Monday, January 16, 2017

9th & Coles and Sicilian Stye Eggplant Parmesan

It dawned on me the other day that it's been just over a year since I started the Meatless Monday event at 9th and Coles Tavern (Jersey City). Looking back, it was a fun idea that helped power through the doldrums of a cold NE winter and allowed me the opportunity to try working as a cook for the first time in many years.
Jersey City Vegetarian: fried goat cheese balls with Sambal mayo
Goat Cheese Balls
Good times, but in all honesty, it went on longer than it should have. The initial plan was to stop the event in the spring, but the thought of cooking farm fresh spring vegetables made the owner and I start thinking big(ger)-picture-farm-to-table-vegetarian-bar-thingy that was never really sorted out properly. Either way, I ended my participation about six months ago when I started editing journal articles again and realized balancing the two was impossible.
Since then, the tavern was sold and has reopened under new ownership (solid F&B veterans from what I hear). I plan on stopping in a for a beer soon to check it out. Best of luck to everyone involved, that place has miles of potential!
Celery Soup w Fried Brussels Sprouts
Personally, I am enjoying cooking for friends and family again and I welcome the occasional invite to cook for a party or special event; but, being a full-time chef is no longer in the cards for me.
I made the following eggplant parmesan recipe for my family, drummer, and guitar player who were recently over one night for a basement recording session.
Start off by peeling the eggplant and slicing it as close to 1/4" as possible. Then, salt the slices and let sit for 1/2 hour to extract the internal water. Pat dry, lightly dredge in egg, flour or breadcrumb, fry, and let the slices rest on a paper towel. (Keep in mind that these are going to go into the oven, so you definitely don't want to overcook.) When the slices are room temp, begin layering: sauce (I will post a recipe for an awesome, simple tomato sauce soon), eggplant, cheese; sauce, eggplant, cheese... When you've used up all the eggplant and are to the rim of the pan, cover and let sit for a 1/2 hour; then bake in the oven at 350° for 25 minutes. Remove cover and bake for another 15 minutes in order to crisp up the top layer of cheese. Let sit for 10 minutes, slice, and serve with a little sauce on the plate and a well-seasoned arugula salad.
Jersey City Vegetarian: tray of eggplant parmJersey City Vegetarian: eggplant parmJersey City Vegetarian: eggplant parm serving