Burnt Eggplant with Pomegranate Seeds & Cucumber – or Really Fancy Baba Ganoush

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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vromans back

31 years ago today – I moved to Los Angeles intending to establish residency & go to a state school (UCLA) for film – hoping to one day direct. I was 19 & did not know anyone else in LA – and – I had never driven a car (and lived here for 2 1/2 years without car or even a driver’s license) and lived for the first week in a creepy, rent-by-the-week motel on Whitley just north of Hollywood Blvd – until I found an apartment at Sunset & Normandie – where I lived for the next 4+ years. 19 and alone – very far from anything familiar and, apparently iron-clad balls because I can’t imagine being that brave now.  And to be honest – I cried almost every day for the first year & had to deflect my mother’s repeated offers to fly out here, pack me up & move me back home.  Honest to God – I have no fucking idea what I was thinking or how my mother let me go in the first place. I look at my friends’ kids who are at or near that age & cannot imagine sending them off to a seedy big city (which Hollywood really was in 1984) – 3000 miles away. I am very, very proud of my 19-year-old self & what that kid pulled off – through sheer willpower. I wish I had the nerve & gumption now that I had then. I am very grateful to live in LA. It is a great town – despite what the haters will tell you. So, anyway – happy anniversary to me & my youthful courage.

See Los Angeles in all its coolness!

Below are some images of me from that general era.  Notice the shaved sides in the top picture that I tried to mask with bangs in my first ever headshot – just below it.  Little did I know that the edgier me was going to be the key to my ever working as an actress.  Conformity – or my attempts at it – fooled nobody.

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So – onto this gorgeous recipe!  I saw it on The Iron You (seen in their photo above) and could not resist the chance to photograph something so gorgeous.  I made a few minor tweaks – in the interest of it being vegan & a little less caloric – but it is really their recipe – and is is CRAZY delicious!   As The Iron You states – “The end result is an addictive, creamy, smoky, tart, sweet, salty, and aromatic dip/spread/salad.  It can stand on its own as a dip or condiment or as a side to meat or fish or it can be served as a refreshing Middle Eastern inspired salad.”

Funny that I often co-opt Iron You recipes because their primary focus is a Paleo diet which – in reality – is almost the opposite of my focus – a vegan diet.  But they use lots of veggies & their photographs (like that one just above) are so inspiring – I am a big fan!

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This is easy & requires no special tools.  I used a food processor but out of laziness – not need.  Chopping the mushy eggplant would be almost as easy by hand.   It is basically a fancified hummus – but using eggplant rather than chick peas.  I think it is virtually guiltless – as far as calories & it really does have a complexity of flavors that is delightful!  And just LOOK at it!  Can you imagine a pretty holiday appetizer?

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Burnt Eggplant with Pomegranate Seeds & Cucumber – or Really Fancy Baba Ganoush

Serves several as an appetizer served with pita wedges


1 large eggplant

1/3 cup tahini

1 TBS plus 1 tsp fresh lemon juice

1 tsp agave nectar

1 garlic clove – minced

3 TBS chopped parsley

1/2 large pomegranate

1/2 cucumber – peeled, seeded & diced

Sesame seeds


More parsley & maybe olive oil for garnish

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Roast the eggplant by placing it directly on a burner over a high flame.  You might want to protect your stove with foil – but I didn’t.  Turn frequently – and don’t walk away from it – lest it catch fire.  This should take 10-15 minutes & the skin should be charred almost all the way off & the flesh of the eggplant should be soft.  Allow to cool & then rub off the burned skin & stem top under cold, running water.  Allow to drain in a colander for 30 minutes.

Get the seeds out of half the pomegranate.  HERE are some tutorials showing how to do that.

If you do not have a food processor – chop the eggplant as finely as possible.

If you do have a food processor – pulse the eggplant a few times.

In either scenario – then mix/pulse in the tahini, lemon, agave, garlic & parsley.  Then fold in the cucumber & 3/4 of the pomegranate seeds.  Season with S&P.  Salt adds depth to this so definitely use some.

Garnish with the remaining pomegranate seeds, some chopped parsley & some sesame seeds.  Traditionally – olive oil is drizzled on top but I see no need to add those calories.  Knock yourself out if calories are of no concern to you.

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5-Minute Vegan Burnt Brown Sugar Chicken Fingers

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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vromans back

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Ok – these things were so delicious – I was almost unable to keep from eating them all as I photographed them.  They take 5 minutes and can be eaten as is or packed into a sandwich or taco.  They would go really well with my Spicy Vegan Sriracha Miso Cole Slaw, seen above.

