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Eggplant parmesan fail - what am I doing wrong?

Thanks, that was most helpful.

I think it might have been that the oil cooled down after the first batch I fried. I think I'll invest in a thermometer for next time.

Jun 14, 2013
clairebbbear in Home Cooking

Eggplant parmesan fail - what am I doing wrong?

I specifically wanted something breaded, and the recipe you posted is not. However, if the next batch doesn't work I will give up on the breaded idea and try the recipe you posted.

Does your father also bake his recipe, and for how long?

Jun 13, 2013
clairebbbear in Home Cooking

Eggplant parmesan fail - what am I doing wrong?

Really? I would have thought the more oil you use, the soggier the eggplant would get. Do you have any idea why using more oil might be better?

Jun 13, 2013
clairebbbear in Home Cooking

Eggplant parmesan fail - what am I doing wrong?

Thanks!

Jun 11, 2013
clairebbbear in Home Cooking

Eggplant parmesan fail - what am I doing wrong?

Thank you. How much oil do you think you use? As I said, I'm not sure exactly how much I used, but the oil came up to about 1/2 inch in height, and so when I added the 1/2 inch eggplant slices, with displacement the oil ended up completely covering them.

As i have not fried in this way before this freaked me out somewhat as it looked like WAY too much oil.

Jun 11, 2013
clairebbbear in Home Cooking

Eggplant parmesan fail - what am I doing wrong?

Thanks - I think I will try that!

Jun 11, 2013
clairebbbear in Home Cooking

Eggplant parmesan fail - what am I doing wrong?

Oh - that's an interesting idea - thanks! Don't have a waffle iron, but have a sandwich press, and I think it might work the same way.

Jun 11, 2013
clairebbbear in Home Cooking

Eggplant parmesan fail - what am I doing wrong?

That's interesting. I was wondering that maybe I had the slices too thin, and it was cooking too fast. One of the other recipes posted upthread suggested 1/3 inch slices.

And yes, I am aware the breaded eggplant is not the traditional Italian way and is more an American thing. I'm trying to re-create an eggplant parma I had which basically a stack of breaded eggplant (like eggplant schnitzel) with marinara sauce on top. But that one wasn't baked, so I may be missing the point here.

Jun 11, 2013
clairebbbear in Home Cooking

Eggplant parmesan fail - what am I doing wrong?

Yes - dipped in flour, then egg, then panko crumbs.

That's annoying about the sauce bit. But I don't have any choice about that, since the dish needs to be freezable.

I'm thinking that the "minimum oil" method might be the best bet, with some tweaks (like salting the eggplant first).

Jun 11, 2013
clairebbbear in Home Cooking

Eggplant parmesan fail - what am I doing wrong?

So I've made three batches of eggplant parmesan using three different methods of cooking the eggplant, and I count all three as fails. What I want is a method that cooks the eggplant so it's still firm and meaty - so that it could almost be mistaken for meat in texture - but not dry and leathery. I can't seem to get the texture right - it's either too dry or too soggy.

In all three methods I cut the eggplant into 1/2 inch slices, crumbed the eggplant slices and, after cooking them in various ways, layered and baked it for 30 minutes with the marinara sauce.

First batch I baked the eggplant instead of frying - I salted the eggplant for 30 minutes first, then crumbed them, then baked for 30 minutes turning halfway, then added the sauce/cheese etc and baked. The eggplant tasted nice but was too soggy.

Second batch I didn't salt the eggplant first as I was in a hurry. Breaded the slices then fried in a very small amount of oil - just sprayed the pan basically. The texture was closest to what I want but still a bit leathery, and the eggplant tasted bitter.

Third batch i salted first, crumbed then fried in a much larger amount of oil - about 1/2 inch deep in a wide skillet. I'm pretty sure the oil was hot enough. Cooked the slices until they were golden brown - about 1-2 minutes each side. Then layered and baked as usual. This one was a total disaster, the slices had basically disintegrated - way too sloppy.

I'm struggling to know what I'm doing wrong. The only thing i can think of with the last method - which is basically the standard method - was that I ran out of paper towels so that I didn't drain the fried slices of the oil before laying them, at least not as much as I'd like. Could this have made all the difference?

I read about another method, that involves salting/pressing the slices while pre-cooking them in an oven for 30 minutes, or a microwave for 3 minutes, then frying as per usual. I'm thinking of doing this plus the "minimum oil" flying method.

Any other ideas what I could try? Also, once I have the recipe sorted out I want to make a big batch so I can freeze and re-heat it (unbaked), so I need to take that into account.

Jun 10, 2013
clairebbbear in Home Cooking

Cooking tajine for 30 people - what cookware?

The initial cooking is not really the issue here. I could certainly use the turkey pan if it will fit in our oven. The issue here is more to do with the reheating on the day - how much oven space there will be and when it will be available.

