Guest Recipe: Eggplant Parmesan

This is a recipe my girlfriend Rhey taught me to make (they’re American, hence the name!) They usually have pre-made tomato sauce on hand but I’ve found that a can of chopped tomatoes works fine for this recipe. Likewise the best seasoning to use for this is Old Bay seasoning (celery salt, black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, and paprika) but it’s not easy to get hold of in the UK so I’ve substituted readily available spices into the recipe.

Thinly slice one aubergine and salt generously to sweat out the water. Leave for 30 minutes to an hour then rinse off the salt and pat dry. Meanwhile sautée 1 onion, diced, 3 cloves garlic, finely sliced, 1 red pepper, sliced, and any other vegetables you have to hand, for 10-15 minutes or until soft. Add a can of chopped tomatoes, 1/2 tsp stock powder, 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper, and 1 tsp smoked paprika, and simmer for a further 10 minutes.

Make up an egg wash with 2 eggs, a splash of milk, 1/2 tsp smoked paprika, a pinch of stock powder and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Mix 1/2 cup breadcrumbs or almond flour crumbs, seasoned in the same way, for the coating. Dip the aubergine slices in the eggwash then coat with the crumbs. Coat a nonstick pan with a thin layer of oil, heat until bubbling, then fry the aubergine on either side until golden brown. In a greased pan, spread a layer of the vegetable mixture then top with a layer of aubergine slices. Sprinkle over a light coating of grated parmesan, then repeat, finishing with a final layer of vegetables. Sprinkle over any remaining parmesan and bake at 180°C for 30 minutes, until the parmesan is browned and bubbly.

Serves 3-4 depending on how many vegetables you use. Freezes well.

Variations:

  • You can also include a cup of minced meat at the sautéeing stage. If you do you’ll want to reduce the amount of salt and smoked paprika a little.
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Vegetarian Satay Hot Pot

Not very authentic, but a quick, filling meal that can be adapted to any vegetables you have in the fridge. I used a pre-made satay hot pot base for this, but there are recipes online for making the base from scratch too if you’d prefer. Make sure all your vegetables are chopped before you start cooking, since the total cooking time is very short.

Boil 1 nest vermicelli noodles and a small strip of dried kelp, very finely sliced, for 3-4 minutes, then strain and set aside in the saucepan. Lightly beat 1 egg with 1/2 tsp soy sauce and a pinch of sugar. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a non-stick pan and fry the beaten egg until just cooked, then remove and cut into 1cm wide strips. Bring the oil back up to temperature then add 1/2 onion and 2 cloves garlic, both finely diced, and fry until translucent. Add about 3 inches plantain, a handful of aubergine and a handful of red pepper, all sliced as thinly as possible. Also finely slice a bulb of pak choi, adding the stems to the pan and setting the leaves aside. Fry the vegetables for 2-3 minutes until softened. Make up 2 cups of satay hot pot base with 1 generous tbsp satay hot pot base and boiling water. Top the noodles with the egg, cooked vegetables and pak choi leaves then pour over the hot pot base. Bring to the boil, allow to cool a little, and serve.

Serves 2-3

Variations:

  • The kelp is optional, although it’s a good ingredient to have in the cupboard as a little goes a long way and it keeps for years. You can buy it from health food stores, but if you have an Asian supermarket nearby it’s likely to be cheaper there. I use sheets of prophase kelp.
  • You can substitute any vegetables for this – any soft vegetables such as spinach or mushroom should be added right at the end, any harder vegetables such as sweet potato or brussels sprouts should be fried beforehand to make sure they’re cooked through.
  • To make the dish vegan, substitute the egg for tofu strips marinaded in soy sauce for a few hours then lightly fried.

 

 

Hash browns with salsa and avocado

When I cooked this, the hash browns got stuck to the pan after I’d flipped them over, so sprinkling over a little extra oil when flipping should help prevent them getting stuck.

