Sunday, September 1, 2013

FRESH PEACH PIE . . . . There's just nothin' like homemade pie!

For more great recipes, visit the Mama Szasz Is Cookin' Now website!

Well our magic peach tree has done it again! This tree, nearly dead when we saved it from the scrub pile & planted it, produced so many peaches in its second summer it could barely hold them up.

This year's harvest made Peaches Cardinal, Lavender Peach Butter, Peach Jelly (which didn't set, so I'm going to give my first try at re-working it), & best of all . . dun-dun-da-dunnnnn . . PEACH PIE!  Actually two pies, only because I made waaaay too much filling & had to quickly put together a second one. But no problem, there is never a shortage of takers when it comes to pie.

I tried a new recipe for the crust &, surprisingly, it turned out as tasty as my old stand-by crust. But my old stand-by is soooo much easier to prepare, so for the second pie I went back to using it. I'll show you both recipes here & you can choose which one works best for you.

For a peach pie, you don't want to prepare the filling too soon. Peaches are such a soft fruit that they will produce too much juice before they go into the oven if mixed with the other ingredients ahead of time. So start with the crust:

Hand-mixed Butter Pie Crust

1 1/3 cups cold butter
4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 to 3/4 cup ice-cold water

(simple instructions in bold print)(more detailed instructions in plain print)

1.) Cut the butter into the flour & salt.
Stir the flour & salt in a large bowl. Cut the butter into ½” cubes & put it in the bowl with the flour. Using a pastry cutter (or a fork if that’s all you have - but it takes a lot longer) mix it in with slicing motions until you are left with pea size crumbles.

2.) Slowly add water, stirring until dough begins to pull away from sides.
Put a few ice cubes in a 1 cup glass measuring cup & fill it with cold water. While stirring the flour/butter crumbles with a wooden spoon, pour in about ¼ cup of the water, then just a tablespoon more of water at a time, until the spoon doesn’t seem to stir it anymore, only push it around the bowl.

3.) Split dough in half & chill 15 minutes.
Make a ball out of each half, flatten slightly into a disk & wrap each half in plastic wrap. Put them in the frig for only 10 to 15 minutes, any longer & you’ll have to put some muscle into rolling them out.

During this down time you can go ahead to the filling preparation
& blanch, peel, pit & slice the peaches.

4.) Roll out bottom crust on a lightly floured surface & place in pie plate. Roll out the top crust, cover it lightly with the plastic wrap & go on to mix the filling.
Pie crust use to scare the crap out of me. But I’ve learned a few tricks over the years, & now it’s very rare that the dough will end up flung into the pond in the back yard. So let me share them with you:

Slow Down Mama!
If you’re in a hurry, go buy a pre-made pie crust from the freezer section. Rolling out a pie crust is like blowing a bubblegum bubble. If you blew a bubble as fast as you could, the thing would split & pop all over - same thing with pie crust. Easy, smooth, slow movements will allow the elasticity of the dough to stretch & grow with fewer cracks.

Mama In The Middle
Most of us just automatically roll our rolling pin from the edge of the dough disk closest to us, all the way across to the far side. Nope. I think I actually read it in a book (maybe The Secret Life of Bees?) that you should always roll from the center of the dough out to the edge. So I tried it, & dang if it didn't work!

Flours for Mama
Most recipes say "on a lightly floured surface". This use to make me crazy! I'd "lightly flour" the surface, only to end up with the dough all stuck to the counter top or to the rolling pin. First, if your dough is super sticky, it has too much water in it. Just work in a little more flour with the spoon or use your hands. But remember, the more you work any dough, the tougher it gets; which is good for pasties, but not pies. When you're ready to roll, follow the process I use:

1.) Sprinkle flour over your work surface.

2.) Pick up a small handful of flour & rub it all
     over the dough disk you just took out of the frig.

3.) Get another scoop of flour & rub it all over your
     rolling pin.

