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Friday, July 29, 2011

Mediterranean Stacks

I am not the one you want going to the grocery store.  On the other hand, if you like fun stuff that's not on the list, then maybe you do want me going to the grocery store.  Just saying. 

On Sunday, we went to Thomas' funeral.  He was Auntie Deb's fiance.  Yes, it's complicated.  As with a lot of families these days we're a rather blended family.  Deb is my sister-in-law's older sister.  As in Pam who's married to the brother John who lives in Indy.  My other brother John lives in Orlando.  Yeah, reminds me of Bob Newhart too.  One's a full brother, the other is a step-brother.  They're both wonderful guys and I'm very lucky to have them as brothers.  As for Deb and Pam, we've known each other since we were knee-high to a grasshopper.  They lived a block down the street.  Went to the same schools, went to the same church.  So, I introduce Deb and her folks as my sister-in-law and my in-laws because that's what they are to me. 

On the way to the funeral I read the latest Rachael Ray Everyday magazine.  There were loads of great recipes and I  tore out probably 20 pages.  I'd kind of figured that after the funeral the whole fam would want to go out for dinner.  Wasn't happening.  Which was really a good thing because I was a bit wiped out after the trip to Columbus to see David, Kara, Bradley and Rosie.  I just wanted to go home and cook a good dinner.  Now, because I figured the fam would want to go out for dinner, I didn't put anything on the menu for Sunday.  All of the sudden, dinner was whatever I wanted it to be. 

The list of things to use up included tomatoes and goat cheese.  Rachael Ray Everyday had a great recipe for Mediterranean Stackers with both of those in there.  Perfect.  Now, I guess it's time to finish the first thought of this blog.  In order to make the Mediterranean Stackers, I needed an eggplant.  And, it'd be easier to buy a couple of boneless, skinless chicken breasts than it would be to thaw and bone a couple.  Oh, and I'd found a great blackberry recipe for a drink.  That meant we needed to stop at Marsh on the way home.  We put all the things we needed in the cart and went to the dog and cat food aisle to stock up for some of the furry kids.  Then, I headed the wrong direction.  Connie says, "Where are you going now?" Marsh has a wonderful bin of discount books - including cookbooks.  I was heading straight that way.  He rolled his eyes.  I forged on.  In the bin I found a great book called 3 Step Cooking with Flavor by McCormick.  The herb and spice folks.  I know they do a good job because I get their email recipes.  Into the cart the cookbook went.

Finally we were home and out of our funeral attire.  Connie was fixing cocktails and I was working on dinner.  The title of this really should have been "How to Take a Five Ingredient Dish and Turn It Into Something Much More Complicated."  Don't get me wrong.  Rach's original recipe sounded good.  It just sounded a little blah.  So, I kicked it up a bit. 

What did we think?  This was very good.  All the flavors played well together.  Using a chicken cutlet meant a perfect amount of meat.  And the marinade was perfect.  I'm not sure which marinade will be next but I can guarantee this new cookbook will get used a lot.  The only thing I'd change is that I'd make the eggplant slices thicker.  It got a bit lost.  There's a lot going on here all at once.  I decided to grill as much as I could to cut down on the mell of a hess in the kitchen.

Mediterranean Stackers


For the chicken:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced horizontally to make cutlets
1/2 c olive or vegetable oil
1/4 c Dijon mustard
2 T  Italian seasoning
1/2 t garlic powder

For the eggplant:
1 eggplant, cut into 1/2" slices, lengthwise
2 T olive oil
1 T Italian seasoning
1/2 t crushed red pepper
1/2 t garlic powder
3 oz fresh herbed goat cheese at room temp

For the tomatoes:
1 large beefsteak tomato or several smaller tomatoes
olive oil
1 T capers
2 cloves garlic
1 shallot

For the bread crumbs:
2 thick slices coarse Italian bread, torn into pieces
1 T olive oil
garlic powder


Slice the eggplants.  The recipe calls for peeling them but I rarely do so.  Put the slices in a colander and sprinkle them with salt. 

Allow them to drain for about 30 minutes.

Mix the marinade for the chicken.  Cut the breasts in half horizontally to make cutlets.

Marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

While the chicken is marinating and the eggplant is draining, get the rest of your ingredients ready:

Slice the tomatoes.  You'll want one slice per stack plus a cup or more of chopped tomato.  I used four fist-sized tomatoes and one smaller one.

If your goat cheese has herbs in it already, great.  If not, mix in some herbs.  We used smoked goat cheese and mixed in a small sprig of rosemary, a couple of sprigs of globe basil and two large sprigs of oregano - all the herbs were chopped very finely. 

Prepare the oil for brushing the eggplants.  I mixed olive oil, Italian seasoning, garlic and crushed red pepper.

Prepare the bread crumbs.  Heat the olive oil to shimmering in a large skillet.  While it's heating, process the bread until it's in large crumbs.   Some of the crumbs will be 1/4" wide.  When the oil is sizzling, add the bread crumbs and sprinkle them with the garlic powder. 

Stir regularly so they don't burn.  You want the crumbs to be nice and crispy.

In a small skillet, heat some more olive oil - about a tablespoon.  Add the finely minced garlic and the chopped shallot. 

Saute until they're slightly browned.  Add the chopped tomatoes and their juice and the capers.

In a medium skillet, saute the tomato slices until they're warm and softened. 

You don't want to get them too done or they'll fall apart when you try to take them out of the skillet.

Now, it's time to grill.  The eggplant may take longer than the chicken.  Brush both sides of the eggplant with the red pepper oil.  Grill it on direct heat.  Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard the marinade.  Grill the chicken. 

It's time to make stacks...

Put a slice of eggplant on the plate. 

Schmear goat cheese on it.  Top that with a chicken cutlet.  Top the cutlet with a tomato slice

then a bit of the tomato sauce.  Sprinkle a generous amount of bread crumbs over the top.

1 comment:

Monet said...

Smile. I always end up "kicking up" recipes too. You did a great job with this. There is nothing like cooking after something like a funeral. It does the body and soul good. I hope you have a wonderful Friday and a great weekend, Kate. Thank you for making my stomach growl and my face smile. Love from Austin!