Category Archives: Aubergine

Perfectly cooked aubergine…

As an aubergine lover, I believe you can’t ever go wrong with aubergine in a dish…however, I do know that not everyone would agree with me, and often that is because they’ve tried aubergine and not liked it, which is usually because the aubergine has been badly cooked. And by badly cooked, I mean either UNDER cooked, or dripping in oil 😦 

Aubergine that has NOT been cooked properly is NOT nice! The texture of properly cooked aubergine should be soft and melt in your mouth; uncooked aubergine will remain hard and slightly chewy and not at all tasty, verging on bitter. The trick is to ensure that you allow enough time to really cook aubergine well.

Aubergine cooked on a barbecue is often one of the worst culprits as far as I’m concerned, I’ve seen chunks of aubergine threaded onto skewers alongside peppers and onions, and it’s never cooked well. The peppers and onions take so much less time to cook, that the poor aubergine doesn’t get a chance to catch up. My advice: cook them separately!! 

Likewise, if you find lovely chunks of aubergine in a dish like curry/stew/ratatouille and it’s not cooked, it’s such a disappointment, especially for an aubergine lover like me. In this scenario, I would consider pre-cooking the aubergine, which is what I did recently to make this gorgeous aubergine tikka masala curry

These aubergine chunks were marinated and roasted until lovely and soft, before being added to the sauce.

So good!

So my message is: please be sure to cook your aubergine well, and to this end, today I am sharing with you my current favourite way of preparing aubergine. This is how I produced these lovely aubergine slices below..

There is an assumption that to really cook aubergine well, you need lots of oil. 

This is not true.

Aubergine is like a sponge and really soaks up oil, so if you do cook aubergine slices or chunks in lots of oil, it will merely hold onto it and fill your mouth with oil when you bite into it – yuk! Use of some oil is good for cooking aubergine, it just doesn’t have to be drowning in it. I usually use an olive oil spray when roasting or baking aubergine to control the amount I use. 

For these slices, I cut the aubergines into slices between 0.5cm and 1cm thick. If you slice them too thin, they risk burning and becoming papery.

I laid the slices on a rack sitting on an oven sheet, sprayed each slice with olive oil…

I cooked these in the oven, heated to 200c, until they looked like this..

They remain uncoloured on the underneath, but that doesn’t take anything away from the finished effect. 

On the rare occasion that I haven’t eaten the whole lot straight out of the oven, I’ve used these slices chopped up in salads..

Or to scoop up salad..

Or to create a plate of layered loveliness..

These slices have been spread with homous, then topped with beautiful roasted red onion and garlic and topped with toasted nuts. 

I hope I have inspired you in a new way to cook aubergines, and news ways to enjoy them. I’ll be taking these along to this week’s Fiesta Friday, co hosted this week by the lovely Julie and Linda. Please do join us 🙂

I’m also going to take this post along to Corina’s Cook Once, Eat Twice party, and add it to my own Pimp Your Veg collection. 

For now I’ll leave you to drool over those gorgeous roasted and caramelised red onions and garlic…

Spinach and cheese concoctions..

I always lust after images of spinach and cheese pastries, whether it’s a Greek spanakopita, or middle eastern ‘fatayer’, or Turkish ‘borek’, or any kind of version; I’m not a big pastry eater though. So, I look for other ways to create these pies or pastries, utilising the lovely flavours of the filling in other ways…

Which is how this aubergine-lined creation came to life. 

It all began with some oven roasted aubergine slices..

And when I finally stopped myself from scoffing them all, I used them to line my dish, then topped the slices with half of this mixture of baby spinach leaves, crumbled feta, chopped fresh mozzarella, chopped chives, dill & parsley, and a sprinkle of nutmeg and two eggs…

Then placed the remaining slices of aubergine over the top. If I hadn’t eaten so many, I could have formed a better top!

I then topped this with grated hard goats cheese and baked until it looked like this..

