In 2013, I resolve to try new recipes without mucking up the directions and experimenting at the last minute with off-the-wall additions. Armed with my subscriptions of Food & Wine, Vegetarian Times, and La Cucina Italiana, I'll fill you in on what I think works and what doesn't.
First up, Mourad Lahlou's Silky Eggplant Soup with Baby Peas and Radishes. This is from the January 2013 issue of Food and Wine (click for recipe), and it claims to be an homage to the fresh salads and eggplant puree traditionally served at the beginning of a meal in Lahlou's native Morocco. I was particularly interested to try it because I am rarely bowled over by eggplant, but sometimes it's a great deal at the grocery store and I always want to take advantage.
Bad news--didn't work for me. It is an atrocious amount of work, for starters. You roast the eggplant for 45 minutes (too long, by the way--it was rather charred, and I think 25-30 minutes would have been plenty). Then you have to push it through a sieve, which yields surprisingly little material. Or perhaps I would have gotten more if my eggplant wasn't so blackened on the flesh side.
The heated half-and-half sits with garlic and a cheese rind in it for an hour. Seems clever, but with my ingredients, anyway, it was far too subtle in flavoring. Added to the barely-there eggplant goo and lemon juice, the soup basically tasted like warm milk before the peas and radishes were added. Afterwards, it tasted like warm milk with peas and radishes in it. They did add an ascetically pleasing touch, though...
If anyone else tries it and likes it, please share your tips!