Indian Roasted Eggplant

Posted March 26, 2011 by lmoffitt
Categories: Indian, Vegetarian

Spring is officially here and the 80 degree weather it brought with it last weekend only reminded me that bathing suit season is looming on the horizon-eek!  I’ve been cooking a lot of Indian dishes lately and have fallen in love with the different spices that are common in their food.  It’s amazing the amount of flavor these spices bring to a dish, which means you can just add vegetables and have a healthy combination bursting with flavor.  Eggplant has a meaty texture that I love, therefore this vegetarian meal will leave you full and satisfied without wrecking havoc on your waistline!

Indian roasted eggplant


  • 1 Eggplant
  • 1 28oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 green chili, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1/4 inch piece of ginger, chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • cilantro, chopped
  • oil
  • salt

Roast the whole eggplant: in the oven or char over a gas burner.  Place charred eggplant in a bowl and cover with saran wrap and let it cool.  Peel off the skin then chop the eggplant until mashed and keep aside.  Heat the oil in a pan on medium high, add cumin seeds.   After cumin seeds crack, add onions, garlic, ginger, chillies and saute until onions turn translucent.   Add turmeric powder, garam masala, salt, 1 tbsp water. Saute for one minute, careful not to burn the spices.
Add the tomatoes and cook until they are soft and the liquid has mostly cooked off.  Add the mashed eggplant and saute until warmed through.  Serve over rice with greek yogurt and cilantro.


Raisin Swirl Bread

Posted March 9, 2011 by lmoffitt
Categories: bread

It’s a rainy Wednesday afternoon and I am sitting on my couch watching the food network and eating hot from the oven cinnamon raisin bread slathered in butter….life is good!  I’m currently on Spring Break and the extra time to read recipes and leisurely cook is so nice.  This bread did not disappoint at all, it was fabulous!  It takes several steps but start the dough the day before and refrigerate it overnight and it’s pretty easy to do.  Make sure you’re not too hungry in the baking process because the smell will engulf your house (which is great while you’re curled up on the couch on a rainy day) and although it may be slightly impossible, try not to cut into the loaf too soon or you might lose some filling.  I managed to wait about 10 minutes and then proceeded to eat about half the loaf-just remember you were warned that this might happen!

Raisin Swirl Bread

adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours

For the bread:
1 packet active dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar, plus a pinch
1 1/4 cups just-warm-to-the-touch whole milk
1/2 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Grated zest of 1 orange
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
3 3/4 to 4 cups all-purpose flour

For the swirl:
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup moist, plump raisins (moisten them in apple juice for about 15 minutes)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to a spreadable consistency

To make the bread:
Put the yeast in a small bowl, toss in the pinch of sugar and stir in 1/4 cup of the warm milk. Let rest for 3 minutes, then stir – the yeast may not have dissolved completely and it may not have bubbled, but it should be soft.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the remaining 1 cup of milk, the butter and the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and mix for a minute or two. Add the salt, egg and vanilla, if you are using it, as well as the zest and nutmeg, if you’re using them, and mix for a minute. In all likelihood, the mixture will look unpleasantly curdly (it will look even worse when you add the yeast). Add the yeast mixture and beat on low-medium speed for 1 minute more.

Turn the mixer off and add 2 3/4 cups of the flour. Mix on low speed just until you work the flour into the liquids – you’ll have a sticky mix. If you’ve got a dough hook, switch to it now. Add another 1 cup of flour, increase the mixer speed to medium and beat the dough for a couple of minutes. If the dough does not come together and almost clean the sides of the bowl, add up to 1/4 cup more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Keep the mixer speed at medium and knead the dough for about 3 minutes, or until it is smooth and has a lovely buttery sheen. The dough will be very soft, much too soft to knead by hand.

Butter a large bowl, turn the dough into a bowl and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Put the bowl in a warm place and let the dough rise until it is doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

Scrape the dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap, wrap it and put it in the freezer for 30 minutes to firm enough to be rolled easily. (At this point, you can instead refrigerate the dough overnight if that is more convenient).



To make the swirl and shape the loaf:
Butter a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.

Whisk together the sugar, cinnamon and cocoa, if you’re using it. Check that the raisins are nice and moist; if they’re not, steam them for a minute, then dry them well.

Put the dough on a large work surface lightly dusted with flour, lightly dust the top of the dough and roll the dough into a rectangle about 12 x 18 inches.

Gently smear 2 tablespoons of the butter over the surface of the dough – this is most easily done with your fingers. Sprinkle over the sugar mixture and scatter over the raisins. Starting from a short side of the dough, roll the dough up jelly-roll fashion, making sure to roll the dough snugly. Fit the dough into the buttered pan, seam side down, and tuck the ends under the loaf.

Cover the pan loosely with wax paper and set in a warm place; let the dough rise until it comes just a little above the edges of the pan, about 45 minutes.

