Culinary Coaching Craziness – Vegetarian Style! The Appy Round

So it all started innocently enough at a Christmas open house…nice people, great food, delicious wine. Of course, very easy for the conversation to turn to all things food and drink. But who would have thought that 3 weeks later and a bottle of Wild Turkey bourbon (a couple ounces went into the creme brulee) split three ways and we would have one of the most fantastic vegetarian meals going? Especially after the third triple bourbon…at that point ordering out for the rest of the meal was looking pretty darn good!

But my compadres, Darren and Rohit, weathered through the haze and after bravely working through the bourbon induced fog, the meal which came out was awesome…and yielded at least 3 unique and new recipes which I am glad to share over a few separate posts.

First the appy course… One of the requests from the dudes was for some sort of pepper dish, maybe stuffed; some sort of eggplant dish and please use feta and cilantro in some way, shape or form. Well, I decided to tackle the peppers and eggplants in the appy section. Now, let me say, I have NEVER had a stuffed pepper I liked and Eggplant to me was filler when you had run out of everything else. Needless to say, I felt a bit challenged to come up with something I would eat AND that would be loved by all. Well, I did it, with a little inspiration from D and R… So, here it is, the appy of appies!

Coconut and Panko Crusted Sweet Pepper Rings, served with an Eggplant Thai Chili Oil “salsa”
This one started out as vegetarian “calamari”. And even though that was the inspiration, I have this issue with duplicating meat dishes with vegetables. But oh well, it tasted AWESOME! So it is what it is!

Sweet Bell Pepper Rings in Coconut Milk

Sweet Bell Pepper Rings in Coconut Milk

3-4 Sweet Bell Peppers, seeded, sliced into 1/4 inch rings
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
1 cup medium, unsweetened coconut
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 egg
1 cup all-purpose flour
Oil for deep frying
Sea Salt to taste

  • Toss the pepper rings in the coconut milk and let soak for an hour or longer. Drain
  • Set-up a breading station, flour, egg with water for egg wash and panko/coconut mixture. Bread the pepper rings and place on a sheet pan
  • Heat oil to 375 in a sufficiently large pot or deep fryer and fry in batches till golden
  • Serve with Eggplant Thai Chili Oil “salsa”
Coconut & Panko crusted Sweet Pepper Rings with Thai Eggplant Dip

Coconut & Panko crusted Sweet Pepper Rings with Thai Eggplant Dip

 

 

 

 

 

EggPlant Thai Chili Oil “salsa”
A little side note – have have hated eggplant for most of my life. When discussing the dinner, one of the items on the “coaching” agenda was eggplant. Oh lord! Generally I have just not purchased it in the first place. Well, this recipe I created has made me an eggplant lover…well, I tolerate it anyways:)
 

1 small Eggplant, enough for 2 cups diced
1 medium white onion
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cognac
1/4 cup tomato sauce
Thai chili oil to taste
Sea Salt and Pepper to taste

  • Peel eggplant, cut into 1/4 inch slices and lightly sprinkle with sea salt. Place in a colander to drain for 1-3 hours
  • Dice eggplant into 1/4 inch cubes and sautee over medium high heat in olive oil until starting to caramelize
  • Slice onion into 1/8 inch slices and add to eggplant mixture. Once the onions begin to caramelize add sugar
  • Deglaze with cognac
  • Add tomato sauce and cook until thickened
  • Season with sea salt, pepper and Thai Chili oil. If desired, food process slightly to a consistency you like
  • Serve with pepper rings

Hope you enjoyed the appy round! See you on course 2 in a couple of days!

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