4.) Roll the dough, from the center out, until the
     disk is about 6" in diameter.

5.) Get another small scoop of flour & rub it on the
     top of the dough.

6.) Pick up the dough, spread the flour around on
     the work surface, rub some flour on the bottom
     of the disk & flip it over onto the work surface.

7.) Roll it out from the center until it is about 2" bigger than your pie pan.

                            8.) Use this folding & unfolding method to lift it into the pie pan. Done.

Now you're ready for the filling:
                                                 8 large fresh, ripe peaches (about 4 lb.)
                                                 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
                                                 1/3 cup granulated sugar
                                                 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
                                                 1/8 tsp. salt
                                                 1/4 cup flour
                                                 1 1/2 tblsp. butter, cut into pieces
                                                 1 large egg, beaten
                                                 1 1/2 tblsp. granulated sugar
                                                 (don't forget to buy vanilla ice cream too!)
 1.) Preheat oven to 425°.

2.) Blanch, peel & pit the peaches. Cut into 1/2" slices.
Set a large pot of water (1/2 full) on to boil. Drop the peaches in, wait about 30 seconds & scoop them out, dropping them into a big bowl of ice water. This usually makes the skins just slip right off - though for some reason, this didn't do the trick on my magic peach tree peaches, so I had to use a potato peeler - go figure? Then cut them in half, pull out the pit & slice them.

3.) Stir together with brown sugar, sugar, cinnamon, salt, & flour. Spoon peach mixture into pie crust in pie plate, and dot with 1 1/2 Tbsp. butter. (Do not make mixture ahead or it will become too juicy.)

4.) Carefully place remaining pie crust over filling; press edges of crusts together to seal. Cut off excess crust, and reserve (I'll show you a way to use them below). Crimp edges of pie & cut vents into the top crust.

This crimped edging has a dual purpose: first, it looks pretty, & second, the pointed edges hold the crust above the top of the pie plate so your pie stays lifted into place.

5.) Brush top of pie with beaten egg, sprinkle with 1 1/2 Tbsp. granulated sugar.

6.) Bake on lower oven rack 15 minutes (at preheated 425°). Reduce oven temperature to 375°; bake another 40 minutes, or until golden & juice is bubbling out of the top.
Like I said, that was the new recipe I tried, & it was suuuuper good. But here is the recipe I've used for years, also way good, but a little easier if you happen to have a food processor:
                                                                 1 1/2 cups cold butter
                                                                 4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
                                                                 1 tsp. salt
                                                                 2 tsp. sugar
                                                                 1/2 to 3/4 cup ice-cold water
1.) This time, just put the ingredients (except the water) in the food processor & pulse a few times until you have your pea size crumbles.

2.) Pour in the ice water, just a little at a time, while the processor is running, until it starts to pull away from the sides.
3.) Separate the dough into 2 balls, flatten slightly. Wrap them in plastic wrap, put them in the frig & go on with the recipe above.
OK, now for the left over dough you cut off from the edges:
This is something my mom use to do & I still can't resist this little treat. Just gather up the dough pieces & press them into a ball. Roll that ball into any old shape, about 1/4" thick. Brush it with melted butter & sprinkle it heavy with cinnamon-sugar.
Cut it into squares or triangles or whatever, with a pizza cutter & put those on a cookie sheet. After the pie comes out of the oven, put this tray in for about 10 minutes.

Friday, August 30, 2013


For more great recipes & info, visit my website too:  Mama Szasz Is Cookin' Now!

We planted our grapevines about 5 years ago &, though they have produced fairly well, we've never harvested a single grape! Until this year. Ever year we would see the grape bunches ripening & be ready to harvest in a few days, only to find that the neighborhood squirrels took every last grape by the next day. At this point you would most likely hear Barna mutter, "Little fricking bastards," as he looks at the empty grapevines in our front yard - of course in a lovely Hungarian accent it doesn't sound quite so harsh.

