Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Gardens and Kittens with Recipe for Eggplant Kebab on Rosemary Skewers (Κεμπάμπ με Μελιτζάνες και Δενδρολίβανο)

Eggplant Kebabs Ready for the GrillCompleting an eggplant trifecta, yesterday we had Eggplant Kebab on Rosemary Skewers. (Eggplant Clafoutis and Spaghetti with Eggplant and Tomato Sauce make up the other legs of the trifecta.)

Eggplant Kebab came about through sheer serendipity. I was washing eggplant, idly thinking about how to prepare it, when I noticed the vase of rosemary branches on the windowsill over the sink.

Rosemary and JasmineRosemary Bushes and Garden with Blue Jasmine (top left)

Two years ago at Easter we planted two tiny rosemary plants that are now large bushes. The bushes are growing all akimbo, having outgrown the small amount of soil in which they’re planted. The windowsill vase of rosemary contained the trimmings from a branch broken off by the kittens.

Three years ago we began feeding a mother cat with kittens. She’s been back every year since then, each time with a new brood. Over the years, the cat feeding has progressed from once in a while to twice a day, from leftovers in the back yard to cat food on the veranda.

Kittens in the GardenKittens in the Garden

Effie and Nikos, cousins who live nearby, use our yard when we’re not here for their kitchen garden, which they generously turn over to us when we're in the village. In our absence, they’re at our house most every day to weed, water, or harvest. They say the mother cat and kittens disappeared when we did last year and, endearingly, showed up again only the day before we returned.

The kittens are endlessly entertaining. We’re happy to give them a vacation from scrounging food in dumpsters or catching it when they can. Only a curmudgeon would care that gamboling kittens may damage a few plants.

Rosemary makes splendid souvlaki skewers. When I saw the rosemary while my hands were full of eggplant, a picture of Eggplant Kebab on Rosemary Skewers jumped immediately to mind. I had to have them.

Eggplant Kebabs on the GrillI alternated eggplant on the rosemary skewers with onions and green peppers, and would have used cherry tomatoes if I’d had any. Grilled over a medium hot fire, and brushed with garlic and oil while still hot, Eggplant Kebabs are flavorful and very tasty. Rosemary lightly scents the eggplant, while the fresh garlic oil complements the grill's smoky essence.

In the future, if the kittens aren’t around to break off some rosemary, I’ll just have to do it myself. I’m definitely making Eggplant Kebab again.

Eggplant Kebabs on Rosemary Skewers
Eggplant Kebab on Rosemary Skewers (Κεμπάμπ με Μελιτζάνες και Δενδρολίβανο)
Serves 2
Cherry tomatoes would make an attractive addition to Eggplant Kebab. If the rosemary is starting to form new shoots along its length, break these off to make it easier to push the vegetables up the skewers.

4 rosemary branches, 12 inches long
1 large eggplant (about 1 pound), cut in 1 1/2” chunks
1 – 2 red onions, cut in 1 1/2” chunks
1 – 2 green peppers, cut in 1 1/2” chunks
Olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

Garlic and Oil:
2 cloves garlic
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup olive oil

Cut the ends off the rosemary branches at an angle to make sharp points. Alternate chunks of eggplant, onions, and peppers on the skewers, starting and ending with a chunk of eggplant. Brush the vegetables with olive oil and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Puree the garlic and salt together (a mortar and pestle is the best tool for this job, but it can also be done in a blender). Mix in the olive oil.

Grill the eggplant skewers over a medium hot fire. As soon as they’re done, brush them with the garlic and oil. Serve immediately with a fresh tomato and onion salad, a slice of feta, a handful of olives, and crusty bread.

Kittens and Sea UrchinsKittens with Sea Urchins


Peter G said...

So wonderful to be able to pick out your ingredients from your garden like that. Great concept Laurie. The rosemary skewers are a great touch...and the cat and kittens are cute too

Anonymous said...

Well, I guess I am a curmudgeon. But there is a valid reason not to like cats hanging out in your yard, aside from the overpopulation problem (obligatory "please spay and neuter" message here). Cats can deposit toxoplasmosis-containing waste in your yard. This parasite can cause illness and be very dangerous to certain people.


i know your melitzana problem well - and i love roast eggplant, so this is a must try for me

as for toxoplasma (as we call it here in greece), i lived with cats up until the 33rd year of my life. before i came to greece, i had never heard of the problem. after i started living alone in greece, nearly everyone who visited at my lone lodgings would berate me for the felines i kept company with - you wont be able to have children maria! heard that one before?

when i was pregnant, i had monthly toxoplasma tests. i always came out negative. why? because i had probably built up immunity to the curse of it by keeping company with felines. my sister who was never a cat lover tested positive for toxoplasma - but that didnt stop her from becoming a mother...

in any case, for the last decade, i've been cat-less; my husband loves to use his pop-gun on them in the garden. he says i could also learn to use it if i want...


ps and as every informed citizen knows, toxoplasma can be picked up from raw meat, if handled inappropriately, which might have been happening when people kill farm animals in the yard, where domestic (or domesticated) - live - animals are also kept...

FoodJunkie said...

