Last Friday, Chef Nancy and I had the opportunity to travel to Birmingham, AL for a training session sponsored by Food Blog South, called "Honing Your Edge", conducted by Media Trainer Lisa Ekus and Chef Virginia Willis.
In our excitement and haste to get to the meeting on time, we completely spaced out on the fact that Birmingham is in the central time zone. Having a couple of idle hours during a day, is not a position we often find ourselves in. Fortunately, the good people of Alabama built an outlet mall on the outskirts of town, which was announced by billboard that seemed to suddenly appear at almost the exact moment we'd realized the time change. Our shopping extravaganza yielded bargains of the practical and not so practical kind. A chef always needs new cookware from Le Creuset, but perhaps not a sequined clutch or a pair of platform stilettos from the Coach and Nine West stores.
So with our trunk load of bargains, we continued west, in search of a parking garage close to out meeting location and perhaps more importantly, a place to eat lunch. Our good fortune, continued when we found one of each with relatively no problem. We parked the car and popped into a little place that caught our eye, called Makarios Kabobs and Grill. We feasted on a "sampler for two". As you can see from the picture, bottom right, that it was more like a "feast for four". The highlight of the meal was the baba ganoush, which is a roasted eggplant dip.
Normally after such a filling meal, one would be ready for an afternoon nap, but not us. With satisfied tummies, we arrived at our session on time and spent the rest of the afternoon surrounded by creative people who love to write about, talk about and take pictures of food. It was a pleasure to be in a room filled with such enthusiastic people and to have the opportunity to listen to and learn from a pair of seasoned veterans. I think Nancy and I both left the training session filled with new ideas and inspirations.
I have channeled some of that energy from the weekend, into my own version of baba ganoush, pictured above right. I hope you will enjoy this delicious eggplant dip and always remember to take the time to Taste and Savor!
Baba Ganoush:2 large Globe Eggplants
1 head garlic
1 TB Tahini
1 Lemon, zest and juice
1 TB Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 Tsp Smoked Paprika
1 Tsp Kosher Salt
1/2 Tsp Pepper
Chopped Fresh Parsley
Seeded and Chopped Tomatoes
Crumbled Feta Cheese
Chopped Kalamata Olives
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Use a fork to poke several holes into the skin of eggplant and place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Cut the top off of the head of garlic and wrap in foil, with cut side facing upwards. Place on the sheet tray along with the eggplant and bake both items for 40 minutes. Once eggplant and garlic have cooked, remove from oven and set aside until they are cool enough to handle.
Scoop flesh from the eggplant with a spoon and place in a food processor. Next, squeeze the roasted garlic from it's skin into the food processor. Add the remaining ingredients to the food processor and pulse until you have a slightly chunky puree.
Remove mixture from food processor to a serving tray or bowl and sprinkle with desired garnishes. Serve with pita chips or crudite.