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By Roz Rogoff

About this blog: In January 2002 I started writing my own online "newspaper" titled "The San Ramon Observer." I reported on City Council meetings and other happenings in San Ramon. I tried to be objective in my coverage of meetings and events, and...  (More)

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Epicure for a week

Uploaded: Jul 29, 2012
I miss the Epicure blog by Jacqui Love Marshall. Her last post was at the end of last year. I liked reading her blog even if I didn't make the recipes. It's a newspaper tradition to feature recipes. I don't know why she stopped writing her blog here, but I hope she comes back or someone else takes over as the Epicure. I'm not applying for the opening, but I thought I'd throw in a couple of recipes this week.

I planned to write about a new food company starting up in San Ramon. I always like to promote new startups in San Ramon, and this one looks like the best one yet. I need to try all of their new products, pancakes with nuts, nut sprinkles, and nut butters (what a hardship!), but I'm trying to yo-yo down 10 lbs. again; so I have to eat a little at a time.

In the meantime, here are a couple of recipes I like to make. The Pizza is not on my yo-yo string these days either, but if you'd like something different on your pizza give this combo a try. It's very easy to make because it uses all packaged ingredients.

Mt. Diablo Pizza

This is my homemade version of Mountain Mike's Mt. St. Helen's Pizza. That pizza comes with Louisiana hot sausage and green chilies. The Mt. St. Helen's was introduced by the Mountain Mike's Pizza chain a few years ago. I remember going to the Dublin Mike's during the remodeling of the shopping center at the corner of Alcosta and San Ramon Valley Blvd. That was two or three years ago when they were building the condos at the south end of the parking lot. It was hard to park and hard to get into the restaurant, but I loved the Mt. St. Helen's Pizza.

It was not like any other pizza combination I ever had. It was also not ordered by anyone else in San Ramon or Dublin. In fact they took it off the menu for a while but the headquarters made them put it back. One time they actually sent someone out to pick up the ingredients, Louisiana Hot Sausage and green chilies, because they didn't have them in stock.

I wanted to make it more convenient for me to get; so I tried making it at home. I used a Red Baron 4 cheese frozen pizza as a base and spread a small can of green chilies over the pizza and then sliced some Louisiana hot sausage on top and baked it. I was disappointed with how it came out. It wasn't the same as the Mountain Mike's version.

I like Evergood Chipotle sausage better than Louisiana, and I wondered how that would work on a pizza. So I made a half-and-half pizza with different sausage on each side. I definitely preferred the chipotle.

The next time I tried it I skinned the sausage and sliced it thinner. Without the skin, it crumbled a little too. I put the green chilies on top of the sausage instead of underneath, and covered the new toping with a dusting of Sargento Reduced Fat 4 Cheese Italian.

1 Red Baron Classic Crust 4 cheese frozen pizza
1 Evergood Chipotle sausage
1 can Old El Paso Green Chilies
½ C Sargento Reduced Fat 4 cheese Italian

520 calories for 1/4 pizza

Skin sausage and cut into 1/4" thick slices and spread over top of pizza. Spread green chilies over top of pizza and around and over sausage. Spread Sargento Reduced Fat 4 Cheese Italian over pizza. Bake according to directions on pizza box.

I was storing my stove top griddle in the oven because it took up too much room on the top of the stove. So I used that to bake the pizza on instead of the rack or a pan. Wow! This came out great. So I renamed my creation appropriately, Mt. Diablo Pizza. If any of you try it, let me know what you think.

Grandma Ida's Stewed Eggplant

My next recipe is one handed down from my Hungarian immigrant Grandmother. She was a wonderful cook and baker. I have not come across any other eggplant recipe exactly like this. It may sound like ratatouille, but it doesn't taste like it.

Ratatouille and other online recipes for stewed eggplant add garlic and sauté the vegetables in olive oil before cooking. Ratatouille retains the flavors of the different vegetables.

My stewed eggplant is not sautéed. It is boiled to a mushy consistency with only eggplant, peppers, onions, and tomatoes – no zucchini or garlic. This stewed eggplant is great as a vegetarian main dish or traditional side dish and keeps well in the refrigerator or freezer.

1 firm medium eggplant, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
15 oz. can of diced tomatoes in juice
1 to 2 Bell peppers, green, red, orange, yellow or combination
1 large sweet onion cut in slices or chunks, do not chop fine
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. to 1 table hot or sweet paprika (or 1 tsp. of each)
1 t salt

Peel and cut eggplant into a large pot. Add salt and 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes in juice. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until eggplant starts to release juices and wilt.

Add chopped up bell peppers and onion, bay leaves, and paprika. Cook over low heat until eggplant gets mushy and loses its shape, maybe an hour or more.

I used to be able to buy hot paprika from Paprikas Weiss in New York City, but they closed about 20 years ago. I don't make it hot anymore, but if you want it spicy hot, you could add some cayenne pepper or tabasco sauce in addition to the sweet paprika.

Simmer a long time to soften the eggplant. Add water, tomato juice or tomato sauce as needed. My mother would throw in any leftover tomato products, ketchup, spaghetti sauce, tomato juice, or even V8, but the taste always remained the same.
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