Posts Tagged Rattle’s Garden

Cast Iron Skillet Eggplant Parmesan


I rarely brag about my at-home cooking abilities. I’m a good cook, but certainly not a great one, and I definitely tend to shy away from the more adventurous recipes. With all that said, I cooked something pretty spectacular this past weekend, and truth be told, the local ingredients are what really made the dish so fantastic. Most of them came out of my local Rattle’s Garden farmshare, along with some beautiful tomatoes given to me by a friend. Enough with the small talk. Here’s my Cast Iron Skillet Eggplant Parmesan

2 large eggplants (peeled)
3 cloves of chopped garlic
1 medium chopped onion
6 large tomatoes (peeled)
2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
3 eggs (scrambled)
1-2 cups of mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup of Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
2 pinches of sugar
2 tablespoons of olive oil
fresh basil

1. You’ll want to first peel the tomatoes. The easiest way (at least for me) is to cut a small “X” into the bottom of each tomato, boil for about 30 seconds, and then transfer to an ice bath. The skin peels right off. Chop all of the tomatoes into big chunks and leave them on your cutting board for the time being.

3. In a large pot, heat your olive oil on medium and then add the chopped onions. Cook for about 5 minutes and then add the garlic. Cook for 1 minute and add your tomatoes. Add salt, pepper, and sugar. Simmer for 1 hour. During this time, periodically take a fork and smash the tomatoes, creating a chunky sauce.

3. Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Take your peeled eggplant and cut into VERY thin rounds. If you have a mandolin at home, this works great. Take each round and dip into egg mixture and then into bread crumbs. Transfer each round to a cookie sheet. Bake for 5 minutes on each side. Remove from oven and let cool. *Note: for time purposes, it helps to have multiple cookie sheets and a double oven.

4. Take a cast iron skillet and add a huge scoop of the tomato sauce (spread around). Next, add a layer of eggplant rounds, then add shredded mozzarella and Parmesan. Keep layering with eggplant, sauce, and cheese until you reach just a little below the top of the skillet.

5. Bake for 35 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove and garnish with fresh basil.

I also recommend boiling up some good pasta to accompany the eggplant Parmesan, especially if you have some excess tomato sauce.


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B Street Rib Off, Rattle’s Garden Farmshare, and Pie Time at The Root


Recording Setting Year for B Street
Officials from this year’s B Street Rib Off on April 2nd reported that the nonprofit organization raised $11,000 for the American Cancer Society of Central Arkansas. The funds, which will be used to support cancer patients in Central Arkansas, were raised during the annual BBQ competition.

“We’re really proud of the work we put in this year. Not only did we have a sold out event, but we broke our attendance record and doubled our giving record from past events,” said Jeremy Hinton, president of the B. Street Rib Off. “This is the only competition that forgoes cash prizes to donate funds to a local organization. We’re really proud of that and we believe it contributes to our success,” said Hinton.

In addition to the BBQ competition, the event featured live music, food trucks, local craft beer from Flyway Brewing and a raffle. Event attendees were treated to BBQ by way of the People’s Choice category, which could be judged for a small donation. Here are the results for he BBQ competition: Ribs Category: 1. Drummin’ Up Some Que 2. Team Ninja 3. Southern Gentlemen Chicken Category: 1. Southern Gentlemen 2. Hog Time BBQ 3. Po Boys BBQ People’s Choice Category: 1. Up in Smoke 2. Southern Gentlemen 3. Team Ninja

The Root Cafe’s 2nd Annual Pie Bake-Off
This past Saturday’s pie contest at The Root Café, which was affiliated with the Arkansas Literary Festival, was another huge success. The contest featured 24 entries, with some standouts including the Spicy Sweet Potato, Coconut Cream, Buttermilk, Strawberry, and a delicious Garlic Crème Chicken Pot Pie made by Amy Westerman. Check out this cool video from Amy on how to make the vodka crust. Congrats to all of the winners.

Farmshare Now Available from Rattle’s Garden
I absolutely love the Rattle’s Garden farm. I’ve been buying delicious veggies from them for 3+ years at the Hillcrest Farmers Market and have even been fortunate enough to visit the actual farm. And as of this past Thursday, I’m now a proud member of the Farmshare program. For a total expense of $275 (or $27.50 per basket), I get 10 weeks of baskets filled with fantastic produce (to be picked up at the HFM). Vilonia folks can head straight to the farm to grab each week’s basket for a total cost of $250, which is a dynamite value. Rattle’s Garden even offers an Eggshare for an additional cost. Pick-ups are available from the farm outside of Vilonia on Tuesdays and from the Hillcrest Farmers Market on Saturday mornings. Rattle’s anticipates starting the first week in May and running through mid-July. For more information, click here or email Tara at

*Photo courtesy of B Street Rib Off

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Pork and Then Some More Pork

A Pig Roast Done Right

A Pig Roast Done Right

All pork … all weekend long!

What a past weekend! It all started Saturday night at the Gee Household in North Little Rock. Kelly and Erika hosted an appreciation dinner for the folks who contributed to the kickstarter project “Make Kelly Gee’s BBQ Competition Dreams a Reality.” As you might imagine, the place was filled with all the usual foodies: Steve, Daniel, Joel, Greg, Jason, Shelle, Thanh, Amanda, Jen, Mark, Kelli, Zara, John, Jerry, Kristi,  and several others.

Kelly’s new best friend (a.k.a. The Beastmaster) was on full display for all partygoers to admire its greatness. In the end, The Beastmaster produced some of the very best barbecue you’ll find in the state of Arkansas. Kelly, always the modest one, will tell you it was all smoker and little technique. But that’s BS. The dude continues to hone his craft, getting better and better with each cookout.

Highlights of the evening included the signature bite-off-the-bone tender ribs, as well as the juicy pulled pork and chicken. Erika’s insanely addictive creamy potato salad, baked beans, and bleu cheese cole slaw proved to be the perfect side dishes for the ‘cue. This is the fourth or fifth time I’ve had Kelly’s barbecue … and it just keeps getting better and better. I was particularly impressed this time around with the added spiciness of the ribs. Whether it’s for 150 people or a “mere” 50, Kelly and Erika just flat out know how to throw a great party. Chilling on their deck, with a beer and a full belly of barbecue, is about as good as it gets.

Kelly always does ribs right.

Kelly always does ribs right.

On Sunday, the family and I were invited to drive out to Vilonia for a pig roast party at Rattle’s Garden. I’ve gotten to be friends with Tara (1/2 of the dynamic duo at RG) from my visits to the Hillcrest Farmers Market. But little did I know … this wasn’t just any pig roast … this was a chef Travis McConnell of Butcher & Public pig roast. Let me tell you, there’s nothing quite like driving up to a farm and seeing two pigs hanging on spits, with a master roaster manning the show.

McConnell’s specially-designed equipment allows for the pig to roast in about four hours. Fortunately, I was there for the final hour and can tell you it’s a mesmerizing process to behold. Watching McConnell in action—turning the spits, shifting embers, and re-placing foiled sweet potatoes—is a true, must-see culinary experience. Once everything was done, Travis sliced and diced the pig into rustic serving cuts.

What followed can only be described as a pure animalistic feeding frenzy. I ended up with some succulent shoulder and a few long-bone ribs. The roast also included delicious greens, green beans, and roasted sweet potatoes. Everything was spectacular and uniquely different from the Saturday cookout.

Many thanks to Robert and Tara for having us out, to Mitchell (from Freckle Face Farm) for providing the pigs, and to Travis for his masterful preparation of the animal. It was an honor to be in attendance.

What a weekend!

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