Fictional recipe writer Antonio Esposito had this really bad habit of listing ingredients in his recipes that never appeared in his instructions. “What are we supposed to do with the three pounds of artichokes?” was often asked when someone was trying to make a frittata recipe from page 162 of his cookbook, The Heart of the Artichoke. In fact, if one was to methodically examine each and every recipe in this phantom cookbook, they’d find artichokes listed in vast quantities in each recipe, yet never appeared in the instructions. Artichoke Lasagne, Artichoke Smoothies, Artichoke Risotto, and the list goes on . . . Not one of the recipes mentioned artichokes in the instructions.
If you knew Antonio Esposito, whose real name could have been Darren Schminckleberg, you’d know this was not the result of some forgetfulness or careless error. Rather, it was a prank played by him with full intentions.
Okay, I’ll say it wasn’t exactly a prank. Maybe a better description was that it was an underhanded conspiracy for the general public to purchase more artichokes. For, you see, the book’s publication was secretly funded by the Artichoke Producers of America to promote the use of artichokes and, of course, increase their market sales.
And so, when you come upon a recipe in a cookbook which lists ingredients yet never mentions them in the instructions, you have to be suspicious, and are left with two options.
1. Leave the ingredient out and hope to use it in another recipe.
2. Improvise, and project how the author may have intended the ingredient to be used.
Such was the case when I made Yotem Ottolenghi’s recipe for Egg, Eggplant, Potato, and Tomatoes, which I decided to call, Eggplotatomato.
The recipe is quite wonderful, delicious, and very worthwhile to make. However, after I made it, I was left to ask, “What do you do with the red onion and Sriracha?” To answer my own question, I improvised. The result is the rewritten instructions for this recipe which you really should try to make. And while you make it, the ghost of Antonio Esposito may be seen drifting about your kitchen, urging you to incorporate artichokes, but not telling you how.
Adapted from Plenty More by Yotem Ottolenghi
4 medium tomatoes
red onion 1/4 cup diced!!!
2 tsp white wine vinegar
1/2 cup parsley
1 tbsp Sriracha sauce!!!
2 medium eggplants
Cooking oil, about 1 1/4 cups
1 1/3 lb Yukon Gold potatoes
1/2 cup tahini paste
2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 clove of garlic
1 tsp sumac OR lemon zest
1 tablespoon cilantro leaves
salt and pepper
The Instructions . . . Which include the onion and the Sririacha
1. The Eggplant
Peel and slice the eggplants into 1 1/4” chunks.
Put oil in saute pan about 1/2” up the sides.
Place over high heat.
When the oil is hot, fry eggplant in batches for 3 to 4 min at a time.
Remove and place on plate or pan covered in paper towel.
2. The Potatoes
Slice potatoes into 1/8” thick slices. (Maybe cut slices in half)
Place in boiling water for 3 min.
Use saute pan to fry potatoes in oil for 5 min.
Add salt and pepper, and flip pieces then cook another 5 min.
3. The Sauce
In a food processor, mix;
1/2 cup tahini
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon Sriracha
clove of garlic
4. The Other Stuff
Cut tomatoes into 1/2” pieces
Dice red onion into small pieces 1/4 cup
Chop up cilantro and parsley
5. Poaching the Eggs
Boil a large pan with enough water to float the eggs.
Add 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar.
One egg at a time, crack into a cup, then gently place in water.
Immediately remove the pan from the heat.
Let eggs sit for 4 minutes or so.
On large serving platter, spread the potatoes first.
Spread half of the sauce over the potatoes.
Spread the eggplant next.
Spread the rest of the sauce on the eggplant.
Cover next with the rest of the fresh veggies and herbs.
Place eggs on the top.
Devour! And show particular enjoyment of the onions and Sriracha sauce.