So I made a couple things for Kerrie's Bunco group on Saturday. The eggplant patties are a recipe my mother has perfected over the years and I am very happy to pass it on. The fresh tomato sauce recipe I grabbed from one of my favorite food blogs. They actually take pictures that look good and the food is pretty awesome as well. Mojitos, well I just kind of figured those out but I will try to put together a recipe.
First up the sauce. I followed the Smitten Kitchen recipe pretty closely. We have a food mill so if you read the note about food mills you can pick up what I did from there. The flavor is fantastic, and it freezes well so it won't be a fresh ripe tomato in December but it is pretty close. By only cooking it for 45 minutes or so you don't really finish the alchemy that takes place with an all-day sauce so it will be a great base for other things as the winter goes on.
The eggplant patties are really quite simple. In a nutshell they are meatballs with eggplant as a replacement for meat. The proportions on this one are really guesswork, most of it is to taste but here goes.
3 medium eggplant
2 cups unseasoned bread crumbs
1 cup Parmesan/Romano cheese
3 Tbsp dried basil
3 Tbsp dried oregano
vegetable oil for frying.
Peel and chop the eggplant into 1 inch cubes. Place all the eggplant in a steamer and steam until very soft. In my electric steamer it took about 20 minutes to steam it all. You want it to be soft enough so that if you press it with a fork, it mashes.
I like to press the eggplant into a colander to remove as much of the moisture as possible, then dump the mashed eggplant into a bowl and mix well with the breadcrumbs, cheese, basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Taste the mixture at this point for seasonings. It should be dry enough that you can form it into a patty that will hold its shape pretty well, but it should not be hard. Add one egg and mix well, if it is too soft to hold its shape then add more breadcrumbs and herbs. Set the mixture aside and heat up your biggest frying pan or electric skillet with enough vegetable oil on the bottom to form about 1/4 inch layer. Once the oil is hot carefully lay your patties into the oil and cook until golden brown on one side then flip and cook through. About 3 minutes per side or so. Set the cooked patties onto paper towels to drain.
This recipe made 25-30 patties. Serve warm with tomato sauce for dipping. These are moist enough to handle hanging in the oven for a while to keep warm if need be so you can make them up ahead an hour or so.
The mojitos I make by the pitcher. Making individual mojitos is a pain in the butt so I don't do it. But a pitcher makes it worthwhile. You will need
fresh mint leaves
First off a note about simple syrup, amazingly enough it is really simple. Mix equal parts water and sugar and heat to a boil, reduce the heat, simmer for a few minutes until the sugar is completely dissolved. I keep mine around in a squirt bottle and it keeps very nicely in the fridge.
For each pitcher I use 1 whole lime cut into small wedges, a dozen or so mint leaves, roughly chopped, 5? oz rum, perhaps 2-3 oz of simple syrup, more to taste, a tray of ice cubes and as much soda water as needed to fill the pitcher.
Put the limes and mint in the bottom of the pitcher and muddle it. Don't have a muddler? I don't either but the wooden food pusher thing for my kitchen aid grinder attachment works just fine. A mortar and pestle also works well. If you don't have any of those you can give it a quick buzz with a stick blender, just don't go crazy, you don't want a paste. Once your green stuff is muddled add the simple syrup, rum and ice. Pour in your soda water and stir. Taste it and add more booze, syrup, limes or mint as needed.
Yes you will wind up with pieces of mint in your drink. it won't hurt you.
Several people who had the eggplant patties remarked that it was either the first time they had eggplant, or the first time they have liked eggplant. That is the best possible praise in my book.