Continued adventures of Cooking Mara

You trust a blog post about food that doesn’t have pictures, right? Ugh. Well, I’ll describe some of the noteworthy stuff that I made this past weekend.

First up: slow-cooker pulled turkey. A while back, Whole Foods had boneless skinless turkey breast on special, so we bought one and put it in the freezer for future use. Last year, I found and made a really tasty Chinese-style barbecued pork spareribs recipe in Cook’s Country, but with my new mandate to keep my bad-cholesterol intake on the low side, I didn’t think ribs were so hot an idea. When my husband and I spent some time cleaning the freezer recently, we came across that turkey breast. Aha! I decided to try making pulled turkey after looking at a couple of recipes online both for pulled turkey and pulled pork, found that both methods of cooking were the same: add sauce, add meat, slow-cook. Well! I have a slow cooker that I don’t use nearly enough, so why not get to making something potentially tasty with it?

I made the sauce for the rib recipe and I added about half of the sauce and the turkey breast to the slow cooker and set it for 12 hours on low. Result: meat was fall-apart tender, but a bit dry. It still tasted very much like turkey but also had the flavors from the barbecue sauce, so it was a mixed bag. Maybe I should have brined the turkey first. When I took it out to shred, I added some apple cider vinegar and some of the uncooked barbecue sauce. I also added a couple dashes of liquid smoke. Much better: the vinegar/addition of liquid seems to have moistened up the meat, and adding the little bit of smokiness made it, you know, smoky! I served it on whole wheat hamburger buns with thinly-sliced red onion and pickle slices. The side was grilled corn with sriracha/olive/canola oil (direct ripoff of corn side recently enjoyed at Myers + Chang).

Next up, roasted eggplant spread. I took three smallish/merit ish Italian eggplants and cut them in half lengthwise. I set the oven for 350 degrees. The eggplant went onto a roasting rack set on a pan and drizzled olive oil on the cut sides, then sprinkled a little salt. Last time I made this, I roasted the eggplant cut-side down, I don’t think it made any difference to cook them the other way. I cooked them for 50-55 minutes, give or take: I wanted the eggplant to be very soft. I peeled off the skin and added them to the food processor with the juice of one lemon, 1.5 cloves raw garlic, about 5-6 mint leaves, and a handful of parsley leaves. I got all that stuff chopped up while I drizzled in some olive oil. The result was a creamy, fluffy spread just perfect for crackers to put all baba ganouj to shame. SHAME. It occurs to me that when I made this before, I also added zataar. Oops. Guess I’ll sprinkle some on top later.

After that, I decided to do Ole’ Reliable, tomato soup. There was a recipe in Cooks Illustrated a while ago for creamless creamy tomato soup that is to die for: whenever I make it, I make quite a bit that I go through pretty quickly. It’s that good. Last week, I discovered that adding watermelon to the base tomato soup and then eating it cold made for some pretty swell gazpacho-like eating. Since the idea with gazpacho is that you’re making it with raw veggies, I don’t think I can call what I made gazpacho, technically. It’s cold soup. I prefer cooking the onions and garlic to mellow them out, but I was fine with everything else being raw/cold. I’ve had watermelon gazpacho before and I really liked it, so I figured it was yet another way to get both water and fiber into my diet.

I made the tomato soup recipe (sautée onion, red pepper, garlic, and a bay leaf until the onions are soft, add whole peeled tomatoes, crush with potato masher, add brown sugar, bread, and broth, cook until bread is saturated, fish out the bay leaf, purée with stick blender, add more olive oil, season to taste, done) but add some other stuff to it (this time, to the onions, I added both adobo seasoning and garam masala because I am a madwoman, and I also added a little turmeric and extra ground cumin). Meanwhile over in the blender, I puréed an entire English cucumber and 1/4 of a watermelon with a few mint leaves and some parsley, just what I had on hand which wasn’t much. I put that aside. I made my soup like I normally would, but instead of adding broth, I added the watermelon/cucumber purée. I also tossed in a few cubes of frozen basil. Voila! I let it cool overnight and I am now eating it for lunch. Managed to sneak a couple photos, too.

There’s a ridiculous amount of this left over. I cooked this in my turquoise Le Creuset pot and it was getting pretty damn full in there (I think it’s either five or six quarts, I can’t remember and I usually don’t really think about such things as “volume” or “mass” or any foolishness like that).

Looks much redder than it really is! I guess under the light of a flashbulb, though, this “gazpacho” cannot lie about its true nature! It’s cold soup. Maybe next time, I’ll get brave, suck it up, and add everything raw and just dial it back on the allium a bit.