Baba Ganoush

I know the name sounds a bit strange but it is a wonderful tasting and very filling dip. Especially good with cut up raw vegetables or my favorite fresh pita bread*. So guess what I am making today?  Baba Ganoush. This is going to be lunch.  Joe and I have always talked about just having dessert first and forget about the lunch or dinner.  Well I say let’s have an appetizer for lunch and forget about the lunch!

So let’s talk eggplant, what a wonderful vegetable.  I make a delicious eggplant lasagna as well as a ratatouille recipe that I will post in the future. Both are excellent ways to use this very versatile veg.

Baba Ganoush

  • 1 large or 3 smaller fresh shiny eggplants
  • 1/2 head of garlic just cut the tops off to allow the oil to penetrate the cloves
  • 1 clove raw garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 1/2 cup tahini (sesame paste)
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala – it is a traditional Indian spice blend that usually includes cumin seeds, cinnamon, coriander seeds, black pepper, clove, nutmeg and chili.
  • Olive oil for baking the veggies and a few tablespoons for the top of the dip
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

img_3224First take your eggplants, wash them and cut them in half. In a small tin foil wrapper add half head of garlic and just trim the tops of the garlic to show the clove below. Place all on a cookie sheet that has been lined in tin foil, less to clean up. Sprinkle all with olive oil, add the oregano and bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes until soft.  Squeeze any excess olive oil from the garlic tin foil into your mixture, what a wonderful flavorful oil it has made.

In a large bowl spoon all the eggplant flesh and squeeze the bottom of the garlic head –  the cloves will just pop out and add them to the bowl.  Mash all together and add your tahini, lemon juice, garam masala, salt and pepper. Finely grate the one raw clove of garlic on top of the mixture. Mix well. It should be dip consistency, pretty thick with no big chunks of eggplant if it seems too thick add a little water until you get the right consistency.  Taste for seasoning add more salt if necessary. Refrigerate. Right before serving add your cilantro and mix well.  Serve with sliced vegetables, crackers or pita bread.

img_3245*Pita bread recipe can be found by searching for Pita Bread and Hummus above from my August 2016 post.

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Sauerkraut

Another one of my favorite ingredients, sauerkraut, is something you can not find canned here. I have seen it in specialty stores in Guayaquil for over $5 a large jar. So again I have taken it upon myself to make my own.

It is the easiest recipe of everything I have ever done because it has only two ingredients, fresh cabbage and sea salt. That’s it.

First thing I did was purchase a wonderful large enamel pot with a lid. Not easy to find and not cheap but I did find it in a small store in Bahia de Caraquez. It would also work with a crock or large glass container best if it had a cover but use your imagination to cover it. Do not use a plastic container, it could leach into your sauerkraut or vice versa. Clean the container and set aside.

IMG_2359Sauerkraut (this recipe will make 6-8 quart sized jars)

  • 2 large heads of cabbage, cleaned, core removed and quartered
  • 1/4 cup of course or sea salt

Shred your cabbage in a food processor using the disk that has only one large blade. This will cut your cabbage into nice thin strips just right for any sauerkraut dish. Place the cabbage in the processor cut side on the blade. If you do not have a food processor use a sharp knife and slice into thin strips. This of course will take some time. It is much easier with a food processor so if you do not have one ask one of your neighbors if you can use theirs.

With each batch of cabbage you remove from the food processor sprinkle a half teaspoon of sea salt over the shredded cabbage. Continue layering until you have used all the cabbage. Now is the time to get your hands into this and massage the cabbage to release some of it’s juices. Pack the cabbage tightly into the container. Using a plate upside down with a weight on top (I use my heavy mortar from my mortar and pestle to weight the cabbage down). Cover with the lid and clean dishtowel. Look at it after about 1 hour, thoroughly wash your hands and arms because you really need to get into this cabbage and massage it again – do this a few times over the next several hours. You should see a dramatic change in the packing down of the cabbage, it should wilt a bit and when pressed down will take less room in your container and you should start seeing liquid at the bottom. Press down hard with all your weight, I do this with the container on the floor to get more weight behind it.(none of you make a joke about the weight behind me). hee hee

Cover and set it in a cool place, out of the sun. I put it under my sink because every time I go to the sink which is 50 times I day I can smell the cabbage and pay more attention to it that way. Over the next 2 weeks, check the cabbage each day, if there is a foamy scum on top clean it off and repack the cabbage. After about 5 days taste the cabbage for a flavor change, it should start to taste like sauerkraut and not fresh cabbage. It should get limp and create a nice liquid, with a tart bite to it. If it tastes right to you at this point you should can. Always use clean, disinfected jars and lids. This is where I add a few sprinkles of caraway seeds – not necessary – just like that bit of flavor. Place in a canning jar water bath. Boil for 10-20 minutes, bring out and cover with a dry dishtowel. Over the next several hours you should hear the jars pop, the lids should be concave after several hours or the next day. If the lid is not concave place in the refrigerator and use within a few weeks.

Over the next month or so I will share some of my recipes that use this sauerkraut, I even have a recipe for a sauerkraut chocolate cake, yes you heard me right. .

 

Sal de Mar

The local salt that you buy at SuperMaxi or Hipermart contains fluoride.  I am not happy to have extra additives in our table salt and have searched for sea salt for ages.  In the meantime I have made my own by getting sea water and boiling it down until all you have left is salt. This is a time-consuming job and after boiling down 1 gal of sea water you get about 1 to 1 1/2 cups of salt.

A few days ago my neighbor Ivan was going into Charapoto and I hitched a ride looking for some good potting soil and DMSO at the local veterinarian store. I found that the veterinarian doctora had never heard of DMSO and the place where you can buy soil was closed. But on the way back to San Clemente I struck gold…sea salt. Our neighbors call it sal grueso or chunky salt.

San Clemente 4.24.2013 002

A huge bag looked to be 75 pounds was selling for $5. It will take us forever to use that much salt so I asked for two dollars worth and honestly it looks to be around 40 pounds.