Posts Tagged ‘aubergines’

We had these last night with quinoa, plain green beans, and garlicky yogurt sauce.

It’s adapted from a recipe by Rick Stein–known as the uncrowned king of Cornwall.

When we were filming Poldark in Cornwall 35 years ago, eating out in the county was very different from what we experienced last weekend and Rick Stein has a lot to do with it.  His fish restaurants in Padstow have set a benchmark. Things have improved!

We tried to reserve a table at one of Rick’s places a couple of weeks before our trip but they were all booked–sad for us but “Hooray” for Cornwall!

for 2+

500gms/1lb aubergines–cut up into smallish pieces (quicker to sauté), lightly salted and left in a sieve or colander for an hour to drain off their liquid, then dried ready for the pan. (This seems tedious to do but they absorb less oil this way.)

4 tablespoons olive oil

1” square piece of fresh ginger--chopped fine

3 garlic cloves–pulped with half a teaspoon of salt

1 tablespoon of water

2 tablespoons whole fennel seeds

1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds

1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds–crushed

1 teaspoon turmeric powder

1 teaspoon chili powder

500gms/1lb tomatoes–chopped with their juice (or use tinned)

3 more tablespoons of water

  • whizz the ginger and garlic in a tablespoon of water to form a loose paste.
  • heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large sauté pan that you can cover.
  • when hot, add a single layer of  the dry aubergine pieces.
  • turn them in the oil and sauté on all sides until nicely browned–a pair of cooking tongs comes in handy here–then set aside. (It’s worth taking your time to make sure the aubergine is cooked through.)
  • continue the process until all the aubergine pieces are cooked, adding more oil as needed.
  • let the pan cool a little before heating two tablespoons of oil and adding the fennel and cumin seeds.
  • let them colour for a few seconds before adding the ginger and garlic paste.
  • cook this gently for a minute or two before adding the coriander, turmeric and chili powder.
  • cook this gently for a minute before adding the tomatoes and the extra water.
  • turn the lovely looking mix over and cook on a low heat for ten minutes to form a sauce.
  • add the aubergine pieces turning everything over thoroughly before covering the pan and cooking for a further 5 to 10 minutes.
  • test the doneness of the aubergines, cooking them a little more if necessary, adding a little more water if  needed.
  • check the seasoning and sprinkle some chopped mint, fresh coriander, or parsley over the dish before serving.

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"Rentrée" gifts

I’m sitting searching for a new recipe for the chicken we’ll eat tonight when I hear a car draw up.

Life in the country is never predictable–especially when you hope it might be for a few quiet minutes!

The bell outside the courtyard gently rings and footsteps slowly crunch across the gravel.

I put down the cookbook and reluctantly rise to greet the visitor.

There is the lightest knock on the front door.

There stands our neighbour Alice, holding a small rectangular box with 2 kilos of her honey in it.

Honey box

She says it’s only fair she shares some with her “second pair of hands”.

Meredith helped  with the recolte [harvest] of her honey on Monday.

“The honey’s runny–better keep it a plat [flat],”  she says of the harvest. “there was more last year–but not bad nevertheless….”

A spoonful of the honey with a tablespoon of the organic cider vinegar from Thursday’s market will help shore up our health as the seasons change.

Of more interest to me is the small basket of tomatoes, aubergines and courgettes that Alice holds in her other hand–could make a wonderful ratatouille.

Ratatouille basket

“These are probably the last”, Alice says, “in spite of constant watering things have dried up–so enjoy these while you can”.

Too right, Alice–superb! Merci beaucoup!

(And I did nothing to deserve it!)

Talk of the season change persuades me to try the chicken cooked with dried porcini mushrooms (bought last November in Tuscany) tonight.

Recipe to follow–if we like it!

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Caponata has as many versions as there are towns in Sicily, no doubt!

Everyone has their way of cooking this traditional peasant dish.

The English cook Jamie Oliver calls it Incredible Sicilian Aubergine Stew.

It’s a good description; this is adapted from his version.

(There are echoes of the French ratatouille, of course.)

This recipe is in my cookbook, Delicious Dishes for Diabetics,  which is published in August in the UK, November in the USA.

for 4

2 large aubergines (aka eggplant)–cut in chunks, salted and left to drain–overnight if you can, but an hour or two anyway (They soak up less oil this way, when cooked.) Dry them thoroughly with kitchen paper.

1 tsp dried oregano


1 small red onion–chopped fine

2 garlic cloves–sliced fine

1 small bunch parsley– stalks chopped separately very finely–(chop the leaves finely too to scatter over the finished dish)

2 tablespoons of capers–drained and squeezed free of liquid

A handful of green olives–stoned, if you’ve time

2/3 tablespoons herb vinegar (I use tarragon vinegar)–not more or it dominates

5 ripe tomatoes (tinned, if it’s not the season)–roughly chopped

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan.

Add the aubergine chunks and oregano (do this in two lots if your pan isn’t big enough)

Cook on a highish heat to brown the chunks, turning them as they colour.

(This is the longest part of the cooking.)

When the aubergines are nicely coloured, add the onion, garlic and the parsley stalks.

Cook for a couple of minutes.

Add more olive oil if you feel it needs it.

Add the olives, capers, and herb vinegar.

When vinegar has evaporated, add the tomatoes.

Bring up to a simmer and cook on a gentle heat for 15 to 20 mins, covered for the first 10 minutes, until the aubergines are really melting.

Season with pepper and salt–bearing in mind that you salted the aubergines earlier.

Sprinkle over the parsley.

Serve with extra olive oil on hand.

Tonight we have a vegetarian among the six, so I am serving this as a vegetable with our slow roast shoulder of lamb and as the main dish for the vegetarian.

caponata–tastes better than it looks!

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