Sunday, 29 November 2015

Aubergine, tomato, potato

This is a recipe loosely based on Aubergine (Eggplant), Tomato, Potato
that Yotam Ottolenghi has featured in his latest sensational book "Plenty More".

Believe me, there are Plenty More Flavours going on in this recipe.
The original recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi has poached eggs on top for a more filling dish.

In spring time you are on the cusp of crossing over from comforting soups with crusty bread to lighter salads with crusty bread.  We have home grown tomatoes and little else compares to the taste of sun ripened tomatoes, with the last Winter Aubergine and store bought potatoes still covered in dirt to keep fresh for longer. 

When hubby asked what was for lunch on this Sunday I said, tomatoes, aubergine and potatoes.  Hubby prefers potatoes to be crisp and stand alone but nonetheless he kindly ate his share of this dish.  Plus, I was cooking lunch.


aubergine, potato, tomato

Loosley based on the recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi in "Plenty More" 

Tomato topping
Mix all of this together in a bowl for the flavours to combine
handful of cherry tomatoes, halved, or 4 medium tomatoes, cut into cubes
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
handful of fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 Tablespoon Sriracha sauce
2 medium or 1 large aubergine cut into 3cm chunks
500g potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 cm slices
mix of 1/2 cup olive oil and 1/2 cup sunflower oil for frying
Dressing -Whisk together in a little bowl
80g tahini paste mixed with about 3 tablespoons hot water until it is pourable
2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 clove garlic, crushed
pinch of salt
2 teaspoons sumac
1 tablespoon fresh coriander, chopped
salt and black pepper to taste
extra virgin olive oil
Heat the oils in a large non stick frying pan over a medium high heat and fry the aubergine in batches until brown, approximately 5 minutes, turning once or twice.
Drain on a paper towels.
Then fry the potato slices for approximately 10 minutes turning several times until the potatoes are all light brown and soft.
Drain on paper towels.
Place potato slices in the bottom of your serving bowl, drizzle with half of the
dressing.   Layer the aubergine on top and pour over the remaining dressing.
Pile the tomato mixture on top and sprinkle with sumac and coriander, salt, pepper and a little extra virgin olive oil.
Serve with crusty bread to mop up the delicious juices.
This is a perfect dish for lunch or a light supper, filling and delicious.
Although it took a little time the result was well worth it and I will be cooking this again.

Buon appetito, enjoy Merryn xx

December Garden Share Collective, fresh and fruity

There is an abundance of variety in our garden as we roll into December.
From peaches to snow peas and cabbage
there are always vegetables to gather and enjoy.

The ample November rain certainly helped all things green to grow and prosper.

                     Beautiful cabbages, both red and green have been flourishing.

Endive, or escarole has self seeded from last year. 
Lucky for us and the chickens who also adore this peppery green.

A myriad of lettuce I simply pick the leaves each day and let the plant keep growing.

Chard or silverbeet grows all year long and is a very healthy vegetable.

Asparagus spears peep through the ground. 
They are nearly finished now but have been growing for our dinner for the last 3 months.

My little Thai chilli bush growing in a pot now has red chillies.
These are welcome after using frozen and dried ones for the last month.

Hanging snow peas

Small broccoli florets that keep popping up for weeks after the main head has been picked.

The small bush in front is a dwarf coffee tree whilst behind in the centre of the picture is my pomegranate and it is already flowering with some fruit golf ball in size.

These are self seeded nasturtiums, but please admire the gorgeous blue crane in the foreground.  I noticed yesterday he/she bought a mate and I am very happy they are now a pair.

Look at these little olives, this one is a grafted kalamatta.
Our bees have been working very hard fertilising every single olive bud.

We have picked probably 200 peaches from this one tree.
The tree is netted with fruit fly netting and there are two fruit fly traps inside the netting.  Luckily there have been no fruit fly in the peaches although there a few fruit flies in the traps.  The netting stops the birds and flying foxes eating the peaches as well.  These are sweet, juicy and yellow on the inside.

Tomatoes.  Yum.  We are picking them early to also help deter fruit fly.

As long as there is a blushing of red, the tomatoes will fully ripen inside on a sunny window sill.
Here are my December garden highlights posted as part of the Garden Share Collective.  You can see other members gardens here.

 I almost forgot to show of my first organic garlic bulb.
I planted two rectangular containers during the winter solstice (22 June) and will harvest them all in two weeks time.  There will be a BIGGER patch planted next time.

Buon appetito, enjoy Merryn xx

Monday, 16 November 2015

Zuppa di Fagioli - Bean Soup

                                     Zuppa di Fagioli

"Fagioli" literally means "beans" in Italian.  My family revere this simple dish of beans and pasta in fresh chicken stock.   Just a mention of "Fagioli" for dinner will bring a tender smile to the toughest of men and fond memories are created over a bowlful of this simple, humble bean soup from Calabria.

The title of Zuppa di Fagioli has been reduced to simply "Fagioli" but to my family we know it is bean soup and we will always bond over a delicious bowl of this healthy soup.

This is delicious, wholesome and so very good for you with different types of beans.

Here is the chicken stock bubbling away and filling the kitchen with an amazing smell.

This is also a one pot dish and is wonderful for the end of a busy day, or Sunday lunch with the extended family, always served with crusty, warm bread and virgin olive oil.



1/3 cup olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, diced
2 large potatoes, peeled and diced into 2cm cubes
1/2 zucchini peeled and cut into 1cm pieces
1 litre fresh chicken stock (I freeze home made chicken stock in batches)
          or 1 litre water with 5 teaspoons dried chicken stock
1 bay leaf
150g shell pasta - any shape is fine
100g spaghetti broken into 5 cm lengths
1 tin borlotti beans, drained and rinsed
1 tin cannelleni beans, drained and rinsed
handful fresh green beans, cut into 2.5cm lengths
salt and pepper to taste
fresh parsley, chopped
fresh parmesan, grated for garnish
In a large non stick saucepan heat the olive oil over a medium low heat and fry the onion for 5 minutes until translucent but without browning (Soffritto).  Add the garlic, fry 1 minute and then the tomatoes, frying all together for about 5 minutes until the tomatoes have broken down.
Add the potatoes and fry until the potatoes are covered in the tomato mixture.
Pour in the chicken stock and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
Insert the bay leaf and zucchini, bring back to a boil and add the pasta slowly while stirring the whole time.  When it is boiling again reduce the soup to a high simmer, lid off.
After 15 minutes check that the pasta is cooked and add the drained borlotti and cannellini beans along with the fresh green beans.  Bring back to a simmer and put the timer on for 5 minutes.
Check the green beans are cooked, taste for seasoning, remember that the chicken stock is quite salty so you may just need to add freshly ground black pepper.
Remove the bay leaf.
Sprinkle with the parsley, drizzle with a  little more virgin olive oil and serve accompanied by a bowl of freshly grated parmesan and your rustic, crusty bread.

Do you have a special family soup that always creates this feeling of warmth and fondness?

Buon appetito, enjoy Merryn xx