I've made this eggplant dip over and over again for parties, and it never fails to be a hit. It's particularly pleasing to garlic lovers. I sometimes call it "eggplant crap," but a nicer name is eggplant caviar, dip, or spread. Julia's name for it is "La Tentation de Bramafam," which might be impenetrable even if one does speak French. The secret: Bramafam was the estate of Simone Beck, one of Julia Child's co-authors for the Mastering the Art of French Cooking series. Maybe one day a recipe will be named "Eat at Joe's Temptation." Or maybe not.
I've edited this quite a bit, and added glosses. You can find the original recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume II, by Julia Child and Simone Beck. I have not asked permission before using the original recipe as a model for producing what's below.
La Tentation de Bramafam
|About 2 lb. eggplant
|Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut off green cap(s), wash, and place eggplant(s) on baking sheet or equivalent. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or more, or until soft to the touch.||It doesn't look like it, but this is the hardest part of the recipe. First, you have to find eggplant that don't look like they've been used as soccer balls. Then you have to cook them. It's tougher than it looks: I've experienced wildly varying amounts of time until the eggplant is done, even accounting for shape and size. Why? Dunno; maybe the eggplant have varying amounts of water in them? Anyway, you want some browning, but you want some eggplant left too. I stick holes in them with a fork to help the baking along. I've cut them up too, but you lose a lot of the flesh that way to char. But too much cooking is better than not enough. If you don't cook them enough, the caviar is bland and yucky. Do it right, and the eggplants come out naturally sweet and flavorful.|
2 cups (7-8 oz.) walnuts, or maybe pecans
|Grind walnuts in food processor until they resemble coarse cornmeal.||The original recipe calls for walnuts. I substituted some pecans once, and liked the taste: the pecans accentuated the natural sweetness of the eggplant. I think next time the ideal would be a mixture of the two, as too much pecan didn't taste right.|
| ¾ tsp. (or more) salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 to 4 (or more) cloves garlic, pureed
4 to 6 squirts hot sauce (like Tabasco or Texas Pete)
¼ tsp. ground allspice
1 tsp. fresh grated ginger, or ¼ tsp. powdered ginger
| Add salt, pepper, garlic, hot sauce, allspice, and ginger to food processor. Blend a bit. Scrape eggplant out of skins, and add the flesh to the food processor. Mix until you like the consistency.
||You'll probably need more salt, but start here and work your way up. And even if you're a garlic-head, it is possible to get too much garlic in. Grate your fresh ginger on a Microplane (What? You don't have a Microplane! Well, go buy one; you'll thank me later).|
½ to 1 cup tasty extra-virgin olive oil
|Remove mixture from food processor and add to bowl. Add olive oil to eggplant in a thin stream, and mix into eggplant while pouring. Taste and correct seasoning, and serve it forth.
||I'm not just busting your balls here: I think food-processing olive oil makes it taste bitter. So put the mixture in a bowl, add the oil, and stir by hand. How much oil? Not so much that you have loose olive oil floating around, but enough that it tastes good. I don't usually bother to measure; I just start pouring in olive oil, mixing, and occasionally tasting. At some point I realize I've stopped tasting and started eating; that's when it's ready. :)
I usually serve this with carbohydrates for dipping, my favorite being the "Mini" size of Stoned Wheat Thins.