18 August 2010

Eggplant & Yellow Zucchini Alfredo

Tonight started out standing at a farmer's market with a desire to eat vegetables, but with very limited funds. So I bought this yellow zucchini ($1) and this tiny organic eggplant ($1.75!) and set out to make some pasta and béchamel sauce to go with it.

For the sauce, I followed a macaroni & cheese recipe from last year's cooking class, but I went a little too far and basically made some kind of gourmet Mac & Cheese Alfredo.

Ingredients went in in this order:

Butter, chorizo (rendered until golden); green pepper, celery (sweat); garlic, dry mustard, paprika, salt & pepper (mixed to season); flour (evenly incorporated, and then cooked for a few minutes so that starches bind).

Dry vermouth (tempered in, then alcohol cooked off); cream & milk with pasta water (tempered in slowly, a bit at a time -- allowing it to heat up each time before stirring to combine).

Oregano; zucchini & eggplant (blanched first); Parmesan cheese. Served on broad egg noodles. Not bad for $2.75 at the farmer's market.

This wasn't exactly the recipe, of course. The recipe from my class is more of an equation of sorts, widely open to interpretation and experimentation, and goes something like this:

FAT | MIREPOIX (+ flour = roux) | LIQUID (+ milk = béchamel) | BOUQUET GARNI | (+ cheese)

There are many options to choose from for each step:

FAT: butter, prosciutto, ham, bacon, etc.
MIREPOIX: onion, shallots, peppers, celery, garlic, jalapeño, etc.
LIQUID: white wine, beer, vermouth, brandy, vodka, etc.
BOUQUET GARNI: smoked paprika, cayenne, thyme, etc. (note: spices go in when sweating mirepoix, but herbs are added after liquid)

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