Sunday, May 27, 2012

Social Fail

When I started blogging, for some reason I had to hide who I was. Maybe it was the fear of internet stalkers (which hasn't happened; everyone I've met from my blog has been super nice), or identity theft (also not happened, although on days when the kids are constantly arguing, I'd be willing to give it a go), or judgement. Probably mostly the latter. Although you might not know it from reading my blog, I'm actually quite a shy person. Meeting new people is always awkward and painful. 

I often feel like I was in the wrong line when people were being given the rules of proper social behavior. I was probably in the line for "how to make really weird faces at yourself in the mirror" or "how to start 102 brilliant projects and never finish them." When I'm at a party it seems like everyone else studied the party handbook beforehand and magically knows smooth, witty, and appropriate things to say. I, not having the handbook, stand in a corner wishing there was a dog to pet until forced to talk to someone. Then my mind goes blank, my palms sweat, and I wish desperately for cue cards to tell me what to say.

Even though I'm terrible at meeting new people, Jesus keeps sending me people who are kind, tolerant of my lack of social skills, and willing to befriend me. And the great thing is that they aren't just like me. It would be comfortable, but very dull, if all of my friends were clones of me. Instead, I've met ladies who are great at organizing, wonderful at interior design, fabulous gardeners, amazing encouragers, wise teachers, and absolutely bedrock, steadfast, loyal friends.

The sad thing for me is that a lot of these friends live far away. Some in different time zones. One even lives on a different continent. Talk about not convenient for girls' night out!

I have a dream that all of my favorite people could live within 10 minutes of my house. Then I could have baking dates on a moment's notice, and there would always be someone able to come over and watch a movie and drink wine with me, plus I could have a party and not break out in hives.

If the party was a dinner party, this is what I'd make. Eggplant parmesan. It's amazing. My family was unsure about eggplant. It wasn't something I'd ever made with success before, but this recipe is fabulous. When I showed a friend recently how to make it, since it's her husband's favorite, the report came back that he loved it and said it was the best he'd ever had!

I think, since my friends are so spread out, this will have to be a virtual dinner party. You're invited! If you'd like to come to my party, let me know in the comments section. To go with the eggplant parmesan, we'll need some bread, salad, appetizers, beverages, and, of course, dessert. Tell me what you're bringing and give a link, please, if it's something you've blogged.

Eggplant Parmesan
 - adapted from The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook

3 cups Tomato Sauce (recipe below)
1-1/2 lbs eggplant
1-1/2 cups almond meal
1 tsp sea salt
2 large eggs
2 Tbsp water
Olive oil
2 cups freshly grated mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1- Make Tomato sauce and set it aside. Pour 1 cup of sauce into the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking dish, spreading it evenly.

2- Preheat the oven to 350 deg. F. with a rack in the center of the oven.

3- Remove the skin from the eggplant. A paring knife or a vegetable peeler work equally well for this. If you don't have texture issues with the skin, you can skip this step.

4- Cut the eggplant into 1/4-inch thick slices. Making the slices the same thickness is important, so they will cook evenly.

5- In a broad, low bowl, combine the almond meal and salt.  In another bowl, combine whisk together the eggs and water. Place a large skillet (I used my cast-iron skillet) over medium-high heat.

6- Dip the eggplant slices in the egg mixture, then into the almond meal mixture, coating it evenly.

7- Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in the pan. When it's hot enough that a little almond meal dropped in the oil makes bubbles, place the coated eggplant slices in the pan. Cook for 3-5 minutes  until the bottom is golden brown, then flip them over and cook another 3-5 minutes.

8- Remove the cooked slices from the pan and place them in a layer in the bottom of 9 x 13-inch pan.

9- Continue cooking batches of the eggplant slices, adding more olive oil as needed. When you have about half of the slices in the baking pan, cover that layer with 1 cup of the Tomato Sauce and sprinkle 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese over that.

10- Continue cooking the eggplant slices and placing them in the pan. When all of the remaining slices are in the pan, cover that with the remaining sauce and mozzarella.

11- Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the edges are bubbling. Remove from the oven and top with grated Parmesan cheese before serving.

Tomato Sauce
  - makes 3 cups

14 oz tomato paste
2 cups water
1 Tbsp herbes de Provence (do not skip this ingredient! It makes the dish!)
1 Tbsp sea salt
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp minced garlic

1- Combine all of the ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the sauce is slightly thicker. (It will spatter a lot while it simmers, so if you have a spatter screen, now is the time to use it. Unless you enjoy having your kitchen look like a crime scene.)


Bruce Craig said...

