One of my best memories from the holidays was my Italian grandmother’s eggplant side dish…
She didn’t have a recipe, but somehow it got passed down from her to my mother and now, my sister and I have mastered it…all from observing and helping in the kitchen, during the holidays! I hope by showing these simple but time consuming steps, you might like to make it part of your traditions too!!
Since this dish is served cold or room temperature, you could make it a day or two ahead. I used four medium sized eggplants. First peel the skin off with a vegetable peeler. Then Victor sliced the eggplant lengthwise, about one eighth to a quarter inch thick.
Because eggplant is bitter, this next step will take the bitterness out of the eggplant and give it a smoother taste. This should be done the night before you cook it because it has to spend all night being pressed. Simply line a dinner plate with two layers of paper towels, then layer the eggplant slices, salting each layer, I probably did six to eight layers. Then top it with two more layers of paper towels…
Now to press, lay some heavy books on top of the plate, like the photo…make sure you put them in a sink or on a running board, because it will drip the bitter juices from the eggplant. I did two batches, because I brought it to Thanksgiving dinner with eight people. You will want leftovers for people to bring home…the sandwiches this eggplant makes are special and wonderful!!
The next morning after all the bitter liquid is squished out of the eggplant, you will want to rinse each piece and lay them on a double layer of paper towels and roll them up to dry, like the photo above shows.
Now it’s time to cook them in a fry pan or I used a griddle, which allowed me to cook a lot at once. Coat the bottom of the pan or griddle with oil, cook eggplant until browned on both sides, then drain on double layers of paper towels to blot the oil. Add oil as need as you cook. You will use almost a roll of paper towels for this dish, but it is worth it and only made on special occasions. My grandmother and mother used to use brown paper bags to drain the oil off the eggplant!! I would have done that, but in Virginia they still give plastic bags at the stores, no paper!!
After all the eggplant slices are cooked, it’s time to put it all together. With your favorite tomato sauce, and a dinner plate or one a little bigger, make a layer of eggplant, spoon a thin layer of tomato sauce over the eggplant and sprinkle with pecorino Romano cheese. Make another layer over the first one, and sprinkle with cheese, continue making layers, I did around six layers.
And this is what it looks like when it’s done.
And this is how it looked among our Thanksgiving feast, celebrated at Gina and Tom’s home!! We also, enjoy this cherished dish for Christmas and Easter, and did I say it makes the most delicious sandwiches with leftovers!!
Now, I will show you how to make holiday gifts out of sea shells!! In my last post, I demonstrated how to make Mod Podge pumpkins, this is the same process, but I would say, a little easier!!
These are the materials needed to make ornaments and little ring and earring holders. The shells that work best are clam and scallop. I picked these all from our beach on Cape Cod. I also used napkins that I had on hand, Mod Podge, sand paper, gold acrylic craft paint, ribbon and beads for ornaments.
It’s easy to find shells with holes in them, like these…they make great tree ornaments!!
After separating the layers of a napkin, cut the design out, bigger than the shell, paint the Mod Podge onto the inside of the shell, then place your design over it and paint again, pressing the design carefully in as you go, careful not to tear the napkin. Once the Mod Podge was completely dry, I used sandpaper to remove the excess napkin around the seashell. Then I painted the back of the shell gold and also the edges, to give it a finished look! When it is all dry, spray both sides with polyurethane. For the ornaments just add ribbon and beads and you have a beautiful gift!
So far these are the shells I made for jewelry holders, but I will make more, since I found more napkins at The Train House!! By the way, the shells don’t have to be perfect, after the edges and back are painted gold, they look unperfectly perfect…they makes nice hostess gifts for the holidays!!
One of my favorite rooms in The Train House is our newly renovated library, so I thought I’d give you a peak of it decorated for Christmas!
This is the tree this year, it’s the same decorated tree, but looks warmer with the dark teal walls and gold ceiling.
And our nativity scene, among vintage books that used to be my father’s.
Another view of our decked out library!!
Victor made this bookcase just to fit my Dicken’s Village, with an outlet for the fairy lights!!
From our home to yours, I would like to wish you all a Holiday Season filled with love, peace and good health…I am so grateful for you all!