So as I was saying, The Girls came to visit a couple of weekends ago and boy were they in for a treat! Following the obligatory G&T’s we tucked into some fresh asparagus that I’d roasted for a very short time with only a smidge of olive oil, pepper and sea-salt for company. I served it topped with toasted flaked almonds, basil straight from the garden and a lemony wee aioli in which to dip the spears. Britney Spears.
|Asparagus on an Odd Angle|
After quite some time and quite some champagne, I managed to produce a main course. Which consisted of cardamom flatbread, a lentil, parsley & tomato salad, panfried haloumi with preserved lemon and Harissa Eggplant with Coriander Yoghurt Sauce. I’m rather proud to report that I sort of made that up (mostly due to the fact that I couldn’t find any smoked paprika in this godforsakenhellhole).
|An Immodest Aubergine|
The eggplant, aubergine, melongene, brinjal, or guinea squash (Solanum melongena) is a plant of the family Solanaceae (also known as the nightshades) and genus Solanum. The fruit is botanically classified as a berry, and contains numerous small, soft seeds, which are edible, but are bitter because they contain nicotinoid alkaloids, unsurprising as it is a close relative of tobacco. (I never knew! But it does go some way to explaining why eggplant is my very favourite vegetable/berry).
To prepare the dish I cut two large eggplants in half lengthways then cut each half into thick wedges. Having scored each wedge in a criss-cross fashion I rubbed them all over with a marinade made from about two generous tablespoons of harissa paste, 60 mls of olive oil and two cloves of garlic. Easy as that, and into the fridge they went for the night allowing the flavours to develop and the lazy cook to snooze. (Make sure you leave them in a crockery or ceramic dish rather than a metallic one otherwise they’ll taste all tinny). At cooking time the theory was to dry fry them over a medium-hot griddle for about 15 minutes until smokey and melty, charred and caramelly. In practice they took about three times as long and I ended up finishing them off in the oven because there is nothing worse than an uncooked aubergine. I then piled a sticky sauce of greek yoghurt, lemon juice, mint and coriander on top and finished it off with a smattering of pomegranate seeds for colour, texture and the sheer joy of popping the balls between one’s teeth.
We finished off the evening with Karen Martini’s wickedly rich Chocolate Cherry Brownie Mousse Cake and a repeat screening of the best film ever made. Here’s a little something from the soundtrack…
|The Finished Feast|