Peel and grate 2 medium potatoes and rinse under the tap to remove excess starch. Pat or squeeze out the worst of the moisture; stir in 1 clove garlic, finely diced, 1/2 small onion, finely diced, 1 tbsp flour, 1 tsp smoked paprika, 1/4 tsp salt, and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper. Heat a generous amount of oil in a frying pan then turn the heat to low and add the potato mixture, spreading it out evenly across the pan. While the mixture is cooking, roughly mash 1 avocado then stir in 1 small clove garlic, finely diced, 2 tbsp hot salsa, and a small fistful of goat’s cheese, cut into small cubes. Once the hash brown is brown on the underside and crisping up around the edges, break it into quarters with a spatula and flip (if it’s falling apart, leave it for a few more minutes). Continue to fry on a medium heat for 2-3 minutes until golden brown on both sides, then transfer to a plate and top with the avocado mixture.

Serves 1 generously.

Apple and Cashew Soup

A fairly simple soup recipe, but not a combination I would have thought of if I hadn’t spotted it in a recipe book. The Thai curry paste really brings out the flavours, but you can use 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika or a pinch of chilli flakes instead if you don’t have any.

Roughly chop 1 small onion and finely chop 2 cloves garlic. Peel 1 medium carrot, 1 medium potato and 1 large apple, and cut them into small chunks, cutting the carrot a little smaller than the potato as it is slower to cook. Heat a spoonful of oil in a saucepan and fry the onion and garlic until translucent and beginning to caramelise. Add the carrot and potato and allow them to brown a little, then add to the pan 2 cups boiling water, 1 generous teaspoon vegetable stock powder, 1 scant teaspoon oregano, 1/2 teaspoon Thai red curry paste (to taste) and a large handful of cashews. Bring back to the boil then reduce to a simmer and cook until the carrot and potato are begining to soften, then add the apple. Cook for a further 10-15 minutes, or until the carrots are fully soft. Allow to cool a little then blend thoroughly and add salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 2 with bread, reheats well the next day.

Blueberry muffin cakes

This recipe was adapted from a recipe in A Taste of Oregon. It went down well with my new housemates! To stop the mixture from curdling, make sure that all your ingredients are at room temperature before you start cooking.

Beat together 1/4 cup margerine and 1/3 cup sugar until well combined and fluffy-looking. Beat in 1 egg until well combined. Sift together 1 1/4 cup flour, 1 1/4 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp nutmeg and 1/2 tsp cinnamon, then add to the wet mixture and combine. Slowly mix in 1/3 cup milk then fold in 1 200g pack of blueberries. If using paper cupcake cases, grease them with a little margerine (silicone cases won’t need greasing) and fill almost to the top with the mixture. Bake at 220°C for 5 minutes to create a rounded muffin-top, then turn the oven down to 180°C and bake for a further 15-20 minutes, or until a knife comes out of the centre of a muffin clean. The muffins will keep for several days in an airtight container.

 

Sautéed potatoes with celeriac and kale

This is based on a Nigel Slater recipe, with some of the fancier ingredients taken out and whatever I had leftover from my veg bag thrown in. Serves 1 as a main or 2 as a side and is best eaten straight from the pan.

Slice 1 medium onion into strips. Very finely slice (as thin as you possibly can) 1-2 cloves garlic, 2-3 small potatoes and a fist-sized chunk of celeriac. Heat a generous spoonful of oil in a non-stick frying pan over a high heat; when a haze begins to form over the oil, drop in the onion. Fry for ~5 minutes, then add the potato, celeriac and garlic. Continue to fry, turning regularly, for another 10 minutes or so, allowing the onion to caramelise and the potato and celeriac to brown on both sides. Add a large handful of roughly chopped kale (I used curly kale, about 3-4 leaves), 1 tbsp soy sauce or 1tsp miso paste mixed with a little hot water, a heaped tbsp of peanut butter, and a sprinkle of powdered ginger (or you can use fresh grated ginger). Mix thoroughly, continuing to cook until the kale has cooked down, the other vegetables are well browned and the potato is easily cut with a knife. Serve immediately.

Variations:

  • The celeriac can be replaced by any other root vegetable and the kale with any other leafy green, although spinach or chard will probably take less time to cook down.

