Saturday, 11 April 2015

Layered Aubergine, Tomato, Chorizo and Mash Bake

We've been on holiday at home for the last week and as the weather was gorgeous spend a lot of time in the garden though we still haven't had a barbecue. When the temperatures dropped to 8 °C today and we had driving rain and even hail stones, interspersed with sunny, if chilly, intervals I was a bit at a loss as to what to cook. My other half craved potatoes – baked, mashed, roasted, whatever. A look in the fridge revealed several aubergines, a couple of kilos of vine tomatoes, fresh taragon and soft chorizo sausages. There was also some left-over white bread earmarked for bread crumbs. The cooking gears in my brain started grinding and before I knew it I was well on my way to create another new dish. And only now do I realise that there was neither garlic nor onions in this dish. Never missed them.

This dish is incredibly versatile as it can be vegetarian, vegan and even gluten free. It's great as a main course with a side salad or a side dish with a roast, pork chops, poached, fried or baked fish.

(serves 3-4)

2 aubergines
4 fist-sized potatoes
2 small soft chorizo sausages, approx. 110 g
2 small pointed red peppers
5 plum vine tomatoes
(elderflower-infused) olive oil
2 sprigs of fresh taragon
sea salt
freshly ground pepper
bread crumbs

1. Peel and quarter the potatoes, wash and place into a saucepan. Season with about 1 tsp sea salt and pepper. Add boiling water so the potatoes are just covered and boil for 15 minutes or until tender. Drain off the water, add a good glug of milk and a splash of olive oil. Mash, check the flavour and set aside.

2. Meanwhile slice the two aubergines into 1 cm slices. Heat a generous amount of olive oil in a frying pan. Fry in batches until golden, then drain on kitchen paper.

3. Half the peppers lengthways and core. Slice and fry for a couple of minutes.

4. Slice the chorizo and fry until brown on both sides.

5. Cut the tomatoes into 1/2 cm thick slices. Pick the leaves of the taragon sprigs and chop.

6. Assemble the dish in an oven-proof dish: Layer the first aubergine, season with pepper and salt. Place all the tomato slices on top and season with pepper and a little salt. Scatter the taragon on chorizo slices over the tomatoes. Next add the sautéd pepper and another layer of aubergines. Spread the mash on top and bake for 45 minutes at 200 °C/gas mark 5.

7. Mix a couple of small handfuls of fresh bread crumbs with a little olive oil. Scatter over the mash and bake for another 10 minutes.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Spring Onion Quiche with Herby Short-Crust Pastry

We love quiche and make it fairly regulary always trying out new toppings and this time, also a new base.

(serves 4-6)

1 quantity of herby short-crust pastry
2 bunches of spring onions, roughly chopped
2 large cloves of garlic
1 small bunch of parsely, finely chopped
4 large eggs
150 ml soured cream/crème fraîche/ordinary cream
splash of milk
sea salt
black pepper
pinch of nutmeg
extra virgin olive oil

Make the pastry according to the recipe. Grease a 26 cm fluted flan dish with a tiny bit of olive oil. Place the pastry ball into the middle and with your knuckles spread it evenly. Stab a few times with a fork, cover in greaseproof paper, pour on ceramic baking beads (or failing that uncooked rice, chickpeas, beans or similar).

Preheat the oven to 200 °C/gas mark 5 and blind bake for 15 minutes.

In the meantime, prepare the topping. Clean and wash the spring onions, then coarsely chop them. Heat a little oil in a frying pan and sauté the spring onions over a medium heat until just softened and lightly brown.

Beat the eggs, season with pepper, salt and nutmeg. Add the cream and milk and mix well. Squeeze the garlic through a garlic press and finely chop the parsley. Add to the egg mix.

When the 15 minutes are up remove the pastry from the oven using oven gloves, pour off the beads and remove the paper. Pour the topping onto the pastry and bake at 200 °C/gas mark 5 for 35-45 minutes. Serve hot or cold.

Herby Short-Crust Pastry

I've often wondered if I could make short-crust pastry with olive oil instead of butter. Yesterday, I decided to put it to the test. I didn't use just plain olive oil but a thick coriander-and-lime oil I made a few days ago, which needed using up. And I didn't dare use just oil, so used equal amounts of oil and butter. It worked beautifully.

This recipe is enough for a 26 cm fluted flan tin.

150 g wholegrain flour
100 g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
65 g coriander-and-lime oil
65 g soft butter, cubed
3-4 tbsp warm water

Mix the flour and baking powder, then add the oil and butter and knead into a smooth dough adding water as necessary. Cover and keep at room temperature until ready to use.