It’s a little absurd that I have a food and lifestyle blog because my two sisters are really the consummate hostesses. They are my half-sisters, actually, born 8 and 6 years before me. Same mom, different dads. Their father’s family is fairly posh and they were raised, for good or bad, with a full understanding of “proper” Southern etiquette including thank you notes, hostess gifts and wine and cheese soirées.
They are also both amazing cooks although they would roll their eyes to hear me say it (not very polite, is it, for all those southern “manners”) and true food lovers. It was with my eldest sister, Tiffany, that I tried Mozzarella for the first time (hated it) and with her that I learned to eat spaghetti Bolognese, to make sautéed mushrooms, to warm the a coffee mug first before adding coffee and how to grow tomatoes (lots of sunlight, but not too much, lots of water, but not too much). From my middle sister I learned about Mediterranean orzo salads (paired with anything), royal icing, country clubs, Lily Pulitzer and the importance of good highlights. She’s also a total Yummy Mummie with four (!) children.
My sisters also taught me the importance of The Silver Palate and Barefoot Contessa ways of life. The necessity of a few fantastic recipes that were completely foolproof to make and always crowd pleasers. It was through those cookbooks that I learned how to appreciate hummus and, later, how to make it. Hummus was a pretty exotic food 15 years ago in Louisiana. But once I had it I was sold, forever. You’ll rarely open a cupboard in any kitchen I’ve spent more than a week in and not find olive oil, chickpeas and tahini. Tahini, like chipotles, is sometimes hard to find so I sort of hoard it. That doesn’t explain why I hoard chocolate or bacon but that’s not important now.
Hummus was only the beginning though and through all their educating, what neither sister introduced me to was the tasty first cousin of hummus, Baba Ganoush. With most dishes I can make a pretty good estimate of the ingredients. It may take me a while to get proportions right but it is rare that I can’t pretty much figure something out. However Baba Ganoush, with its exotic, smokey flavor and soft bumpy creamy texture, I wondered if it wasn’t so much a collection of ingredients as a basic element mined somewhere in the Pyrenees.
It took me about five years to garner the strength to look it up. Then it took me exactly 23 seconds to realize I’m an idiot. Six main ingredients. Very little cooking time. And you have the very best multi-season dip ever created.
Don’t forget to send a thank you note. That would be soooo gauche.
- 4 eggplants
- 1/3 cup tahini
- 3 cloves garlic, sliced
- juice of 2 lemons
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- Chopped parsley for garnish
- First roast the eggplants by placing them on a sheet pan in the middle rack of your oven with the broiler on high. Cook them for 15 minutes on one side, turn and cook for 15 minutes on the otherside, then do 5 minutes on each side. In total they should bake for about 40 minutes and when done have a black, burned, cracked skin. Remove them from the oven and let cool at room temperature for about 15 minutes.
- After the eggplants have cooled peel their skin away and discard it leaving only the mushy inside of the eggplant. (The easiest way to do this is to cut the green cap of the eggplant off and then, using a paring knife, peel down the skin in strips.)
- Place the mushy insides of the eggplant in a strainer over a bowl. While the liquid is escaping the eggplant add the tahini, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and chili powder to a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse a few times and then blend until fully smooth. Add the eggplant and pulse a few times until the eggplant is fully incorporated but not fully smooth.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- or about 30 minutes until the skin is black and crackled in places.
- Let them cool for 30 minutes then cut open and scoop out the insides.