Tag Archives: eggplant

The Almost Perfect Deliciously Smokey Baba Ghanoush Recipe

21 Oct Baba Ghanoush

Unbelievably, this is the first time I have posted a Baba Ghanoush recipe. I love it – it is definitely one of my favourite things to eat but until recently I had not been happy with my own attempts a recreating the deliciously creamy smokiness of the excellent Baba (or mutabal) at my favourite Lebanese restaurant in Malaga.

Seeing this unusual aubergine growing by the side of the road featured in the picture below (no rude comments about its big nose please) and the incredibly cheap piles of gorgeous deep purple, brushed magenta or even lilac ombre specimens on sale at the market was encouragement enough for me to give it another go.

The key to really good baba is the smokiness. This usually comes from cooking the aubergines directly over an open flame until the skin is blackened and the flesh inside is very soft and collapsing when you squeeze it with tongs. The smoky flavour comes from the charred skin that permeates the flesh of the aubergine transforming it into one of the most delicious things on this earth. This is where my problem lies, I don’t have gas hob. I have a silly beep beep beep induction hob which is admittedly much easier to clean.

Or so he tells me.

I had read recipes before saying that you could get the same effect by grilling (or broiling US) them under a hot grill for 70 minutes. 70 minutes?! The idea of leaving something under a hot grill for 70 minutes scared me to death because I knew I would wander off and forget about them completely. So do you know what I did? I bought smaller aubergines. Genius I know. Instead of using 3 large aubergines that the recipe calls for, I use 6 or 7 baby ones. It’s so much quicker and I am less likely to burn the house down in the process.

The traditional way, if you have a gas hob, is to line underneath the burners with some aluminium foil, prick the aubergines all over with a sharp knife (you can use 3 large or 6 or 7 baby ones) then lay them directly on the flames, turning occasionally with tongs to make sure they are blackened on all sides and collapsingly soft inside. If you don’t have gas like me the recipe below comes  a very close second. Whatever you do don’t use roasted aubergines, the flavour will be very disappointing and nothing like the real thing.

Baba Ghanoush Recipe

Serves 4 as a snack with flatbread or crudities. Vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from Nigel Slater

  • 6 or 7 small aubergines (mine were about 15 -18 cm long from the tip of the stalk to the bottom)
  • 2 large cloves garlic, crushed
  • the juice of a small lemon
  • 2 or 3 heaped tbsp tahini paste
  • 3 or 4 tbsp olive oil
  • salt & black pepper
  • parsley or mint leaves to garnish
  • sesame seeds to garnish

Prick the aubergines all over with a sharp knife and cook under a hot grill (or over a gas flame), turning once the skin is blackened. Keep turning and leaving it to blacken on all four sides. The skin should be blackened and charred on all sides and the flesh inside very soft and collapsing when you pick it up with tongs.

Leave until cool enough to handle, cut them in half lengthways and scrape out all of the flesh including any that is sticking to the skin (this is where all the flavour is). It doesn’t matter if some of the blackened skin gets into the bowl too this will be great for flavour.

Puree with a stick blender with the rest of the ingredients until just smooth (or still a little bit chunky) and then taste. Adjust the lemon juice, salt and tahini to your liking. To serve, drizzle with a little olive oil and scatter over some parsley or mint leaves and a few sesame seeds.

This is gorgeous served straight away still warm or at room temperature with some toasted flatbread or crudites for dipping.

This is one of the recipe from my first Vegetarian Mezze Cookery Workshop that I hosted yesterday at Pepe Kitchen in Benalmadena, Malaga. I would like to thank all of the lovely people who turned up to learn to cook and eat some of my favourite food, I really enjoyed it and hope you did too.

