An Idea for a Table with Bread and Vegetables

EGGPLANTS, ARTICHOKES AND MUSHROOMS WITH FLATBREAD AND FRIED RICE

I rarely contribute to any of my own blogs in the sense of contributing anything that WANTS to be an original recipe. I will spare everyone reading here the long story of why and let it remain at that, as I’ve studied and learned that there are too many different kinds of foodie suggestion blogs and there doesn’t have to be a start or end to anyone’s story. So as for my own blog and story — I’m also da capo ala carte and a capella — that’s to say, from the beginning, do as you will and off the top of my head in any direction the wind blows so long as it’s about food and someone else has provided the recipe which I have chosen. But that policy also just goes for posts in general. (No one else is allowed to contribute on my blog in the sense that no one else is allowed to decide what gets posted to my blog.)

Well so without explanation, here is a rare set of not really original ideas, but my own hand at putting together a few table ideas. It’s mostly bread, starch and vegetables, but that isn’t to say that I’m not suggesting that there could be meats and fish at some time.

So the name of this was supposed to be: Eggplants, Artichokes and Mushrooms with Flatbread and Fried Rice. And that’s still the name. Let me make sure it is at the top of this introduction: yes it is. However, that isn’t really the extent of it. I love vegetables a great deal on every table I can find them, but that doesn’t mean I only like vegetables on the table: there can surely be meat and fish. I think I said that already. So I just name off vegetables when I think I might be making or suggesting something for the table. And then, whatever else it might be, speaks for itself.

I should also add before I write out this table idea, that I haven’t actually made this in my kitchen — which is why I never blog any kitchen recipe-ish ideas of my own, because I have not been able to test any of my ideas — and so I have no pictures, extra advice or instructions and I also hold my liability to the outcome of anyone trying out anything I suggest as their own problem. What kind of an arrangement is that? Not a very good one.

Let’s begin. I will just piecemeal every section of the table as I have it in my notes and then whoever reads this, may choose to do whatever they please with the product of the ideas as written. Like I said, I’m not sure of the efficacy of all my thoughts here. But anyway, I mean it all as a single table for a night. You can put it together however you want for yourself and your tribe.

I suppose that most recipe tables, begin with some kind of indication of ingredients. I have a short list of ingredients. I don’t know how effective this list will be to the end of the outcomes. I mean, it might be changeable. But all the same, here it is.

You will need to complete these notes with at least the following ingredients. 

 

FIRST SECTION INGREDIENTS FOR VEGGIES:

Roma Tomatoes — Whole White Cap Mushrooms — Eggplants — Artichokes — Fresh Mozzarella — Gorgonzola — Cracked Wheat Flat Crackers or Sesame Flat Crackers

Olive Oil (nothing special) — also otherwise: peanut oil, vegetable oil, corn oil — Parsley — Minced Aioli Garlic — Chopped White Onions — Chopped Red Peppers

General Seasonings:

Coarse Salt — Tarragon (optional) — you may choose to bring in coarse black pepper anywhere you want it, I have no place in which I recommend it (this is personal)

Seasonings for the Artichokes:

Powdered Garlic and Powdered Onion — Red Pepper (from a season jar; any kind you prefer) — Parsley — Coarse Salt (optional) — Tarragon

For the Eggplants:

Wondra Brand Flour and Plain or Italian LIGHT breadcrumbs (feather-weight breadcrumbs) — Mild Store Bought Salsa of your choice for dipping sauce

 

SECOND SECTION INGREDIENTS FOR FLATBREAD:

3 cups White Flour — One Instant Yeast (Packet) — 2 Tbsp. Corn Oil or Vegetable Oil — Pinch Table Salt — 2 cups Water (but use discretion) — 1/4 Tsp. Baking Soda — 2 Whole Eggs

(You may bring store bought Italian or plain flatbread, because I’m not sure how mine may turn out for everyone. I’m not a flatbread expert in any means.) 

