The easiest pickle in the world*

Image

Previously I posted about my roasted aubergines, and before that, I shared a recipe about using raw aubergines. Now, I don’t want to seem obsessed with the things, but I am having a garden bonanza type glut and I’m bottling them like crazy to enjoy after the season finishes. The resulting glossy, olive oil-y pickle looks so pretty I had to share!

First take your cooked aubergine, in my case roasted on the BBQ until blackened. Scrap the insides out and discard the skins:

IMG_2998  

Admittedly not the prettiest at this stage! While they are roasting or oven cooking, sterilise a clean jam jar by ‘cooking’ on medium hot for 10 minutes in the oven. While they are still very hot (maybe leave it a couple of minutes out of the oven, so it’s the same temp as the hot food you’re putting into it) carefully add your aubergine pulp. You can also add fresh or dried herbs at this stage, maybe some chillies. Pack down to exclude as much air as possible. Mix olive oil with vinegar – red wine, white wine, cider vinegars, whatever you have available – around 1/3 vinegar to 2/3 oil. Season with salt and pepper, and pour over the packed aubergine, making sure to wiggle the contents to exclude all air pockets. Leave a good layer of the oil mix covering the top layer so nothing is uncovered:

IMG_3000

Pour boiling water over the lid for a minute – a kettle full should do – and then screw onto your still hot jar.

Simple and delicious! And I promise I won’t post any more on aubergines this season*!

*probably

Roasting aubergines and baba ganoush

aubergines

I’ve been so lucky with my crops of aubergines this year. Determined to avoid crop fatigue – you know, grew so many that you can’t stand the sight of them by the end of the season – I’ve been using them in as many different ways as I can think of.

There are as many ways to preserve as there are to serve, and I’ve tried a few over the years. But one of my favourites is just roasted, and bottled with olive oil and maybe the odd herb. Roasting brings out the unctiousness of aubergine and has the added bonus of removing the skins, leaving only the fluffy, soft interiors. And it couldn’t be simpler.

Wash and place on barbecue:

IMG_2995

Look at those gorgeous colours!

Roast for about 20 minutes, turning ocasionally:

roastedaubs

Myriad of purples and browns

Of course you could do this under the grill or in the oven, but in a hot Australian autumn, I’d much rather use the barbie. Plus you get an aroma from an ope flame that’s difficult to achieve in an oven. If you have a charcoal grill, top marks and happy days!

Once they are blackened all over and soft inside – obviously larger, fatter varieties will need cooking for longer – remove and cover. I usually put a plate over the bowl that I’ve placed them in. Allow to cool slightly; the steam caught in the sealed space will help the skins slide off. roastedandsteamedOnce cool enough to handle, peel or scrape out the innards, discarding the skin. Use how you wish – baba ganoush, pickling, salads, the world is your proverbial.

I bottled mine, by sterilising a jar (yes, one mid sized jar was enough for all those (admittedly skinny) aubergines) in the oven for 10 minutes, and layering the roasted, seasoned aubergine with a mix of 3 parts olive oil to 1 part red wine vinegar. Leave a layer of oil over the top and seal firmly. Store in the fridge for added safety!

As to the baba ganoush. All I can say this time around is – don’t substitute korean sesame paste for tahini. It just doesn’t work. Next time I’ll stick to the recipe….

I say aubergine, you say eggplant….

Let’s not call the whole thing off, though, because aubergines are awesome. Velvety, versatile, and easy to grow.

IMG_2928My home-grown aubergines are still tiny wee things  and it’ll be weeks before they’re ready, but they’re cheap in the shops at the moment, and I lobbed 2 big ones in my trolley as I whipped past recently. As the weather turned frosty (ie dropped below 30º) over the weekend I thought I’d crack on and make some pickles.

A quick search online revealed, of course, a mass of recipes for pickled aubergines, and so as usual I picked the best of a few and fiddled about with them. There were a crop of raw, salted, pickled recipes, and as I’ve never tried pickling a raw aubergine (always grilled them first) I thought I’d give it a go.

Most recipes suggested peeling them first, but I love the skins and they’re such a wonderful colour, so I compromised and peeled half.  Most recipes suggested chunks or dice of aubergine, but I like a nice large surface area when pickling anything, so I went with slices instead. I also cut down on the salting time, from 6 – 8 hours, because it was mid afternoon, and I’m lazy. So essentially I: Continue reading

Basil Pesto – no yucky pinenuts!

I know we can’t all be the same but I just don’t get the pinenuts thing. Horrid, greasy, rancid-y things. But; I do love pesto, and that classically contains them.

So my crop of rapidly running to seed basil was…rapidly running to seed, and it was time to crop and chop at the weekend. A stare at the interweb revealed a few recipes without any nuts, but not a whole lot with different nuts. I decided to have a go.

I used a big handful of mixed basil (regular, thai, lemon varieties), including some of the flowers:IMG_2356

…..and about half as much parmesan, roughly grated, plus 3 or 4 anchovies, and about a half cup of roasty toasty almonds.

I stuck the blanched almonds on the BBQ griddle plate to toast (too hot to put on the oven indoors):IMG_2355

 Apart from the odd overdone one, this worked pretty well. Next I blitzed the almonds and basil together:

IMG_2357

Added the anchovies, salt & pepper, parmesan and whizzed briefly, before drizzling in extra virgin olive oil until it all came together in a slick gloop. In a nice way.

Spoon into sterilised jar and top with a nice clean lid.IMG_2359

There was enough for immediate use in the dish I needed it for, plus a whole jar for the fridge. The results were robust and smoky from the nuts, rich from the quality parmesan and stronger than a shop bought version. Nice!