It all started when after 12 years of residing in NYC, and never having driven the Manhattan streets, I finally decided it was time for emancipation and I signed up for zipcar, a car rental service. It wasn't that I was dying to drive, as I love walking in the City and not having a car, but I was hired to teach a baking class in New Jersey and other form of transportation just wouldn't do.
My very loyal, supportive and wonderful friend T--a Jersey girl herself-- offered to copilot my adventure, as she knew I was a rookie (and a bit of an idiot).
For the first time in my life, I was packed and completely organized on time. Ingredients, recipe print outs, utensils, cookie dough: check, check, check. I got in the car, and drove through First Avenue. "Look at me, look at me," I thought, giving myself an imaginary pat on the back.
I picked T up and we were on our way. We hit lots of traffic when trying to get to the George Washington Bridge. It was pouring, and you know how that goes: more drops=more time stuck in the FDR. It kept raining when we finally passed the broken car causing the bottle neck. I felt really sorry for its driver, but so relieved for myself (one more reason I don't like driving)!
Suddenly, the rain stopped and a blinding sunshine appeared. Hard to drive with so much brightness, but as T and I complained about the light, she spotted a whole arch rainbow. Side to side. It was incredible. Gorgeous.
I kept driving. We passed the toll and I was in awe as I learned the car had its own EZPass. How wonderful! Then we took the wrong exit. I was so glad I wasn't there all by myself...After some turns, T got us back on track. "You are never lost when you are in the car," T quoted her father Z"L. Where was she when I was getting LOST in my CAR in the unsignalized streets of Mexico City when I was 18? That would have given me strength!
We were running a bit late, but we were almost there. We found the main road of the town, we just had to make a turn in Little Meadow Ave (OK I made the name up to protect the real avenue's privacy). Voila! We found the number. Although it didn't look exactly as we pictured the neighbourhood would be. We entered the driveway of the house (well, I kinda drove over its front yard a bit) and a couple smoking right outside the door kept watching our every move. It was all very suspicious...As I was about to park, the owner approached us with a big "WHAT A????" look on his face. T lowered the window and I explained I was teaching a healthy/vegan baking class in his house for his synagogue's sisterhood.
Nope. Nothing made any sense. Finally, he realized we needed to go to North Little Meadow Ave, and his property was actually located on South Little Meadow Ave. He directed us back to the main road and then to the right location.
When we found the right house, T and I breathed with relief. We parked, carried my million ton weighing bags and rang the bell. A very nice lady opened the door. I introduced myself and as I was trying to make my way into her home, she seemed as confused as the people at South Little Meadow Ave. I didn't understand what was going on either. It seemed like a bad dream. Finally, the lady asked me if I was teaching the healthy/vegan baking class NEXT WEEK. I first thought it was a joke. Then I felt as if a bucket of boiling hot, but frozen water had fallen on my head. I turned to look at T. She was livid and more confused than anyone else. I didn't know what to say. Next week's hostess was incredibly nice, allowed us to leave some of the bags in there and pay a visit to the WC. As we got into the car I was so ashamed that I almost cried.
I don't really understand why T is still being my friend, but she was incredible. Right on the spot, in the sweetest of manners she offered to come back with me the next week, when the actual class was taking place.
I felt like a total looser, and the least I could do was treat her to dinner. After the 4 hour ordeal we got back to the City and went for Asian fusion on the Upper West Side.
Our luck began to change. We found a parking spot right next to the restaurant. With no reservation, we entered. First they sat us at the bar, as there were no tables available. In two minutes, the host was back mentioning that there was a cancellation and he offered us a table.
Famished, we ordered dinner in my favorite way: lots of appetizers and side dishes, no entree and a big dessert.
It was all very nice. Then, after we tried to distract ourselves from the really bad first date seating right next to us, I realized I had forgotten to check if there was a meter near our parking spot. I left the table in a hurry and ran to the car. Yes. There was a muni-meter right there and I had ignored it. Freaking out and cursing inside I just thought that night couldn't have been worse. How many mistakes could a person make in the span of 4 hours? My husband would decide to lock me in our room for the rest of my life due to my incompetence and for ever thinking I was capable of doing anything right. How would I explain him a ticket (besides everything else)? As I looked for the paper stating how much I owed, I couldn't find anything. OMG!!!! Thank You!!! No ticket. Phewwwww!!! I fed the meter, placed the receipt inside the car on the driver's window side (as the instructions state. This time I was super careful) and went back to T and the a chocolate passion fruit dessert we had ordered. I dropped her off in her apartment and drove home.
I was terrified to tell my husband about the night's escapades. As he saw how overwhelmed I was, he listened, gave me a hug and cracked up. The laughter felt sooooo good!
T: This eggplant recipe is for you! You are an amazing friend. Thank you so much for being my cheerleader, manager, human GPS, advisor, shrink, sous chef, personalized calendar and for believing in me. Anyone else would have left me melting down in the Jersey Shore last summer!!!
Now, back to the recipe: we had a similar dish at the restaurant that night, and I told T I would work on a miso-glazed eggplant for the blog to commemorate the day. A nice glass of sake goes well with this. A toast for my empty brain!
MISO GLAZED EGGPLANT
Besides their high fiber content, the presence of minerals and vitamins and their low calorie density, eggplants also contain important phytonutrients. Many of those plant-derived substances, work as antioxidants, fighting the effects of free radicals in our cells, which help us protect our bodies from diseases such as cancer and heart conditions.
The antioxidants present in eggplant are mostly phenolic compounds and flavonoids. Among the latter is nasunin, a very potent antioxidant found in eggplant skins, so don't discard that part!
However, if you suffer from diseases such as arthritis, gastro esophogal reflux, eczema, cystitis, lupus or psoriasis, it might be a good idea to stay away from eggplant, as well as from the other members of the nightshade family (potatoes, tomatoes, chili peppers and tobacco), as they ALL posse an active substance that might worsen the symptoms of these diseases.
- Free of: gluten, dairy, eggs, wheat, nuts
- Contains: soy and sesame seeds
3 tablespoons brown rice vinegar (not seasoned)
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
A couple of drops of toasted sesame oil
3 Italian (baby) eggplants
1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
*A paste made out of fermented soybeans and rice. Can be found at most health food stores in the refrigerator section.
Preheat oven to 500 F.
In a medium bowl, whisk together miso, vinegar, water, maple syrup and a few drops (about 7) of sesame oil. Set aside.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Cut eggplants lengthwise in half (leave the stalks on for presentation, but DON'T eat them) and with a knife, make a few (2 or 3) diagonal slits on the eggplant's flesh. Don't cut through the skin. Repeat at an angle to get a diamond pattern.
Arrange eggplants, cut sides up in the prepared pan. Drizzle a bit of olive oil on top of each (use 1 tablespoons oil total).
Bake on the lower third of the oven for about 7-9 minutes, until the brown a bit and look softer.
Brush eggplant's flesh with half the prepared miso sauce (about 1 teaspoon sauce each). Bake again for 5 more minutes.
Brush in the rest of the glaze and sprinkle sesame seeds on each top. Rotate baking pan (don't turn eggplants over) and bake for about 5 more minutes. The eggplant should be soft and the glaze golden brown.
Makes 6 portions.