Weeknight Dish

If you are looking for that under thirty minutes to-cook-to-table dish without compromising flavor for time, this is it. And, variations on this recipe are very easy to do. My Eggplant sauce recipe is without a meat/protein in the ingredients, but feel free to add grilled sausage, chicken, or shrimp if desired.

This pasta sauce is great served warm or chilled added with a tube shaped pasta.

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George's Eggplant Sauce

Makes 4 servings

chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Lifestyle

1/4 cup olive oil

2 cups eggplant, peeled and chopped

1/2 cup onion, chopped

8 cloves garlic, chopped

6 plum tomatoes, deseeded and chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1/4 cup pitted calamata olives, chopped

1/2 cup white whine

1 cup chicken broth

1 teaspoon each dried basil, oregano, thyme, hot pepper flakes

2 Tablespoons pine nuts

2 Tablespoons fresh basil

parmesan cheese to taste and fresh black pepper

Preheat a large nonstick saucepan.  

Add half the olive oil; then eggplant, onion, garlic, tomatoes, and bell pepper.  Cook until light brown.  Add the wine, chicken broth, olives, dried basil, oregano, thyme and hot sauce.  Cook for 10 to 12 minutes.

Top with remaining olive oil, fresh basil and pine nuts.

Excellent with a rigatoni or tube shape pasta.

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Easter Muffin

The Blueberry Muffin is the most popular muffin; and with Easter this weekend my Blueberry Nut Muffins are ideal to serve for breakfast or include in your Easter Brunch. Make-n-bake in under an hour; double the recipe and bake a dozen for friends or take to the office. 

No sweat if fresh blueberries are in season in your neighborhood; a good quality frozen berry will do just fine.

Tip: Stock up your freezer with summer blueberries for recipes just like this. Just store whole fresh berries in a sealed plastic storage bags for up to six months. 

Tip: Did you know? Tossing blueberries with flour before adding them to the batter will keep them from sinking to the bottom of the muffin during baking.

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Blueberry Nut Muffins

Recipe by George Hirsch | Makes 10-12 muffins

For the topping:

1/3 cup lite brown sugar

2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 Tablespoons nuts, walnuts or pecans, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces

1 Tablespoon sweet butter

In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nuts. Blend butter in with a fork until mixture is crumb like.

For the muffin mix:

1/2 cup sweet butter, room temperature

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 Tablespoon flour for coating blueberries, plus greasing muffin cups

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups fresh blueberries

1 cup pure cane granulated sugar

2 large eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest

1/2 cup milk

Grease a regular size 12-cup muffin pan with butter and dust with flour, banging out excess flour; or use muffin cups liners.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. 

In a separate bowl use a mixer to cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add vanilla and orange zest to beaten eggs, then add eggs one at a time, mixing until eggs are absorbed. 

With the mixer on low speed, add flour mixture and milk in three stages, mixing until all are incorporated.  Do not over mix. 

Toss blueberries in a fine strainer with about one Tablespoon of flour to lightly coat. Using a rubber spatula, fold in 1 1/2 cups of the blueberries. With an ice cream scoop or large spoon, place batter into muffin cups filling each cup to three quarters full. Add remaining 1/2 cup of blueberries on top of the muffins and divide crumb topping over muffins.  

Bake about 25-30 minutes, until muffins are golden brown. Check muffins half way through and rotate if oven temperature is uneven. Test with a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin and it should come out clean; or when touched lightly the muffin should have a slight resistance to finger pressure.  

Remove from oven and allow muffins to cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove muffins from pan.

Masters' Pimento-Cheese Sandwich

The pimento cheese sandwich is to The Masters Tournament (begins April 6th - Sunday April 12th in Augusta, GA) - as a good BBQ slider would be at a Super Bowl weekend tailgate. There are many stories claiming the sandwich's origin (not sure which one to believe) and there are many versions of this recipe (I have my own). BTW, you can get one at The Masters for the reasonable price tag of $1.50.

The Masters' pimento-cheese sandwich is a highly guarded secret recipe. I'm thinking the recipe might come with the green jacket though! If you are not in contention to receive the jacket this weekend you might want to watch comfortably at home with your own sandwich. 

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To make six Pimento-Cheese Sandwiches, use whole wheat or white bread spread with pimento-cheese filling.

Blend all ingredients in a food processor, 1/4 cup each shredded extra-sharp cheddar yellow cheese, Monterey jack cheese, softened cream cheese, drained jarred pimento, 1 Tablespoon mayonnaise. Add a pinch of sea salt, pepper and a dash of hot pepper sauce. 

Optional additions: chopped hard boiled eggs, sliced vidalia onions, watercress

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Banana Blueberry

Add some tartness to a sweet banana muffin, with my Banana Blueberry Muffin Recipe. It's also a great take-along snack that's better for you than reaching for a candy bar. 

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Banana Blueberry Nut Muffins

chefgeorgehirsch.com |  George Hirsch Lifestyle

makes 10-12 muffins

For the Crumb Topping:

1/3 cup light brown sugar

2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 Tablespoons nuts, chopped

1 Tablespoon sweet butter

In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nuts. Blend butter in with a fork until mixture is crumb like.

For the Muffin Mix:

1 cup fresh blueberries

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups, about 3-4 large very ripe bananas, mashed

1/2 cup pure cane granulated sugar

3 Tablespoons honey

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest

1/2 cup sweet butter, melted; or replace with part/ all applesauce

Lightly grease 10 muffin cups, or line with muffin papers.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, honey, egg, cinnamon, vanilla, zest, nuts, and melted butter. Fold in banana mixture by hand with a spatula into the flour mixture until just moistened. 

Place batter into muffin cups filling each cup to three quarters full. Place a few blueberries, about 1 Tablespoon on top of each muffin. Divide the crumb topping evenly over the top of muffin batter.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes. Check for doneness with a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin; done when toothpick comes out clean; or when touched lightly the muffin should have a slight resistance to finger pressure.

13 EPISODES on 4 HD-DVD Disk Set
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White Bean Casserole as seen on George Hirsch Lifestyle

This easy to prepare hearty soup makes for a wonderful mid-week dinner or rustic weekend starter. I have even prepared gallons of this warming soup for tailgates. For a creamier soup, puree half.   

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Making White Bean Casserole from George Hirsch Lifestyle TV Series

White Bean Casserole

Makes 6 servings

chefgeorgehirsch.comGeorge Hirsch Lifestyle 

2 Tablespoons olive oil  

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped carrot

4 cloves garlic, chopped

2 teaspoons fresh basil, chopped

1/8 teaspoon hot pepper flakes 

1 cup potatoes, peeled and chopped 

3 cups chicken broth 

1 can white beans, drained and rinsed 

3 links Italian or smoked sausage, pre-grilled and sliced  

2 cups Kale, washed, dried and chopped 

Fresh ground black pepper to taste 

Pre heat a large soup or sauce pot to a medium heat. Add olive oil. Add the onion, carrot, garlic, hot pepper flakes and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes until the vegetables are tender, do not brown. Add the potato, sausage, broth, beans and basil. Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer, cover and cook about 30 minutes. 

Bring soup back to a boil, turn down to a simmer and add the kale. Cook until the kale is wilted, about 5 minutes. Add pepper to taste. 

For a creamier soup, pulse half of the soup or puree in a food processor. Bring soup back up to a boil until well blended. 

Optional Substitution for Kale: Spinach, Escarole, Swiss Chard, Broccoli Rabe

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