But this year, man, do we have grapes! Thanks to this year's presence of our Great Pyrenneese, Makwa. Little do the squirrels know, though, Makwa really only wants them to come down out of the trees & play with him. He'd probably let them have as many grapes as they want if they just spent some time rolling around the yard with him!

With the intent of not wasting a single part of the harvest, as you make any of these recipes, don't throw out any drained juice or pulp. Keep it & I'll show you ways to use it all.

First, I had so many grapes that I realized I would have more jelly than I could ever use, so I came up with a way to use lots of them with a quick & easy grape juice:


In each sterilized quart jar, place:
1 ½ Cups grapes
(use wild or homegrown grapes - commercial
grapes are so sweet you'll only need to add ½ cup sugar

rather than ¾ cup. You can also use green grapes)
¾ Cup sugar

Fill with boiling water.

Stir the jars to mix in the sugar slightly, or it will clump on the bottom in the water bath.   -------------------------------------------->

Lid & place in a boiling water bath for 25 min.

To use: pour through a strainer into a pitcher to remove grapes & seeds. This is suppose to be a concentrate so more water might be necessary.

I made 9 quarts of this & still had about 1000 pounds

of grapes left, so on I went with the grape jelly.



This recipe is named for two old farmer friends I met at a yard sale. Jim & Mylissa asked me to help pick their wild grapes one year &, in exchange for making them some jelly, they gave me all of the grapes. That grape harvest was full of stories & laughs, a great time of fellowship I will never forget. So, though both Jim & Mylissa have moved on to God's house, I think of them each time I make their jelly.

4 ½ cups grape juice - this takes about 5 lb. grapes
(wild or homegrown - commercial grapes are too sweet for this recipe)
8 cups sugar
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1 tsp. Allspice
1 tsp. Nutmeg
3 oz. (one packet) liquid Pectin

(simple instructions in bold print)
(more detailed instructions in plain print)

1.) Heat grapes & extract juice using a stainer.
Place the grapes in a large pot over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Simmer until most of the grapes have burst open, about 20 minutes.


Pour grapes into a strainer, over a large bowl to reserve the juice. Stir the pulp, scraping the bottom of the strainer to allow the juice to fall through. Press the pulp with a potato masher to release any un-burst grapes, & stir in strainer again to allow as much remaining juice to fall through as possible. Don't discard the pulp - feed it to the chickens OR use it to make the Grape Butter recipe below. If you prefer your jelly very clear, strain the juice a second time, but with a jelly bag or cheesecloth laid in the strainer & hang the bag until all of the juice has passed through.

2.) Mix measured juice, sugar & spices, bring to a hard boil. Stir in pectin, bring to a boil &

hard boil for 1 minute. (If you have left over juice after measuring, but not enough to make another batch, see the notes below for ways to use it)
A hard boil is a boil that, when stirred, continues to boil. Once the sugar has dissolved, you can bring the heat up to med/high to really get the boil going. When you're letting it hard boil for 1 minute, don't stir it, just let it boil. If it looks like it might boil over the edge of the pot, stir it a little to bring it down, or pull it carefully off of the heat for a few seconds if necessary.

3.) Can & water bath for 10  minutes.
Pour the jelly into sterilized canning jars, put the lids & rings on them & place the jars in a boiling water bath for 10 min.

This should make about 4 1/2 pints of jelly.


For any grape juice you have left over, if not enough to make another batch of jelly, here are some ideas:

1.) Add some sugar to taste & drink it fresh (waaay better than store-bought grape juice)

2.) Pour it over ice & mix half & half with 7-Up or Sprite (still may need a little sugar)

3.) If you don’t think you will drink all of it within a few days, pour it in canning jars, lid it & boil it in the water bath along with the jelly, keeping it in the water bath 5 minutes longer than the jelly (total 15 minutes). Then just put it in the pantry & use it within a year.