My next course is a Healthy Baking Workshop on Saturday 17th November when we will be making (and eating) tarts and  quiche made with spelt flour olive oil pastry, healthy sweet and savoury muffins including my favourite cherry tomato, pesto & goat’s cheese muffin made using wholemeal spelt flour and olive oil. Also my signature healthy breakfast or tea loaf made with flax seeds, oats, dates, raisins, honey and sunflower seeds. Hope to see you there…

Tunisian Spiced Aubergine with a Soft Poached Egg

9 Nov Poached Egg & Tunisian Aubergine

This is another 0ne of those aubergine dishes that you have to try even if you think you don’t like aubergine. We are coming to the end of the season here now so it maybe your last chance to change your life. Or your eating habits anyway..

This is dish from Delia Smith (we love Delia) and she got it from an Elizabeth David recipe. It is supposed to be served at room temperature, drizzled with olive oil and served with some warmed pita breads on the side, a blob of greek yoghurt and fresh herbs on the top. Continue reading

Chargrilled Vegetable “Sandwich” with Feta, Basil and Pine Nuts

16 Oct Chargrilled Vegetable & Feta "Sandwich"

I’ve been toying with the idea of making a sandwich without the bread for a while. Alli at Pease Pudding recreated a version of this that she had for lunch in a cafe.

She lives in New Zealand and every time I visit her blog it makes me want to visit New Zealand even more. The choice of food apart from everything else is inspiring. One of her latest posts is a breakfast she had in another cafe which was Baba Ghanoush topped with a Poached Egg (heaven), that is definitely next on my list. Maybe for brunch tomorrow, if I can wait that long…. 

Continue reading

Martinique Sweet Potato Coconut Curry with Aubergine and Pineapple

29 Sep Martinique Sweet Potato Curry

The inspiration for this recipe came from watching a farmer harvesting his sweet potatoes. They look really beautiful coming out of the ground, their terracotta skin mirroring the colour of the soil, lying there baking in the warmth of the sun.

Martinique, an island in the eastern Caribbean Sea, is part of the French Caribbean.  The first European to encounter the island was Christopher Columbus in 1502. Its official language is French, although many of its inhabitants also speak Créole Martiniquais. Continue reading

Chinese Chilli Aubergine with Rice Noodles

17 Sep Chinese Aubergine

This is the third and final recipe in the Aubergine series for this season. Designed to convert even the most stubborn of aubergine haters out there. The previous two recipes were Berenjenas con Miel (Andalucian Fried Aubergines with Cane Honey) and Curried Aubergine with Chickpeas & Tomato.

I have to admit that I have saved the best for last. I first saw this recipe on Gary Rhodes’ Rhodes Across China series. He visited  many different regions in China cooking their signature dishes. At the end of the series he cooked a banquet showcasing all of his favourite Chinese recipes. This was one of his favourites. It was from Chengdu, the capital of the Sichuan province.

“It is said that ‘China is the place for food, but Sichuan is the place for flavour’. Food from the region is famously spicy, and girls from the capital Chengdu are reputed to be the most beautiful in the country as the chillies purge their skin of impurities.

Sichuan is as large as France with a population that is almost twice the size of Britain’s. Bordered by the snow-capped Himalayas, the inaccessible region has developed a unique culture and distinct cooking style. Most local people ascribe the spiciness of Sichuan cooking to the muggy climate. The best way to drive out the cold and moisture is with a kick of chilli heat.”
 
Not surprisingly I love Sichuan food. As you may have noticed I am partial to a bit of chilli and I also love the fragrant, tingly, numbing heat given out by the Sichuan peppercorn. This dish doesn’t contain Sichuan peppercorns but it has reminded me how much I loved a Sichuan spicy peanut noodle dish we served at the restaurant. It made your lips go numb, in a good way. I’m definitely going to hunt down that recipe and share it with you.
 
Chinese Chilli Aubergine with Rice Noodles
 
serves 2-3, vegan gluten-free. Adapted from Gary Rhodes Across China
  • 225-250 gr rice noodles (I used medium)
  • 1 large aubergine (about 450 gr)
  • vegetable oil for deep-frying
  • 2 tbsp chilli bean paste
  • 1 tbsp sambal oelek (pickled chilli sauce)
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped, green & white parts separated
  • a handful of fresh coriander, stalks and leaves separated and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp shaoxing rice wine (or dry sherry)
  • 200 ml veg stock
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce (or kecap manis)
  • 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 2 -3 tsp brown sugar
  •  1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp corn flour (corn starch) mixed with 2 tbsp water
  • sesame seeds

Peel the aubergine by cutting off the top and bottom and peeling with a knife from top to bottom. Cut in half lengthways and then cut into “chips” about 5cm x 1.5cm x 1.5cm.

