In search of inspiration to try cooking things I would not have otherwise tried and to get this blog a lot more active, I’ve joined the Daring Kitchen, both Daring Cooks and Daring Bakers. If you’re not familiar with the Daring Kitchen, the idea is that each month a challenge is posted, members have about 4 weeks to make it, then we all post our results on the same day (the 14th for Daring Cooks, the 28th for Daring Bakers).
This month’s Daring Cooks challenge was to create an original main course using at least one ingredient from each of three (very short!) lists:
List 1: parsnips, eggplant, cauliflower
List 2: balsamic vinegar, goat cheese, chipotle peppers
List 3: maple syrup, instant coffee, bananas
I adore eggplant, so that was definitely counted in straight away, but then I was left wondering what to do with it. A stir-fry popped into my head… but would it work with the ingredients I had to add? Vinegar, a sweet syrup… that started to sound like sweet and sour. Chilli for kick? Why not! I’d never used Chipotles before, but had read of their smokiness and I thought that would compliment the eggplant well. So here it is, my first Daring Cooks challenge recipe, created by me!
1 eggplant (aubergine)
1 red bell pepper (capsicum)
1-2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp chipotle pepper powder
1/4 tsp sesame oil
1 heaped tsp corn starch dissolved in 2 tbsp water
2 spring onions (shallots/green onions/scallions)
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
oil for frying (I used peanut)
Heat about a tablespoon of oil in a large skillet until shimmering. Cube and fry eggplant over medium heat until well browned, stirring frequently (about 10 minutes). Remove from skillet and set aside to drain on paper towel.
Add a dash more oil to the skillet and heat. Cut the sweet pepper into chunks and cook over medium-low heat until slightly softened and beginning to brown (about 5 minutes). Remove from skillet and set aside to drain on paper towel.
Boil and drain noodles according to package directions, add another dash of oil to the skillet if needed and heat over medium heat. Add the noodles and toss until coated then remove and set aside. I usually put them in a stainless steel bowl with a tight-fitting lid to stay warm.
Heat another dash of oil in the skillet. Finely chop the garlic and fry over low heat until fragrant (not browned). Mix balsamic, maple syrup, soy sauce, chipotle pepper and sesame oil together in a small bowl, add to skillet and bring to a simmer. Add the cornstarch mixture and simmer until sauce thickens.
Return vegetables to skillet and toss to coat in sauce and heat through.
Serve vegetables on a bed of noodles, sprinkled with chopped spring onions and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.
It really was delicious. Sweet, sour, flavoursome, and the chipotle added a nice kick… but to be honest, it was just a wee bit too smoky for me. The funny thing is, the smokiness complimented the peppers better than the eggplant. I’ll certainly make this sauce again, but I’ll use cayenne or chilli flakes instead of chipotle next time. I’ll certainly be investigating chipotle more, though.
Thanks to David and Karen for creating such a challenging challenge!
Daring Cooks Blog-checking lines: Our April 2012 Daring Cooks hosts were David & Karen from Twenty-Fingered Cooking. They presented us with a very daring and unique challenge of forming our own recipes by using a set list of ingredients!
Download the .pdf file of this challenge here.