Getting ready to bake:
When the dough has almost fully risen, centre a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter, and brush the top of the loaf with the butter. Put the pan on the baking sheet and bake the bread for about 20 minutes. Cover loosely with a foil tent and bake for another 25 minutes or so, until the bread is golden and sounds hollow when the bottom of the pan is tapped. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes, then unmold. Invert the bread and cool to room temperature right side up on the rack.

Pear and Gorgonzola Tart

Posted March 3, 2011 by lmoffitt
Categories: fruit

Any time that I have down time in my day, I cook.  I guess that was part of the drive for me originally to go to culinary school.  When I was in my old job, my whole day was spent thinking about what I wanted to cook next or what flavors I wanted to try out.  Even now between cooking all morning at school and cooking at a restaurant at night, I still spend my free time in the kitchen.  However a lot of times these days I can’t make a complete meal and therefore will make things like pizza dough, empanada dough, sauces, and all the ingredients that freeze well so I can quickly throw something together down the road.  Well I had a huge batch of flakey yeast dough in my freezer which is something you can use for tons of different things, but personally I love a savory tart.  This was a great recipe!  Ricky and I finished the entire thing in 24 hours and I already want to make another.  Buy a pie crust from the grocery and it’s easy to put together; you won’t be disappointed!

Pear Gorgonzola Tart

adapted from Giada de Laurentiis


  • Tart shell (I used a recipe for flakey yeast dough but you could also by a pie shell)
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 ounces Gorganzola
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • Pinch salt
  • Pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 small pears, cored and sliced
  • 2 ounces prosciutto, cut into thin strips (I used a full 4 oz.)

Bake the pie shell in a square or round tart pan. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, combine the cream cheese, Gorgonzola, thyme, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Whip together until smooth.

In a large, heavy skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the pears and cook until golden on both sides, about 5 minutes to 8 minutes.

When the tart crust has cooled slightly, (although make sure it is still warm so the cheese mix will spread easier) gently spread the whipped cheese mixture evenly over the bottom of the tart. Place the pear slices in a decorative pattern over the cheese mixture. Sprinkle the thin strips of prosciutto over the pears.

Cut into squares or wedges and serve.

Baked butter garlic oyster

Posted February 20, 2011 by lmoffitt
Categories: appetizer, seafood

I have Spring Fever…I mean serious Spring Fever.  I’m ready for flip flops and sundresses and especially dinner outside!  I can’t imagine living in an area that doesn’t have seasons because although I complain about the winter a lot, it really doesn’t last too long in North Carolina and it really does make the Spring weather that much sweeter!  This Saturday was a wonderful  70 degrees out.  I almost wasn’t sure what to do with myself because I certainly didn’t want to be inside.  I therefore spent my day wandering around Charlotte just to be outside, however before I knew it it was almost 5 and I had hardly thought about food (which is quite strange for me!).  It was the perfect time to sit outside with a glass of wine and oysters.  I LOVE oysters!  There are so many things you can do with them.  We had a week in culinary school that was spent on seafood and I think I ate about 100 oysters that week and now I just crave them!  Once you get through the shucking process (the darn things definitely got the best of me with a couple scrapes), they are just a simple yet delicious dish.    Let your imagination run wild with them, whether you like them raw or cooked, but until you figure out how you like them-here’s my suggestion.


Baked butter and garlic oysters

  • about 8 oysters, shucked
  • about half a stick of unsalted butter
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • about 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1tsp minced chives
  • 2 tbs. parmesan
  • 1/2 lemon squeezed

Melt butter in a small sauce pan and add garlic.  Saute garlic for about 1 minute until it become fragrant.  Add the rest of the ingredients and stir about another minute or two and remove from heat.  Spoon into oysters  (leaving about 1 tsp in the bottom on the pan) that are shucked and layed out in a oven-proof dish.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Slice a french bread baguette into a slice per oyster and dip slices into remaining butter in pan and arrange around the outside of the oyster dish.  Bake about 12 minutes and once they have slightly cooled spoon oysters on baguette slices and enjoy!

Triple Chocolate Fudge Cake

Posted February 10, 2011 by lmoffitt
Categories: Dessert

So Valentines Day is just around the corner, so what better way to celebrate than chocolate!  Chocolate is a girl’s best friend so whether you are alone on Valentines Day (in which case I would eat at least half the cake with a glass of wine and a chick flick) or have a hot date (in which case I would do the exact same thing except maybe the chick flick), this cake won’t disappoint!  The cool thing about this cake is there’s a little surprise once you slice into it-a white chocolate layer between layers which provides an interesting contrast.  With a different filling, icing and cake batter I suggest baking the cake layers a day before and it will make your life a little easier.  And also for those of you who are single or on one of those all so important initial Valentine’s Day dates, this cake might just take it to the next level 🙂

Triple Chocolate Fudge Cake

adapted from Sky High: Irresistible Triple Layer Cakes

  • butter for greasing pans
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/4 cups hot, strongly brewed coffee
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar

White Chocolate Mousse:

  • 4 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Sour Cream Chocolate Icing:

  • 12 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature

Heat oven to 350F. Butter bottom and sides of 3 (9-inch) cake pans. Line bottom of pans with parchment or wax paper. Butter top of linings.

