ABC to XYZ in Foods: Excellent eggs and eggplant Parmesan

File photo Eggs benedict is one popular way to prepare eggs for breakfast.
file photo Fresh eggplant growing in a garden.

EGGS – The mystery of which came first, the chicken or the egg, remains unsolved. The egg is actually three different types of food: there is the white, the yolk and the whole egg. Eggs are graded accordingly by the size of the yolk and the thickness of the white part. Egg sizes are jumbo, extra-large, large, medium and small. The color of the shell has nothing to do with the food value; the breed of the type of hen determines the color.

Fresh eggs need to be stored in the refrigerator. Never leave out on the counter for any length of time. Discard eggs that look or smell the lease bit unusual. For safety’s sake, it is good to wash the outside of eggs before cracking under cool running water. But never wash eggs before storing in the refrigerator, as eggshells get porous when wet. This allows harmful bacteria to be absorbed through the shell. It is a good rule to use eggs within four weeks of purchase.

EGGPLANT – Is best known for its adaptability. It can be used in place of meat. Eggplant is great to use in vegetarian recipes and is low in calories and sodium with little fat and no cholesterol. Eggplants are usually purple to purple black in color, though there is also white eggplant. They should be heavy for their size. Avoid soft, bruised, withered or damaged eggplants. Withered ones will be bitter; damaged ones will be discolored (dark) on the inside. Make sure you store eggplants in the refrigerator. Do not peel until ready to use. Remove liquid from the flesh so it will not taste bitter. To do this, salt the slices and weight down with heavy objects. Discard the liquid that has drained out of the eggplant. A good tip to follow is not to cook eggplant in aluminum cookware, as a chemical reaction may occur.

Eggplant Parmesan

•1 medium eggplant, sliced

•1 egg

•2 tablespoons milk

•Italian bread crumbs

•Ό cup olive oil

•½ cup Chianti

•6 ounces tomato paste

•Ό teaspoon oregano

•1 garlic clove, crushed

•1/8 teaspoon salt

•1/8 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground

•½ pound mozzarella cheese, sliced

•1 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly ground

Wash the eggplant and slice it into rings around ½” thick. Mix together egg and milk, dip slices of eggplant into mixture. Coat the eggplant in bread crumbs until well coated. Grease a cookie sheet with olive oil and layer the eggplant slices on the sheet. Brush or spray more olive oil on top. Bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees, flip, then bake on the other side for another 15 minutes.

In a small saucepan, mix together Chianti and tomato paste, add the oregano, garlic, salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes. Place the slices of eggplant into a baking dish, in layers. Pour a tablespoon of sauce on each slice of eggplant. Layer mozzarella on top of each slice. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top of mozzarella. Return to oven for 20 minutes at 400 degrees. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Serve with remaining sauce that has been kept warm.

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