Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Pickings From My Garden - Number One Eggplant Bites

It's official:

Bet you were expecting Donald Trump, right?

Well, I got my letter of dismissal today, and while it was not unexpected (I had told them I could not perform my normal job duties any more due to the fibromyalgia), it was still a sad moment.  The letter was the coldest piece of work I've seen in a while; I don't know if it is a Department-sanctioned form letter, or something whipped up by the individual whose name appeared on the signature line, but either way, somebody's got to work on their people skills!  No "we regret to advise you" or even a "good luck in your future endeavors."  Believe it or not, those phrases do soften the blow.

I do know something about being dismissed, you know.  Back in 1981, I was laid-off from my position as an assistant something-or-other with the late, lamented Alexander & Alexander, at that time the second largest insurance broker in the world.  Now that was a classy termination.  The Marine Department Manager and Assistant Manager invited me into the conference room.  We sat down like civilized people.  They had an envelope for me which contained everything I needed to take care of, including forms to apply for unemployment.  The manager actually was upset by what he had to do, and excused himself.  It was explained that I was not being fired for cause, but laid-off because I was a "non income-producing member of the department."  Of course I was upset; but I never got to collect those unemployment benefits because they helped me get another job, with the American Hull Insurance Syndicate, an extremely respectable place to work.  Best of all, 6 years later they re-hired me for their Melville office, where I had a wonderful few years before I graduated from law school.

Classy, I told you.  Okay, I never thought I'd look back fondly at my termination from A&A, but time clearly does heal some wounds.  This time is very different in many ways.

This is a follow-up to my Save the Garden Pickings Campaign, which I started yesterday among the okra pods.  No frozen supplementation needed for this one.  I almost ate the whole damn thing for lunch yesterday, it was that good.  Ichiban eggplants are smaller, sweeter, and more tender than their larger cousins (think Penny Hardaway and Shaquille O'Neal, playing on the same team but with different talents).  I used my Cuisinart griddler (similar to a George Foreman grill) for the eggplant. Incidentally, "ichiban" translates to "number one", Japanese to English.

3 Ichiban eggplant, sliced on the diagonal
garlic flavored olive oil
a splash of lemon juice
seasoning (I used Emeril's Essence)
3/4 cup whole milk ricotta
1/4 cup shredded Pecorino Romano
2 tablespoons chopped, drained pimentos, patted dry
2 teaspoons parsley flakes
1 teaspoon garlic pepper
thin slices of provolone, mozzarella, or mixed shredded cheese - small amounts

Toss the eggplant with the olive oil and lemon juice; season lightly on both sides.  Grill for a few minutes until you have nice grill marks.  Place the grilled eggplant slices in a shallow baking pan and let cool.

In a small bowl, combine the ricotta and Romano cheeses, the parsley flakes and the garlic pepper.  Gently fold in the chopped pimentos.  Divide the cheese filling and spread evenly on each piece of eggplant.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Top the ricotta mixture with a small amount of provolone or other cheese. Place in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Remove the baking pan from the oven and allow to cool a few minutes before serving.  It's not really finger food, as the eggplant remains fairly soft, but it is well worth the knife-and-fork business.

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