What a great idea to use rosemary stock as kebabs! I guess one could skewer meat with them too

Laurie Constantino said...

Peter G, it is really a luxury to be able to cook vegetables that have just been picked. I feel really luck.

Anonymous, I've lived with cats my entire life and they've never made me, or anyone else in my household, sick. Humans are much more likely to get toxoplasmosis from eating raw meat or unwashed fruits and vegetables than from cats. One way to prevent getting toxoplasmosis is to wash your hands frequently and to wash raw fruit and vegetables in a slight vinegar solution, both of which I do. Appropriate sanitation standards are the best way to prevent toxoplasmosis from all sources. I definitely spay/neuter cats I own and believe it's important to do so. The cats I'm feeding here aren't mine, they are "wild" village cats, and I have neither the means nor the inclination to start rounding them up for surgeries. Since the village we live in is an agricultural village, with the farmers primarily growing wheat and barley, the cats are welcome as they keep down the rat population that would otherwise eat and damage the grain.

Kiwi, another plus for this dish is that it's so very easy to make. And you are absolutely correct about toxoplasmosis and raw meat - a much more common way of transmitting the parasite to humans than cats.

Junkie, I've often used rosemary skewers for pork and lamb souvlaki, and they work really well, giving wonderful flavor to the meat.

Cheryl said...

Wow, I would have never even thought to use rosemary as a skewer. That's such a great idea and I can only imagine how tasty those kebobs are. Cherry tomatoes...I planted only 2 plants and they've almost taken over the garden. We've had more than we could handle and they're still flowering. Why couldn't I have thought to use them on a kebob? I've done it before! Too busy I suppose.
As for the cats...they're just gorgeous. I love cats. I had two cats(& fostered another) through all three of my pregnancies and heard the same spiel as Maria...and I was fine all three times and I wasn't worried either. We had some kittens on the property last year but soon after Gigi moved in they disappeared. They're just beautiful and so intuitive-showing up the day before you arrived. That's just amazing.
Have a great weekend Laurie!

Bijoux said...

Laurie: I just left a message and it disappeared. My apologies if it shows up twice.

re: toxoplasmosis

Canadians a BIG animal lovers. I grew up with cats from a small child. I used to also sleep with my cat in the same bed. My mom often called me a "true Canadian" because I did so. I also grew up having dogs around the house too, as my father was a hunter. We also had chickens and rabbits and ducks...and we lived in the city, but that's a whole other chapter LOL

Anyway, it wasn't until I began living in Athens that I kept hearing about toxoplasmosis frequently, especially from a disgruntled neighbour who began complaining that I was rounding up the stray cats to feed them, and that her family was destined to get a disease. One day, someone placed a dead cat on my doorstep. It was one of the cats I had been feeding. Sorry for the grim story. I just had to share my thoughts about how ignorance kills.

On a happier note, I love the photo of the curious cats staring at the sea urchins. If I could choose to be re-incarnated, I'd choose to be a cat living on a Greek island or better yet, the cat of a fisherman. Just imagine the fish consumption :D

Susan said...

Charming kitten story and photos, Laurie. (Isn't it just like curious cats to eye that basket of urchins?)

If your eggplant recipe isn't among the definitive Mediterranean summer dishes, I don't know what is. I'm sure it smells divine.

Bellini Valli said...

Rosemary would impart its own special flavour to your kebabs:D

~~louise~~ said...

Hi Laurie,
I can only dream my rosemary will grow as well as yours. I've used it as a skewer before just never thought to include eggplant on the other end. You know what they say, "Rosemary is for Remembrance." I will remember for next time.

Thanks for sharing...

Anonymous said...

Those kittens in the herb garden ar absolutely adorable! wonderful garden too. And those kebabs...I can smell the smoky sweetness of especally the onions!

Dee said...

These kitties are too cute! I too have lived with cats my whole life & when concerned with toxoplasmosis when I was pregnant some years back..the Dr. said most people who have owned cats most of thier lives are quite fine. Pets add so much to our lives.
I love the idea of Rosemary skewers. I may have to give it a try! Great food blog, wonderful flavors!

Bijoux said...

You've been tagged!
Visit my blog for the details:

drfugawe said...

We too are caretakers of several semi-feral cats in our neighborhood, but all are fixed via a voluntary neighborhood effort. My annoyance with cats in the garden has much more to do with them disturbing my newly planted seeds than fear of disease. But I've found that if I spread bird netting over the ground for a month or so, the cats will not bother an area with growing plants.

Love the blog - here's mine:

Andrew Abraham said...

Eggplant Kebabs... very cook idea...thanks for sharing this recipe


Cheryl said...

Hey Laurie...I miss you! :)

brii said...

ciaooo laurie...
we all drop by this week end for the WHB..
thank's for hosting!
have a nice day.

Gluten free Kay said...

I found your blog through Gluten Free Goodness and just had to keep reading it. It makes me feel like I've been on vacation. Thanks for taking me along!

The phot of kittens and sea urchins is adorable! Makes me wish I lived on an island - any island!

manju said...

WOW - You realize, of course, that you have at least a couple hundred dollars worth of sushi grade uni in that bucket! Do the cats get a taste, too? ; )