Meanwhile cook the noodles in boiling salted water according to the instructions on the packet, drain in a colander and rinse under the cold tap to stop them cooking and sticking together. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a wok or deep frying pan until hot. Deep-fry the aubergine chips in about 3 batches until soft and golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and leave to drain on kitchen paper.

Carefully pour away all but 1 tbsp of the hot oil into a heat proof bowl and leave to cool before discarding. Heat the remaining tbsp of oil in the wok and add in the chilli bean paste, sambal oelek, ginger, garlic, coriander stalks and the white parts of the chopped spring onion. Stir fry for about 30 seconds

Pour in the rice wine/sherry and stock, bring to the boil and reduce for 2-3 minutes. Then put the aubergine back into the sauce.

Add the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar and salt and cook for 2 minutes. Taste for sweetness, it should be sweet, tangy and hot. Add more sugar, soy sauce or vinegar if necessary. Dissolve the cornflour in the water and add to the sauce, stir until thickened slightly.

Stir through the cooked noodles and reheat.

Serve in warm bowls garnished with the green parts of the spring onion, chopped coriander leaves and sprinkle over some sesame seeds.

This really is the best aubergine recipe out there. It converted me and I was a hater. Because the aubergine is peeled it melts right into the spicy sauce coating the noodles in beautiful deliciousness.

Try it!!

Things That Made Me Smile Today……

These beautiful hot pink flowers. I don’t know what they are but they look like bright pink feathery fans. The kind they use for Burlesque dancing…..

And these dying sunflowers look like those gorgeous big shower heads. I want…

Enjoy the rest of your weekend….

Berenjenas Con Miel – Fried Aubergines with Cane Honey

17 Aug toppled top

Berenjenas con Miel is a typically Andaluz dish from around Malaga and Granada. It has saved my life, on more than a few occasions, when eating out here, as it is on most Spanish restaurants’ menus and it’s usually the one and only vegetarian dish, apart from tortilla (no more tortilla, por favor!) on offer.

It is the second in my aubergine season series, the first being an Aubergine & Chickpea Curry, designed to convert even the most stubborn of aubergine haters out there.

The reason it will convert is that it is sliced very thinly, lightly coated in seasoned flour and fried until golden. Then comes the good bit, it is drizzled generously with Miel de Cana. Miel de Cana literally translates as “sugar cane honey” or, as it known elsewhere, molasses.

Miel de cana is produced in the Malaga area and it comes in a glass jar with a beautiful printed label.

It says on the side: “Did you know that…?”

“In the 5th century BC, the Persian king Dario discovered sugar cane on his expedition to the Indus Valley. He described it as a cane that gives honey without the intervention of bees.”

If you see some anywhere, buy it, I’ve heard that they have stopped producing it because all the sugar cane plantations have been destroyed to make way for the new runway and terminal at Malaga airport.

I don’t know whether this is true or not, but it would be a real shame to lose this important local product with such a long history, the company was started in 1929.

Berenjenas Con Miel Recipe

Serves 2-3 sharing as part of a meal. Vegan. From Spanish Food About

  • 1 large Aubergine
  • 1-2 tsp salt
  • black pepper
  • about 1oo gr (3/4 cup) plain flour
  • 220 ml (1 cup) virgen olive oil
  • miel de cana (or molasses/ honey/ maple syrup)

Wash and dry the aubergine, cut off the stalk end and carefully slice into 3 mm thick circles.

Put the slices on a baking tray or large platter and lightly salt each one on both sides. Leave for at least 20 mins up to an hour to draw out the moisture, then pat both sides dry with kitchen roll.

