Thursday, 25 August 2011

Six more easy recipes... the much loved & abundant aubergine!

I used to despise aubergines as a child.  They were either dry and chewy or soggy and watery.  Never with much flavour and nearly always stuffed with something vile.  A friend at a BBQ convinced me to try her teriyaki aubergine and since then, myself and the humble aubergine started a new relationship.  Aubergines are abundant, fat & cheap at the moment, so enjoy a few of my favourite aubergine recipes. 

All the following recipes are easy and quick to make (15 to 20 mins).

Brinjal bhaji (aubergine curry)
This is the easiest curry recipe I've ever learned (The Curry Secret) and tastes amazing, even better if left to stand in fridge overnight.  Chop 2 aubergines, 1 large white onion and 1 green pepper into 1" pieces.  Add 2.5 tsp garam masala, 1.5 tsp chilli powder, 1.5 tsp salt and 1 finely chopped large red chilli.  Pour over 1.5 cups of vegetable oil and bring to boil, then simmer until the aubergine starts to breakdown.  It might seem like too much oil, but you can drain off the excess at the end.  The flavours in this dish are enhanced if you leave overnight. 

Baba ganoush
I love having a little stock of this dip in my fridge.  Stab the aubergine (so they don't explode in the oven).  Place in very hot oven until skin blackens.  Scoop out flesh, allowing excess liquid to drain away.  Blitz with blender, adding salt to taste and garlic clove. Place in bowl with sprinkle of paprika & drizzle of olive oil, and serve with flat breads.    

Aubergine with thai basil & chilli
This is another super simple dish.  Cut aubergine into 1/2 inch cubes and stir fry with 3 tbsp veg oil, 1 sliced red chilli, 4 stems of Thai basil, leaves picked and 1-2 tbsp of veggie oyster sauce (yes there is such a thing, in good Chinese grocers)

Easy peasy roasted summer veg with feta
Chop aubergine, courgette, squash, red onions & peppers into 1" cubes.  Lay in deep baking tray and drizzle generously with olive oil and black pepper (not salt at this stage or veg will lose colour and shrink too much).  Also add whole garlic cloves (unpeeled).  Roast in hot oven for about 10-15 mins, then add crumbled feta, olives and whole jalapeno chillies.  Roast again for another 10 mins.

Italian style aubergine bake
Slice aubergines lengthways and griddle with olive oil until softened.  Make a sauce by softening onions, red pepper, tomatoes and garlic (with whatever fresh herbs you have - basil and marjoram are good).  Then layer the aubergine, sauce and sliced mozzarella in a dish, repeating the layers (like a lasagna).  Top with breadcrumbs, mixed seeds and grated hard strong flavoured cheese.  Bake until golden and bubbling.

Teriyaki aubergine
Slice aubergine lengthways into 1cm slices.  Marinate in teriyaki and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.  Lay on hot griddle or BBQ.  Works great with courgettes & peppers too.

For some more veggie BBQ ideas, check out Jamie's magazine this month, which has some lovely ideas including Mexican corn 4 ways, Mexican black bean burgers (nice nutty spicy texture too) and salt & pepper tofu skewers (nom nom nom!).  Or you could also try my paneer shashlik recipe: This works great on the barbeque, and dare I say, the marinade is pretty good on non veggie things too (so my sister tells me).

Now all we need is a little sunshine!  Jx

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Vegetarian Dining @ Pipedream Restaurant

I'm cooking up some vegetarian dining at Pipedream restaurant in London on Monday 19th September.  I've decided to make the paneer shashlik from my audition round, together with the best rice dish Gregg's ever tasted, my channa pilau.  I'm also making a few twists after my stints at Benares and Ottolenghi.

I've been working on an amuse bouche, based on one of my favourite snacks, aloo paratha.  This is an indian flat bread stuffed with spiced potato, and topped with aubergine and pickled radish.

I've also been making lime curd. I got the recipe from here:

This was to accompany the lime parfait, coconut sorbet and pistachio wafers I was practising for Pipedream.  But it turned into this... 

Lime meringue croustades, an Ottolenghi inspired tart if ever I saw one!

My dessert for Pipedream is a creamy lime parfait, served with a tangy coconut agave sorbet and crispy pistachio wafers.  And a little lime curd perhaps....

To book a table for my vegetarian dining at Pipedream, go to their website and follow the link.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Courgettes, courgettes everywhere...

I've always thought the courgette is an underrated vegetable.  I like the way it keeps it's firmness but can be soft in the middle.  It's also incredibly good for you and according to 'The Kitchen Shrink', makes a great component for serotonin boosting food. 

The thing I love most about it, is how easy it is to grow in your own garden.  I currently have six plants in grow bags on my patio that have so far given me a fantastic yield of both flowers and vegetables.  Having watched Thomasina Mier's making a spicy vegetable soup the other evening, I now plan to make use of some of the young leaves too.

So here are some super simple ideas for making the most of the courgette glut.  And all the dishes can be made in 20 to 30 minutes too!

Courgette & edam quesadilla
Just a simple folded corn tortilla, filled with courgettes and edam (as I couldn't get any queso fundido or indeed the suggested substitute of Monterray Jack).  Saute the sliced courgette with some seasoning and olive oil, just to cook slightly.  Place tortilla in pan and fill half with the sliced courgette and a handful of grated edam.  Fold the tortilla over, and cook both sides until lightly browned and cheese is melting.  I served this with a simmered spicy tomato salsa (grill 1lb whole tomatoes, 8 jalapeno chillies and 4 cloves of garlic, until blackened, remove tomato and garlic skins - then blitz and simmer until reduced)  but I think any chilli sauce accompaniment will lift this dish nicely, and a sprinkle of fresh coriander.

Courgette pasta sauce
Saute some finely chopped shallots (1 per person) or small white onion in olive oil, until soft.  Add crushed garlic clove and season with salt and pepper.  Add big splash of white wine and simmer vigorously.  Turn down heat.  Add grated courgette (about 2 per person), heat until slightly softened.  Add creme fraiche, sprinkle of fresh lemon thyme (optional) & serve over freshly cooked pasta.

Courgette fritters
Grate courgettes (about 1/2 lb) and squeeze out excess water. Whisk egg & add finely sliced spring onions or shallots, a little flour (use gram flour if you are gluten intolerant), salt, pepper and if to your taste, a little spice such as chopped fresh chilli, a teaspoon of cumin and fresh coriander.   I also like adding crumbled feta to the mix if I fancy a chilli free dish (a rare but occasional event). The batter should be fairly loose.  Shallow fry in batches until golden brown and serve with dollop of greek yoghurt. 

Simple courgette salad
Slice courgette lengthways using potato peeler to get thin strips.  Saute courgette strips in little olive oil until slightly softened, season.  Leave to cool.  Mix the courgettes with chopped flat leaf parsley and toasted sliced almonds.

Spicy corn and courgette soup
A lovely looking spicy soup made with sweetcorn, courgettes, flowers & leaves.  Again, served with a spicy simmered tomato salsa.  Yum!
Mexican Food Made Simple Ch5 - episode 4

Courgette & Taleggio frittata
The August edition of Olive magazine has a tasty little recipe for courgette and taleggio frittata, which went down very well in our house.  Simply saute the onion and garlic until softened, add the grated courgette, then the beaten and seasoned eggs, and the cheese.  Serve with a big fresh salad.

Another recipe from a previous edition of Olive, John Torode suggested stuffing the flowers with crab (if that's your bag) and or perhaps use goats cheese (if it's not).

Courgettes are also one of my favourite ingredients to use in my Thai style noodle soup.

Hope you enjoy! x