Grilled & Baked Eggplant Pizza Towers with Fresh Mozzarella & Basil Chiffonade – A CONTEST! – and Downtown Los Angeles!

Leave a comment

All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

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

images (1)download (1)

6-22-15 (24)

6-22-15 (13)

BathingandthesinglegirlCover vromans back


Uh-oh!  Wouldya look at that!  The AMAZING make-up company, Too Faced, has selected my book to give away in the summer essentials giveaway!  All you gotta do is go on Instagram, follow me at @christineelisemccarthy and then navigate to @TooFaced on Instagram, find this image on their wall & follow the rules to enter.  DO NOT enter on MY Instagram page.  Only entries on the Too Faced page will be considered.  A signed copy of my book, a bikini & Too Faced’s ENTIRE summer line!  CRAZY!  And the contest ends tomorrow (June 23, 2015), winner announced June 24, 2015 – so enter NOW!  And remember – go follow me on Instagram, then go follow Too Faced there & enter through their page.  Good luck!

6-22-15 (48)

So – I had jury duty today.  That is the hallway at the court.  Everyone dreads jury duty but I work freelance & literally cannot afford to miss a day of work – let alone a week.  So – I had to miss work today to go down & asked to be rescheduled – which just means that, if I am working in December – I lose at least another day’s pay.  Such a fucked system.  But, anyway – they let me out at noon so I decided to make the best of being downtown & met my friend Rose for lunch at Grand Central Market.  Here is what that LA wonder looks like:

6-22-15 (82)

6-22-15 (96)

6-22-15 (98)

6-22-15 (102)

6-22-15 (106)

6-22-15 (110)

Pizza was SUPER thin & delightful but it was so friggin’ hot out – neither Rose nor I could eat more than half of the tiny 8″ pizzas.  So – I have some for later!  🙂

Across the street to the west from Grand Central Market is another LA landmark – Angel’s Flight.  It is not currently in service, however.

6-22-15 (112)

Even more interesting – across the street to the east is the Bradbury Building – most famous as a location in Bladerunner.  Look how incredibly gorgeous it is!

6-22-15 (64)


6-22-15 (71)

6-22-15 (72)

6-22-15 (99)

6-22-15 (2)

6-22-15 (7)

6-22-15 (10)

6-22-15 (15)

And there you have it!  My downtown Los Angeles adventure today & a chance to win lots of make-up & a bikini & a signed copy of my book!

The recipe next.  It isn’t really a recipe.  It is an idea & I have been talking about it a lot lately & eating it even more frequently.  These eggplant pizza towers.  Not really pizza but born of my wanting a tortilla pizza but without tortillas.

I slice up & eat an entire small eggplant alone but quantities of everything really depends on how many you are feeding, how hungry they are & then personal taste as to the sauce-cheese ratio.  So – an informal recipe will follow.  Also – these would be nice served on top of pasta tossed with a red sauce.  I cannot recommend Rao’s highly enough.

6-9a-15 (95)

6-22-15 (8)

6-22-15 (11)

6-22-15 (18)

Grilled & Baked Eggplant Pizza Towers with Fresh Mozzarella & Basil Chiffonade 


About 1 eggplant per person – sliced about 1/4-1/2 inch thick & lightly salted

Fresh mozzarella – enough to put a few slices on top of each slice of eggplant

Red sauce of your choice

Fresh basil

6-22-15 (4)


Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

I grilled the slices on my stove top grill first to char them a bit.  Just to get some grill marks on them & cook out some moisture.  I did it on the grill dry & it took about 5-7 minutes – flipping the slices occasionally.  You can do this on your burners on the stove or in a grill pan or on a real grill – with or without oiling the slices.

OR – you can opt to bake the slices naked for 15-20 minutes to get them less thick & mushy.

Whatever you do – cook out some moisture & try to grill a little flavor onto the slices.

Top with sauce & cheese – quantities up to you.

Bake at 350 on a cooking sheet topped with parchment paper (THE BEST – nothing sticks) or treated with cooking spray or olive oil.  Assemble each eggplant slice with sauce & cheese & cook them in a single layer – stacking them into towers when you put them on the plate.

Meanwhile – to make the basil chiffonade – simply stack several leaves of basil, roll them into a tube & slice the tube up.  Voila!

It should take 10-15 minutes for the cheese to melt & begin to turn golden but all ovens are different so eyeball it & take them out when they look good to you.

Stack your little eggplant pizzas & garnish with basil.  Yum!