Heat the oil in a med-large frying pan over a medium high heat. Tip the flour onto a large plate and season it with salt and pepper, mix it together with your hands. Put about 4 slices of aubergine in the flour and press down, turn over with tongs and coat the other side.

When the oil is hot (it should sizzle when you put the slices in), lift the slices with tongs, shaking off the excess flour, and place in the oil. Cook for about a minute on one side until golden brown and then turn over with the tongs and do the same on the other side. When cooked on both sides remove to some kitchen roll to drain. Meanwhile put some more slices in the flour and continue until all the aubergine is cooked.

Arrange the slices overlapping in one layer on a large serving dish/platter and drizzle generously with the miel de cana/molasses. Serve immediately with extra miel de cana on the table.

Buen Provecho!!

Things That Made Me Smile Today……….

The cactus fruit or prickly pear are called Chumbos here and are everywhere at the moment.

I love their bright acid colours against the burnt earth and the almost cartoon-like shapes of the cactus. It feels very Mexico to me.

They make me smile because every time I see them I think of The Jungle Book and I just can’t get that song out of my head.  “Do be do I wanna be like you oo… I wanna walk like you, talk like you, ooo….”

Curried Aubergine with Tomato and Chickpeas

29 Jul DCIM100MEDIA

The first of the seasons aubergines are starting to peek out from inside their pretty lilac flowers in the fields where I walk the dog.

I have lots of aubergine recipes saved from Spain to China that will make even the most stubborn aubergine haters out there succumb to its deeply, dark and delicious charms.

I can say that because I used to be one of them – a hater I mean, not an aubergine obviously. If they are cooked incorrectly, which they generally are, they can be a spongy, chewy, watery, bland and disgusting disaster. Which is why there are so many haters out there.

The first recipe from my aubergine collection that I am going to share with you is a curry. I chose the curry because my chillis on the roof terrace are turning for green to red very quickly right now and every morning there is a fresh crop of jewel-like peppers twinkling at me from the bush. 

These chillis are just asking to be used, and there are lots of them.

So expect lot of chilli recipes in the next few weeks including: my homemade Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce and some spicy Chickpea Tikka Masala Burgers. It’s going to be a long, hot summer.

This curry is delicious, the aubergine is meltingly soft and the sauce well reduced to create an intensely rich and flavourful dish.

It’s from Rick Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey. You can’t go wrong with Rick, he knows good curry. I just added the chickpeas so it was a one pot dish and I didn’t have to make any rice to go with it. Some flatbreads would be nice to scoop it up though.

Rick Stein has a new series about Spain on the BBC at the moment. I saw it for the first time last night and he mentioned that next week he would be in Andalucia. I’m really interested to see where he goes and what he eats. It’s definitely worth watching if you haven’t seen it yet. It’s called Rick Stein’s Spain.

Curried Aubergine with Tomato & Chickpeas

Serves 2-3, vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from Rick Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey

  • 1 large aubergine
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 100 ml olive oil
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 1/2 tbsp minced ginger
  • 3 or 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 or 2 red chillies, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp freshly ground coriander seeds
  • 1 tin, 400 gr chopped tomatoes
  • 200 gr (1/2 a jar/tin) cooked chickpeas, rinsed & drained
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • a handful of fresh coriander, chopped plus leaves for garnish
  • 10 mint leaves, finely chopped
  • lemon wedges to serve

Cut the aubergine in half across the middle then cut each half in half lengthways. Cut each piece, lengthways into 6 or 8 wedges, place them in a colander, sprinkle over 1/2 tsp salt and toss to coat. Place the colander in the sink to drain for 10 minutes. This draws out some of the water out of the aubergines.

Meanwhile prepare your onions, garlic, ginger and chillies. Heat a large frying pan over a medium high heat without any oil. Pour the olive oil into a shallow dish and brush the aubergine wedges on all sides with the oil. Put them in the frying pan a few at a time and cook for 2 or 3 minutes on each side until well browned. This helps to stop the aubergines absorbing too much oil. Set aside in a heatproof bowl and continue cooking the rest.

