The caponata was truly one of the best I've ever had. I chopped everything on the chunkier side which I think really made the flavors stand out. I also omitted the pine nuts since my husband is allergic and used green olives vs the kalamata. Although this takes some time to prepare; the finished product was worth the effort. The recipe below makes a ton and can easily be halved.
(adapted from Aglio, Olio & pepperoncino)
8 lbs eggplants
1 cup Kalamata or Gaeta olives, pitted
1/2 cup salted capers, rinsed
4 lb celery
3 large onions, finely sliced
4 large tomatoes, blanched, peeled, seeded and chopped
3 fl oz wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
Fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons pine nuts
Extra virgin olive oil
Begin by stripping the stringy fibers from the celery stalks, and blanch them in lightly salted water for 5 minutes. Drain them, cut them into small chunks, sauté them in a little oil, and set them aside.
Wash the eggplants, dice them, put the pieces in a large colander, sprinkle them liberally with salt, and let them sit for 30 minutes to draw out their bitter juices. Once the eggplants have been "purged," rinse away the salt and pat the pieces dry.
Sauté the onions in olive oil; once they become translucent, add the capers, pine nuts, olives, and tomatoes. Continue cooking, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the tomatoes are done, about 15 minutes, and then remove the pot from the stove.
While the tomatoes are cooking, heat some olive oil in a large skillet, and fry the diced eggplant. Do this in several batches to keep the oil from cooling down.
When the last batch is done, return the tomato pot to the fire and stir in the fried eggplant, together with the previously sautéed celery. Cook for several minutes over a low flame, stirring gently, then pour in the vinegar and the sugar. When the vinegar has almost completely evaporated remove the pot from the fire and let it cool.
Serve your caponata at room temperature, garnished with fresh basil.
Tiramisu Bundt Cake
The Tiramisu Bundt Cake was an interesting take on a classic dessert. A coffee and Kahlua filled cake topped with Kahlua spiked mascarpone cheese; what's not to like. This cake came together easily and went over really well with my guests. I'll admit I added slightly more coffee than the recipe calls for but that was just my preference.
Tiramisu Bundt Cake
(adapted from baking Bites)
3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup espresso or very strong coffee
1/4 cup Kahlua
Preheat oven to 325F. Grease and flour a 12-cup bundt pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla extract. Working in two or three additions, alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk ending with an addition of flour, and mixing just until everything is incorporated.
Remove 1 cup of the batter into a small bowl. Remove another cup of batter into a second small bowl. Add espresso to one of the small bowls and whisk until well-combined. Add Kahlua to the second small bowl and whisk until well combined.
Pour half of the plain batter into the bundt pan and spread into an even layer. Pour the Kahlua batter into an even layer on top of the plain batter. Pour espresso batter on top of Kahlua batter. These batters maybe slightly thinner, but do not mix or stir them. Carefully spread all remaining plan batter into the bundt pan.
Bake for 55-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Let cake cool in pan for 15-20 minutes, then turn cake out onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
Kahlua Mascarpone Frosting
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
4-oz mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup Kahlua
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
Combine all ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl and beat at medium-high speed until very smooth and fluffy. Use a butter knife or spatula to apply the frosting to the bundt in a thick, even layer.