Eggplant Pizzas and Mango-Fennel Vodka Spritzer!

by chloecrab

This post, our first post due to our crazy perfectionistic/overthinking tendencies, is dedicated to my mother on her 60th Bday- from whom I discovered the Joy and Zen of cooking, tasting, and appreciating.

Justin made a delicious fennel and mango cocktail which he will explain next!

I am gluten-free and often feel bad that we can’t indulge in yummy treats such as pizza which typically include gluten in the crust.  I, personally, have always been a huge fan of eggplant.  However, I have always shied away from cooking it myself because I wasn’t sure of the correct time/temperature/method of cooking.  Yesterday I googled eggplant pizza’s and found a post commemorating a recipe Julia Child had made.  I saw that it had been done and decided to do it myself with what I had around the house using her advice to preheat the oven to 375 and dehydrate the eggplant.

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Leftover from Justin’s cocktail-making was the fennel which I sauteed with some garlic, tomatoes, herbs/spices, and anchovies (the signature secret? to my ma’s amazing pasta sauce!) to make the pizza sauce.  While this was going on I sliced the eggplant in slightly smaller than one inch thick slices and dehydrated them a bit on some paper towels sprinkled with sea salt.  Once the oven was preheated I coated the slices in olive oil and some pepper and threw them in the oven.  About 30 minutes later I took them out, flipped the eggplants over, added the sauce (very very sloppily!) onto the eggplants and then layered them with a few different cheeses.

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I happen to be obsessed with Halloumi (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halloumi) and had spotted some at Trader Joe’s that I couldn’t resist earlier, and also had some mozzarella and parmesan around.  To be honest, the Halloumi may have been to thank for how delicious this turned out to be.  I then put it all under the broiler on high for about 5-10 minutes (whenever I noticed the cheese on the top starting to brown) and they were deeeelicious!!!!!!!

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This drink is vodka, seltzer and a simple syrup.  90% of cocktails (or something like that) rely on some variation of a simple syrup, really all “liqueurs” are just gussied-up simple syrups.  To make a simple syrup, a 1-1 ratio of sugar to water to fruit/vegetable should generally be observed, though herbs can be a little under and I like to have it heavy on the “product” side as possible.   In this case combine 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water and place on high heat, stirring occasionally.  Once sugar is completely dissolved, add 2 cup chopped mango and 1/2 cup fennel greens; chop as finely as possible as it allows for best infusion rate,  Bring to boil for 1 minute, then turn to low and let steep for 10 minutes.  Strain through fine sieve into jar, pressing as much juice out of the fruit as possible in the process and then let cool.  Add ice (see eventual collaborative discourse on ice cubes to come), 2 shots vodka and twice as much seltzer with about one tbsp. syrup. Muddle some of the fennel and mango if you’re up for it. I would soak the mango in the vodka first if you have the time to prep.

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PS- forgive the bad photo quality. I promised myself I wouldn’t obsess about it so we would just do the post =)

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