The venue has a 6-burner stovetop and double oven, plus the caterers will be bringing a large warming oven that has capacity for about 12 casserole dishes (I think). It goes up to 350F, but I don't want to rely on it for reheating food; it is for keeping stuff warm. (Most of the food the caterers are bringing will be ready to serve but just needs to be kept warm).

We (us and the caterers) basically have two hours of cooking/reheating time and the oven will be in use for that whole time - firstly for appetizers and then for about 8 trays of baked ziti/ & eggplant parmigiana that will need reheating. .There is a possible window there where the oven may be available, but I'd rather not risk it.

So stovetop is a better option for reheating as it will not be used as much on the day. The slow cooker would have been even better as it wouldn't use the stovetop either, but now I think I'll just use the slow cooker to keep stuff warm.

Mar 24, 2013
clairebbbear in Cookware

Cooking tajine for 30 people - what cookware?

That's great to know - thanks.

I have no option re the freeze thing since I will be doing a lot of cooking/baking leading up to the wedding, and have to spread it out over several weeks to avoid chaos. We will be hiring an extra freezer to store everything.

Mar 24, 2013
clairebbbear in Cookware

Cooking tajine for 30 people - what cookware?

It depends how much I am making. Usually I only cook for two people, so if I do 1 layer of meat in the tajine, that's enough for 2 plus 1 portion leftovers the next day. I have also made with 2 layers of meat, about 4-5 portions, if I want more leftovers. Both work fine - but I do brown the meat in single layers in the tajine first (may not be authentic but I don't care).

Mar 24, 2013
clairebbbear in Cookware

Cooking tajine for 30 people - what cookware?

Hi all

I am going to be cooking a chicken tajine with preserved lemons and olives for 30 people for my wedding.

I will be making the tajine 1-2 weeks in advance, freezing and defrosting the day before. Then on the day it will need to be reheated. We have cooks to do that.

My question is what cookware to use. I normally make it using an actual tajine - this is the last recipe I used, which i loved:
http://moroccanfood.about.com/od/moro....

But my tajine pot only has capacity for about 3 portions, and I'm not prepared to use it to make 10 batches of the stuff - it would take too long.

So then I tried making a batch using my slow cooker. I boiled then left it to simmer overnight, which must have been too long, because the chicken basically disintegrated and the sauce took on a completely different flavour - almost caramelised to the point of being gluey (hard to explain). My work colleagues loved it but I was disappointed, having tasted the much better tajine version.

So now I am wondering what other options I have. Of course I could try cooking it for a slower time in the slow cooker. But having read about Dutch/French ovens - and having always wanted one - I'm thinking now might be the time to get one.

Would it work, taste-wise, to prepare 2 batches of the tajine using the Dutch oven (e.g. Le Creuset), then, on the day, use the Dutch oven again to reheat the first batch, transfer that batch to the slow-cooker to keep warm, then use the LC again for the second batch.

Or is the fact that I'll be freezing and reheating going to reduce any taste advantage there would be from using the Dutch oven?

Secondly - what size LC (or other brand) would I need to prepare 15 portions? I was thinking the 9-quart. I will have cooks to lift it and move it around, but I don't want to injure them (or me, when I want to use it after the wedding).I know how heavy those things are.

I have thought of getting a bigger tajine, but I don't think I would get much use of it after the wedding. The Dutch oven I would definitely use.

Hope you can help!

Mar 24, 2013
clairebbbear in Cookware

Food safety question - food being transported in car for 30-40 minutes

I like the zip-loc and wrapping the storage boxes idea - I think we will do that. Thanks!

Mar 13, 2013
clairebbbear in General Topics

Food safety question - food being transported in car for 30-40 minutes

Great idea - thanks!

Mar 13, 2013
clairebbbear in General Topics

Food safety question - food being transported in car for 30-40 minutes

Thanks!

I did take the cheesecake (same recipe) in my car to work last week, which was 1 hour, and it was still fine. I kept the springform ring around the outside to hold it in place - might do the same on the wedding day too.

Mar 13, 2013
clairebbbear in General Topics

Food safety question - food being transported in car for 30-40 minutes

I will be cooking some of the food for our wedding (eek) so we will need to transport it to our reception venue, which is 30 minutes away by car. The food will be in fridges at our house and will be put in a fridge at the reception venue.

I had assumed that we would need to transport everything in cooler boxes due to food safety issues, but I've calculated that we will probably need 10 separate cooler boxes, plus an ice box, due to the amount of food and the size of the containers. We will only have one ice box and one cooler box of our own, so we would have to borrow or hire the others, or look for cheap ones in thrift stores, ebay etc. That would start to get expensive, especially if we don't actually need to do it.

