NOVEMBER 02 2012


It's Friday night and I'm cooking up a ham the size of my head! The big boy, slathered in a mix of jalapeno jelly and whole-grain mustard, has been slowly baking for the last couple of hours and requires little attention. So I can focus on the other dishes while keeping an eye on the Blazer game. I'm planning to greet my dinner guests with hot, crispy eggplant croquettes then serve the ham with mashed potatoes, sauteed kale, Mr. O's Quinoa & Grilled Sourdough Salad and lots o' wine.

The croquettes worry me because I never deep-fry at home. Don't get me wrong, I really, really love fried foods, but I just know I'll run into trouble... grease splatters, left-over oil to deal with, realizing how easy it is and eating everything breaded and fried from now on. But tonight, it's on! First I need to blacken the eggplant but the broiler isn't really getting the job done so I transfer them out to the grill. The recipe calls for "4 medium eggplant"; I had two small ones from the garden and bulked them up with another three from the store.

garden eggplants in the front

Once the eggplant cool, the flesh is scooped out and left to drain for 30 minutes or so. Meanwhile, I've boiled and mashed some potatoes to mix into the eggplant along with feta, breadcrumbs and seasonings.

Now roll the wet, sloppy mix into logs to be chilled then cut into small portions for frying. Ugh... this stuff is sticky and difficult to handle.

Mr. O wants me to whip up some fresh tarragon aioli for dipping the croquettes, but I just can't want to. So here's my solution... good enough!

The frying goes fine... as messy as expected but the croquettes turn out great so it might actually be worth it. Browned and crispy with a soft, cheesy center. The tarragon mayo adds a nice tangy contrast. We hog down but want to save room for ham so I wrap up half of the eggplant logs and freeze for another day.


Enough pigging out! Gotta make the rest of dinner. The quinoa salad is super simple. Just toast sourdough bread then tear into bite-sized pieces. Toss with cooked quinoa, tomato, cucumber, red onion and a simple dressing. I made an executive decision not to include the two raw garlic cloves because past experience with Mr. O's enthusiastic use of fresh garlic in salads has left a bitter taste in my mouth (literally!).

The salad is fresh and summery; a nice counterpoint to the richness of the meal. It does seem kinda strange to have bread and quinoa together... would probably do one or the other next time. But the star of the evening is definitely the ham. Ham-freaking-tastic!!

see... it really is the size of my head!

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