Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Roasted Eggplant Salad

I love eggplants. I love them in moussakas, in lasagnas, in tempuras and most especially, roasted in a salad. This salad is very versatile. It can be served as a light appetizer, or as a side dish for anything barbeque'd. I love this salad when I eat my very Filipino meal of fried fish and rice. It adds a zing to the meal and wakens the appetite even more. Let me show you how I prepare this kind of salad.

2-3 oriental eggplants (long thin purple ones)
1/2 medium onion
1 large tomato
Bagoong (sauteed Filpino fermented shrimp)**

1. On a grill, roast the eggplants until the skin is nice and charred. You can also use the direct flame method (that I use) using a metal rack placed on top of your stove and roast the eggplants directly over the flame. You can also use an oven but you won't get that charring effect on the skin and the taste is slightly different. Remember to pierce the skin with a skewer or a fork all over. You don't want it exploding on you while you are grilling or roasting it. (It happened to me and the results were not pretty. Pretty much my kitchen was sprayed with eggplant innards).

2. When the skin of the eggplants are nicely charred and cooked, pop them in a paper bag and let them sit on the counter for 5-10 minutes. The steam from the cooked inner meat of the eggplant will soften the charred skin and make it easy to slip it off. Take the eggplant out and gently rub the charred skin away. Chop or dice the eggplant in small squares and put in a mixing bowl.

3. Roughly dice or chop the onion and tomatoes and add to the mixing bowl. Toss all the ingredients together. Add a tablespoon of bagoong and toss again. Serve as a side dish to your meal.

**If you don't have bagoong, use other fermented shrimp pastes as a substitute.

Roast Thyme Pork Loin - A Family Favorite

My family is a family of meat eaters. My boys and my hubby always crave for a good portion of meat with a starchy side dish (rice, potatoes, bread, etc.). One of the perennial family favorite is my Roast Pork Loin redolent with Thyme. I don't marinate the loin, I dry rub it. 

Marinate is when you soak the meat in a liquid-type mixture of sauces, condiments and spices. Dry-rub is different. You basically take your meat, rub it with whatever spice powder, herb mixture, flavored salt, etc. that you have and let it sit for a while. The best time is 1 hour. But in my case when my days are busy and my men are hungry, I just rub my herbs and powders on and then pop it in the oven.

Here's my go-to mixture of dry rub:

Onion powder
Garlic powder
Lawry's seasoned salt (*if you don't have this, substitute with your choice of flavored salt)**
Dried thyme leaves

1. Put your pork loin on a big platter and pat it dry with a paper towel or a clean dish rag.
2. Sprinkle onion powder evenly to coat all the surface of the loin.
3. Do the same with the rest of the ingredients.
4. Once the meat is thoroughly covered, let it sit for an hour (optional).
5. Heat your oven to 220 degrees Celsius and pop the meat in and cook for about 50 minutes to an hour (depending on the size and thickness of the meat).
6. The roast is done when the surface of the meat is evenly browned and the juices run clear when the loin is pierced with a fork.
7. Take it out of the oven and let it rest for about 5-7 minutes. This will allow juices to come out (for gravy or for drizzling over the starchy accompaniment).
8. Slice and serve the roast.

**(if you don't have flavored salt, just use salt and pepper).