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Kitchen Notebook: Easy Eggplant Parm

No one was acquainted with eggplant but most liked chicken parmesan and wondered about the taste of eggplant parmesan. Some enjoyed the dish while others ate only a small amount— reluctantly.

Bayard Taylor chefs Syliani Ortiz and Gabriel "Gobby" Rodriguez review the colorful rainbow of vegetables that they would prepare during week 4 of the fall 2018 My Daughter's Kitchen cooking program: purple eggplant, green lettuce, red tomato, yellow lemon, plus a honey crisp apple for a snack.
Bayard Taylor chefs Syliani Ortiz and Gabriel "Gobby" Rodriguez review the colorful rainbow of vegetables that they would prepare during week 4 of the fall 2018 My Daughter's Kitchen cooking program: purple eggplant, green lettuce, red tomato, yellow lemon, plus a honey crisp apple for a snack.Read morePeter Landry

This Week’s Contributing Schools:

Urban Promise

Culinary skills are developing quickly at Urban Promise and the willingness to try new foods is picking up. This week's recipes, Easiest Eggplant Parm and Simple Italian Green Salad met mixed reviews. Everyone tried components of the dishes prior to assembly, and although the ungrated Parmesan cheese and Panko bread crumbs were universal favorites, not all appreciated the cooked eggplant dish. We sampled an exotic ingredient, hearts of palm, for our salad but several young chefs said, "It's not my cup of tea." The chefs recognized that our colorful salad included many hues of the rainbow, featuring butter lettuce, romaine, savoy cabbage, carrots, yellow bell pepper, Kirby cucumber, scallions, grape tomatoes, avocado, and hearts of palm.

—Jane Elkis Berkowitz and Libby Whitman

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Kensington Health Sciences Academy

Amany: "Never Thought I woulld like eggplant but I do."

Nayely: "Don't like trying new things but it was pretty good the first two bites."

Erin Smith : "I really like the eggplant meal."

Dynasty Perez: "The food looks good, I like everything on it."

— Hope Waller

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McClure Elementary

This week was a very exciting week in My Daughter's Kitchen. The girls were really excited about making the selection for this week, they all loved the crunchy bits on top of the eggplant and they loved the salad. I think this meal was one of there favorites.

— Wendy Vandenberg

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Bayard Taylor Elementary

We were short-handed for our fourth week of cooking at Bayard Taylor, but we weren't short on energy or enthusiasm. Chefs Syliani Ortiz and Gabriel "Gobby" Rodriguez did the work of five kids in a fast-paced afternoon in the kitchen.

They were so pleased with their accomplishments with Easy Eggplant Parm and Italian Salad, they decided they'd like to open a restaurant.

"Gobby and Syliani's Healthy Food," Gabriel announced.

This was a day to "eat our colors," and we started with a discussion and photo of the colorful vegetables and fruits we'd be cooking: bright red tomatoes, green lettuce and basil, yellow lemon and purple eggplant (which matched both our aprons and Syliani's fingernails).

Our chefs were interested to learn different colored foods provide different vitamins and minerals for a healthy diet, and how the skins of vegetables often have the most nutrients.

After that, we decided to leave the skin on one eggplant and peel the other to compare flavors and results. Gobby mastered the peeler after some struggle with the thick eggplant skin, while Syliani evenly sliced and cubed.

They had fun learning to use the grater for our hard wedge of parmesan cheese, and loved tasting the difference between that and the milder mozzarella. They kept coming back to the parm for taste after taste until, like parents everywhere, we had to warn "you won't eat your dinner!"

It was a whirlwind getting the parm and salad together, for baking and tossing. Gobby took care of mixing the cheese and breadcrumbs for the eggplant, while Syliani washed and dried the lettuce and chopped carrots, celery and cucumber for toppings.

They were pleased at how pretty the eggplant looked when it was topped with sliced tomatoes and the cheese mix. And when it came out of the oven, they couldn't contain their excitement.

"This smells so good," Syliani enthused. "This smells like I want to eat it!"

Would they serve it at their restaurant?

"I would save this recipe book," Gobby said.

