Monday, October 6, 2008

Whole grain lemon pancakes with spiced peach sauce

Well, this was rather lovely. I used my trusty pancake recipe, but substituted spelt flour for the white flour, used a hint of lemon extract instead of vanilla, and omitted the blueberries. The texture was on the dry side, but quite nice when covered with luscious, steaming peach sauce. (If you're not a health food junkie like I am, just make the pancakes with white flour for a tender, fluffy, delicious result.)

The peach sauce was a nice use of the end-of-season local peaches, which were a little soft and not quite as flavorful as I had hoped they would be when they were fresh. They're positively stunning when cooked until their natural sugars are enhanced and accented with notes of cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves.

Spiced Peach Sauce

  • fresh peaches
  • green cardamom pods
  • whole cloves
  • stick of cinnamon
  • maple syrup
  • water
  • cornstarch
  1. Peel, pit, and slice the peaches, and place into a small pot. (I used about 5 small peaches, and didn't even bother peeling them.)
  2. Add spices (I used 4 whole cardamom pods, about 6 cloves, and a few little pieces of a stick of cinnamon.)
  3. Heat on a medium-high flame, stirring occasionally.
  4. In a small bowl, dissolve some cornstarch (about 1/2 a teaspoon or so) into a roughly equal amount of water, stirring until lumps disappear.
  5. When the peaches are at a desirably soft texture and adequately sweet (taste them!), add cornstarch mixture, bit by bit, stirring constantly, until the sauce is at a desirable thickness. Repeat if sauce is still too thin for your tastes.
  6. Add a dash of maple syrup to sweeten, if desired.
  7. Serve over pancakes (or, bathe in it, or invent other mischievous uses, once it's cooled a bit). Garnish with fresh mint and raspberries, if desired.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Eggplant Caviar on Homemade Rye Bread

Mmmm . . . There's nothing like a simple evening meal of fresh tomato, luscious brie, and flavorful eggplant caviar on homemade rye bread with a bit of red wine . . .


Notes: I found this gem in Alice Water's Chez Panisse Vegetables cookbook several years ago, and then found a way to "cheat" to make it even easier -- and a bit lower in fat. I'll tell you both ways to prepare it. It is an easy, flavorful, completely delicious vegetarian appetizer. I especially like to include it in a meze spread when sharing a meal with friends from Southern Europe. I also often make it up along with other salads and leave it in my fridge for part of an easy and delicious lunch.


  • 1 large globe eggplant
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • 2 shallots
  • balsamic or red wine vinegar (I always use organic balsamic vinegar, which I can tolerate despite a sulfite allergy)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley or cilantro (I tend to prefer parsley)
  • Grilled bread for serving (I particularly recommend homemade rye bread.)


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. ALICE'S VERSION: Peel the eggplant and cut into 1-inch cubes. Put the eggplant in a baking dish, season liberally with salt and pepper, and toss with a generous amount of olive oil. Sprinkle with a few tablespoons water, cover tightly, and bake in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until very soft. MY EASY VERSION: Wash and dry the eggplant, pierce it deeply a number of times through the skin with a fork, rub olive oil on the outside of it, and put it in a baking dish in the oven. Bake until very soft (for about an hour). Remove from oven, slice down the middle to let the steam escape, and let it cool until you can handle it without burning yourself. When you can handle it, scoop out the inside portion of the eggplant (leaving the skin behind) and mash it thoroughly with a fork.
  3. While the eggplant is baking, peel and dice the shallots very fine. Let them macerate for about 10 minutes in about 2 tablespoons of the vinegar. Peel and mash the garlic (you can use a garlic press if you like) and add it to the shallots and vinegar.
  4. When the eggplant is done, add it to the shallot and garlic mixture, mashing with a fork, and let it cool to room temperature.
  5. Stir in the chopped parsley or cilantro (or a combination of both) and adjust the seasoning. Add additional olive oil and vinegar to taste. Serve on grilled bread.
NOTE: Alice's version is undoubtedly the more flavorful one, but if you're pressed for time, baking the eggplant whole as I've described above is a suitable alternative.

Speaking of wine, by the way, I have a new favorite. For ages, Orleans Hill was the vineyard that made the most affordable wine I liked and could drink (I have a sulfite sensitivity), and Bonterra was far and away the best low-sulfite wine I'd ever tried, but its $13 pricetag was prohibitive. Well, now there's a Trader Joe's label Zinfandel that is really quite drinkable, and for $5.50, there's really no beating it out for the price. Hooray!

You may notice, the link above is to a review. Well, one of the reviews is by yours truly, but I also want to draw your attention to the community, called Cork'd, where you can establish your own account and keep track of your favorite wines, and wines you want to avoid, and connect with other wine-lovers. Looks great! I still remain a big fan of GroupRecipes, too, where I originally posted my eggplant caviar recipe. . .)