Oh yes 😀😀😀😀😀 I rarely have this much cheese, but when I do, it’s a joy!!! 

The ‘pie’ held together when I cut into it and created a very lovely meal..


At the same time time I went authentic and made a filo pastry version too, layering three sheets of filo pastry for the base, and folding the edges over the top..

Which I baked until it looked like this..

Another winner..although I preferred the aubergine lined version myself. 

The next day I removed any soggy pastry and chopped up the reminds of both dishes, then threw it all in a pan with some coconut oil and tomatoes and created a whole new dish for my lunch..

Now that was tasty!!!! And very filling!!!

I enjoyed my little venture into cheese overload…that will do for now though I think…! It all tasted great though 😀

Aubergine, carrot & beetroot ‘salads’…

This little plateful of colours, somewhat like a painters palette, formed a recent meal; it included a beetroot salad, a roasted aubergine salad, a roasted carrot salad, homous, and caremalised onions.

I put salad in quotation marks because these are not what you might typically call salads – there’s no green leaves in sight and they’re quite ‘tight’, as opposed to a typically looser collection of ingredients. These are more middle eastern in style, as you’ll see from the ingredients..

You’ll also notice a theme amongst the ingredients: tahini, garlic and lemon juice, the wonderful trio that I put with so many things, and that forms the backbone of homous, along with chickpeas.

So, on the plate is..

Beetroot salad

Boiled and cooled beetroot, mashed with tahini, lemon juice & garlic

Carrot salad

Boiled, roasted and cooled carrots, mashed with olive oil, soy sauce, tahini, garlic, chopped coriander, Aleppo chilli flakes and ground roasted cumin & coriander seeds 

Aubergine salad

Whole roasted aubergine, skin removed, and mashed with tahini, lemon juice and garlic, and mixed with chopped fresh coriander and ground roasted cumin 

Plus homous, using my holy grail recipe, and sliced red onion that I’d caramelised in the oven. 

As you’ll notice, there’s no quantities, because they were all just thrown together from bits and pieces of inspiration and ideas, so I would suggest playing with the amounts. And if any of them taste or feel too ‘claggy’, just add more lemon juice, that’s my motto!

The next day I mixed up the leftovers of the carrot salad and the aubergine salad to create one thing of beauty…mmmmmm…..

I hope your week starts well 🙂 

Another day another spiced roasted aubergine…

I hate to be boring…but I do love a roasted aubergine! This one is scored, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with my chermoula spice mix and roasted until it was soft and lovely…


Lunch is served..yum yum yum…! 

What else can I say?!

Dishes of fabulousness…salad, dips, breads, and so much more…

It’s another one of those posts of plenty I’m afraid, lots of dishes from my kitchen that I hope you might like…the picture above includes some of the dishes I made for our Sunday evening meal, and this is what they include…

The salad..slices of beautiful ripe tomatoes, sliced raw red onions and chopped parsley, sprinkled with salt and sumac, and drizzled with copious amounts of olive oil. 

I ate  it like a version of fattoush, with pieces of tortilla fried in rapeseed oil, so that the bread soaked up the dressing..

The green stuff is a dip of peas, garlic, yoghurt, ground roasted cumin and coriander seeds, and a sprinkling of Aleppo chilli flakes…

I had leftover potatoes that I’d boiled the previous day for something else, which I mixed with freshly made chermoula and left for a few hours for the flavours to develop and infiltrate the potatoes..

Alongside these I served a bowl of the tortilla chips I’d made, and spelt sourdough naan breads with nigella seeds (based on similar methods shared in my previous post…

I served all of these with some freshly made homous, and sriracha homous, plus chicken kebabs which I’d marinated in yoghurt, lemon juice, garlic and Aleppo chilli flakes for my boys; when I made the marinade, I saved some and spread it over a halved and scored aubergine…

I left it overnight…

Then baked it the next day until it was lovely and soft inside..

Yum yum yum!!! 