4.) Mix it with a little sugar & make old fashion
ice cube tray pops. Or shmancy it up by mixing
some honey with plain greek yogurt & layer it
in the ice cube trays with the juice mixed with a
little sugar. Yummers!


5.) Or you can just put the left over juice in a Ziploc baggie & freeze it. Then you can add it to the juice you make the next time you’re preparing grape jelly or drink it or add it to some smoothie you're making or use it however you want.


Ok, now here is a great use for the grape pulp you're left with after straining out all the juice:



This recipe is actually intended to be made using apples & grapes, but since I happen to have an overabundance on zucchini, I figured out how to use zucchini in place of the apples. If you remember, I posted a blog for Susanna's Surprise Apple Crisp, who's surprise is that it is made with zucchini. So, I just followed the apple crisp recipe to turn the zucchini into apples, & then just followed my recipe for Grape Butter from there. Voila! Zucchini, Not Apple, Grape Butter . . .

(makes 4 pints)

4 cups purple grape pulp (the left over pulp from making the juice for grape jelly)
4 cups zucchini - peeled, de-seeded & chopped
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg
½ cup lemon juice
4 ½ cups sugar - divided

1.) Place the zucchini, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon juice & 1/2 cup of the sugar in a medium sauce pan & simmer for 20 minutes.
If you're making this with apples you can skip this step - just peel, core & chop the apples, put them in a pot with about a cup of water (instead of the lemon juice), add the spices & move on to the next step.

2.) Place the grape pulp in cheesecloth bag & put it in the pan with the zucchini, adding a little water if needed to nearly cover the zucchini & bag. Bring to a boil, simmer 20 minutes.
You can use piece of thin cloth to bag the grape pulp if you don't have cheesecloth - an old cloth napkin works in a pinch. Just lay the pulp in the center of the cloth, gather up the edges & tie it with a piece of string.

3.) Drain, reserving the liquid.
Pour the contents of the pot (zucchini, juice, bag & all) into a strainer that is in a large bowl. Let it drain for about 15 minutes. I feed the grape pulp to my chickens & use the drained juice for the Grapell Jelly recipe below (that's Grape Apple Jelly, "Grape-le",  "Grapell" - except it's made with zucchini that tastes like apple)    :)

4.) Blend the zucchini chunks in a blender.
I did it in 2 batches, adding about a ¼ cup of the strained juice to each to help it move in the blender.

5.) Place the resulting zucchini pulp in a saucepan, add remaining 4 cups of sugar and heat to boiling, stirring often. Hard boil for 1 minute & remove from heat.
See the Grape Jelly recipe above (step 2) for an explanation of hard boil.

6.) Pour into clean jars, lid them & place in a water bath for 10 min.
For water bath explanation see Grape Jelly recipe above (step 3).

Saturday, August 24, 2013


Yup, I've been away for a while. When family comes to town there's no way I'm spending time on the computer! Mom, Uncle Bruce, Auntie Bonnie, Robbie & Karen were all here for 4 or 5 days, & fun was had by all! Loads (& I mean LOADS) of food, front porchin', some Euchre (btw, Morphine Man Dan & I kicked ass again), thrift storin', & more food!

On Monday, Karen & I are sitting in the waiting room of a doctor's office - shouldn't that be a joke or something? "A Yooper & an El Salvadorian walk into a doctor's office . . ." We're looking through magazines & we come across this idea & decide we had to stop & get the ingredients on the way home to give it a try:


But Auntie Bonnie was in town, which means there wasn't much room for any more food in our stomachs, so we never got around to putting it together. However, last night I decided we needed a little something sweet after eating some of the 400 pounds of left overs Auntie Bonnie left behind & I finally took a try at this. I lost the recipe we stole from the waiting room, but it was a pretty simple idea so I decided to wing it. And, upon Jackson's suggestion, I served it with ice cream & honey. Which wasn't in the recipe as I remembered it, but a stellar idea nonetheless. Here is the recipe as I prepared it:

                                                         1 can of Apple Pie Filling
                                                         Cinnamon Sugar
                                                         flour Tortillas

(simple instructions in bold print)
(more detailed instructions in plain print)

1.) Warm the tortillas in the microwave. Place enough cinnamon sugar on a plate to cover it evenly.
This is just to soften them a bit, so they roll easier. I did only a few at a time so they don't start to cool & stiffen while I'm working on them. Maybe 3 at a time for 15 seconds.

