Parmesan Polenta and Aubergine Towers with Tomato Sauce
I want to win a week in one of your Tuscany villas!
The requirement for this recipe was to create something which included tomato, olive oil and parmesan. Of course, those ingredients lead inevitably to think 'Italian' and one of my favourites is the delicious Melanzane Parmigiana. My dish takes the idea of that classic recipe and turns it into individual portions with the addition of deeply cheesy polenta layers. It's a simple recipe but it does have a few stages. It's worth it, trust me. A perfect light lunch with big green salad.
Serves 4 (or 2 hungry people)
2 aubergines - from these slice 8 x 1.5 cm rounds (I roast the left overs with the rounds to use in another dish)
olive oil to brush onto the aubergine slices
125 grams polenta
100 grams of tallegio (or fontina) chopped
50 grams parmesan grated
20 grams butter
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 small onion chopped
1or 2 clove of garlic chopped
2 sprigs of thyme chopped
1 400 gm tin of tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato purée
pinch of sugar
salt and pepper
8 basil leaves
1 tablespoon of fresh oregano (use less if using dried)
50gms of mozzarella cut into 4 slices
20 gms parmesan
Heat the oven to 190 degrees
You will need a baking tray for the aubergines and a large flat pan (greased) for the polenta.
For the aubergine
Brush both sides of the aubergine slices with olive oil. Lay on the baking tray and put in the oven to cook for 30 to 40 minutes until soft and golden brown. The slices can be fried but they soak up a lot of oil that way.
For the polenta
Bring 1/2 a litre of water to boil in a large pan and add 1 tsp salt. Reduce to a simmer and pour in the polenta in a steady stream, stirring constantly. Continue to stir until the polenta has thickened and comes away from the sides of the pan (can take about 15 minutes or more) Take the pan off the heat and add the taleggio, the parmesan and the butter immediately. Mix well until the cheese has melted and pour into a greased tray in a thin layer (about 1/2 cm thick). Set aside to cool.
For the tomato sauce
Warm a good tablespoon of olive oil in a pan. Add the chopped onion, garlic and thyme. Cook on a medium heat until the onion is soft and translucent. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato puree and a good pinch of sugar. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes until you have a thick sauce. Season to taste. (this will make more sauce than you need, but there is really no such thing as having too much home made tomato sauce).
Assembling the rounds
Reduce the oven temperature to 180 degrees.
Using a large round cutter cut out 8 rounds of polenta
Put 4 of the slices of polenta in a row on a greased baking tray or oven proof dish. Spread the slices with tomato sauce. Place a round of aubergine on top with a basil leaf and a sprinkling of oregano. Repeat 1 more time.
Place a round of mozzarella on top of each of the 'towers' and sprinkle with parmesan.
Place in the oven and cook until the towers are warmed through. About 20 to 25 minutes.
Place a tower on a plate with a good tablespoon of tomato sauce.
Mumo’s chopped liver
This recipe is less dense than usual recipes because the livers are chopped by hand after they are cooked not processed.
- 4 tablespoons schmaltz *
- 1 pound of chicken livers (fresh not frozen)
- 2 large onions, chopped
- 2 hard boiled eggs chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- Salt and pepper to taste
* Schmaltz is rendered chicken fat. Whenever I roast a chicken (preferably with plenty of garlic and herbs) I save the fat until I have enough to make chopped liver. Clearly this isn’t the greatest recipe for anyone with a cholesterol problem.
Fry the onions in the fat. The trick here is to cook them on a very low heat for a long time, stirring occasionally, until they are meltingly soft and caramelised. This can take 40 minutes or more - but it’s worth it.
Then add livers and cook for 10 minutes, turning occasionally. When they are cooked take them off the heat and chop them finely by hand (don't process) Add the chopped eggs and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Mumo's Carrot Cake
When I finished college and got my first job, it was also the first time I was going to be leaving home. In the few weeks before I was due to move out, I followed my mother round with a little black book writing down the recipes for all the things she cooked and I loved.
This weekend I tried out one of the recipes. It’s a carrot cake – but not as we know it. It’s elegant; delicately and beautifully flavoured. It’s also another cake that has no butter and flour so very light.
200g caster sugar
200 gm raw finely grated carrots
250 gm ground hazelnuts (or almonds)
1 tablespoon kirsch
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Zest of a lemon.
Line a cake tin with parchment and preheat the oven to 180 degrees
Whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks
Whisk the sugar and egg yolks under pale and creamy
Add all the other ingredients except the egg whites and mix well.