I'm always there for your parties. Wine bottle in one hand, your sweaty palm in the other. I think... red wine with this. A good Cabernet perhaps.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Ok Bruce has the wine ... can I bring the bread. Let's see we'll need something very special for that young man and then I can go wild with all sorts of breads and sticks and flat crackers and a little bruchetta ah yes let me bring bruchetta!!
Sweaty palms haha, we'll show um.

Anonymous said...

nice idea.. thanks for sharing.

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

You will find me sitting in the other corner waiting for someone to come and talk to me Lynn. I am glad that w e have met and we can share the salad with Balsamic Dressing I am bringing to your virtual party. We have bread, bruschetta, wine and this delicious eggplant.

Elizabeth said...

Yes, please, we'd love to come to your party, Lynn. I too am a "wait until someone comes to talk to me" and often go into the kitchen to wash dishes, lettuce, spinach, glasses... just so it looks like I know what I'm doing.

I'll bring grilled Asparagus and grape tomatoes. They're great just off the grill but they're also very good at room temperature. And I suspect that my husband will want to bring his latest favourite flavour of ice cream

Carole said...

I'm ALL for the party!! I'll bring Gruyère cheese to go with Bruce's Red Cab!

Barbara said...

I'd love to come to your party! I'm going to bring a delicious brie with some crackers...nice and soft and ready to spread!

Karen Baking Soda said...

I'm coming! Or.. maybe the invitations wasn't for me? (see that's my social hickup, i always think people don't want me there) And Tanna is already bringing bread? Hmm, I'll bring cute little tomato tartelettes then. No wait.. lime crab quiches anyone?

Marissa said...

Okay, I just discovered your blog through Pinterest and I think you're totally cool. :) I love the personal stories that accompany your recipes. So many food blogs have such a fake tone, like the writer is trying to be cool and/or Ree Drummond's clone; but I appreciate your authentic voice. :) Subscribing!

grace said...

i still communicate using an alias--i think i don't want people who actually know me to make the connection. :)
GREAT recipe--it's the most unique batch of eggplant parmesan i've seen and craved.

hobby baker Kelly said...

Always love your posts! I have never had the privilege of trying eggplant parm, if you can believe that. My folks grow beautiful little aubergines every year, mine never set fruit. :( Mom usually makes ratatouille with hers. I keep looking for more good meatless recipes to stretch the food budget, so I think I will have to try this. Looks fabulous!

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Bruce - How would I survive parties without you? Yes, please, to the cab. <3

Tanna - I knew I could count on you for bread! Yummmm.

Bellini - I'm so glad we've met! It's easy to share a corner with you. Thanks for bringing the salad.

Elizabeth - The ice cream does look a little suspicious, but I trust that it's delicious. And asparagus? Delightful! And thanks for the help with the dishes.

Carole - so glad you're coming. Of course we need cheese to go with that wine!

Barbara - brie and crackers? Heaven!

Baking Soda - Of course I want you to come!!! And that's a definite yes on the lime crab quiches!

Marissa - Thanks you so much for the sweet comment. I try to be me, because everyone else is already taken. :-)

Grace - Incognito or not, I definitely want you to come. Are you bringing dessert?

Hobby Baker - Thanks!

Melinda said...

First of all, I love Aubergine Parmesan, as it is called here. More exotic sounding than eggplant, don't you think?.
What would I bring to your meal...I suppose I will bring the unhealthy hazelnut, chocolate and pear torte to have with coffee and tea as we sit around laughing and talking and enjoying each other's company, post dinner!( Am I one of your friends that is on a different continent? I hope that is me!!)

Susie said...

Well I am a first timer here, and I would love to come to your party. I am one of those gregarious and outgoing people, but I gravitate toward anyone who knows anything about is my favorite subject and I work all my jobs around it in some way. I would snub Kate Middleton to chat with a student at the CIA! I'll bring sugar cookies, we can discuss a theme...

Anonymous said...

I'm from Bolivia in Southamerica, I'm a big fan of you, I really love your blog and recipes.
Now I realize that we are alike, I'm not very social either, but I have learned that sometimes it is better.
I love eggplant too, thank you.

Shawna said...

From the friend who's husband loved it - the whole family (even the picky eater!) has requested it again! I am using the same breading part of the recipe to make chicken nuggets and chicken parmesan also. Thanks Lynn!!!

Shelly said...

I'm in! I'll bring a Browned Butter and Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake
I think it will travel nicely from Tunisia. We haven't met but I'd love to one day. I'm in Seattle for the summer, we can sit in a coffee shop and be awkward together:)

Elle said...

Hope I haven't missed the whole party but I'll bring a nice chocolate port to go with the chocolate hazelnut cake...and the cookies and after dinner coffee. I'm still shy deep down but I pretend to not be, which works some of the time. With lovely people like you Lynn I don't even have to pretend.