kerrygold butter for the icing. I became sadly addicted to Kerrygold in Wales, and I love being able to find it here.
I tinted the icing a pale yellow for the crumb layer and the main layer of icing. Then I added more red and yellow food colouring to make a deeper orange. I piped stars on in a circular pattern, making the icing darker as I got to the center.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Raspberry & Eggplant

Our lovely friend, and fellow Baltimore blogger and Food Show panelist, Roopa Kalyanaraman, aka Raspberry & Eggplant was mentioned in Mark Bittman's Minimalist column in the New York Times today! He even featured one of her recipes!

I generally don't read the Dining In/Dining Out section of the Times, but this article was about microwave cooking... Something made me read until the end, because that's where the mention was. Way to go, Roopa!

Here's Roopa's recipe for South Indian Eggplant Curry.
Time: 15 minutes

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon chickpea flour
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
Dash of asafetida
3 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
2 teaspoons tamarind paste
1 large or 2 medium eggplant
Chopped fresh cilantro leaves for garnish.

1. In a bowl, mix oil, chickpea flour, turmeric and asafetida. Heat on high for 90 seconds, stopping to stir halfway through. In another bowl, heat coconut on high for 90 seconds, stirring halfway through. Add coconut, ginger, salt and tamarind to chickpea mixture.

2. Rinse and dry eggplant, trim off ends, and cut into 1-inch slices. Score one side of each slice in several places. Spread and press spice mixture into gashes, then put eggplant into a dish. Partly cover (waxed paper works) and heat on high for 6 minutes. Uncover and cook on high for 2 or 3 minutes, until very soft. Garnish with cilantro. Serve hot or warm.

Yield: 4 or more servings.

image: ny times.