 

THIRD SECTION INGREDIENTS FOR SHRIMP FRIED RICE:

(And finally below are the ingredients for the Shrimp Fried Rice option; otherwise, I recommend restaurant bought large carry-out shrimp fried rice for the table.)

3 cups white long rice (or else 1 cup rice pilaf and 2 cups white long grain) — 4 tbsp peanut oil — water to cook — 1 pound bag of frozen Chinese vegetables — 1 pound skinned medium (plump) shrimp (you need to steam these yourselves partially through to nearly cooked before using) — teriyaki or soy sauce (your preference) — Chinese 5 Spice Prepped Seasoning for Cooking — (rice wine vinegar optional)

 

Let’s begin with the Vegetables.

I can’t say I’m experienced enough to suggest alone what order we should cook in, because if I did have some kitchen experience, it was under a lot of help and direction. So I would use some discretion in the timing of everything.

Tomatoes and Cheese and Crackers. This belongs some place.

(Also. I am not giving amounts to the vegetable section because I feel it to be a decision easily made for whoever is planning the table in their own numbers at the time.)

Rinse and slice the Fresh Roma Tomatoes and the Fresh Mozzarella and put aside on a porcelain retainer. (I always suggest using porcelain or restaurant quality ceramic dinnerware to prep cook with — these materials handle all food types the best without interfering on any level of food quality.  So when I write “porcelain” know that I mean that or ceramic.)

Now for the Gorgonzola (which I have invited to the table just to have on the table come what may) — chunk and slice up the amount that is available so that it is ready with the tomatoes and mozzarella, but so that it has its own particular area, so not to contaminate any other food with its particular quality. We’ll up this aside into a low depth porcelain/ceramic bowl.

This part now is ready. Except remember to prepare another tray of crackers and flatbread for the service of the appetizer. (So no bruschetta for us.) You will need to leave a cruet of seasonings and oil for your service available.

 

Now, let’s move on to the mushrooms. (I’m almost sure I’m doing this in reverse order.) 

Rinse the artichokes under water, remove the harder outer leaves, but not too many, (you may discard these), chop off the stems and set them aside in a bowl. Now make sure that the stems receive a little treatment. They need to be “peeled” of their hard-hairs so that they can be eaten, but not so trimmed there’s no stem left. Also, when you remove the hard outer leaves of the artichoke bulb, make sure not to stab your fingers with the thorns in those leaves. You remove the leaves with the hard thorns in them and the leaves that will never cook well enough to be eaten. That’s all.)

I like to soften up my food before I finish cooking it. The easiest way to do it, is to steam cook it a little way. So you can steam your artichokes in a steamer just so that they will cook through on the stove without burning, not so that they’re fully cooked or soft.

Remove the artichokes from the steamer, place them on a porcelain. Put them in a dutch oven pot on the stove with olive oil, flat bottoms down, season the tops (with given seasons above) and let cook through until they are soft enough to eat and not limp. The bottoms will burn if they are overdone — medium heat should do it for no more than about 20 minutes, that might even be too long. (With artichokes, if the oil is burning at the bottom of the pot or deep pan (a jumbo cooker works well too), then you may put in a little amount of water to steam cook through the oil from time to time.) Then when they’re done, place them on a porcelain of course.

 

Let’s do the mushrooms and the artichoke stems before the eggplant. 

Just a note: the mushrooms and the artichoke stems will be made in the same way, but separately. If you have the idea to put them together, that is your own discretion. I’m not sure they will saute well together, so I suggest putting in the mushrooms first and the artichokes stems after, with replenishing some new oil to begin again.

