I hesitate to post this photo because, honestly…it’s not appetizing. And I couldn’t get the colors right. Because I still can’t do indoor photography with indoor lighting…inside. It’s beyond me. And Picnik is disappearing into the Google Borg, and then what shall I do?
So. As we all know, the Food Network has devolved into an insane cycle of cupcake competitions, men driving around the country eating food, and men driving around the country fixing restaurants. The only shows left worth watching are Chopped, Iron Chef when a Birmingham chef kicks Flay Tail, and yes, I watched and enjoyed The Next Iron Chef.
If you want actual cooking shows, you’ve got to be fortunate to have the Cooking Channel, which is where reruns of Good Eats were sent and where I followed up on Michael Chiarello after the last season of Next Iron Chef. He was pretty much hated all over the Interwebs, but I liked him, and wondered what his show was like.
I like it: Easy Entertaining. His mannerisms in the show’s open do get on my nerves – he holds a plate of food in his left hand and flaps his right around while being forced to read lame lines about how his pals are all coming over for a Old West themed polenta party on the beach during a lunar eclipse in honor of Valentine’s Day or something.
But once we make it through that and he starts cooking, I’m there. The food he crafts appeals to my tastes and always seems so doable. Which they should, of course, considering the title of the program.
Which is why I made his Northern Italian Caponata tonight.
I know. It looks like hash. But it’s delicious. I will be eating on this for the next couple of days – that and another batch of my roasted tomatoes that I cooked for almost four hours this time and are like rich little oily, crusty gems.
Caponata, not surprisingly, has ..varieties. Eggplant is the point, and it’s got a southern Italian/Sicilian provenance. Chiarello calls this recipe “Northern Italian” and is probably considered a heretic because he throws in potatoes and there’s no tomato. Plus, the dressing is an agrodolce – a sweet and sour concoction (like a French gastrique) that has vinegar as a base, cooked down with a bit of sugar and some golden raisins. Orange zest and red pepper flakes add to the contrasting flavors.
Please don’t think anyone else in this house is going to eat this. That’s fine. I didn’t make it for them.
Now back to tonight’s other recipe, which they will eat – birthday cake – a chocolate pound cake, requested by someone who will be eleven years old tomorrow. That should be a prettier picture. But weird Mom? Prefers the caponata.