You would think, after all these years, that I would understand the Laws of the Universe – that is to say, the gods are only waiting to hear your plans, to give themselves a good laugh. This has been a great year at the Midtown Market at North Hills, with plenty of sunshine for solar cooking. But, on September 29, it was going to be a special day for mainstream solar cooking, with local television taping. So, it only made cosmic sense that Mother Nature would pick that day to flex her muscles and favor us with nonstop liquid sunshine (more commonly known as 'heavy showers')
The reporter and I had already agreed in advance that we'd be filming like the cooking shows, with a finished dish ready for the viewers, following the taping of the preparation steps. The sun shone bright on Friday and I solar cooked my recipes the day before so everything was at the ready. Well, Saturday, the rains put a stop to our plans and the taping was called off. On the bright side, there was plenty of food to share with family and friends -- a treat that doesn't often happen on market day.
They had my version of mini-Pigs in a Blanket, Roasted Onions with Lobster Stuffing, and Eggplant Wrapped Noodles. Now, wouldn't that have made a wonderful presentation for the TV viewers! In any event, I've decided to share the recipes with you and hope you like them.
Pigs in a Blanket – these were the easiest to make. I used some left over bread dough that I rolled into logs and then cut into 48 one-inch pieces. One pound of cocktail franks, each cut into thirds, was put in a large Ziploc bag and shaken in a combination of 2 tablespoons tomato powder, 1/4 teaspoon chipotle pepper, 1/2 teaspoon powdered onion, 1/4 teaspoon powdered yellow mustard, and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, until the franks were evenly coated.
Each piece was then inserted into a dough ball, deep enough to prevent it from popping out while baking. (It doesn't hurt to pinch the dough across the top so that the frank is just visible because it will emerge as the dough bakes.) For softer hors d'oeuvres, place each dough-wrapped frank an inch apart on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. The ones in the picture were pushed further down into the dough because they had popped pretty high by the time the whole muffin tin was filled. I prefer using muffin tins for solar baking and crunchier crusts. Place in a 225°F solar oven and bake for approximately 40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.
Roasted Onions with Lobster Stuffing – peel and core six medium-sized sweet onions, leaving approximately 1/4 inch for the onion shell and slice just enough off the root end so that it will remain upright in the baking pan.
In a medium bowl, combine 8 ounces chopped lobster, two medium shredded zucchinis, 1 cup finely chopped leeks (white bulb only), 4 ounces feta cheese, 4 ounces ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup Panko crumbs, salt and pepper to taste.
Fill center of each onion with mixture, wrap bottom of onion with a piece of tin foil or use a foil muffin cup to hold juices and place in baking pan. Cover and bake in preheated solar oven at 225°F for approximately 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
Eggplant Wrapped Noodles – this is a multi-process recipe but, oh, so worth the effort because it makes such a beautiful entrée. You can use any long flat wide noodle that you want, but I like using those frilly lasagna noodle edges. You'll need to precook the noodles just to the al dente stage and then trim off the edges, saving the wider noodles for other dishes. Slice two medium eggplants in quarter inch slices from stem to blossom end. (The skin of the eggplant can sometimes be very bitter and you may prefer removing it entirely.)
Fry each slice on both sides for approximately for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes in 2 tablespoons olive oil and place on paper towels to drain.
Spray your baking pan with oil and cover the bottom with your favorite tomato sauce. While each rollup should have five strips of noodles, lasagna noodles can be quite thick and four is more than enough. Divide your noodles so that you have enough for each eggplant slice. Arrange noodles crosswise at blossom end of an eggplant slice and roll towards stem end; place seam side down in baking dish. Place as many rollups as you can in the baking dish without causing any of them to pop above the others.
Add a tablespoon of sauce over eggplant part of each rollup, cover pan and bake in preheated solar oven at 225°F for approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
A very wet day, indeed. My shoes were soaked and cuffs rolled. See?
But, 'tis an ill wind that blows no good, at all, and we ended up with some delicious recipes; don't you think.