Carefully fold in the egg white and put into tin
Bake for approximately 1 hour (test with skewer in middle of cake)
Yair's yummy breakfast 2 - Halloumi on toast with capers
Of course neither of these breakfasts have to be breakfast. But they do make a perfect late breakfast or brunch on the weekend.
Ingredients - per person (I've given quantities for 1 slice - but one slice is never enough)
1 slice of good bread (sour dough for preference)
4 slices of halloumi
Enough slices of a good tomato to cover the bread
1/s tsp chopped fresh chilli (red or green)
2 tsps of chopped capers
1 tsp chopped coriander
Pre heat the grill
Lightly toast the bread and sprinkle with olive oil. Then sprinkle on the chilli and coriander and lay on the sliced tomato. Season.
Next lay on the slices of halloumi and grill until golden
Finally sprinkle with the chopped capers and a bit of coriander if you have any left
Yair's yummy breakfast 1 - shakshuka
Shakshuka is a North African dish brought to Israel by Sephardi Jews. It’s a fantastic weekend brunch dish.
Ingredients – for 2
1 small onion finely chopped
1/2 small red pepper finely chopped
1 large clove garlic finely chopped
1 small red chilli finely chopped
handful parsley finely chopped
1 large chopped beef tomato (skinned and finely chopped)
Add olive oil to a frying pan and heat gently. Then add the onion and fry gently until soft and a bit translucent. Add the garlic, pepper, chilli, half of parsley and tomato - cook on a low heat until soft but not dry for about 15 to 20 minutes – add a bit of extra olive oil if necessary. After this time add a tablespoon of tom puree and mix well. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Then break two eggs into the mix in let them cook until white is firm. Sprinkle over the rest of the parsley and serve with pitta bread or turkish bread.
For my daughters
This is for the both of you.
At last, I promise I'll write down those recipes that both of you have been asking me to.
Can't work out how to do an index - so this'll have to do
January - soups
February - Starters
March - Salads
April - Meat
May - Fish
June - Puddings
July - Cakes
August - Preserving
September - Apero
Recipe for creme de cassis - Blackcurrant liquer
Creme de Cassis is a delicious blackcurrant liquer. Most often it's used in Kir. Creme de Cassis topped up with white wine, or for KirRoyale with champagne.
It's relatively easy to make and this year we had a chance to make our own in Marcillac.
We picked the blackcurrants in Josette's garden and followed her recipe.How to make creme de cassis
Mash the blackcurrants in a vegetable mill and put in a large container. For every 1 kl of blackcurrants add 1 litre red wine.
Leave the mixture for up to 5 days in a cool place.
Then strain the mixture through muslin laid in a colander into a cooking pot. Make sure you get every bit of juice out of the muslin by giving it a good squeeze. Add 1 kl of sugar per litre of juice you've extracted and bring the mixture to a boil. Take off the heat as soon as it reaches a boil. The smell in the kitchen at this point was wonderful.
At this stage you can bottle the liquid and what you'll have is blackcurrant syrup, which can be drunk diluted with water. If you want to make Creme de Cassis add a glass of tequila for every litre of blackcurrant syrup you've made. Tequila has very little flavour which is why it can be used. If you can get to a French supermarket you can buy 'Alcohol for Fruit' which is specially made for this kind of thing, and much cheaper.
We picked 3 and half kilos of blackcurrants and ended up with 2 bottles of syrup and 7 of blackcurrant liquer - Creme de Cassis. Apparently, it will be at its best in 3 years time!! Small chance of the bottles lasting that long.
Y and I celebrated Passover with his family in Israel this year. His brother made the charoset for the Seder plate. This is very different to the Charoset we used to have for Passover meals, more spicy and very delicious. Before eating the maror — usually horseradish or lettuce — you dip the maror into the charoset and then shake off the charoset before eating the maror. This action symbolises how hard the Israelites worked in Egypt, combining a food that brings tears to the eyes (the maror) with one that resembles the mortar used to build Egyptian cities and
storehouses (the charoset).
As well as its symbolism, the charoset is lovely spread on matzo.Ingredients
300 gms dates
300 grms raisins
100 grms dry figs
100 grms almonds
100 grms walnuts
200 grms sesame seeds (dry roast first)
20 grms cumin
10 grms cinammon
10 grms ginger
the seeds of 3 cardomom
black pepper to taste
Grind all the ingredients finely - separate first and then together to make a paste. If it's too dry add a little sweet wine, or grape juice
Recipe for Raspberry liquer - Creme de Framboise
Follow the recipe for creme de cassis below, but use white wine or rose when you are macerating the raspberries.