As you can imagine, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed eating the leftovers of all of these dishes too, these kinds of concoctions only get better with time 🙂 

I hope you like them x

Some dishes are too good not to share…(virtually anyway!!) 

This was one of those dishes that developed over a few days, started out as one thing, and became another, as I pimped leftovers…and culminated in such heaven on a plate that I just had to share it! 
It began as one of my typical salads…

The salad at the top, left of the dish, is made up of lots and lots of chopped flat leaf parsley; a mixture of cooked grains, in this case including spelt and kamut, both cooked my way; chopped garlic; liberal amounts of ground roasted cumin and paprika, and a sprinkling of Aleppo chilli flakes; a good amount of lemon juice and a good amount of olive oil. This is a very typical salad for me, sometimes it includes chopped coriander as well, sometimes some added dill, all different grains, sometimes added seeds or nuts. 

I usually put all this together and then leave it to brew overnight, as the flavours develop and it is even better when eaten the next day, and the day after that to be honest. This occasion was no different. And so it became a part of the meal above one lunchtime. 

The next day, some of the leftovers made their way onto this lovely aubergine boat, now very much a firm fixture in my kitchen since its first introduction…and as you’ll notice, the salad had gained some cooked chickpeas and avocado by this time..

I cooked the aubergine whole in the microwave for 6 minutes ( it was a large aubergine) then put it under a hot grill, close to the heat, turing it occasionally to slightly burn the skin and give it a nice finish. I then cut it open and slathered the hot softened flesh with freshly made homous, and topped with more of the salad. Yum!!!! 

The leftovers then sat in the fridge for another day, during which time I made up my most favourite of dishes, my marinated cauliflower and chickpeas. I’ve learn from experience to roast the dish for longer than I did originally, and having served and eaten the cauliflower, and/or potatoes, whichever version you make, and been left with some chickpeas and garlic, put it back I the oven to cook even more. The outcome is stunning, and a challenge not to eat it all immediately!!! 

These were the leftovers that I forced myself to save!! And so yesterday, they joined the rest of my salad, and created a dish of so much flavour and joy, I can barely find the words!! 

Heavenly! 

The mixture of the ingredients and flavours, and how they’d all developed was fabulous! 

So, I just had to share it…obviously, only sharing it virtually is fine, I wouldn’t have shared it in person….only joking, of course 😉 

And yes, there was leftovers, which of course, got whizzed up with tahini and became a dip! You wouldn’t expect anything else 😀😀 

I’m going to share this post with everyone at this week’s Fiesta Friday, and this month’s Cook Once Eat Twice link up….like I said, I’m only too happy to share it, virtually…!  😉 

Roasted vegetable and rose harissa salad, with yoghurt & dill, and a walnut & aubergine dip..

Before I get onto the food, can I just share this beautiful field of buttercups with you – this is where I sometimes walk Bob, and we walked there this week in the beautiful sunshine. Isn’t it stunning? I’m so lucky to live in such a lovely area, surrounded by such gorgeous countryside 🙂 
Anyway, onto the food…

The vegetable roastathon has continued in my kitchen this week…including these whole shallots and garlic…

The shallots ended up all soft and lovely inside, and over the week I’ve scraped out the innards and eaten them with everything. At the same time I roasted more aubergines and tomatoes and garlic and onions which, mixed with my freshly made rose harissa, all came together in a new dish…

I would call this a salad; it’s a very typical idea in middle eastern cuisine, to roast vegetables and leave them to cool to create a ‘salad’, which I think can be eaten hot or cold. The beauty of dishes like this is the constantly developing flavours, it really benefits from being left in the fridge for a day or two to really grow into its most flavoursome. 

My salad includes..

