Homework #2A

Homework #2 from Brian Steffenson

This week’s home work assignment (#2) was to shop the produce section and buy two different types of produce you’ve never tried before or if you’ve tried them all, choose two different types you’d like to try using in different ways. We are tasked with producing at least three different meals with the two different types of produce.  I chose eggplant because I often have it in my garden late in the season and always draw a complete blank on what to do with it.  It often goes to waste or I give it away. The second produce item will be Brussels sprouts, an early enemy of my childhood, but one vegetable I would like to conquer and enjoy.  I actually grew this in my garden last year.

The dishes I have chose for eggplant are:

  • Eggplant parmesan
  • Stir fried shrimp with garlicky eggplant, scallions and cashews
  • Tunisian style grilled vegetables (Mechouia)

Eggplant Parmesan


Yield: Serves 12


  1. Marinara:
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • 1 head of garlic, cloves crushed
    • 1 large red onion, chopped
    • 3 oil-packed anchovy fillets (optional)
    • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
    • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
    • 1/4 cup dry white wine
    • 2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes
    • 1/4 cup torn basil leaves
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
    • Kosher salt
  2. Eggplant and assembly:
    • 4 pounds Italian eggplants (about 4 medium), peeled, sliced lengthwise 1/2–3/4 inch thick
    • Kosher salt
    • 3 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
    • 1 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
    • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 1/2 cups finely grated Parmesan, divided
    • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 5 large eggs, beaten to blend
    • 1 1/3 cups olive oil
    • 1/2 cup finely chopped basil and parsley, plus basil leaves for serving
    • 6 ounces low-moisture mozzarella, grated (about 1 1/3 cups)
    • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced


  1. Marinara:
    1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat oil in a large heavy ovenproof pot over medium. Cook garlic, stirring often, until golden, about 4 minutes. Add onion, anchovies (if using), and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring often, until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and cook, stirring often, until slightly darkened, about 2 minutes. Add wine, bring to a boil, and cook until almost completely evaporated, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, breaking up with your hands, and their juices; add basil and oregano and stir to combine. Swirl 1 1/2 cups water into one tomato can, then the other, to rinse, and add to pot; season with salt. Transfer pot to oven; roast sauce, stirring halfway through, until thick and tomatoes are browned on top and around edges of pot, 2–2 1/2 hours.
    2. Let sauce cool slightly. Pass through the large holes of a food mill or process in a food processor until mostly smooth. Taste and season with salt.
    1. Lightly season eggplant slices all over with salt; place in a single layer on several layers of paper towels inside a rimmed baking sheet. Top with another layer of paper towels and more slices; repeat as needed. Top with a final layer of paper towels, then another rimmed baking sheet; weigh down with a heavy pot. Let eggplant sit until it has released excess liquid, 45–60 minutes. This step gives the eggplant a creamy texture when baked.
    2. Meanwhile, pulse panko, oregano, pepper, and 3/4 cup Parmesan in a food processor until very finely ground. Transfer to a shallow bowl.
    3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place flour in another shallow bowl and eggs in a third shallow bowl. Working one at a time, dredge eggplant slices in flour, then dip in egg, allowing excess to drip off. Coat in breadcrumbs, packing all around, then shaking off excess. Place on wire racks.
    4. Heat 2/3 cup oil in a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high. Cook as many eggplant slices as will comfortably fit in pan, turning once, until deep golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towels and immediately press with more paper towel to absorb oil. Working in batches, repeat with remaining slices, adding remaining 2/3 cup oil and wiping out skillet as needed. Let cool. Taste and season with more salt if needed.
    5. Toss chopped herbs, low-moisture mozzarella, and remaining 3/4 cup Parmesan in a medium bowl. Spread 1 cup sauce over the bottom of a 13×9″ baking pan; top with a layer of eggplant slices (trim as needed). Drizzle 1 cup sauce over and sprinkle with one-third of cheese mixture. Add another layer of eggplant, followed by 1 cup sauce and half of remaining cheese mixture. Repeat layers with remaining slices, sauce, and cheese mixture. Cover with foil and bake on a rimmed baking sheet until eggplant is custardy, 45–60 minutes.
    6. Remove from oven and arrange fresh mozzarella over eggplant. Increase oven temperature to 425°F and bake, uncovered, until cheese is bubbling and browned in spots, 15–20 minutes longer. Let rest 30 minutes. Top with basil leaves just before slicing.
  2. Do Ahead
    1. Marinara can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill.
      Eggplant Parmesan can be made 2 days ahead. Let cool; cover with foil and chill. Reheat in a 350°F oven, uncovering halfway through, until bubbling gently at edges.

Comments: I violated the first task in preparing a dish: I did not sit down with a beverage and read through the entire recipe first!  My wife came home hungry and wanted to eat fairly soon. I was set on making this dish, but did not fully comprehend the preparation time!  I started around 5pm and we ate at 10:15!   This was an extremely laborious and time-consuming dish to make, needless to say.  It was however very delicious!  My wife raved about the flavor many times and had two helpings. I think it was really good and that she was not heaping praise on me to make me feel better.  Would I make this again? Yes, perhaps, but only if I divided the work load over two days and was cooking for very special friends.  We will have ample leftovers from the dish and I am sure they will be great, if not better than last night.



Stir-fried Shrimp with Garlicky Eggplant, Scallions, and Cashews

The second dish I selected was from The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook 2001-2017, page 465. It is “stir fried shrimp with garlicky eggplant, scallions, and cashews”. The recipe is attached as a pdf image.