Can we get away with only putting some of the food in cooler boxes, with no food safety issues for 40 or so minutes? If we have to choose between different foods to store in the cooler boxes, would the dairy items be of higher preference?

The foods we would be transporting are:
Savoury dishes: baked ziti, eggplant parmigiana, lemon chicken tagine, leek & cheese tarts, chicken filo pastries, lamb filo pastries, Thai fish cakes
Dairy desserts: Chocolate mousses, lemon cheesecakes, strawberry & custard tarts, tiramisu
Desserts with not as much dairy: Sticky date pudding, pear and chocolate cake, orange polenta cake

If we don't use cooler boxes, we'll probably put the food in large plastic storage boxes, perhaps with ice blocks chucked in there. They will be in the boots/trunks of various cars. Weather on the day could be anything for that time of the year in Australia, but is most likely to be around the 65-70 degree mark.

Mar 13, 2013
clairebbbear in General Topics

Freezing lasagne for wedding buffet - how to stop it from being sloppy

"a tomato sauce painstakingly reduced and strained from heirloom tomatoes flown specially from Argentina where they're in season at the moment?"

LOL.

So meatballs about 1-inch in size? I'm starting to like this idea more and more. I could make the meatballs in advance and freeze them, and make the sauce closer to the day. I think it would be better portion-wise too because it would be easier for people to serve themselves too, unlike with lasagne, which they'd have to scoop out.

Thanks for the tip on the extra sauce.

Mar 06, 2013
clairebbbear in Home Cooking

Freezing lasagne for wedding buffet - how to stop it from being sloppy

Thanks Jay F! I'm assuming I could freeze this recipe? That bit is non-negotiable due to time constraints.

I also like the idea of making it with meatballs and perhaps also quality sausages - mainly because I think that would look better than just mince. Would that be in any way authentic, or not?

Mar 05, 2013
clairebbbear in Home Cooking

Freezing lasagne for wedding buffet - how to stop it from being sloppy

Your childhood sounds like it was wonderful! You wouldn't be able to recommend a nice recipe for either of the above would you?

Mar 05, 2013
clairebbbear in Home Cooking

Freezing lasagne for wedding buffet - how to stop it from being sloppy

Good point - but I think it should be okay. The youngest kid is 4 and the oldest is 42 (adult with very picky food tastes LOL). Most of the kids are between 7 and 12.

I still might have a separate dish of penne and meatballs set aside though for the kids only in case someone has an extra fussy outburst and refuse to eat cheese or something (whiich is possible with my fiarly particular stepson).

Mar 04, 2013
clairebbbear in Home Cooking

Freezing lasagne for wedding buffet - how to stop it from being sloppy

Yes - that is basically what I was planning to do. I think I will hold off putting the cheese on top though, and just add that once the lasagne is thawed.

Any advice on whether to cook the day before then reheat? I generally prefer the taste of "twice-baked" lasagne, when you have it the next day.

Mar 04, 2013
clairebbbear in Home Cooking

Freezing lasagne for wedding buffet - how to stop it from being sloppy

Thanks! I will try that. I think I am going to need to do a couple more test runs (just as well that my stepchildren love lasagne!)

Mar 04, 2013
clairebbbear in Home Cooking

Freezing lasagne for wedding buffet - how to stop it from being sloppy

I don't really have that option, since I'll be doing other things the day before.

Mar 04, 2013
clairebbbear in Home Cooking

Freezing lasagne for wedding buffet - how to stop it from being sloppy

Hi there

I will be cooking some of the food for our wedding (caterer is doing the rest) and I have basically committed to making lasagne so the kids at the wedding have something they can eat. Because I don't want to be cooking on the day (duh), the recipe needs to be made ahead and frozen.

I have made lasagne several times before and frozen it before, but it's a different situation making it for a wedding. When it's just for us I don't particularly care what it looks like, but for the wedding I want it to hold together when cooked and not just ooze everywhere. I want it to look somewhat professional.

So, my questions are:
1. Should I cook the meat sauce right down so there's minimal liquid in it? Will that make it too dry, considering the dish has to be frozen?
2. Is it better to use dry or fresh lasagne noodles? I usually use fresh (not home-made though, from a packet).
3. Should I add more noodle layers? I normally have three, and our dish is quite deep.
4. Would it help to just put a single layer of b├ęchamel on the top?
5. Would it be better to freeze it baked or unbaked?
6. Would it be better to cook it frozen or thawed?
7. If I freeze it unbaked, would it be better to cook it the day before, let it settle and then reheat on the day? Or cook for the first time on the day?

I know there are a few threads on this, but none on the specific question of avoiding sloppiness when you're freezing the dish, so hope you can help!

Thanks in advance!

Mar 04, 2013
clairebbbear in Home Cooking