— Nancy Smith, Linda Molloy, and Peter Landry

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Hunter Elementary Once again, the girls came to the session bursting with excitement and enthusiasm! None had ever eaten eggplant and they were very curious about how it would taste. When asked to comment on the flavor Raquelle politely responded, "Well, I'm not going to yuk someone's yum!" The group consensus was that the process of working together was much better than the meal itself.

— Angela Burke and Cindy DePasquale

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Loesche School Most of the students were unfamiliar with the eggplant so they were quite intrigued by it. Peeling it was not easy because the peelers would slide right over the peel. Dominic Bondarenko thought that it smelled like a banana. Madina Azamjon began dicing it because were usually did that with veggies.After we explained that we needed two inch pieces. Fred Moore replied, after looking at his pieces, "I just made a big puzzle." Nobody asked to taste it. Then, we were all surprised how much it shrunk up after the first time in the oven. In fact, we had to put the extra cheese crumb mix on top of chopped up tomatoes because there wasn't enough of the eggplant mixture. Madina and Nigina Ubaydullaeva were fascinated by making an emulsion with the salad dressing ingredients by just mixing them together. The students made a picturesque presentation of the meal when the food was all finished. The cooked eggplant was not a real favorite, however, everyone agreed that melted cheese sure makes things taste better! And they can't wait for the steak tacos next week.

— Jane Pupis & Susan Munafo

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Gesu School

The Gesu School MDK team was delighted to have 8th grader Simran Singh join us. She is new to Gesu this year and excited to be cooking with classmates Sanaa Burtonand Desiree White. They, their teacher Ms Annette Pickett and volunteers Liz Mooney and Margaret Mary O’Neill welcomed her and put her to work slicing tomatoes. Desiree was an expert with the peeler and eggplant but said she would taste only the tiniest bit of our meal because she hates eggplant. Our stove is quite old and has no reliable temperature controls so Sanaa cut the eggplant into 1 inch instead of 2″ cubes and we monitored the eggplant while it roasted. The students cooperated on mixing and adding the cheeses and panko bread crumbs, which was everyone’s favorite job.  We all loved the smell of the fresh basil and Sanaa said it made her think of a forest. Last week we talked about the fresh dill smelling like a garden so we shared some ideas on taking care of the earth because it takes care of us.
While the casserole was cooking, the students washed and dried the lettuces and chopped carrots, cucumbers, peppers and cherry tomatoes. Sanaa shared her grandmother’s technique for using the romaine leaves but not the spines so the salad wouldn’t taste bitter.  She said cooking with us made her think of her grandma and it “felt like a hug from her.” Zesting and cutting the lemons made our workspace smell so wonderful that the girls decided to add 2 more tablespoons of lemon juice to the dressing.  The students were interested in the emulsion process (they loved saying “emulsion”) and wondered if the extra lemon juice would change the consistency.  Desiree told us that mixing lemons and water is good for our digestion so they squeezed the lemons dry. Mrs Mooney told us some ways that chemistry and cooking are similar.
We sat down together, said grace and “cheers”, and Ms Pickett and Simran served the eggplant parm while we passed the salad around. Both dishes were delicious and Desiree, who was willing to take only a tiny taste of eggplant had thirds! She is now an eggplant fan! Sanaa asked if we could add some Parmesan cheese to our salad and we all agreed it was a good addition. Simran said she thought she might put the eggplant parm in taco shells when she made it at home. This was our favorite meal so far and there were no leftovers.

—Volunteers Liz Mooney and Margaret Mary O'Neill —Faculty monitor Annette Pickett

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Philadelphia Montessori

The girls found it difficult to peel an eggplant and were surprised how quickly it discolored. They were eager to see the color of the cooked eggplant.

—Bonnie Benson, Ellen Quinn

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Wiggins School

Anticipation was high as none of the students had ever tasted baked eggplant. Learning that it was actually a fruit, not a vegetable, added to the interest in today's recipe. While Ethan Santiago and Zaniyah Roberson gave enthusiastic "thumbs up" and devoured their meal, the others voted "thumbs sideways." They agreed the topping was tasty, but the eggplant – not so much.

