Our friends in Florida have eggplant and our friends in Georgia have onions. We can put them together for some pretty good food.
A few years ago, Anne Moore, our gardening editor for Garden Smart, contacted me about the Seeds in Space Program and asked me to contribute a recipe using cinnamon basil. The seeds for the cinnamon basil had been suspended in the space station high above the earth for an experimental period of time, then sent back on the shuttle, and given to South Carolina school children to grow in their classrooms. My job was to create a recipe using cinnamon basil.
The recipe that I created with the now “earthly” cinnamon basil used eggplant as the primary ingredient, along with ground sirloin, tomatoes and a little cream plus small amounts of a few other ingredients. It made a pretty good casserole if I do say so myself.
Even though the cinnamon basil is tasty, I still add just a touch more of ground cinnamon to give it an extra layer of flavor throughout the dish. After you have tasted the meat mixture of the casserole, please feel free to add cinnamon to taste.
Out of This World Eggplant
1 (1 1/4 Pound) eggplant
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup medium dice onion
1 lb. ground sirloin
1 28-ounce can petite diced tomatoes
1 clove minced garlic
1 tablespoon catsup
2 tablespoons finely chopped cinnamon basil (regular basil will do)
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups ricotta cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
½ teaspoon marjoram
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 12 x 9 x 2-inch oven proof dish with cooking spray.
Preparation of eggplant: Peel the eggplant and slice into 1/4-inch slices lengthwise. Salt lightly on each side and then set aside until ready to assemble. This will also allow the eggplant to lose some of its water.
Place olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until onion is wilted. Add ground sirloin and cook until meat is no longer pink. Add diced tomatoes, garlic, catsup, cinnamon basil, and cinnamon. Cook for 7-8 minutes until flavors have had time to blend. Add heavy cream. Cook for 1 minute.
Check for seasonings and season with salt and pepper to taste. Let mixture continue to cook on medium low until ready to assemble.
Prepare the filling: Place the ricotta cheese in a medium bowl. Add the egg, Pecorino Romano, marjoram, salt and pepper. Blend well. Set aside until ready to assemble.
Assembly: Ladle about 1/2 cup sauce on the bottom of the oven dish. Add one layer of eggplant slices to the bottom. Add another 1/2 cup of sauce to this layer of eggplant. Place half the ricotta cheese mixture atop this layer. Add another layer of eggplant, another 1/2 cup sauce, another layer of ricotta. Add the last layer of eggplant and pour the remaining sauce over this layer.
Bake uncovered for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until eggplant is tender and the center is cooked through.
Mother’s Sweet Onion Slaw
Mother loved onions anyway they were prepared. I even remember when she made onion sandwiches!
3 large sweet onions (about 3-1/2 pounds)
¼ cup white or cider vinegar
¼ cup water
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup mayonnaise
¼ teaspoon celery seeds
Cut onions into very thin slices. Stir together vinegar, water, and sugar until sugar dissolves. Add to onions, tossing gently. Cover and chill 8 hours, stirring occasionally. Drain onion, discarding marinade. Pat the onions dry and return to the bowl. Stir in the mayonnaise and the celery seed. This is great with fish! Serves 6-8.
By Kate Karam, Monrovia,
Photographs courtesy of Monrovia
It’s not only coastal gardens that have to deal with persistent winds – inland gardens at higher altitudes and those in flat, wind-prone areas get regularly battered, too. Since there’s nothing good about plants stripped of their foliage or rendered dry and desiccated by a gale force tempest, the solution might be as simple as using specimens that are just fine with it. Here are a few we recommend. But first, some advice.
Join fellow garden lovers, history buffs and music enthusiasts to discover the quaint towns and colorful gardens of Holland and Belgium in May of 2018.
This exciting journey will be hosted by nationally known host Eric Johnson, of Public Television's blockbuster show GardenSmart. Your river cruise begins in Amsterdam where you'll see works by Rembrandt and Van Gogh, Anne Frank's House, and see the city's most famous gardens. Then spend a full morning on the grounds of the most beautiful spring garden in the world-Keukenhof! Visit the picturesque Belgian towns of Bruges and Ghent as well as Kinderdijk, with the Netherlands' iconic collection of 19 authentic windmills that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In addition, history buffs will experience a captivating tour of the WWI trenches of Flanders and WWII Arnhem Battlefield of A Bridge Too Far fame. You won't want to miss this extraordinary garden adventure to Holland and Belgium.
Book by November 15, 2017 and save up to $1200 dollars per person!
To register call:
Alki Tours at 800-895-2554
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