The toilet attacked me this morning.
I wish I were kidding. There I was, non-threateningly fiddling with the shower temperature before climbing in to wash my disgustingly greasy hair -- part of a daily battle against the SF smog that insistently wafts across the bay and coats every single strand with grime -- when the toilet decides to take advantage of my obvious state of under-preparedness and EXPLODES! It started burping water in giant, evil bubbles and then, when I frantically hit the flush (hoping that "flush" was ToiletSpeak for CTRL ALT DELETE), it gushed water and, er, dirtied water at a speed that made me freeze like a deer in headlights.
At which point, I reverted to Automatic Shutdown and screamed for my Beloved. Do rushed in and, seeing me with my feet covered in fecal matter and very little else, had the presence of mind to throw me a towel before my brother arrived, and then flipped out in his own right (he was barefoot). Sensing that it was outnumbered, the toilet abruptly retreated and tried to look innocent and immaculately clean.
New York City may have its Alligators, Tuscon has Cockroaches in its pipes, but Oakland apparently doesn't need living critters. Our toilets won't have anyone else stealing their show.
Special brownie points to Do for letting me cope with my trauma in a nice, warm shower and mopping the bathroom floor himself. That is what true love looks like.
Before my week became nutsoid with Rabid Toilets and Little Brothers and Yankees Bar-B-Queing Brisket (more on that when Do posts), we had what began as a very calm, chill encounter with Curried Eggplant Soup. I think that I got this recipe from Bon Appetit's May issue, the article where Clotilde of the Chocolate & Zucchini blog took readers around hip but unknown Paris restaurants, but I can't seem to find the article or the recipe online. My clipping says, "this recipe is from Agnès Morsain, co-owner of Zoé Bouillon," so that'll have to do in terms of ethical sourcing points.
The Curried Eggplant Soup with Parmesan Cream sounded interesting, especially as I've been abstaining from eggplants for months after discovering that out-of-season eggplants are a close relation of cardboard. Unfortunately, my first taste of this soup was disappointing: it tasted like Soupe de Spice Rack. Got the curry powder flavor, there's the turmeric, but where's the eggplant?
Plan B was, If you can't make it, fake it. In went red pepper flakes, more curry powder, a dash of red wine vinegar, salt, and maybe cumin. Because the Parmesan Cream flopped (mostly my fault: I whipped it too long so it clumped, and was more like Cream lumps with Parmesan sticks poking out of it), I hid it by dumping an entire handful of Parmesan on top. (The posted photos were taken the morning after the Parmesan Cream had a close encounter with the compost bin, so the white stuff is yogurt).
Do, despite all my efforts and warnings, liked it. He says that eggplant doesn't really taste like anything anyway, but was there for texture. He liked when the clumpy cream melted into the thick purée, he really liked the cacophony of flavors. He had seconds!
So I don't know what to think. I'm going to give you the recipe straight up, as it appears on my sourceless clipping, and you can try to muck around with it. Maybe roasting the eggplant cubes first would bring out eggplant flavor?
Curried Eggplant Soup with Parmesan Cream (6 servings).
1 1/2 Tbs olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 small garlic clove, minced (or two, or three...)
1 tsp curry powder (more, or garam masala?)
1/2 tsp ground turmeric (why be stingy?)
2 1/4 lbs eggplant (about two medium), peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces. (In a half-hearted attempt to reduce the serving size, I used one eggplant)
4 cups of water (For the one eggplant, I used 2 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup canned crushed tomatoes with added purée (what added puree?)
2 Tbs chopped fresh basil (Couldn't find fresh, got depressed, used dried)
1/2 cup chilled whipping cream
1 Tbs freshly grated Parmesan cheese
(I also added cumin, red wine vinegar, and red pepper flakes to taste)
Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion; cook until golden, about 8 minutes. Add garlic, curry, and turmeric; stir one minute. Add eggplant, 4 cups of water, and tomatoes; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover, and cook until eggplant is very tender, about 40 minutes. Cool soup slightly. Mix in basil. Working in batches, puree soup in blender. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Whisk cream in medium bowl to soft peaks; fold in cheese. Bring soup to simmer. Ladle into bowls, then top with dollop of Parmesan cream.