6-22-15 (19)

6-22-15 (27)

Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Toasted Pistachios, Dried Cranberries & Pomegranate Seeds



All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

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


All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.


10-18-13 (7)

I know I say that a great many of my recipes are born simply of what I have handy and it is true.  It is true even when I say that all I had around was a bag of Brussels sprouts and an aging pomegranate.  And pistachios.  And when I thought to make a salad of them, I wished I had some dried cranberries to add to it.  I don’t typically go for dried fruit in anything but dried cranberries just sounded so right for this.  I dug deep in my crisper drawers looking for some other inspiration & found an unopened but very old & gross bag of raisins & while I wondered why I ever even bought a bag of raisins because, you know, ew – raisins – I spotted a bag of something from a bulk bin in the corner of the drawer.   Closer inspection revealed it to be a small bag of dried cranberries!  WTF?  Why did I have dried cranberries?  Quickly, I wished for a series regular gig on what would turn out to be a long running & iconic HBO series and waited for a few seconds for my life to change.  Nothing.  A few minutes later I was still me, still unemployed & still holding the bag.  Of dried cranberries. Fuck.  I hate when I waste the wishes that will be granted on things like a small quantity of dried cranberries.  I felt like Peter Griffin on Family Guy when, confronted by a real, live genie, wishes for his own personal theme music & not to have bones.

So, yeah.  Career still on hold but that’s a go on the salad!

10-18-13 (25)

Salads aren’t really recipes, are they?  I made this guy for myself & I used about 8-10 medium-sized Brussels sprouts & ate the entire salad – even though it was probably enough for two.  So – anyway – I will give you rough estimates of what I used but you can add or subtract ingredients & adjust quantities to suit your own taste.  If there is wiggle room in making anything – it is salad – so go for it.

I made a simple dressing of lemon & olive oil & then decided I wanted something a bit creamier – so I added a bit of Greek yogurt.  You can skip that or, if you are vegan, add a bit of vegan mayonnaise.   Or use another of your favorite dressings.  I ain’t judging.

10-18-13 (32)

Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Toasted Pistachios, Dried Cranberries & Pomegranate Seeds

Serves two


10 medium-sized Brussels sprouts

Handful of pistachios

Handful of dried cranberries

Handful of pomegranate seeds

For the dressing

1/3 cup Greek yogurt (or vegan mayonnaise)  – optional

2 TBS lemon juice (or nice wine vinegar)

1 TBS olive oil

S&P to taste

10-18-13 (10)


Whisk the dressing ingredients together & season with S&P.  Taste & adjust the flavors.  Some like lemon more than others.  Some like more salt.  Suit yourself.

10-18-13 (5) 10-18-13 (9)

Toast the pistachios in a dry pan for 2-3 minutes, until aromatic & beginning to change color.  Stir the whole time & take care not to burn them.  Set aside.

Trim the hard ends off the Brussels sprouts & shred with the blade of your food processor or cut thin by hand.  Be sure to break up any of the white cores that remain – even cutting them by hand if your food processor let them slip by.

Now, just toss all that shit together (go easy on the dressing) & eat both servings yourself.  FTW.

10-18-13 (52)

10-18-13 (21)

Fried Green Tomato & Mozzarella Napoleon Towers with Fresh Basil Chiffonade


All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

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

I love fried green tomatoes.  I had my first one ever in Vicksburg, Mississippi on a cross country driving trip & I have been obsessed ever since.  Sadly – I find they are seldom well executed – even in the south.  Sometimes too bready, sometimes soggy, sometimes laden with icky cheese – whatever.   For these ones here – I intentionally skipped the three stage dredging thru flour, dipping in egg & then in breadcrumbs so that I would get the thinnest possible crust.  I used a cornmeal mix & wet tomatoes only.  Once they were frying – I removed each from the pan & again pressed them into the cornmeal because the single layer was too fragile for the hot oil.  I was very happy with the result.  If you want a breadier exterior – simply add salt & pepper to some flour in one bowl, whisked egg in another & then either this cornmeal mix or a breadcrumb (regular or panko) variation in a third – and simply coat your tomato in first the flour, then egg & then breadcrumbs – & proceed with the rest of the recipe or just eat them up on the spot.

I didn’t use a real green tomato here.  I used a fairly hard green heirloom tomato.  It worked wonderfully.  If you know where to buy green tomatoes in Los Angeles – let me know!

The quantity below was for two little towers.  Increase it at will.