2.) Spread a thin layer of butter on one side of the tortilla, flip it over, lay about 2 scoops of pie filling in a line on it, sprinkle it with some cinnamon sugar & roll it up.
This should leave the buttered side out to make the next step work well. And if you're not like me (I keep a large spice jar filled with cinnamon sugar in my cabinet for sprinkling on buttered toast) just mix some up using about 2 parts sugar to 1 part cinnamon. Next time I'm thinking to add a drizzle of honey inside the roll up too. Let me know how it turns out if you try it first!

3.) Roll the rolled up tortilla in the cinnamon sugar on the plate & place it in a cake pan.
You can use a casserole dish or cookie sheet or whatever you have around the house. And just keep repeating this process until all of the pie filling is gone. Mine made about 10 roll ups.

4.) Bake at 375 for about 12 minutes.
Just enough to heat them & give the tortilla a little crunch.

I broke them in half & placed them in a bowl with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream & drizzled it with honey - about 4 pounds of it for Jackson. And it must have been good because, though there were only 4 of us here, they were all gone by morning. Yummm.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

PEACHES CARDINAL . . . . 3 Ingredients - 15 minutes & done.

See my website for more great recipes! Mama Szasz Is Cookin' Now!

Peaches are in season!! Don't you just love walking into the grocery store & seeing that big, beautiful display of fresh peaches? And this time of year, you can usually count on them being soft, sweet & juicy!

Though in our back yard, we just happen to have a MIRACLE peach tree! A neighbor of ours, who we often deliver eggs to, works at a plant nursery. Once in a while she will pull in & give us some half dead plants they were going to throw away.

I don't know about you, but I take it as a challenge when I see that dried up African Violet on the rack at Lowe's, on sale for fifty cents! Like a lost puppy, I take it home & feed it & love it back to good health. So these little gifts from our neighbor are a huge treat for me. When two summers ago, she pulled in with a dead peach tree sticking out of her little Toyota, I was elated!

She had brought it home from the trash pile at work, planning to plant it herself, but then she forgot about it in her driveway for three weeks. Then my husband put it behind our garage - a no-man's-land, where all things unusable go to be forgotten about. So we forgot about it for a few weeks too! But, with never ending hope, in the fall we put it in the ground in our backyard & prayed. The next summer we were shocked to see it not only sprout leaves, then blossoms, but also fruit! And this summer is even better! The thing is so loaded with peaches we have to prop up the branches to hold the weight! And I loves me some fresh peaches, so here is a recipe that makes perfect use of them.

This recipe happens to be one of my son's favorites, & mine too! Not just because it's so yummers, but because it only takes three ingredients & can be whipped up in just a few minutes!


                                                                4 lg. peaches
                                            11 oz. raspberries
                                              2 tblsp. powdered sugar

(simple instructions in bold print)
(more detailed instructions in plain print)

1.) Blanch the peaches, peel & pit. Place the wedges into dessert glasses.
Drop the peaches (whole) into a pot of boiling water for 1 minute - this makes them a little softer & super easy to peel. If your peaches aren't so perfectly ripe, let them boil for about 10 minutes to soften them even more. Scoop them out & let them cool. Peel away the skin, cut them into wedges, removing the pit. As you cut them, let the wedges fall into some pretty serving glasses (4 martini glasses work great). At this stage, you can also can your peaches if you're overloaded with them: just simmer the wedges in water & sugar for about 20 minutes, place them in sterilized jars, covering them with the liquid, seal & boil in a water bath for 15 minutes.