Put the onion, garlic, ginger and chilli into a processor or blender with 2 or 3 tbsp water and process to a smooth paste. Heat 2 tbsp of the remaining olive oil in the frying pan over a medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and fennel seeds wait until they start to pop then add the onion paste and fry for about 2 minutes. Add the ground coriander and turmeric and fry for a further minute then add the tomatoes, salt, pepper and 3 tbsp water.

 Lower the heat, cover and leave to simmer for about 8 minutes until sauce has reduced and thickened. Add the aubergine wedges back into the pan along with the chickpeas and stir well to coat in the sauce. Simmer for a further 5 minutes until the aubergines are meltingly tender then stir in the fresh coriander & mint. Taste to check seasoning.

Serve garnished with coriander leaves and a wedge of lemon.

Please try this even if you hate aubergine and let me know if you’ve been converted. I was!

Things That made me Smile Today…..

Beautiful squash flowers…

And green baby pumpkins nestled in their shady bed….

A sure sign that autumn is not too far away and along with it relief from this crazy heat!

Laos Style Aubergine, Mushroom and Lemongrass Curry Rice Bowl

21 Apr DCIM100MEDIA

Laos is in South East Asia bordered by Northeast Thailand, Viet Nam, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia & China. It is another place on my list of must visit countries that keeps growing by the day. I found the link to this recipe on Tes at Home. Tes grew up in Northeast Thailand but now lives in India. This recipe is my vegetarian version of her childhood memories of  a dish called Or Lam that she found on Eating Asia.  I took ingredients and techniques from both recipes and cooked the rice in the same pot but it would normally be served with sticky rice on the side. Unfortunately I couldn’t get any fresh dill for this dish so I replaced it with fresh coriander. Feel free to substitute the dill back in or a mixture of both would be nice.

You start by making a curry paste with shallots, garlic, chilli, lemongrass, lime leaves, coriander stalks and salt.  This is fried off then veg stock is added before adding the vegetables. The idea is to cook the aubergine until it is very soft and thickens the stew. I used my metal tea infuser to flavour the dish with Sichuan peppercorns and black peppercorns. This way you get some of the aromatic heat from the peppercorns but not the full on numb lips experience. I used 15 of each in the tea infuser. You could also use a  piece of muslin tied at the top with string). Or crush a smaller amount of each to add to the dish, say five of each.

Laos Style Aubergine, Mushroom & Lemongrass Curry Rice Bowl

serves 2, vegan, gluten-free

  • 1 large aubergine, quartered lengthways then cut into 2 cm chunks
  • 100 gr mushrooms, cleaned & sliced
  • 100 gr green beans, trimmed & halved
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped( I used 2 garlic & 1 spring garlic)
  • 6 shallots (I used 1/2 spring onions), roughly chopped
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, roughly sliced
  • 3 lime leaves, sliced
  •  1 red or green chilli, roughly chopped
  • a handful of coriander stalks
  • 1 tsp salt (or 1 tbsp fish sauce)
  • about 500 ml veg stock
  • 15 Sichuan peppercorns
  • 15 black peppercorns
  • 150 gr wholegrain rice
  • 2 big handfuls of fresh spinach
  • a handful of fresh coriander, chopped plus leaves for garnish

Put the shallots, garlic, chilli, lemongrass, lime leaves, coriander stalks and salt (or fish sauce) into a bowl or food processor and blend to a smoothish paste. Heat about 1 tbsp oil in a large pan over a medium heat, add in the paste and stir fry for a minute. Add in the veg stock and put both sets of peppercorns in the tea infuser(or muslin bag) and hang it  over the side of the pan so it is submerged in the liquid (or throw in the muslin bag).  Bring to the boil.

Add in the mushrooms, aubergine and rice, season with salt and boil for another minute. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered for about another 15 minutes or until the rice is cooked and the aubergine is soft and melting into the stock. If you like you can take out a ladle full of the stew and blend until smooth before adding back into the pot.

Add in the green beans and spinach, stir, cover and cook for another 3 – 5 minutes until the beans are cooked. Stir in the chopped coriander and taste for seasoning.