Stir fry eggplant



Comments:  This was really delicious Asian inspired dish!  I have never really cooked shrimp in stir fry before. This was really a fairly easy meal to prepare with the accompanying rice.  I was surprised how quickly the eggplant became soft when cooked on high heat. This is in contrast to the Italian dish above which took a very long time to cook in the oven. A winner: 4.5 stars!


Tunisian-Style Grilled Vegetables (Mechouia)

I found this recipe in The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook 2001-2017 on page 566.

The recipe is attached.



Roasting vegetables on grill



The completed Mechouia

Comments. I thought I had all of the ingredients for this dish, but was missing one: mint, which I thought was just starting to grow in my garden.  Nevertheless, I proceeded with the rest of the recipe and it was really a grand dish that I will make again.  The vinaigrette was really great and easy to make.  Roasting vegetables was a snap.  Then, one must mixes the vinaigrette together with the roasted vegetables and you have a wonderful tasty Middle-Eastern flavored salad to enjoy in the summer. I would give a 4.5 rating on this recipe.

The dishes I have chose for Brussels sprouts are:

  • Kale Salad With Brussels Sprouts, Apples, and Hazelnuts
  • Grilled Brussels Sprouts
  • Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Pecans

Kale Salad With Brussels Sprouts, Apples, and Hazelnuts

Susan Spungen from Epicurious November 2015



Yield: 8–10 servings

Active Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes


    • 2/3 cup hazelnuts (3 ounces)
    • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 1 large lemon)
    • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
    • 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot (about 1 medium)
    • 1 small garlic clove, finely grated
    • Kosher salt
    • Freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 pound Tuscan kale (about 2 small bunches), stemmed, leaves thinly sliced
    • 3/4 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed, thinly sliced
    • 2 ounces Mimolette cheese or aged gouda, grated on the large holes of a box grater (1 cup)
    • 1 crisp apple, such as Pink Lady or Honeycrisp, cored, cut into matchsticks
    • 6 radishes, halved, thinly sliced


    1. Heat oven to 350°F. Place hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast 8-10 minutes, tossing once or twice, until fragrant and skins have blistered. Bundle nuts in a kitchen towel and rub vigorously to remove skins. Spread out and let cool, then coarsely chop. Set aside.
    2. Meanwhile, whisk lemon juice, mustard, shallot, garlic, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper in a medium bowl, then whisk in oil in a slow, steady stream. Set aside.
    3. Mix together kale and Brussels sprouts in a large mixing bowl. Add about 3/4 of the dressing, and use your hands to massage dressing into greens. Taste and add more dressing as needed (you may not need all of it). Reserve any leftover dressing for another use.
    4. Add cheese, apple, and half of the radishes; toss together to combine, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving bowl, and top with nuts and remaining radishes.
  1. Do ahead
    1. Dressing can be prepared 3 days ahead; cover and chill. Nuts can be toasted and chopped 1 day ahead; cover and keep at room temperature. Kale and Brussels sprouts can be sliced 1 day ahead; place in an airtight container and chill. Salad can be tossed together 30 minutes ahead; keep at room temperature.

Comments:  The dressing is absolutely fabulous.  I was concerned about how uncooked Brussels sprouts and kale would taste, but with this dressing it was a really amazing salad!  I would definitely make this again and give it a 5 star rating.


Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Pecans

I found this recipe in The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook 2001-2017 on page 574.

Recipe is attached.

Recipe for Brussels sprouts with bacon and pecans


Comments: This dish was very easy and fast to prepare.  It was actually one of the most delicious ways to prepare Brussels sprouts. How can you go wrong with bacon involved ???  The bacon and bacon fat flavors coupled with the slight sweetness and crunch of the pecans was really wonderful. I would definitely have this as my top choice for how to prepare this vegetable in the future. I would rate this a 5 of 5.

Grilled Brussels Sprouts


Katherine Sacks  07.26.17


1. Trim the Sprouts

To get the Brussels sprouts ready for the grill, use a paring knife to trim off the stem ends. Peel off any withered or yellowing outer leaves of the bulb.

2. Blanch or Steam

Because the Brussels sprouts won’t fully cook in the time it takes to grill them, it’s best to pre-cook them. Either steam or cook in boiling, salted water until they are just fork-tender, about 5 minutes.

3. Season

Drain the Brussels sprouts, then drizzle with oil and toss with salt, pepper and any spices you want to use. Onion powder, garlic powder, celery salt, and cayenne are all good options.

4. Skewer

The easiest way to grill Brussels sprouts is on skewers; this lets you easily move the tiny cabbages around the grill and get the best char throughout the sprouts. Skewer four to five Brussels per metal skewer, going through the root end and leaving at least 1/2-inch between each sprout.



Comments: Now that summer is here I was looking for a quick and easy way to cook Brussels sprouts on the grill.  I came across this recipe and decided to try it.  The idea of blanching the sprouts ahead of time was great. That left. just seasoning the sprouts and putting them on a skewer for the grill.  I used onion powder, garlic salt and some cayenne pepper to season the sprouts.  I grilled them for about 15 minutes whereby the leaves were slightly charred.  The end product was good in terms of how the sprouts were cooked, but I would have liked a bit more zing in the flavor. Perhaps in the future, I will use soy sauce or perhaps balsamic vinegar to jazz up the flavor a bit more.

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