Click here to read all about the Platinum Chef Challenge!
This is my first time participating in this great event that involves making up one or two dishes using five pre-selected ingredients. For this round, they were:
Dessert incorporating the plums and oatmeal seemed like a natural. A plum crisp came to mind first, but I wanted something a little bit fancier. I've been obsessed with my ice cream maker lately, so I decided to use it to make a sorbet. I added a little port to dress it up, and served it in oatmeal-almond buttercrunch cups. They are actually really simple to make, but they give a very sophisticated look to desserts!
With that out of the way, I had a harder time figuring out what to do with tofu, eggplant, and olives. I have been making salad dressings with silken tofu and really liked the result, so a salad seemed like an obvious choice. I started with herbed-roasted eggplant, tossed it with some sliced olives and roasted yellow peppers, and topped it with a creamy garlic dressing. I felt that to balance the richness of those, it should be on a bed of arugula. For a little more color, I added some diced tomatoes over the top.
I had a great time coming up with and making these recipes, and I look forward to future challenges!
Herbed Eggplant Salad with Creamy Garlic Dressing
2 yellow bell peppers
1 medium eggplant
8 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1/4 cup kalamata olives, quartered lengthwise
4 cups arugula
1 medium tomato, seeds removed and diced
Preheat the oven to 375 F.
Slice the eggplant into 1/2" thick rounds. Salt likely and place on a cooling rack. Set aside for 30 minutes.
Slice the bell peppers into 1/2" strips, and toss with 2 tbsp olive oil. Place in a small baking dish and roast at 375 for about 2o minutes, or until soft. Remove from the oven, and stir in the olives.
Rinse the eggplant slices and pat dry.
In a shallow dish, mix together the remaining 6 tbsp olive oil, the basil, garlic, oregano, and garlic.
Rub both sides of each eggplant slice with the oil-herb mixture, and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Place in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until soft and slightly browned
After the eggplant comes out of the oven, let cool for about 5 minutes.
Gently toss the roasted eggplant slices with the pepper and olive mixture.
Arrange 1 cup of arugula on each of four plates. Top with two or three eggplant slices, and some of the peppers and olives.
Then drizzle some of the dressing over the top, and sprinkle with diced tomatoes.
6 oz silken tofu
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tsp lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp olive oil
Puree all ingredients in a blender. Gradually add water until thinned to the desired consistency for salad dressing.
Plum and Port Sorbet in Oatmeal-Almond Buttercrunch Cups
(adapted from epicurious.com and Mrs. Fields Best Cookie Book Ever)
1 1/2 pounds black plums, quartered (pits removed)
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/4 cup port
Mix together the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Boil 5-10 minutes, or until reduced to one cup. Chill.
Pour into a strainer set over a medium bowl, and press on the solids to obtain as much juice as possible.
Add the cooled sugar mixture to the plum juice, along with the port. Mix well, then transfer to an ice cream maker and chill according to manufacturers instructions.
1/2 stick (4 tbsp) butter
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
1/3 cup sliced almonds
6 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp vanilla
Preheat the oven to 375 F and line a cookie sheet with parchment or a Silpat.
Grease a 12-cup muffin tin.
Combine the butter, corn syrup, and brown sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly.
After the mixture boils, remove from the heat and stir in the remaining ingredients.
Drop by teaspoonfuls onto the baking sheet, and bake for about 8 minutes, or until slightly darkened.
Remove the sheet from the oven and wait a few minutes until cookies can be lifted with a spatula but are still pliable. Gently press into the muffin tin to form a cup shape, and allow to cool.
Repeat until you have used all the "batter."
To serve, place one or two cookie cups on a plate, and put a small scoop of sorbet in each.