For batter, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Put chopped chocolate in heat-proof bowl. Pour milk and coffee on top. Let stand 1 minute. Whisk until smooth. Let mixture cool slightly. With mixer, beat eggs, mayonnaise, and vanilla. Gradually beat in sugar. Add dry ingredients and coffee liquid alternately in 2 or 3 additions, beating until smooth. Divide batter among pans.Bake 25-28 minutes, or until pick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cakes cool in pans on wire racks 10-15 minutes. Unmold cakes. Peel off paper lining and cool completely, 1 hour.

For mousse, melt white chocolate with 1/4 cup cream, whisking until smooth. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Beat remaining 3/4 cup heavy cream until soft peaks form. Whip egg white with sugar until fairly stiff peaks form. Fold beaten egg white into white chocolate cream. Then fold in whipped cream.

For sour cream icing, melt chocolate with butter and corn syrup on very low heat. Remove from heat and whisk until smooth. Whisk in half-and-half and sour cream.

Place one cake layer flat-side up on cake stand. Cover top with half the mousse, leaving 1/4 -inch margin around edge. Repeat with second layer. Set third layer on top. Use enough of the icing to thinly cover top and sides. Don’t worry if cake shows through. This layer seals in crumbs. Refrigerate cake 30 minutes to set. Cover cake with remaining icing, swirling with back of spoon or offset spatula.

Bolognese Sauce

Posted February 4, 2011 by lmoffitt
Categories: pasta

I love pasta especially with different styles of marinara sauce.  Nothing makes me happier than a pasta and red wine night with some good garlic bread and close friends-especially on a night like it is tonight, about 34 degrees and rainy.  The best part of Bolognese is it is relatively easy to make and then you can sit and smell is simmering away for the next several hours.  It’s so satisfying to walk into your apartment and have the wonderful aroma of comfort food engulf you.  The funny thing about Bolognese is that there is about 100 different ways to make it and everyone has something different to add.  Therefore I took what I know about sauces I like and made up one that uses all the best parts (in my opinion at least!), so I hope you enjoy!

Leigh’s Bolognese

  • 3tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 carrot diced
  • 1 celery stalk diced
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 1/2tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • salt to taste
  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds ground beef ( I like mine a little meatier)
  • 1 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 28 ounce can diced tomato, with juice
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • goat cheese or other cheese to top

Heat butter in large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium heat; add onion, carrot, and celery and sautè until softened.  Add garlic and cinnamon and thyme and saute another minute or two. Add ground meat and salt; crumble meat with edge of wooden spoon to break apart into tiny pieces. Cook, continuing to crumble meat, just until it loses its raw color but has not yet browned, about 3 minutes.

Add milk and bring to simmer; continue to simmer until milk evaporates and only clear fat remains, 10 to 15 minutes. Add wine and bring to simmer; continue to simmer until wine evaporates, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Add tomatoes and their juice and bring to simmer; reduce heat to low so that sauce continues to simmer just barely, until liquid has evaporated, about 3 hours. Adjust seasonings with extra salt to taste.   Serve over pasta, polenta, or a healthier option that I love lately-spaghetti squash-yummm!  Top with goat cheese or cheese of your choice although I like the creamy aspect of goat cheese with the tang of a wine sauce.

Green Goddess Dressing

Posted January 24, 2011 by lmoffitt
Categories: condiment

Simple things such as sauces and dressing can make or break a dish.  Green goddess dressing is one of my favorite things and I tend to use it more as a condiment for things rather than a way to dress a salad.  Green goddess is normally a mayo based dressing using herbs such as tarragon and chives.  This way of making it focuses just on basil, which happens to be my herb of choice.   It’s delicious and refreshing and therefore I would like to challenge you to use it in out of the ordinary ways.  I absolutely love green goddess on burgers!  Spread a little on top of a grilled burger and top with a good white cheddar cheese and throw it in the broiler until the cheese melts and let me just say-wow!  Also if you want to be really adventurous, spread a thin layer on a french baguette and sprinkle with a little parmesan and mozzarella for an excellent garlic bread (it also helps that I add a little more garlic to the dressing when I make it!).  So I guess the lesson is that the options with this are endless so explore!


  • 1 cup mayonaise
  • 1 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts (6 to 7 scallions)
  • 1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic (2 cloves)-I used 3 cloves
  • 3-4 anchovies (depending on preference)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup sour cream

Place the mayonnaise, scallions, basil, lemon juice, garlic, anchovies, salt and pepper in a blender and blend until smooth. Add the sour cream and process just until blended.