2.) Puree the raspberries & sugar, strain out & discard the seeds & pour over the peaches.
I use a blender on puree & pour this through a mesh sieve to remove the seeds. Pour this over the peaches & you're DONE! Wham-bam-thank you ma'am!

I've seen lots of variations to this recipe & tried a few. You can also simmer the peaches in the raspberry sauce & serve warm over ice cream. Or simply drizzle a little cream over the cold dish as it's prepared above. Adding a sprig of mint is a simple addition that will add loads of flavor & scent.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

EGGPLANT PARMESAN & KHACHAPURI . . . . . . That's yummy Georgian Cheese Bread!

Well the tomatoes are really starting to pop out of the garden! Yeeaahh! Last year was terrible for tomatoes in Missouri, so I had none to can & squirrel away for the winter! This year we planted 48 tomato seedlings & every one of them is producing! I haven't canned any yet, so they are piled on my counter & in baskets & in the frig! Yesterday I decided I had to do something about it, so I picked a recipe that would, at least, use a fair amount of them.

            On the menu:                EGGPLANT PARMESAN

For information on planting, growing & harvesting Tomatoes, click this link to view the gardening page of my website. Mama Szasz Gardening Tips 

I started earlier in the day with the Khachapui. This is a traditional food in The Republic of Georgia (between Russia & Turkey - not South Carolina & Alabama). Depending on what I'm serving it with, I may add other ingredients - like roasted garlic or herbs or stronger cheeses. Since it has to rise a couple times, just mix it in the afternoon & finish preparing it at dinner time. But, honestly, I've made this in a pinch, in about an hour: just mix it, let it rise, cheese it & pop it in the oven for 10 minutes - easy peasy.


                                                         1 pkt. dry active yeast
                                                         7 tblsp. warm water
                                                         1 2/3 cups flour
                                                         3/4 tsp. salt
                                                         1 egg - slightly beaten
                                                         1/2 lb. mozzarella - shredded
                                                         2 tblsp. butter - melted

(simple instructions in bold print)
(more detailed instructions in plain print)

1.) Sprinkle yeast & 1 tblsp. of flour over the water, stir & let stand until creamy.
This process activates the dry yeast. The water should be about body temperature but doesn't have to be exact: warmer water will give you a faster rising time, cooler water will slow it down. But it is important to not allow the water to be too hot. This will overheat the yeast & may prevent rising completely.

2.) Place the flour & salt in a bowl, stir in egg & then yeast mixture to form a firm dough. Knead 5 minutes.
I usually take the easy way out & let my stand mixer & dough hook do the kneading for me, but this ball of dough is just too small, so I have to do it by hand. What you're trying to do here is blend the ingredients well & introduce some air pockets into the dough. Just keep your work surface & hands lightly floured.

3.) Rise & punch down 2 or 3 times.
Allow to rise in a deep bowl, covered with a towel, in a warm place. After it doubles in size, flour your hands & press the center of the dough down with your fist. Gather the dough into a ball again, cover & let rise again. Repeat this 1 or 2 more times. This develops the flavor & texture of the finished bread.

During this time you can go on with your day. Don't worry too much about over-rising or timing. I didn't continue with the next steps until the Eggplant Parmesan was in the oven for it's 30 minute bake time.

4.) Place the dough onto a lightly floured, parchment paper lined pizza pan & flatten into an 11" disk.

Place the cheese in the middle of this disk (along with any other ingredients you want to add).
 Gather the edges into a topknot.

Press the knot down & outward from the center, distributing the cheese evenly, into an 11" disk again. Cut slits across the middle & brush with butter.

5.) Bake at 500 for 10 to 12 minutes until slightly golden.

