It’s only been a couple of days since I last boke, but I have just 20 recipes left so I feel like I can see the finish line and it’s given me hope.
I may continue to blog about different recipes I try here and there, but there won’t be the same pressure (that I’ve fabricated for myself).
In typical fashion with this British bakebook, there’s a recipe from a country outside Britain.
The description says:
“Here’s a colourful twist on an old Italian favourite. It’s substantial enough for a main dish for four people with bread and salad, or as a side dish to accompany grilled chicken pieces or chops. Vegetarian mozzarella and Parmesan cheese are available.”
I’m not entirely sure what “vegetarian mozzarella” is. I kind of assume they mean vegan, but I’m happy to be mistaken. Whatever the case, I’ll stick with the dairy-filled goodness. Unlike the last recipe I did, I actually checked the ingredients list before I went to the store.
I trimmed the ends of a single aubergine since I didn’t want to serve four to six (I just wanted to serve one with maybe a chance of leftovers). And then peeled four wide strips. The recipe says to “peel down the length of each aubergine—north, south, east and west” which I thought was an interesting way to describe it. Then I cut it in half lengthways.
After I did that, I poured olive oil into a little ramekin and added minced garlic, dried parsley and dried thyme without doing any measuring.
When I cook, I don’t feel the same need to use precise measurements as when I bake. That may or may not be wise, but it’s how I do it.
I brushed the aubergine, covered it in foil and put it in the oven.
Also I have to say, my estimated measurements actually turned out pretty well. I had just enough herby, garlicky oil to cover both pieces.
At this point I was supposed to start making the sauce, but I didn’t. I turned on my TV instead. And then I remembered I was supposed to be making the sauce, so I got up to do that.
I was supposed to cook chopped red onion for about 10 minutes but I don’t really like onion, so I skipped that step and went right to cooking up red pepper chunks and garlic.
Then I added the canned chopped tomatoes and a touch of onion salt because that doesn’t bother me so much.
While that was simmering and thickening, I got started on the bread crumbs.
The recipe calls for “crustless, slightly stale bread, cut into cubes” and I did none of that.
Instead, while the aubergine was cooking, I threw four slices of frozen gluten-free bread onto the oven rack, then took them out and broke them into pieces in a food processor and let it do most of the work. (I also managed to slightly burn my fingertips trying to break up fresh-out-of-the-oven toast by hand.)
Then I dumped that into a bowl, adding the parmesan, pine nuts, olive oil and pepper.
At some point, I took out the aubergines because they were soft.
Then I checked the sauce, which wasn’t thick enough and needed to simmer uncovered until it was.
It wasn’t quite thick enough, but I was tired of waiting so I started assembling.
First I poured a third of the sauce into the bottom of my baking dish and realized I could have used a smaller baking dish. Then I placed the aubergines on top. The recipe wasn’t totally clear, but I kind of feel like I should’ve chopped the aubergine smaller.
Then I poured the rest of the sauce on top and placed strips of mozzarella on the sauce. The recipe calls for fresh mozzarella but in the store I couldn’t actually find fresh mozzarella so I found just fancy mozzarella (e.g., not a block of Kraft).
Then I dumped the topping on top of that and put it in the oven.
The recipe says to bake for 30-40 minutes until golden and bubbling, but I wonder how this will be affected by much smaller portions and the wrong size baking dish.
Also I decided I needed some protein with it, so I’m also cooking up some chicken with thyme and parsley and calling it “Italian chicken.”
I think it’s done. It smells done. It looks pretty dark. And I see both bubbles and a charred edge of the sauce (which will be fun to scrub out later).
It was pretty good! The flavours were tasty and who doesn’t love chunks of melted cheese?
To be honest, though, I don’t fully understand the purpose of the aubergine. All of the flavour came from the breadcrumbs, garlic, peppers, tomatoes, herbs, garlic and of course the cheese. The aubergine was merely the vehicle for all the flavour.
Also I’ve gotten through this entire post without once talking about how an aubergine is in fact an eggplant and we don’t really call them aubergines here in Canada, but it’s my firm opinion that we should.
It’s just a better word.
19 recipes left, folks!