— Susan Lore, Annamiek Van Laar, Edith Bobb

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Sacred Heart

Sacred Heart students Ja'Niyah Kellum, May'neajah Baylor, Rahsaan Jones, Tierrell Perry and D.J. McDade were a little hesitant when they saw the work surface covered with veggies. After much slicing and chopping, they assembled the eggplant parmigiana and agreed that it looked like pizza and were anxious to see how it tasted. Reviews were mixed on the eggplant, but everyone enthusiastically agreed that the crunchy, cheesy topping was excellent!

— Susan Harris, Lisa Hendrickson

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St. Augustine Academy

This week's recipe was a hit! Eggplant was new to many of the students, with some reservation they peeled and cubed them and after testing their creation, gave it a four star review. After taste testing, the students decided it was a bit dry and added a spoonful of marina pasta sauce.Amaia Randall said, "I'll add some red pepper flakes when I make this at home." Brianna Hill liked that the recipe called for the eggplant cubes to be roasted, "making it firm not mushy." Making homemade salad dressing was fun for the students. Brynn Mitchell described its flavor as, "summer vibes." Keymoni Thornton said, "this dressing tastes like lemonade!"

— Sheryl Wolff

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Visitation BVM School Last class, we set two goals: to be more organized when we cooked and to be more open to new foods and flavors. The class was more successful in meeting the first goal than the second. Two teams addressed different steps of the week's recipes and dinner came together smoothly and efficiently. Good mis en place work!

Responses to the meal were varied. No one was acquainted with eggplant but most liked chicken parmesan and wondered about the taste of eggplant parmesan. Some enjoyed the dish while others ate only a small amount —reluctantly. Everyone liked the fresh greens and vegetables though some felt the lemon dressing was too "lemony." Developing more open attitudes to new tastes will remain a goal for the class. Before the class ended, one student predicted that everyone will enjoy next week's recipe of lime-marinated steak tacos. Let's hope she is right!

— Maria Brown

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LaSalle Academy

We had another successful week in the kitchen at LaSalle Academy. This was another recipe that the children weren't very familiar with, but were anxious to try once they saw all the ingredients. Alex Rosa and Allison Kelso loved the basil. Alex thought the basil added a new flavor he hadn't tried before and Allison loved that as soon as the basil was opened, the aroma filled the whole room. They all loved the cheesy, crispy topping.

They definitely enjoyed the eggplant parm but weren't as thrilled with the salad. Some added too much dressing and others thought it was bitter tasting. Juliana Carasquillo would have liked the salad better without the carrots

—Maureen Barrett and Mariann Owens

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Lewis Elkin School

Our enthusiastic team of students jumped into preparing the salad and Eggplant Parm. No one had ever tasted eggplant and the students were eager to give it a try. Most fun parts were using the salad spinner, chopping vegetables and smelling the basil. At the end of the class, Nathan exclaimed, "I wish I had a time machine so it could be next Tuesday and we could be starting another class!"

— Bette Begleiter

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McGraw Elementary

They had such fun making and eating Eggplant Lasagna. Some comments are:

" I liked the crunchy cheese." ( the texture of the Mozzarella cheese after cooked in the oven.) " I never had eggplant before. It was good."

Why we are doing this program: "so we can make stuff when our Mom is too busy." " so we'll be healthy."

On to week 5.

— Judi Levine

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Smedley Elementary

This week, Sharon came up with the brilliant idea of splitting the group into two and diving the work. Javion, Vanessa, and Jailanny were with me making the salad and Jalyn, Armani, Nyliah, and Kimora made the easy eggplant parm with Sharron. I was amazed at how much their cutting skills have improved. When we made the vinaigrette, my group tasted it, and all by themselves determined that the lemon flavor was too sour and added more sugar to adjust the flavor. When we finally got the chance to taste it, their dialogue revolved around ways to adjust the recipe to their liking. I am proud that students are pushing their flavor palette to foods they are normally not exposed to.

— Iliana Alvarez, Sharon Stern

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