Sweet chickpea tagine

How much this constitutes a tagine I’m not sure given how many ingredients I substituted from the original recipe, which was for a fish tagine. Serves 3 with bulgar wheat or naan, or 2 alone; reheats well the next day.

Melt ~1 tbsp butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan and caramelise 3-4 stalks celery, diced, and 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped. Add 1 tsp curry powder, 1 tsp garam masala, 1 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, 1/2 tsp coriander seeds, 1/2 tsp ground ginger and a pinch of chilli flakes to taste, coating the celery and garlic thoroughly. Add 1/2 plantain, 1 apple, 1/2 courgette and 1/2 mango, all diced into 1 cm cubes and cook, stirring continuously, until the pan begins to smoke. Add 1 400g can chopped tomatoes, 1/2 can water and 1 tsp stock powder. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a low heat, cover, and leave for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has reduced. If the tagine is still a little sour, add 1 tsp brown sugar. Stir in 1 400g can chickpeas and cook for another 5 minutes, then serve.

Soda Dumplings

Traditionally dumplings are made with suet, but since I didn’t have any I modified a soda bread recipe to make these, which I can make with cupboard ingredients I always have to hand.

Sift about 150g plain flour, 3/4 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt into a bowl; add generous black pepper and herbs of your choice (I use about 1/2 tsp each of sage and rosemary). Thoroughly mix in 2 tbsp oil or melted butter, until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Slowly pour in about 150 ml milk, stirring thoroughly, until the dough holds together and comes away from the side of the bowl, but before it gets too wet. Add more sifted flour if it’s very sticky. Break off palm-sized pieces of dough and roll them into balls – depending on the size of the dumplings you can get between 6 and 8 from this recipe. Drop into a covered casserole or soup 15-20 minutes before the end of its cooking time.

Quick potato curry

Any mixture of vegetables could be used in place of cabbage and broccoli here. If you want to add meat, it’s best to cook it through first, then remove it from the pan to make up the rest of the curry, adding the meat back in at the very end – this helps to avoid having under or overcooked meat. Vary the amount and strength of the curry powder to your personal taste.

Fry 1/2 onion, diced, and 2 cloves garlic, finely sliced, in a little oil until golden brown. Add 1 small potato, peeled and chopped into 1cm cubes, a handful of red cabbage, finely sliced, and a handful of purple sprouting broccoli, roughly chopped along the stem; fry over a medium heat until the broccoli leaves have wilted. Coat in 1/2 tsp coriander seed (ground or whole), 1/2 tsp cumin seed (ground or whole), 1 heaped tsp curry powder, then add 2 heaped tbsp gram (chickpea) flour and 2 heaped tbsp peanut butter. Fry for a few minutes, then slowly add approx. 1 cup of water, stirring into the mixture as you go, until the potato cubes are covered by liquid. Cook on a low heat for about 10 minutes, or until the potato is cooked through and the liquid has reduced to a thick sauce. Serves 1 alone or 2 with naan.

Chinese style fried cabbage

Adapted from an old book of Chinese recipes a friend found for me in a charity shop. Any kind of cabbage can be used; I’d recommend at least two types for the variety. Hard cabbage like white or red should be added with the onion; soft leaves such as savoy, Chinese leaves or pak choi should be added later. Like a lot of hot-and-fast cooking, this can get smoky, so open a window or turn on the extractor fan if you have one.

In a small bowl, mix together 1/2 tbsp brown sugar, 1 tbsp white wine vinegar, 1/2 tsp soy sauce and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Finely slice 1 onion, 1/2 small red cabbage and 1/2 small savoy cabbage. Heat a spoonful of oil in a non-stick pan over a high heat until a haze develops over the oil. Add the onion and red cabbage to the pan and fry, stirring continuously, until the onion becomes translucent. Add the savoy cabbage and fry for 2-3 minutes, again stirring continuously, until the savoy cabbage begins to brown. Stir in the sauce mixture, stir to coat, and take off the heat. Serve with rice and a protein component of your choice.

Serves 2 generously.