Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Aubergine Parmigiano

Oh what, what to do when you've got a dinner party for 5 and one of them is a blasted vegetarian? The answer is Aubergine Parmigiano, which you can give to veggies and non-veggies alike. Mozzarella, being a bit of a meaty cheese, is a marvellous substitute for carnivores - no-one will notice it's meat-free - and it has the summery tang of a lasagne, without being stuffed full of pasta.

A thing to beware with this recipe is that you must salt your aubergines properly before use  - even though it's a bit of a hassle - or they will leak water like mad when they are cooking and you will get a horrible watery sludge at the bottom of your pan - yuk.

To salt aubergines, cut them into rounds or into strips, about 1cm thick and lay out flat. Salt both sides and then lay chopping boards over the top and press down with something very heavy, like a couple of big cookbooks. Leave for 30 mins and then rinse off the salt and any leaked water - then they are ready to use.

For 4 people you will need:

3 aubergines
400g mozzarella
1 jar passata (or just make your own with chopped tomatoes fried with onions and garlic)
bunch of basil
salt and pepper
approx 80g parmesan, flaked
oil for cooking - prob best to use groundnut oil so it can get v hot without burning

1 Switch oven on to 180C. Cook your salted aubergine slices in oil until golden-ish and leave to drain on kitchen roll (aubergines really drink oil, so make sure to have a lot on standby).

2 In a large gratin dish or casserole, start layering up your ingredients like a lasagne; one layer aubergine, then mozarella, then basil, salt & pepper, tomatoes and parmesan flakes. Do this until you've run out of stuff. Finish off the top with mozarella so that it goes brown and bubbly in the oven. Bake for 1 hour

This reheats very well, so make more than you need and if it doesn't get eaten shove it in the oven for later.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Nigel Slater's sticky chicken

Now this one is great. I got it from Nigel Slater's Simple Suppers (episode 4, recipe also available on BBC online) and it worked a treat.

Nigel Slater used fresh lemons and honey, but I didn't have any fresh lemons, so I used that lemon stuff you get in a bottle. And I thought I didn't have any honey (but I did, it was hiding in the larder) so I used maple syrup.

I mixed together about six long squirts of plastic lemon juice, a long slug of maple syrup, two large squished garlic cloves and some black pepper and put in four chicken thighs to marinate for about half an hour.

Then I tipped it all into a roasting tin and sprinkled over salt and baked for 45 mins at 220C, turning twice. And it was DELICIOUS, even with slightly wrong ingredients... can't recommend highly enough.

So easy, impossible to get wrong.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

The pork that wasn't

It pains me that the recipe that inspired this blog was by my favourite cook, Nigella Lawson. Love her as I do, she led me a merry dance with her 24-hour slow-cooked aromatic pork shoulder. (Nigella Bites, p. 211)

I did everything she told me to and the meat came out a bone-dry, tough chewy lump of sadness. What did I do wrong?