August 1, 2013
This week’s aubergines make great pastas. The trick is to cook them slowly so they sweeten up nicely and any bitterness dissipates. They end up achingly mellow and tender. Tomatoes are an obvious cohort and really you can’t go wrong with this combination. The sauce below takes a little time but it couldn’t be easier and you will be generously rewarded with a super moreish result especially if you track some basil leaves down and scatter over the finish dish for a final heady perfume. Yum yum yum!!!!!!!!!!!
I should also say, by the way, that this is stellar with any simple pan-fried fish or meat.
Aubergine and Basil Pasta
2 medium small onions
1/2 head garlic
300gr aubergines (about what you have in this week’s bag)
1-2 tins tomatoes (this is a moveable feast. 1 will make enough for 2-3 people and 2 will feed up to 6)
A handful of basil leaves
Roughly chop your onions and saute over a low heat in plenty of olive oil. Dice the aubergines add to the pan. Toss everything well adding more Olive Oil to stop things sticking. Keep things moving and when the aubergines start to soften and turn a golden brown you can throw in the garlic and a little more Oil if you think it needs it. Allow the garlic to completely soften then add the tomatoes, a generous pinch of sugar (takes away any bitterness that you might get from the tomatoes) and a pinch of salt. Lower the heat a little and cook for another 20 minutes (30 if you’re using 2 tins of tomatoes). Serve with the pasta of your choice and some Parmesan or Pecorino and some torn Basil leaves.
The gorgeous Red Russian Kale in your bags this week was grown for us by Mick Gordan and it’s absolutely packed full of nutrients. Have it steamed, stir-fried (with lots of garlic) or boiled. If you want to try something special, chorizo and kale are a match made in heaven and Nigella Lawson’s kale with chorizo topped with a poached egg is the perfect example. It’s lunch, dinner or tea in 10 minutes and it couldn’t be any moreish, a complete treat. The chorizo secretes its lovely spicy oil when gently fried and this is your sauce.You simply wash and shred your Kale, then slowly fry small slices of Chorizo in a teeny drop of oil for about 5 minutes releasing the oil. Poach an egg, toss the Kale with the chorizo in the pan then serve on a plate topped with the egg (runny yolk of course because adds lovely richness to the dish. Serve it straight up or with crusty bread.
In between the showers, this week’s peaches will be perfect on the barbecue – split them in half, barbecue then serve with some mascarpone whipped with cream and spiked with a little vanilla.
Have a brilliant long weekend,
October 1, 2010
Sorry about the last few weeks – I was in Catalonia. First of all we went camping on the Costa Brava in a beautiful place called Cala Llevado and then we were in the thick of it in Barcelona. Years ago I lived there as a strict vegetarian – no meat or fish. This was generally considered to be…..well, completely nuts by most of the natives. They just didn’t get it. I remember how waiters, having never heard of the concept, would offer me jamon (ham), atun (tuna) because they “aren’t really meat”. Well, I suppose compared to the hunks of lamb, roasted rabbit, tripe (often the dish of choice for clubbers after a hard night on the tiles eaten on a busy street corner as the rest of the world went to work in the morning), trotters and sausages they are kind of lightweight but hello????
As a veggie I ate unbelievable amounts of tortilla de patata (spanish potato omelette) which thankfully, I loved and still do and tons of Escalivada perhaps the most quintessential of Catalan dishes but one which is pretty much unknown outside the region. It’s a salad of roast aubergine, onion and peppers. Like most Catalan dishes it’s very, very simple . Roasted vegetables generously doused with top class olive oil and maybe a little vinegar. That’s it – no herbs, spices or sauces. It doesn’t need it – the ingredients are seasonal and local so at their very best. It’s often served with salted anchovies which I find a bit too hardcore or goats’ cheese which I prefer.
Escalivada is generally served as a starter or as part of a what’s called a “pica pica” (I don’t think I need to translate) which has to be my favourite way to eat – small amounts of lots of things. So, you might serve it alongside a potato omelette (maybe with some courgette thrown in as we are so overrun with them at the moment), olives, a green salad, some pan-fried sardines or octopus a la romana (dipped in batter and fried), a nice local goat’s cheese (there are loads in Catalunya) or a lovely creamy Tetilla (literally translated nipple!) cheese from Galicia (available in Sheridan’s from time to time if you’re interested), a chickpea salad and pa amb tomaquet – country-style bread rubbed with garlic, tomato then generously drizzled with olive oil. Dessert might be a perfectly ripe peach or one of this week’s plums.
