De la cuisine: Simple Supper

Make the most of extra eggplant by stuffing it with crab and shrimp

My summer vegetable crops are winding down but not before I harvested several beautiful eggplants (also known as aubergine or brinjal). To celebrate, I made a large batch of caponata, a Sicilian dish of eggplant, olives and onions seasoned with herbs, typically served as an appetizer, and which I like to toss with spaghetti for a simple summer supper.

I still had several left and my husband suggested putting together eggplants stuffed with crabmeat. The dish brought back fond memories of Christian’s in New Orleans, a restaurant opened by Chris Ansel, a member of the Galatoire family, and Hank Bergeron in Metairie in 1973. Several years later, the restaurant moved to a former Lutheran church in Mid-City on Canal St. Their stuffed eggplant was a favorite of mine as were the smoked soft-shell crabs.

While I went to hunt down the stuffed eggplant recipe, my husband pulled together the ingredients for our salad.


STARTER

Caesar Salad With Pumpernickel

Rinse 1 head of romaine (leaves separated) and pat dry. Lightly wrap in paper towels and store in the refrigerator for several hours to crisp the leaves. 

Whisk 1 egg (lightly beaten), 2 garlic cloves (crushed), 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice and ½ cup olive oil together and pour into the bottom of a large salad bowl. When ready to serve, add lettuce, 4 anchovy fillets (drained and chopped) and 2 hard-boiled eggs (peeled and quartered) and toss thoroughly with the dressing. 

Add ½ cup freshly-grated parmesan cheese and toss again. Sprinkle with ¾ cup pumpernickel croutons and serve immediately. Pass the peppermill.

Makes 4 servings


MAIN COURSE

Crab and Shrimp Stuffed Eggplant

Rather than using both shrimp and crabmeat, you can use 1 pound of either of the seafood.

2 eggplants, each about 1 pound

BECHAMEL SAUCE
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ½ cup chopped onions
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
FILLING
  • 1 cup bechamel
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 2 cups coarse dried bread crumbs
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • white pepper to taste
  • pinch of allspice
  • ½ pound shrimp, boiled, peeled and chopped
  • ½ pound lump crabmeat, picked over for shells and cartilage
  • grated Parmesan cheese

Place whole eggplants in a shallow pan and bake at 350 F until soft, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from oven and cool. Trim off stem ends and cut each eggplant in half lengthwise. Carefully scoop out the pulp, leaving about ¼-inch in the shells. Chop the pulp finely, then measure out 2 cups.

For the bechamel sauce Heat butter in a medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring, until soft and golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Blend in flour and milk and season with salt. Cook, stirring, until the mixture is thick and smooth.

For the filling Melt butter in a large saucepan and stir in bread crumbs. Add the eggplant pulp, seasonings and bechamel sauce. Mix well. Add the shrimp and crabmeat and gently stir. Fill the eggplant shells with the mixture. Sprinkle generously with the Parmesan cheese.

Set the stuffed eggplants in a shallow baking pan and bake at 375 F until hot, bubbly, and lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes.


DESSERT

Cherry-Almond Clafoutis

Clafoutis is a baked French dessert of fruit, traditionally black cherries, arranged in a buttered dish and covered with a thick flan-like batter. It’s a favorite of mine since it’s easy to put together ahead of time.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 10-inch round, about 1 1/2 inches deep ceramic dish or pie plate.

Place 1 pound dark sweet cherries (pitted) in prepared dish. In a medium-size mixing bowl, beat 2 cups half-and-half, ⅓ cup granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons amaretto and 4 large eggs with a wire whisk until well blended. Whisk in ⅔ cup all-purpose flour, a little at a time, until mixture is smooth.

Pour mixture over cherries and bake until the custard is set, about 40 to 45 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar. Serve hot or warm.

Makes 12 servings


 

Categories: Food and Drink

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