Monday, October 24, 2011

Imam bayildi: You'd cry, too, if you were an oil-marinated eggplant.

Imam bayildi means "the priest wept" in Arabic, and while I found a variety of stories as to the origin of the name, I'm going to stick to the "eating eggplant cooked with over a cup of olive oil will make anyone cry copious tears of joy."

Sitting in a pool of broth that's mostly olive oil, ready
to be devoured. Yes, it is sticking a few inches off the
plate! Thank you for noticing.

Chillin' in the skillet, pre-baking. The other eggplant halves
had to go in a 9x13 baking pan, because they didn't fit.

Seriously. It's that good. I'm a little afraid of how good for you it is(n't), but I can't care all that much because it is that good. We ate it with lavash, a flatbread flaky with yet more lipids, dusted with za'atar.

Mmm, lavash.
This is the recipe I used. When the blogger says "two large eggplant," I don't think she had foot-long eggplant in mind, but that's what I got, and it worked just fine.

In the dessert world: I've been wanting to attempt a vegetarian (read: gelatin-free) marshmallow for some time now, and with a small amount of maple syrup taking up space in the cabinet, yesterday seemed as good a time as any to attempt a maple sesame marshmallow. After doing extensive research on the hazards of agar agar marshmallows, I used 3/5 the recommended weight of gelatin of agar agar, and I simply replaced the corn syrup in the recipe with maple syrup. Instead of greasing and powdered sugar-ing a dish, I greased it and dusted it with sesame seeds and just a touch of cardamom. The sugar mixture fluffed up just as I hoped it would and didn't have a weird, grainy mouthfeel. Agar agar success! But then it didn't set. Rather, it set to a certain extent, but it just didn't become that cuttable, chewy, fluffy wonder that is the marshmallow. I was crushed. Agar agar fail. Fortunately, upon looking over the procedure once again, I realized that I'd misread the temperature to which the sugar solution should have been boiled. I'd cooked it to 220 F, not 250. Drat. It's these kinds of mistakes that waste valuable enzymes in undergraduate-bedeviled labs the world over. Luckily, it tasted great, and I'm living with someone who I have observed eat a pat of butter rolled in cinnamon sugar. It shouldn't have been a surprise that he was all too willing to eat a soft, gooey, maple-flavored quasi-marshmallow and declare it "so *$&#%)! good. No, seriously, this $*#& is amazing."

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