Roasted aubergine flesh from aubergines roasted whole until they collapsed and the flesh was all soft, and as I peeled the skin off I broke up the flesh with my fingers; chopped tomatoes & whole garlic cloves roasted in olive oil and a sprinkle of salt;  oven cooked caramelised red onions (see previous post for more details); mixed with several tablespoons of my rose harissa, pomegranate molasses, and chopped coriander and parsley, then garnished with slices of preserved lemons. I basically just mixed it all together, I didn’t chop anything anymore than it had been for roasting. I enjoyed this this first time with a lovely light dill and garlic yoghurt, and an aubergine and walnut dip, details of which are below..

My huge jar of rose harissa…why make a small amount when you could make loads??? That’s my theory anyway..!

This was my lunch, along with some spinach flatbreads.

And this is the dip…it’s inspired by a Persian recipe from a lovely book I have been reading called The Saffron Tales by Yasmin Khan. 


This is the flesh of a whole roasted aubergine, mixed with walnuts which have been blended to a paste, chopped garlic, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice and a tiny amount of golpar, a very typical Persian spice. I mixed all of the ingredients by hand to create a rustic texture, then added chopped parsley and topped with dried barberries. 

Making this with walnuts was lovely, and made a nice change to my usual go to tahini. I am lucky enough to be able to buy large, pale coloured, fresh walnuts locally, not like the bitter dark horrible knarly little ones you typically get it the UK, which makes a big difference. 

The yoghurt dip is a mix of plain yoghurt (I’ve started making my own recently and it’s lovely, so creamy and mild), chopped dill, crushed garlic and a bit of salt. It’s lovely stirred into everything. 

And the  leftovers were perfect over the following couple of days with lots more added chopped parsley and some quinoa. 

Flavour overload!! Yum! 

Lovely ladies Loretta and Linda are co hosting Fiesta Friday this week, which is where I’m taking my dishes, and the ladies are sure to give you a warm welcome, so do join in the fun, and have a great Friday 🙂 

And just to finish..here’s my baby Bob enjoying the buttercups..

Sail away with me..in a heavenly aubergine boat…

 Are you speechless? I am. I am literally speechless looking at what I created…its just so pretty! I’m sure it’s the prettiest dish I’ve ever produced. And so tasty…a perfect flavour combination?! 

This was one of my lunches this week and it worked beautifully, I will definitely be making it, and versions of it, again and again…

I’m ready for my close up 😉 

This is basically a cooked aubergine, filled with tahini sauce and chermoula, topped with more tahini sauce (there can never be too much tahini sauce!) and sprinkled with dried barberries and roasted flaked almonds, on a bed of crisp lettuce. Heaven on a plate! 

This was a complete meal for me, and I think it could be a great offering to any vegetarian guest, or if you use smaller aubergines (see below) it could be a lovely starter? 

I am sharing this with everyone at this week’s Easter Fiesta Friday, co hosted this week by Natalie and Hilda, and with everyone at Throwback Thursday, I hope they all like it. 

So, onto the method..

This is what I did…


The aubergine
: this was a large aubergine, very large, if you are using a small or medium aubergine, amend times accordingly. 

Method

Heat your grill/broiler to high

Prick the skin, place the aubergine on a kitchen towel and microwave on high for 4 minutes; it will already feel soft to the touch. The aim with having a stint in the microwave is to ensure that the flesh is cooked all the way through

Next, carefully place the aubergine on some foil on a baking tray and place under the grill, as close as possible, without touching

The aim is to crisp the skin, and take it to the point where it’s not actually burnt 

Keep an eye on the aubergine and keep turning it so that all of the aubergine is under the grill at some point; it may take 10-15 minutes to do 

When you feel it’s done, you may see liquid oozing from the pricked skin, remove the aubergine and gently place it on whatever plate you will serve it on

Make a long slit along the top and fill as you wish. 

NOTE: if you prefer, you could skip the microwave step and only cook the aubergine under the grill/broiler, it will obviously need longer under the grill, and you’ll need to keep an eye that it doesn’t burn, but you will get the same outcome eventually, possibly even better. 