Escalivada – Roasted Aubergines, Peppers and Onions
The quantities for this can totally vary depending on what you have. The amounts below are a guide only
2 sweet red peppers – yellow will also do fine
1 Onion – red or yellow
Red wine vinegar
Salted anchovies and/or goat’s cheese
The veg is roasted whole without oil so just put them on a baking tray and roast in a medium oven (Gas mark 6) for 1 hour or until all the veg are tender. Let them cool down then peel and chop them. The aubergines I half and then cut into eighths, the pepper I cut into chunky strips and the onions can be halved then cut into eighths. Traditionally the veg are laid out on a plate separately but feel free to mix them together if you prefer. Generously drizzle with your best olive oil and a little vinegar (a lot of Catalans don’t bother with this so, again, it’s up to you). Serve as I said, with anchovies and a piece of goat’s cheese.
This keeps well in the fridge and can be made in advance
Pa amb tomaquet (bread with tomato)
A round of country-style white bread (baguette or sliced pan will not do!!!!)
1-2 cloves of garlic peeled and cut down the middle
1-2 tomatoes cut horizontally in the middle
Toast the slices of bread then rub on one side with the garlic. The crispiness of the bread will break down the garlic and make it stick to the bread. Follow this with a rub of tomato. As a rule 1 tomato will do 2 or 3 large slices of toasts and leave you with little more than the tomato skin when you’re finished. Drizzle with plenty of olive oil and sprinkle with a little fine salt.
Serve with cheeses, cured meats, tortilla…… anything really. Kids often have it as a snack in the afternoon when they come home from school. Mine were reluctant at first (what??!! no butter?) but are coming around. The garlic isn’t always used so you may want to try it without but given the winter is coming I reckon as much of this stuff raw as possible is what’s needed to ward off the sniffles.
Have a great weekend,
July 16, 2010
I know. Funny to think that something so mediterranean came from just 45 minutes away in Wicklow. Seasonal eating isn’t all about root veg and cabbages you know. Irish growers are producing very fancy stuff indeed these days. Last week courgette flowers from the Healys, this week Marc Michel’s aubergines. Whatever next? Well, tomatoes, basil and broccoli actually. So, a big shout out to the Irish growers for bringing all these goodies to us. It makes my job (selling veggies) so much easier not to mention very very tasty.
I noticed during the week that a lot of food bloggers did posts on spanish food after the world cup. Well, I find it difficult not to write about spanish food every week as it’s what always seems most natural to me. I lived and cooked in Barcelona for nearly 8 years so, like most people there, I will start an onion frying in olive oil almost before I know what I’m going to cook. And, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, garlic and tomatoes are usually not far behind.
This week’s recipe comes from one of the few parts of Spain that didn’t have very mixed feelings about last Sunday’s result – the south where they eat aubergines right through the summer. It’s a very simple one that I was reminded of when leafing through one of the Moro cookbooks recently. Berenjenas fritas – fried aubergines. Basically you dip slices of aubergine in a gram (chickpea) flour batter then deep-fry til golden. You’ll find them in any bar over there where they often come with a drizzle of local honey. Perfect with a cold beer before dinner….
2 Aubergines (about 400gr)
150gr Gram flour
180 ml fizzy water (I use more water than the Moro recipe so the batter is lighter)
A pinch of bread soda
A pinch of fine salt
Vegetable oil for frying
Begin by whisking the flour, water, salt and bread soda together until smooth. Set aside for 20 minutes and slice your aubergines into rounds about 1cm-1.50cm thick. Heat about 3 cm of veg oil in a pan. When the oil is ready (hot but not smoking) dip the aubergines in the batter and gently drop them into the oil. A minute on each side should do it. Dry on kitchen paper then drizzle with runny honey.
If you want a different vibe, try them tempura style (see last week’s blogpost) then make a dipping sauce with chilli, soy, lime juice and a tiny bit of honey.
We’re off down to Marc Michel’s farm tomorrow so if you fancy a bit of country air please feel free to come along (map on our Facebook page)