Ladle into warmed bowls and garnish with extra coriander leaves.

Imagine yourself on the banks of the Mekong river watching the boats go by or strolling through a colourful food market selling exotic, unknown foods, listening to the strange language and trying to recognise the unfamiliar smells. I will get there.. one day….

Honey Spiced Sticky Aubergines with coriander & lemon yoghurt

30 Oct DCIM100MEDIA

I know I said I was going to make a Wild Mushroom & Goat’s Cheese Lasagne. Well I tried but my wholemeal pasta turned out to be a bit of a disaster, too hot in the kitchen I think, it all stuck together. So I will keep trying but in the meantime I don’t have any more mushrooms.

Beehives

Today, while out walking, we got a closer look at the beehives, so it got me thinking about honey recipes. One of my favourite Spanish recipes is Berenjenas con Miel which is thinly sliced aubergines in a light batter served drizzled with Miel de Cana. Miel de Cana is a local honey made from cane sugar and the flavour is a mixture of maple syrup, treacle & honey. Apparently they are stopping making it because all the sugar cane in Malaga has been cut down to make way for the new airport terminal and surrounding buildings. This is a real shame because it’s a unique speciality to the area, it tastes fantastic & I love the label. If you see any buy it while you still can….

Berenjenas con miel has been a lifesaver on a number of occasions here in Spain as the vegetarian options available are basically non-existent, well they were when we moved here 10 years ago, it’s getting better now, slowly. I wanted to use the miel de cana and aubergine but spice it up a little as I like to do so I got some inspiration from The Traveler’s Lunchbox an amazing food blog where I have adapted a recipe for eggplant stewed with honey and spices. It really is so good you have to try it even if you hate aubergines, it delicious…

Honey Spiced Aubergines Recipe

serves 2 as part of a mezze or as a side dish

  • 1 aubergine sliced into about 1cm thick rounds
  • salt
  • olive oil
  •  2 1/2 tbsp clear honey (or miel de cana)
  • the juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  •  1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp harissa paste*
  • a handful of chopped coriander

* Harissa paste is a hot spice paste from Morocco use cayenne pepper if you don’t have any.

Lay the aubergine slices on a board or clean tea towel, sprinkle with salt, leave them for 15 – 20 minutes for the water to come out then wipe dry with kitchen roll.

Heat a large frying pan or grill pan (the stripes would be nice) to a medium high heat, brush the aubergines with olive oil on both sides and cook until browned on both sides (You will probably need to do it in two batches). Then set aside.

Combine the honey and lemon in a bowl with about 4 tbsp hot water from the kettle and stir to dissolve the honey. Heat some olive oil in the frying pan over a medium heat, add the ginger & garlic and fry for about 30 seconds (don’t let it burn). Ad the cumin & harissa paste (or cayenne) and fry for another 30 seconds then stir in the honey & lemon water and bring to a boil. Put the aubergines back in to the pan with the sauce and cook on a medium heat for about 10 minutes turning occasionally to coat in the sauce.

Cook until the sauce has reduced to a thick glaze and the aubergines are really soft. You can add more water if the sauce dries up before the aubergines are cooked. Leave to cool and serve at room temperature sprinkled with fresh coriander. Mix some greek yoghurt with lemon juice, fresh coriander & mint, salt & cumin seeds to serve with them.  You can also serve them as part of a mezze with spiced yoghurt cheese (Labneh see recipe September) or as a delicious starter or even as an accompaniment to a Moroccan flavoured roast lamb.

food to glow

feel good food that's good for you

Pease Pudding

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Chica Andaluza

Living the Dream Up A Mountain Somewhere In Andalucia

Tony Ward on everything

The gospel according to me!

Agrigirl's Blog

Life, leadership and community supported agriculture...

The Kitchen Operas℠

Vegetarian Whole Food Deliciousness

for the love of yum

A girl who loves to cook fresh, fun, and global cuisine.

The Path To Authenticity

Mind, Body & Spiritual Growth

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,948 other followers