OR, you could be really authentic, and go for a really smoky flavour, and cook the aubergine over the open flame of a gas burner. To do this you have to keep turning the aubergine and try to hold it without squashing it too much. And it WILL make a real mess of your hob/stove – I tried it once..never again! 

Next..

The tahini sauce: I make this so often that I just chuck it into the blender, but I did attempt to measure what I was doing on one occasion. This creates a consistency that I like, you can make it thicker or thinner depending on your taste and required use.

Ingredients 

300g tahini (I am quite specific about the tahini use, Lebanese is the best if you can find it; failing that, something of middle eastern origin is good. Greek tahini is very thick, and Turkish tahini is a lot thinner and quite bitter. I’ve tried and tested many versions and always come back to the Lebanese ones) 

100ml lemon juice

300ml water 

Method

Blend well and keep in the fridge. It may separate over a few days, just stir it if it does.  

NOTE: I don’t add garlic to my tahini sauce, which would be typical, I like it as it is, plus I can then use it in different ways if I want to. You can’t open a food magazine today without a recipe somewhere inside that includes a tahini dressing, so your tahini sauce can provide a base for any of those; if I have leftover roasted vegetables, I often blend them with a few tablespoons of tahini sauce and create a dip; if you’ve got stewed or chopped fresh fruit, you can use tahini sauce as an alternative to yoghurt or cream; or just add a dollop to your plate with any meal – like I do!  The possibilities are endless! 

Having recently read Indu’s post where she made chermoula, it reminded me that I haven’t made any for while; I needed to change that, and fast, and I had all of the ingredients to hand, so that’s what I did…

The chermoula..

Ingredients

1 large bunch flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

1 large bunch coriander, roughly chopped

2-3 cloves garlic

1 tbsp paprika

2 tbsp ground roasted cumin

1 tbsp dried red pepper flakes (optional) 

Juice of 1 lemon

150ml olive oil

Method

Blend it all together, but keep it roughly chopped, don’t go so far that it becomes a green paste. You want to still be able to see the different colours of the ingredients.  

NOTE: Your chermoula will keep in the fridge for several days, the flavours will only get better.  You can also use the chermoula in many other ways, not just as a dip or sauce like I’ve done; it can be used to marinade chicken or halloumi or paneer or vegetables for roasting; as a sauce with fish. If you look it up, you’ll find lots of suggestions. 

I tried to get a shot as I ate it to show the full extent of the inside of the aubergine in all its gooey beauty with these lovely fillings – hopefully you get the idea

To serve

I placed my cooked aubergine on a bed of chopped lettuce, made a slit along the top, spooned in some tahini sauce, then lots of the chermoula, before spooning more tahini sauce all over it, and topped it all with dried barberries and roasted flaked almonds. 

Perfection! The collection of flavours is so good, whether you just chopped and roasted the aubergine, or created a vessel like I did. It all just works together.

Enjoy! 

And Happy Easter, enjoy your weekend 🙂 

Making your recipes..

 Me cooking cauliflower is nothing new, you’ve seen me share many cauliflower recipes, and I roast cauliflower several times a week, but when I saw Lizs post including her pan roasted cauliflower steaks, I knew it would become a new way of cooking cauliflower in my kitchen. I’ve pan cooked cauliflower before, but not as whole ‘steaks’ like this and it was great – and so pretty! 

I enjoyed it with some lovely creamy homous – again, something I make regularly, but this time, I followed Jhuls ‘easy microwave homous’. This was a new method for me to try and involves peeling the chickpeas first, which was fine, except that the tin that I opened held the smallest (and most yellow!) chickpeas I have ever seen!!!! So of course, there was loads of them! But peel them I did..you then microwave them briefly, which shows up just how many skins you’ve missed, and so the peeling continues…

  The method generates a lovely creamy dip and I’m so glad I tried it, and definely recommend it. 

I also served it with sprinkled sumac, toasted flaked almonds and chopped parsley. 

