On Nov 28th at exactly 7:20pm, I got fed up. I’ve had my 5th servings of chronic-crashing on my chrome in 1 day and my whipped iTune seemed to be super-unnaturally allergic to my iPad because it decided to kill itself everytime at the sync of it. So in the attempt to steer my PC into the shinning new-era and deliver it to the promised land of salvation, I upgraded it to – Windows 8 (plug your best Angel music here). …The reported beacon of hope had turned out more to be the beacon of NOPE, and I was punished for it. Because then came as I previously mentioned here - the ultimate internet doomsday which led to my double emotional-meltdowns on the kitchen floor. You didn’t think I was gonna spare you that story, did you? Neeu…
For the next 3.5 days, not only my savior wiped out my internet on desktop but it also screwed with wifi as well. They say that you don’t know what you had until it’s gone. I swore then that if I could have my internet back, I’d put a ring on it. To push my fragile state of mind even closer to the edge was my ANOTHER mistake to switch mobile company awhile back, whom – I realized in the attempt to turn on my iPhone’s AH-HA! “personal hot spot” (see how technology-savvy I am) – has randomly located my apartment to be the communal DEAD SPOT because frankly I’d be lucky to even make out a SOS-emergency call if I fell and broke my will to live, let alone connecting to the internet. Have I successfully turned my misery into your BOREDOM yet? Because the best has yet to come. Oh yes, meltdowns. On the second day in my informational vacuum, a little preview of sobbing and brief whimpering started around noon, then at 7 before I started making dinner, an avalanche of anger and self-pity came tumbling down and rendered me down to an emotional wreckage.
Just imagine a pre-middle age woman crouching and bracing an iPad to her chest… iPhone scattered a few feet away along with a perplexed broccoli-head sitting on the countertop… snot-blazing and BALLING HER LIFE OUT on the cold kitchen floor while her dogs watched. You know how they say dogs can sense their owner’s sorrow and offer comfort? Mine didn’t sense it… they were FRIGHTEN by it, it was that bad. But wait, there’s an inspiration here somewhere… something about endurance… Because 40 min later, I miraculously scooped myself out of my emotional black-hole and… cooked dinner, without internet. How about that. On the first day at ground-zero, I made a roasted broccoli salad. Let’s not talk about it because it was flavored with the stench of my fury and frustration which I blame for the salad’s mediocre-ness. But on the 3rd night (which was the FINAL day of hell-storm if you weren’t counting), I made this. And it was testimony of how one can find beauty in tragedy.
I never realize how much time there was in a day when I was accompanied with technology. Wow, how I survived my teenage years I had no idea… But in between feet-twitching and nail-biting, I decided to put my suicide.doc aside and instead browse through those new cookbooks I had no time to open, one of which being Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem. I didn’t think I could potentially be someone who’s enthusiastic about Jewish cuisine. They do good bagels and let’s leave it at that. But I literally folded the page-corners to death as bookmarks and worried myself slightly that this blog is gonna read like “The Asian Girl Who Cooks Like a Jew” considering how many dishes I want to do. I promise I’lll restrain but you have to know about this one. It’s vegetarian and I found it absolutely amazing. Eggplants are roasted with lemon and chili pesto and as if that wasn’t enough, topped with more flavor explosive yumminess. I adapted it with the addition of some Turkish flavor that I adored on the trip to Istanbul (spiced rice) and for the first time in 3 days, I saw a light at the end…
Jason: “Wait! I think I fixed it!”
I substituted some ingredients that I didn’t have: preserved lemon peels with fresh lemon zest, and bulgur with Jasmin rice plus some other added spices. I think the pairing is absolutely perfect.
- Roasted Eggplants:
- 4 medium, long eggplants
- 2 garlic
- 1/2 tsp of sea salt
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tbsp of Turkish chili flakes
- 1 1/2 tsp of ground cumin
- 1 1/2 tsp of ground coriander
- 1 tsp of paprika
- 1/2 cup of olive oil
- Spiced Rice:
- 1/4 cup of assorted, or golden raisin
- 1 1/2 cup of cooked Jasmin rice, or basmati rice
- 1 tbsp of olive oil
- 1/2 medium onion, finely minced
- 4 tbsp of chicken stock
- 1/4 tsp of ground cinnamon
- 1/3 tsp of ground allspice
- Salt and black pepper
- 1 tsp of lemon juice
- 1 1/2 tbsp of cilantro, chopped (leave 1/2 tbsp for final sprinkling)
- 1 1/2 tbsp of mint, chopped (leave 1/2 tbsp for final sprinkling)
- 1 tsp of chili flakes
- Yogurt Dressing:
- 5 tbsp of plain yogurt
- 2 tsp of lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp of ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp of salt
Preheat the oven on 400ºF/200ºC.
In a stone mortar or food processor, puree garlic, sea salt, lemon zest, chili flakes, cumin, coriander, paprika and olive oil to a pesto consistency. Cut the eggplants in half length-wise, score the flesh diagonally without breaking the skin, and place on a baking sheet. Evenly apply the spice oil on top of the eggplants and bake in the oven for 30~40 min until soft. A fork should insert without any effort. This depends on the eggplants and mine took 35 min.
Meanwhile make the spiced rice. Soak the raisins in hot water until plumped up, approx 5 min. Remove from the water and coarsely chop them. Set aside.
Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a skillet and add the onion with a little pinch of salt. Saute on medium high heat until the onion is browned all over on the edges. Add the cooked Jasmin or basmati rice, chicken stock, cinnamon, allspice and season with salt and ground black pepper. Saute until the rice is heated through and fragrant. Place the rice in a bowl and add the raisins, lemon juice, chopped cilantro, chopped mint and chili flakes. Stir to combine and set aside (There should be slightly more than enough for the final assembly because I found it irresistible to snack on while I wait for the eggplants).
Make the yogurt dressing by whisking the yogurt, lemon juice, black pepper and salt together until smooth. Set aside.
Once the eggplants come out of the oven, use 2 forks to gently make a well in the middle. Stuff it with the spiced rice and drizzle with yogurt dressing. Sprinkle the reserved chopped mint and cilantro on top.
Bust out the best extra virgin olive oil you got and give it a splash.