Fried Green Tomato & Mozzarella Napoleon Towers

serves one


1 green tomato

1 ripe red or heirloom tomato

4 slices of fresh mozzarella or several bocconcini (slices will be easier)

1/3 cup corn meal (or breadcrumbs)

1/4 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 tsp flour

1/4 tsp Cajun spices (optional)

Ranch dressing (optional)

oil for frying ( I used cheap olive oil)

fresh basil chiffonade (explained HERE) –  or just chop it up into ribbons for garnish


Heat your oven to 350 degrees.

Slice the green tomato so you have 4 decent 1/4 – 1/2 inch slices.  Get two equally sized slices from your red or heirloom tomato & then dice the rest for garnish.

Blend all the dry ingredients in a small bowl.


Wet the green tomato & coat with the cornmeal mix.


Heat the oil & when hot – fry the green tomatoes.  You can dip them in the cornmeal a second time during the frying process to get a better coating.  When nicely golden – remove from the oil & drain on a paper towel.


Assemble the Napoleon towers by putting two slices of fried green tomato on a greased cooking sheet.  Tom with the red or heirloom tomato then with the mozzarella then the other green tomato slices & then more mozzarella.  I spiked mine with half a wooden skewer (to hold them upright) – but toothpicks will work, too.  Bake at 350 for ten minutes or until the mozzarella is all melted.


Put on a plate, remove the toothpicks & garnish with the chopped tomato & basil chiffonade.  I watered down a few tablespoons of a good Ranch dressing & drizzled it over these but I don’t think I will in the future.  Serve!



Fresh Burrata Caprese Salad – Fresh Mozzarella with Heirloom Tomatoes & Basil Chiffonade

Leave a comment

All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012

I covered this once before in July but it is worth a second peek.

First of all, caprese is pronounced ca-pray-zay with the emphasis on pray.  Another Italian menu item rampantly mispronounced is bruschetta.  It is not – as is so commonly thought – pronounced brush-etta – but rather brusketta.   You are less likely to get corrected by anyone if you say brushetta, because most people think this is the proper pronunciation, but nobody from Italy wold ever correct your saying brusketta.  Anyway…

Burrata – definition courtesy Wikipedia:

Burrata is a fresh Italian cheese, made from mozzarella and cream. The outer shell is solid mozzarella while the inside contains both mozzarella and cream, giving it an unusual, soft texture. It is also defined by some sources as an outer shell of mozzarella filled with butter or a mixture of butter and sugar. It is usually served fresh, at room temperature. The name “burrata” means “buttered” in Italian.

Burrata is gaining in popularity and with that comes greater accessibility.  If you have COSTCO in your region – Costco has been carrying it & it is reasonably priced.  Sometimes Trader Joe’s has it – also at a fair price.  At these places – it comes the way buffalo mozzarella does – floating in water in a plastic container in the refrigerated section.  If you are lucky enough to have a fine cheese shop or, even better, an authentic Italian market around – you are about to be in heaven.  These places will likely have it stored in water or wrapped tightly in plastic wrap – and sitting out at room temperature – as it should be.

Burrata is a very mildly flavored cheese and it shouldn’t have to compete with anything to be experienced at its best. Sliced, ripe tomatoes, shredded basil and some salt & pepper is all I would suggest.  Ever.  If you want to get fancy, you can cut your basil in the chiffonade style – which is just to roll the basil into tubes the long way & then slice into thin strips.  It creates little basil ribbons.  Pretty – but not entirely necessary.

Heirloom tomatoes are nice here (with burrata) because they tend to be genuinely ripe – rather than dyed red (or yellow or green).  They are very costly, though.  I paid $4 for one yellow/orange heirloom tomato yesterday, where the “vine-ripe” tomatoes were only $1.49 lb.   The heirlooms were closer to $5 a pound.  But there really is a huge difference.

In my opinion, burrata isn’t good for cooking because it is far too wet & too mild to compete flavor-wise.  On its own, it is a creamy delight.  Serve it as pictured and maybe serve some crusty bread & a nice bottle of Sauvignon Blanc you are good to go!



Fresh Burrata Caprese Salad – Fresh Mozzarella with Heirloom Tomatoes & Basil Chiffonade


About 1 very ripe tomato per person – sliced

Enough Burrata (or fresh mozzarella if burrat is unavailable) to cover the tomato slices – sliced

Lots of shredded, chopped basil or basil chiffonade

S&P to taste


Slice your tomatoes about 1/2 inch think.  Same with the cheese.  Top the tomatoes with the cheese, basil and S&P.  Voila!