Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tuesday Tutor with Lori's Culinary Creations

Baked Eggplant Parmesan
3-Layer Baked Eggplant Parmesan


Each Tuesday I ask a friend to be my tutor for a day. I select one of their original recipes, I follow my friend's recipe instructions, I snap a multitude of pictures, I sample the results - and then I share everything I love about my friend's recipe. Learn More



Lori found me. I always want to ask other bloggers how they stumble over my blog. In Lori's case, I'm pretty sure she found me via the Made with Love Mondays series (or at least that's when I first visited her blog). And despite my rather persnickety insistence on following specific ingredients restrictions, Lori has remained a regular contributor to the series. Which is a good sign. I hope.

I often feel as if I never get a chance to properly get to know most bloggers I meet - which is one of the reasons I love having guest tutors. It gives me a chance to spend some real one-on-one time with my tutor. It's an opportunity to sample favorite recipes and experience their cooking techniques hands-on. I already knew I loved Lori's accessible attitude towards food - easy, tasty and nothing fussy. But as it turns out, Lori and I have even more in common than I realized! We both love cats, we both use coworkers as guinea pigs and we're both convinced great food can come from any sized kitchen!

So please give a big welcome to Lori - Welcome, Lori! And thank you so much for being my tutor!



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I am a California native now living in Utah and loving it!. I believe life should be experienced and with that experience comes adventure and discovery. I take that philosophy into the kitchen and other parts of my life. I enjoy creating new recipes, trying out other recipes, especially recipes from other cultures and ethnic groups. I was inspired by numerous trips to Europe and tasting the cuisine of Germany, Italy and Switzerland. When I'm not cooking, my husband and I hop on the Harley and check out our beautiful mountains.

Featured Recipe: 3-Layer Baked Eggplant Parmesan


More About Today's Tutor
  1. I am a twin. Identical. Yep, there are two of me. Growing up as a a twin was fun most of the time; switching classes and making people guess who was who. We were compared to each other a lot but learned some smart allecky comebacks to some of it. We were often asked "What's it like to be a twin?" And we responded "What's it like not to be?" No one EVER had an answer to that, lol.
     
  2. I have a tiny kitchen. 2 years ago we had to downsize so I went from a kitchen with acres of counter space to a kitchen with counter space the size of a postage stamp. It taught me that you can still make amazing meals no matter what size your kitchen is. They key is preparation, patience and the occasional glass of wine.
     
  3. I work a full time job at a bank and my co-workers (as well as my husband) have turned into guinea pigs for some of my recipes. The fact I still work there tells me they like my food.
     
  4. My blog started as a way to share with family out of state. I'd post about anything from vacation pictures to what my pets were doing. My husband said one day "Why don't you post your recipes?" And Lori's Culinary Creations was born. Since then, it's been all about my passion for cooking and creating meals everyone can make. It's always an adventure in my kitchen.
     
  5. We have 4 cats (Raiser, Bella, Ace & Van Gogh) and an African Grey Parrot (Bongo). People ask often if we have to keep an eye on the cats when Bongo is out of his cage. In reality, it's the opposite. The cats are afraid of him and give him a wide berth when he's walking around the floor. Two of our cats were born feral and they're the most afraid. It's funny to watch a bird chase a cat.



How to Make: 3-Layer Baked Eggplant Parmesan
For a printable recipe and complete list of ingredients and steps, see the original recipe

Sliced Eggplant Sprinkled with Salt
Slice 1 large eggplant into 1/4-inch slices for a total of 12 slices (I had 2 medium eggplants so I ended up with about 24 slices).

Eggplant Secretions Closeup
Sprinkle the eggplant slices with kosher salt and allow to rest for 30 minutes. Beads of moisture will appear on the eggplant and the slices will soften somewhat.

Eggplant Rinsed and Drying
Rinse the eggplant slices under cold water to remove the salt, then drain on paper towels.

Bread Pieces in Food Processor with Seasonings
Lori uses Italian seasoned breadcrumbs and adds 1 Tablespoon of Mrs. Dash garlic and herb seasoning. Since I didn't have Mrs. Dash or premade breadcrumbs, I tossed leftover wholegrain bread pieces into my food processor with 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper, 2 teaspoons dried oregano, 2 teaspoons dried basil, 1 teaspoon dried marjoram and 2 teaspoons garlic powder.

Seasoned Breadcrumbs in Food Processor
I ground the breadcrumbs and seasonings together to make about 1 cup of breadcrumbs (due to the amount of eggplant, I needed to double Lori's original 1/2 cup).

Panko Breadcrumbs
You will also need 1/2 cup of Panko breadcrumbs.

Breadcrumb Mixture for Breading Eggplant
Combine the Panko and fresh seasoned breadcrumbs together in a shallow dish.

Egg Wash for Breading Eggplant
In a separate dish, beat 1 large egg (I added 2 Tablespoons of milk to stretch the egg due to the amount of eggplant).

Dipping and Breading Eggplant
Dip the eggplant slices into the egg mixture, then coat them in the breadcrumb mixture.

