Monday, August 12, 2013

My Grandmother, Fried Eggplant and Jersey Tomatoes!

Thanks Grandmom for creating the flavors of my memories!
There is a scene in the movie "The Mirror Has Two Faces" where Barbra Streisand's character methodically rearranges the food on her plate so that with one swipe of her fork, she will have achieved the "perfect bite". That scene resonated with me because I believe that it does exist. When you can manipulate the savory with the sweet, the texture with the seasoning, some heat and a touch of have accomplished her goal. I did that tonight!

I used the memory of my Grandmother and some vegetables, from a garden that is putting on quite a show as summer ends, to make my favorite seasonal meal. And with a little help from some Italian sausage...a feast was had! Years ago, in many Italian households, fried eggplants were made in place of cutlets when the budget dictated so. Skinning the eggplant before dipping them in a combination of egg and milk and then dredging through seasoned bread crumbs before placing in a hot, oiled frying pan activates the saliva glands as soon as your ears hear the sizzle!

The second element in creating perfection is a tomato, onion and basil salad dressed in just a little extra virgin olive oil with a dash of salt. I will admit to being biased here but there is a reason that Jersey tomatoes are legendary. They are simply the best. I used the cherry variety picked from my garden in the early morning hours that were so sweet and ripe I was popping them in my mouth like candy! I always make the salad first so the salt can draw the juice from the tomato into the olive oil. Amazing. (Room temperature a must!)

After slicing up some freshly picked sweet fryers and bell peppers, along with a vadalia onion, I browned up some Italian sausage and added the mixture to the pan. The aroma of the sausage, peppers and onions frying triggered a memory of sitting in my grandmothers kitchen on a summer's evening. The curtains would slightly blow in a soft breeze, while the scent of eggplants and sausage frying would escape through the screen. On more than one occasion, neighbors would yell in "Rose, what are you cooking that smells so good?

And it was my grandmother who taught me the pleasure of dipping the golden brown eggplant into the juice of the tomato salad. The breadcrumbs soak up the tomato-flavored oil like a sponge. Now, in creating my "perfect bite", I slice my sausage thinly, place it with a softly fried pepper onto the eggplant, fold in half and dip in the tomato salad! Perfect bite? Perfect summer meal!!! Grandmom, you'd be proud of me! There is very little that brings back warm memories like the aromas of the kitchen. I'm so glad I have them!

There is no better aroma than sausage, peppers & onions!

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