In a regular non-stick frying pan, saute the whole white cap mushrooms (after rinsing them under tepid water), in olive oil, with chopped onions, chopped red peppers and parsley and aioli seasonings; the addition of salt is your decision. (I think adding salt in the seasoning of some vegetables just adds to much sodium to what exists in the vegetables already; but this is also personal.) This is about all that we are doing to this mushroom saute. When the mushrooms are done, basically dark in color, soft to touch and done to taste, remove them from the pan and then saute the artichoke stems the same way. Each of these vegetables also receives treatment to a porcelain bowl of their own for serving.

 

Finally, the eggplant: we are going to slice and low-fry them.  

Rinse your eggplant(s), peel off the purple outer layer so that you can see the color of the under skin and no more. Slice the eggplant(s) horizontally so that you have typical round slices and not oval long slices like an artist would do.  These should be sliced thinly enough that they are not paper thin or saute thin but thin enough to fry through quickly without burning —  no 1/2 inch slices, but maybe even up to 1/4 inch slices.

Turn over each slice into first Wondra flour and then Plain or Italian (featherweight) breadcrumbs. If you can’t find featherweight breadcrumbs. just use the Wondra flour, which is featherweight flour.  Fry each slice a few at a time in a good sized frying pan in about 1/4″ of olive oil, quickly not to burn them. Use a spatter cover for the pan in between turning. Do not let them get darker than golden. They shouldn’t taste raw though at completion.

Line a porcelain plate with paper towels and let the fried slices dry there, putting one or two layers of paper towels in between each layer of slices if you need to.

 

Now our Vegetable Appetizers are completed. Let’s move on to the Flatbread which is what these are for. And then also the Shrimp Fried Rice which should be the entree.

For the flatbread. 

Mix all the ingredients together in a very large glass bowl. When mixed, form the dought into a typical pizza dough ball and place it under any kind of appropriate dough enclosure — whether a plastic store bought dough enclosure or just a saran wrap cover dough enclosure. Let the dough rise in the refrigerator for as long as it needs to get to the rise you are looking for. When it’s ready, flour your wood work board or whatever work board you use to cut breads, and pin roll the dough flat out.

Cut the dough to be placed on a regular cookie sheet. (I like to use some foil on my cookie sheet in case the sheeting burns the bottom, but consensus disagrees with me.) Don’t let the dough lap over the sides of the cookie sheet; keep it inside the inner depth of the sheet. At this point, add some oil and seasonings to the top when it’s in place, not anything to drench the dough though; just to add your flavor.

Place the cookie sheet or sheets, I suppose you might do this one pizza at a time, in a preheated 375 to 425 F oven (depending on your oven of course). At this point, you have to keep check on it to decide its completion. It should be bready and not hard of course and edible is the primary objective of the cook through.

Remove the sheet pan carefully from the oven, let it cool to the point you can remove it and work with it with kitchen scissors. Cut it into the size pieces you want. It should serve for flatbread, but in case it is fluffier than ordinary flatbread, just slice open the pizza pieces once they’re sized, into bread halves — they should serve the same purpose of being bread to a vegetable appetizer table.

 

Moving on to Shrimp Fried Rice. 

Add your peanut oil to a stir-fry wok, along with 3 cups rice (as shown above)and about 1-1/2 cups water as needed while cooking through the rice.

Another alternative is to pre-steam the rice in a steamer, which is an alternative I prefer, until al-dente and then transferring the steamed rice to the wok. Begin the peanut oil stir fry on low heat, add Chinese 5-spice and a defrosted bag of Chinese vegetable or stir-fry medley from the freezer case, continuing stirring it all together into that hot oil.

When you feel that it is nearing the end stage of cooking, add the 1 pound of defrosted and skinned medium (plump) shrimp and cook through to warm. Add a few shakes of teriyaki and soy sauce throughout the cook process and/or also some rice wine vinegar in small dose to keep the liquid flowing in the cook through.

Remove the finished rice and place it in large porcelain serving bowl.

 

For dessert I suggest large chunk chocolate chip, double fudge cookies, the recipe which I have not provided. But it sounds good and I know it’s out there somewhere.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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