Eggplant and mozzerella sandwiches and banana cream pie.

Eggplant and mozzerella sandwiches and banana cream pie.

On the fourth of July, I was all motivated and made butter nut toffee, which is sort of like home-made almond roca.  First, you toast almonds, coarsely chop them, and spread them on a lined backing sheet. Then, you candy sugar and butter, then add vanilla and more butter, and pour it out on the lined sheet to cover the almonds.  After a few minutes, when it starts to set up, you pour on chocolate chips. When they get all melty happy from the heat, you spread them into a neat layer, and top it with more chopped almonds.  After it cools, break it up into pieces, and voila! Instant happy. Who said food wasn't love??

While that set up, I made a pie crust. I cheat and use the food processor now, it's just so easy. Just water, salt, shortening, butter, and ice cold water. Mix until it comes together in a ball of happy, then chill before rolling out.

Ready for the oven!

I'm a one trick pony when it comes to the edges of the crust, the crimped design is all I ever manage to do. Every time I make a pie, I swear I'm going to branch out, but I don't. I like the simplicity of this.

Since I was making a cream filled pie, I needed to pre-bake the shell. But, you can't stick it in as is, the sides flop over and it looks all sad and not happy. So, I lined it with foil, and filled the foil with dried beans, so that I could blind bake it. I don't know why they call it blind baking, I think they should call it temporarily-filled baking.

NOW it's ready for the oven!

After about 10 or 15 minutes in the oven, I took out the foil and beans, and put the shell back in to brown a little. Then, after it cooled, it was ready to be filled.  I added sliced banana, and topped it with a vanilla pudding made with cornstarch, milk, sugar, and egg yolks. And vanilla. : ) And then into the fridge it went so that it could chill.

For dinner, I wanted to try something really new. I'd seen this in a cookbook somewhere, but of course I couldn't find the recipe once I actually wanted to make it, so I had to do it on the fly.  The recipe was for little eggplant sandwiches, filled with mozzerella cheese, breaded, and fried; they looked so cute, and who doesn't like melty mozarella cheese?  I sliced a firm eggplant in thinner slices (somewhere  between 1/4" and 1/2"), and sliced fresh soft mozarella to the same size. Ish. : )  I matched up the rounds so they were similar, and made sandwiches with eggplant as the bread, and the cheese in the middle. I would have also tucked in fresh basil leaves, but apparently I either misplaced them or tossed them out in a cleaning raid. Instead, I seasoned a bowl of flour, and a bowl of panko with sage, basil, oregano, sea salt, and black pepper.  First I dredged the sandwiches in flour, then dipped them in beaten egg, then coated them in panko. Oh, how I love panko.  Then, I fried the breaded sandwiches in my non-fancy new cast iron pan! Yay!! Super love it so far, but it's hard to tell when all I did was fry stuff in oil in it. ; )  Since my dinner was shaping up to be a vegetarian dinner, I decided to round out the sandwiches with a quick batch of marinara sauce; onion, garlic, and carrot sauteed in olive oil, topped with tomatoes, and a bit of water.  I added basil, oregano, and chili flakes, and let it simmer while I made the sandwiches. Then I pureed the sauce a bit with an immersion blender, added sea salt to taste, and set it aside while I made the sandwiches.

Remember the beets from the 4th of July Sous Vide extravaganza? I pulled them out of the fridge, warmed them up a bit, and served them over salad with an olive oil and vinegar vinaigrette,  slice blue cheese, and walnuts. YUM. I am calling this the Heart Beet salad. Get it? Heart beet? hahahahaha....

Heart Beet Salad

The sandwiches went on a plate with a ramekin of marinara sauce.

These turned out so incredibly amazing. The eggplant softened and still supported the cheese, which melted so wonderful. And being an artisan cheese, it had such great flavor. The crispy fried breading gave the sandwich a satisfying texture, and the marinara turned the little bites into a meal. I'm a super primal meat-atarian, but I have to say I did not miss any meat in this meal! (Okay, I also had an artichoke I didn't photograph, so I had plenty to eat, even without a steak!)

And, for the finale, the banana cream pie, topped with freshly whipped cream, a heart made from the leftover pie dough, and the butter nut toffee. This was everything I was looking forward to.

Banana cream pie with butter nut toffee

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