There may seem like a bit of work here, but really, without the rise time, there is only about 10 minutes prep. time & 10 minutes cook time. That's fast for bread, & especially FABULOUS cheesy bread like this!


                                                         2 eggplants (abt. 8" long, 5" in dia.)
                                                         3 1/4 tsp. salt - divided
                                                         5 lb. tomatoes
                                                         1 1/2 cups olive oil
                                                         2 cloves garlic - minced
                                                         handful of fresh basil - chopped
                                                         3/4 tsp. pepper
                                                         1 cup flour
                                                         5 eggs
                                                         3 cups Panko (a type of bread crumbs)
                                                         1 cup parmesan cheese - finely shredded & divided
                                                         1 lb. fresh mozzarella - thinly sliced
                                                         3 cups block mozzarella - shredded

(simple instructions in bold print)
(more detailed instructions in plain print)

1.) Slice eggplant into 1/4" circles, toss with 2 tsp. of the salt & drain for 15 minutes.
For this dish you can also slice the eggplant length-wise, it's a matter of preference. Sprinkling salt over eggplant slices before cooking them draws out the vegetable's moisture. It's a process known as "degorging". Larger, older eggplants have brown seeds that contain a bitter liquid. Salting eggplants removes some of this liquid and improves their flavor. In general, it's not necessary to salt smaller eggplants since they have fewer seeds than larger eggplants. So toss them with the salt & drain them in a colander placed in your sink to let them drain off any liquids.

2.) Blanch the tomatoes. Peel, core & puree.
Bring a big pot of water to a boil & drop the tomatoes in (you may need to do this in batches depending on how big of a pot you have). When some of the tomatoes split their skin:

Use a slotted spoon to scoop out the ones that have split first. by the time you get those out, all the rest can be scooped out too - they don't ALL need to have split their skin. This should only take 2 or 3 minutes total per batch. This makes the skin super easy to slip off. Cut the stem area off (you know, the white-ish part that you don't like in your salad). Put the tomatoes in your blender & run them on puree until you have a kind of tomato juice.

3.) In a medium pot, sauté garlic in 3 tblsp. of the oil, add tomato puree, basil, 1 tsp. of the salt & 1/2 tsp. of the pepper. Reduce by half. (abt. 30 min.)
Reducing the sauce is done by simmering it over med./low heat, stirring occasionally, until a lot of the water steams off. I usually use the line the sauce makes on the pan to judge when the sauce is about half the size of what it started out as:

You can also judge by how thick the sauce is when you stir it. When it feels like good thick sauce, it probably is good thick sauce. :) This isn't an exact science, & it's sometime a matter of preference too. Just make the sauce how YOU like it.

4.) Prepare 3 dipping bowls: 1-flour, remaining 1/4 tsp. salt & 1/4 tsp. pepper.
                                                 2-beaten eggs.
                                                 3-Panko & 1/3 cup of the parmesan.

Dip the eggplant in this order. Fry the dredged eggplant in the remaining oil until golden.
Lay each eggplant piece in the flour 'til the surface is covered with the flour, dip it quickly into the egg, & then press each side into the breadcrumbs. I ran out of the bread crumbs during this process, so I just mixed up a little more. This may happen in your process, depending on how you do each step, you may run out of one bowl or another. No prob., just mix up more.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan on medium heat. As you dredge each piece of eggplant, lay it in the heated oil. By the time you do this with enough eggplant pieces to fill the bottom of the pan (one layer), the first piece you put in is golden & ready to be flipped. Just repeat this process until you've cooked all of the eggplant pieces.

5.) Spread 1/2 cup of sauce in a 9x13 cake pan, then 3 layers of:   eggplant
                                                                                                               fresh mozzarella
                                                                                                               shredded mozzarella

Top with remaining 2/3 cup of parmesan & bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

At this point I go back to step 4 of the bread recipe above. This way, the bread & main dish are done at about the same time & you get to serve the bread all hot & melty.