Baba Ghanoush – Easy Middle Eastern Eggplant Dip

Baba Ghanoush is a snap to make I adore mezze or Middle Eastern appetizers. I delight in the bright flavours full of lemon, garlic, and fresh herbs. If you live in most big cities you can usually pick up the makings of a mezze platter at a Middle Eastern deli or café easily and economically. You serve a whole platter full of Middle Eastern food, even if the meal to follow is French, Italian, or anything but Asian. It is especially good with barbecue.
Sometimes in the summer, if I know there are no really big eaters at my table, I serve lots of mezze and dessert. Everyone is happy!
When there is time I like to make some my own dishes fresh. There are many quick and easy recipes in our archives for dishes like humus.
This is a delicious recipe for Baba Ghanoush, a spicy, smoky eggplant dip. It uses long thin oriental eggplants, which cook quickly. I also use sesame oil — not Tahini or sesame paste; I find the texture lighter and nicer. I always have sesame oil in the house, as do many people. Tahini goes rancid quickly, even in the refrigerator. So if you do not eat it regularly, it is wasteful and pricey.
I like to use cayenne sesame oil, but you can use any good flavorful sesame oil and add cayenne to taste or not. I like a kick, so I add it.
5 oriental eggplants
Sesame oil, with or without cayenne
2 lemons
Good olive oil
Parsley/fresh herbs – garnish
Black olives — garnish
The skin will turn brownRoast your eggplants on a rack 20 minutes or until soft at 350F/180C. The skin will turn brown.
Roll in foil or place in a paper bag for 10-12 minutes
Slice down middle – watch out for the steam
Scoop flesh into a processor or a bowl, if you’re using a stick blender
Puree the flesh
Add 2-3 tbsp sesame oil (1 tbsp. with cayenne if you like things spicy)
Start to add lemon one lemon at time and taste – the amount of juice you will get from lemons varies widely. I like things very lemony and always use two lemons. You may want less, so taste as you go. You Slit open with a knife --watch out for the steammay also adjust the amount of sesame oil to make the paste creamier or less creamy – as all eggplants are different. It will be a small adjustment.
Add salt to taste.
Place your Baba Ghanoush in a shallow bowl or on a plate. Drizzle with olive oil and garnish. I like to add herbs and olives. I serve this with toasted mini-pitas or toasted breads. I have even used Indian Nan.
Have a snazzy cocktail party for $30
Baba GhanoushPlanning a cocktail parry for 10 can be snap on a budget. A bottle of good vodka can cost as little as $12 to 14 and make several pitchers of Lemon Drop cocktails. Two dozen deviled eggs, humus, and baba ghanoush, served with olives and mini-pitas are a snappy buffet of after-work noshes. Do not forget lots of ice. This will give you a chic and fabulous $30 cocktail party for 10 with just an hour’s work the night before.
Older, more-established hostesses may want to get a bit more splooshy and add a few more items to the bar or table. But if you are in your 20s or even early 30s, you can be the hostess with the mostest with this simple but chic menu. 

Bring home a culinary memory

Beautiful MezzeWhen we travel, I love to explore the local cuisine. Having the chance to take an interesting cooking class with a talented chef is something I have always relished. It has started my lifelong exploration and love affair with different cuisines.

Turkish cuisine is known for its rich flavors and exotic spices — a perfect blend of East and West. Istanbul‘s Çırgan Palace Kempinski is known for amazing Ottoman cuisine, and now guests of the hotel can learn to make these dishes under the supervision of the Michelin Star Executive Chef, Olivier Chaleil and Tugra Restaurant’s awarded Turkish Chef Ugur Alparslan. These special cooking classes will teach guests a whole host of traditional Ottoman cuisine, including:
Pistachio "Piruhi" — pistachios cooked with onions and garlic — was often found on Fatih Sultan Mehmet’s dinner table and was the one of the leading dishes of Ottoman cuisine in the 15th century.

Su Börek, the favorite afternoon tea dish of the 19th-century’s OttomanPalace, is a steamed, thin pastry baked with spinach and served with a yoghurt-mint sauce.
Ottoman Pilaf was the only Ottoman dish that could be served on its own. Made with rice, currants, nuts, cumin, cinnamon, onions, dill, and mint, this dish is a feast of its own.
Turkish Salads: Cucumbers were a staple of Ottoman cuisine and are seen in almost every salad or mezze, especially in the summer.

In my experience, cooking classes offered at 5-star hotels are fabulous. I have enjoyed each one that I have taken. We have not yet visited Turkey, but hope to soon. All of our friends who have been have raved about the food.