I also made a new spice mix recently; I follow Tanvee on Instagram and her lovely blog, and she told me about Kitchen King Masala, a spice mix used widely in India. You know me, I always like a new spice mix, and I loved making this one too..

 All ready to toast..

I ground this all up and have been using it ever since 🙂 

I have also made the Cajun spice mix from Mollies blog, which the blogs have liked on their chicken and in their quesadillas. And Andreas honey chipotle chicken, another winner with the boys – and eaten far too quickly for me to photograph. Trupti’s spinach dal was also very tasty – but again, no photo, sorry!! Visit Trupti’s blog for the details. 

And finally…more stuffed baby aubergines, this time following Prachi’s recipe..I experimented with purple baby aubergines and little green round Thai aubergines.. 

 Going in

  

 Coming out (they never look as pretty but they sure taste good!) 

 Such great flavours 🙂  

Pictured here with some of an aubergine quinoa bake I recently devised (more about soon). 

I do love making so many of your recipes – thank you for the inspiration x 

My homemade curry paste and aubergine bhaji..

Today I’d like to share my recent concoction with you, a lovely spiced aubergine dish that I threw together recently; packed full of fresh vegetables and spices, it’s full of goodness as well as flavour..
I’ve recently been filling jars with my own ginger paste and garlic paste by blending up fresh peeled and chopped ginger and the same with bulbs and bulbs of garlic, so that I’ve got it readily to hand. I’ve also created a jar of ginger-garlic-chilli paste by mixing them up with a few fresh small green chillies – again, so useful to have ready to go! And whilst I’ve been at it, I put together a ‘curry paste’ full of basic flavours ready to add to any Indian dish, including this aubergine bhaji. 

Ingredients 

Curry paste:

Garlic – 3 bulbs, all cloves peeled 

Ginger – a good hand sized piece of fresh garlic, peeled 

Green chillies – 3 small, stalk removed (add more for your taste) 

Turmeric – 1 tsp

Ground cumin – 2 tsp

Ground coriander – 2tsp 

Blend it all together and store in a well sealed jar in the fridge. This can form a good base or starting point for any curry. 

 Aubergine bhaji: 

2 tbsp oil of your choice, I used coconut oil

1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds 

2 medium red onions, peeled and roughly chopped

2 medium aubergines, cut into chunks

2 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped 

2 tbsp curry paste (above)

2 tbsp tomato puree

1/2 tsp amchoor powder (dried mango powder) 

Method

Heat the coconut oil in a large pan over a medium heat and add the mustard seeds

As the seeds start to sizzle and before they start popping everything, add the chopped onions; cook for 10-15 minutes until nicely browned; it’s worth the time and effort to get the onions really tasty 

Add 2 tablespoons of curry paste and cook for a few minutes to cook off the rawness; you may need to add a splash of water to loosen the mixture from the base of the pan 

Add the tomato puree and stir through, then add the aubergine chunks and the tomatoes and cook it all until everything is soft and cooked through; you may need to add some water if it seems too dry

Towards the end add the amchoor powder for a slight shot of sourness, you can use lemon juice as an alternative 

Enjoy! 

NOTE: you can add more spice or heat to this dish based on your taste 

I ate this over several days, some with quinoa, some with added toasted pumpkin seeds for a crunch, some on its own. For me it’s a main course dish, but for you it might be a good side dish? 

And now you also have some curry paste ready to hand in your fridge 🙂

  I’m bringing my aubergine bhaji to this week’s Fiesta Friday, co hosted this week by the lovely Josette and Lily

I’m also sharing the dish with everyone at Throwback Thursday with Alli, Quinn, Meaghan, Mollie and Carlee,  and Cook Once Eat Twice with Corina – this is a perfect dish to cook a huge pot of and eat over several days. It just gets better! 

All of the spices are from Spice Kitchen UK, all of the fresh produce is from my local market, and all of the inspiration is from lots of YOU 🙂 thank you xx