Aubergine Parmigano

I plan to grow my own aubergines in the garden (so far, so slow), and tomatoes to make my own passata and I alreaday grow basil successfully. And although I don’t intend to keep buffalos to make my own mozzarella, this dish as close as I get to using ingredients that are mostly mine.

The recipe is easy to make, layering the aubergines, mozzarella, tomato and parmesan and cook it until it all melts. It’s also great for dinner parties and easy weekend lunches.

Serves 4
Total cooking time: 1 hr 30 mins
Preparation time: 30 mins
Cooking time: 1 hr

Ingredients:

* 3 Aubergines
* 2 tbsps Salt, plus one pinch.
* 400g Mozzarella, ripped into pieces.
* 1 jar Tomato passata
* 1 Pinch Fresh ground black pepper
* 1 Bunch Fresh basil
* 80g Parmesan, flaked.
* 2 tbsps Olive oil, for cooking

Instructions:

Pre-heat the oven to 180c / gas mark 5. Cut the aubergines into slices approximately 1.5cm thick, sprinkle them with salt, lay them on a plate and put another plate on top of them with a weight on the top to squeeze the aubergines together. This will draw out any bitterness in the aubergines. You don’t get many bitter aubergines and you may be lucky, but one day you will and it will ruin your dish unless you’ve salted them first so it’s just not worth the risk.

Leave for 30 minutes, then rinse the salt off and dry the aubergine slices.

Heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in a non-stick frying pan and fry the aubergine in batches until golden, drain on lots of kitchen roll.

Once all the aubergine has been fried, take a big, deep casserole and layer starting with aubergine, then mozarella, passata, salt and pepper, basil and finally parmesan flakes. Continue until all the aubergine has been used. You should have 2-3 layers depending on how deep and wide your casserole is.

Put the lid on and bake for 1 hour – the top layer of parmesan should be golden brown and the mozzarella should be melted. Aga: roasting oven, shelf on oven floor for 30 minutes then transfer to the simmering oven for 30 minutes.

Serve with crusty bread and green salad.

Crushed new potatoes with mint & feta

This is one of the best things for summer side dish – the lemon zest and juice in the dressing turns potatoes into light and zesty treat. Mint and feta take it to yet another level.

I got this recipe from Ocado website – it has many decent ones that have served me well. Unlike Waitrose recipes, they are simple to prepare but certainly don’t taste simple.

Ingredients

Serves 4
Cooking time 20 mins

* 3 tbsp Fresh Mint
* 200g Feta Cheese
* 4 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
* 1 Lemon, unwaxed
* 1 Red Onion
* 1 pinch Black Pepper
* 500g New Potatoes
* 1 tbsp Honey

Cook the new potatoes in a large pan of boiling water until tender, about 10 minutes, depending on size. Drain thoroughly and set to one side.

Pour the oil into a small bowl add the finely grated zest and juice of the lemon and the honey. Whisk. Using the end of a rolling pin or a large wooden spoon, roughly crush the potatoes, not so they are completely broken up but just enough so their skins split and the flesh is exposed so it soaks up some of the dressing.

Finely chop the red onion and sprinkle over the potatoes. Chop the mint and crumble the feta and add to the potatoes, drizzle over the dressing and toss to mix, season well with black pepper and salt if desired, not forgetting the feta can be a bit salty. Serve with salad leaves.

Roast potatoes

This is one of the dishes that any self-respecting English national insists they know how to make. So this is for my reference rather than providing a definitive recipe for roast potatoes. I made these for Christmas dinner 2009, in the fat of the goose they accompanied. I parboiled them a day ahead, put them in the fridge, the next day let them warm up to room temperature, then dropped them into boiling hot goose fat. I believe they were extra fluffy as a result of cooling down and then warming up again. But that’s just my guess.

Ingredients:

12 large roasting potatoes
goose fat or olive oil
salt

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Peel the potatoes and chop each one into four or five pieces, varying the shapes. Place in a large pan of cold, salted water and bring to the boil. Cook for seven minutes, until they are soft on the outside, but still hard in the centre (test with a knife).
Meanwhile, heat a large roasting-tin in the oven with some goose fat or olive oil and a few pinches of salt (the potatoes will take a bit longer to cook in olive oil as it does not get as hot). You want a film of fat over the bottom of the tin about 1-2mm deep. The fat must be very hot when the potatoes go in.
When the potatoes are sufficiently parboiled, drain them in a colander then gently shake them around to fluff them up. Let them sit and drain for a minute to remove as much water as possible. Take thetin out of the oven and carefully pour in the potatoes, stirring to coat them in hot fat.
Return the tin to the oven (this should coincide with the uncovering of the roast goose, turkey or beef) and roast for 20-30 minutes, so a really good, thick layer can form on the bottom of each potato, basting the sides if they look a bit dry. Don’t open the oven door too often. If possible, check on them through the window with a torch. Turn the potatoes over, and move them around int he tin so that they each have a stint in the hottest part near the edge. Roast for a further 15 to 20 minutes more. by now they should be looking pretty scrumptious, but it is down to personal taste as to how crispy you like them, and also how the turkey is coming along.
When the rest of the meal is ready, place the potatoes on kitchen paper to remove excess fat, sprinkle on a bit more salt and serve.