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As always, I used Beyond Meat brand chicken because it is, quite simply, the best on the market.  Click that link to use their store locator & get a coupon.

These could be baked but I think that really only works for real chicken as the grease in the chicken would keep it moist.  Faux chicken, like I used here, I think, is better served stove-top & it is faster & easier that way, anyway.  These suckers are REALLY good – I promise!

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5-Minute Vegan Burnt Brown Sugar Chicken Fingers

Feeds 1 or 2 – depending on appetite


1 9oz bag of vegan chicken strips – thawed

2 TBS olive oil

1 TBS brown sugar

2 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp onion powder

2 tsp chili powder

2 tsp smoked paprika

1-2 TBS agave nectar


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If you have a nonstick pan – use it.  Burnt sugar is a pain to clean.  If you don’t have one – maybe up the olive oil a tad.

Mix all the ingredients (except the chicken) – reserving 1 TBS agave nectar – in a bowl.  Put the mixture in the bag with the chicken & mush it all around until all the strips are covered.

Again – use either a nonstick pan or a pan greased with some olive oil & cook on medium high, stirring occasionally, until the sugar just begins to blacken.  Toss with another TBS agave nectar to moisten things up a bit & serve!

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Miracle Cure for Burns

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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On Thursday evening, I came home to my boyfriend cooking us dinner.  A lovely thing, indeed!  A rose, a glass of wine & dinner are nice things to come home to.  Alas, Miles is not an experienced cook & thought the way to let boiling water simmer would be to put the pan of water in a 500 degree oven.   When I discovered this – I promptly took the pan from the oven & put it back on the stove with a stern warning to the badass, Miles Miller, that he not forget how hot the handle of the pan was (500 degrees – lest you forget) and that he be sure to use a pot holder when touching that handle.

Thirty seconds later, I went to move that pan to a different burner & just reached right out there & wrapped my bare palm nearly all the way around the handle.  Both Miles & I heard – yes, HEARD – the burn before my brain registered what it was.  I ripped my hand back & the searing pain kicked in immediately.  I looked at my hand and a bright red Nike swoosh looked back at me.  The handle of the pan looks like this (not my photo) and the imprint of it was clear – across the entire width of my right palm.


The pain was unimaginable and ice was the only thing that dulled it in the slightest.  I had several blocks of plastic-wrapped ice in my freezer that I had saved from my Blue Apron meal delivery last week and they were a Godsend because they are big & take a long time to melt & then the melted ice is contained in plastic – so there was no drippy mess.  But if I let go of the ice block for even ten seconds – hideous pain kicked in again.  I was dreading the days ahead as this burn went through its various stages & the huge bubble appeared and, placed in the palm of my hand as it was, the burn would be constantly irritated as I attempted daily tasks – and re-injured it over & over.

A few hours later, I remembered that my friend, Heather, had suffered an enormous 3rd degree burn in her lap from spilled boiling water.  She was in the hospital for a week & got cadaver grafts & the whole thing but her legs healed incredibly well.  I texted her in the hopes that she might have learned something about burns that I did not know – something more than icing it & using aloe.  Her answer was to put raw egg yolk on the burn & let it dry there.  Desperate for relief – I did just that.  Pardon the very bad photos but I was in agony & using my left hand to shot them.

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In the lower photo – you can kinda see the end of the Nike swoosh on the left.  The pain reduced by about 75 percent IMMEDIATELY!!!  It was incredible!  I let the egg dry & did not wash it off.  And here is how my hand looked in the morning – before I washed it – with dry yolk still evident on my hand.

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As you might be able to see – there is no water blister anywhere in my hand.  Absolutely zero pain.   See the shape of the pan handle there?  This photo was taken about 12 hours after I committed to gripping that 500 degree metal handle.  And the photo at the top of this post in not my hand pre-burn.  It is my hand today.  Look at this shit:

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If you know where to look – you can still see the vague swoosh there but you really gotta look hard for it.  That is my hand 36 hours after very severely burning it.  It should be red & have a huge water blister & it should still be throbbing & screaming its outrage at me but nothing.  No pain at all & almost no visual evidence of the burn.  I mean – there is a ghost sensation – almost like a mild sunburn – in my hand that reminds me which hand I hurt but it is hardly worth mentioning.

So – there you have it!  Got yourself a nasty kitchen burn?  EGG YOLKS!!!!  Absolutely a miracle cure!  Thank you, Heather!!! xo

PS – THIS ARTICLE lists egg WHITES as the miracle cure but the yolk worked wonders for me.