Breaded Eggplant on Greased Baking Sheet
Place the breaded eggplant slices on a large lightly-greased baking sheet (I needed 2 baking sheets). I used my Misto to spay olive oil on the baking sheets. Lightly mist the tops of the breaded eggplant slices with baking spray (or olive oil).

Breaded Eggplant after Baking
Bake the eggplant for 10 minutes at 400F, then flip the slices and bake for another 10 minutes.

16 Ounces Fresh Mozzarella Cheese
While the eggplant bakes, prepare your remaining ingredients for assembling the final dish. You will need at least 16 ounces of fresh mozzarella cheese.

Sliced Mozzarella Cheese on Board
Thinly slice the mozzarella.

1 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
Grate 1/2 cup of fresh parmesan cheese (I used my food processor fitted with the steel blade and I needed 1 cup of parmesan due to all the eggplant).

Large Handful of Fresh Basil
Chop a large handful of fresh basil leaves.

2 Garlic Cloves with Garlic Press
Mince 1 clove of fresh garlic (I used 2 cloves).

Marinara Sauce Over Bottom of Casserole Dish
Add the garlic to about 3/4 cup of marinara sauce (I used homemade) and spread over the base of a baking dish. Lori uses a round baking dish and stacks the eggplant vertically as four separate towers. Due to the amount of eggplant, I chose a deep oval baking dish and went with overlapping layers of eggplant.

Breaded Eggplant on Marinara Sauce
To the marinara sauce, add a layer of the breaded eggplant.

Marinara, Mozzarella, Basil and Parmesan Covering 1st Layer of Eggplant
Spread a thin layer of marinara over the eggplant, then top with slices of mozzarella and a sprinkle of basil and parmesan.

Layered Eggplant Parmesan Ready to Bake
Continue to layer the eggplant, marinara, mozzarella basil and parmesan, ending with mozzarella and parmesan.

Baked Eggplant Parmesan
Bake the eggplant parmesan uncovered for 30 minutes at 350F (I baked mine for 45 minutes and kept it covered in foil for the first 30 minutes). If you prefer a mushier eggplant, bake for an additional 15 minutes.

Baked Eggplant Parmesan
Serve immediately (before the mozzarella has a chance to change back into a solid).

Serving of Baked Eggplant Parmesan


Thoughts while scarfing...
  • I cheated when I made this recipe. You're supposed to stack the eggplant and use a round baking dish. And you're only supposed to use 1 eggplant. But I had picked up two medium sized eggplants and figured I'd just double the recipe. Only I forgot to buy double of the mozzarella. So if you love your cheese (like me), you may want to use 24 ounces of mozzarella (instead of the 16 ounces I used).
     
  • This is the very first time I've ever attempted an eggplant parmesan - and I'm so happy Lori suggested I give it a try. Whenever I order eggplant parmesan from a restaurant, the eggplant is invariably fried to the point of mush - and then smothered in sauce and cheese. Which is tasty - but it's hard to pick out the eggplant. Lori's baked version solved the problem - the eggplant retains its shape and texture nicely.
     
  • If you prefer mushier eggplant, increase the bake time for the breaded slices of eggplant by at least 5 minutes. You may also want to increase the final bake time of the assembled dish by 15 minutes to further soften the eggplant.
     
  • I forgot to add cracked black pepper. I felt the eggplant could use a little punch of pepper, so I'd recommend adding some to breadcrumb mixture. And if your selected marinara sauce is bland, you may want to add a little to the sauce as well...

13 comments:

  1. Kayle (The Cooking Actress)October 22, 2013 at 8:17 AM

    Awww how fun to learn more about Lori! I love eggplant parm and this looks like such yumminess!

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  2. I think getting to know bloggers better is my favorite part of the series :) And I'm glad you enjoyed Kayle - it was my first time making eggplant parm and I'm glad I had a tutor!

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  3. Well Reese's do happen to be my favorite candy (if we're talking about the peanut butter cups) - but I rarely seem to eat them. Halloween might be the exception ;) I'm so glad you enjoyed the tutorial and it was such fun getting to know Lori better...

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  4. Fun tutor! I usually roast my eggplant, too, when I make Eggplant Parm, but I don't bread it first. i should try that - it's closer to the "authentic" fried version. Good stuff - thanks.

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  5. Thank you all. And thank you to Javelin for the feature!! You are the BEST

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  6. Mmmmm…. Reeses… my all time favorite!

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  7. Thank you!!

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  8. Thank you bunches!

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  9. Eggplant parm is one of my all time faves. Glad you enjoyed it. I first learned how to make it right from an ex boyfriends mom who was New York Italian, and she fried it, now I bake it. Doesn't get any better then that!

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  10. I don't work with eggplant nearly as much as I should, so I was definitely nervous about this eggplant parm. But the breading the baking prior to assembly was very straightforward the breading was quite crisp. It softened up a bit during the final bake, but it reminded me of the texture/breading in the classic fried version...

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  11. So happy to have had you as a tutor, Lori! I'm so pleased to have gotten to know you better...

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  12. This dish looks delicious. I love eggplant and haven't cooked with it in a long time.

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  13. It was very tasty, Paula - I hadn't had eggplant in quite a while either and I remembered how much I enjoy it...

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