What better way to celebrate the birth of a new year than by baking layers of veggies and watching Pixar? For us, the first day of the new year was spent relaxing in jammies, and Ratatouille – the dish and the movie!
It can be really tricky to recreate the things you love from restaurants. If you’re super talented, you might just wing it and make up a recipe. Then there are people like me who just keep trying new recipes, like a sucker, and getting frustrated when it doesn’t turn out right.
Indian eggplant dishes have given me the most frustration.
This is the first installment of my ‘Cookbook Diving’ series, where I dig up recipes from my lonely little cookbooks. I have a number of cookbooks that I rarely use, especially now that it’s so easy to find recipes on the internet. I thought it was about time I start finding some tasty treasures on my own bookshelf, so here we go!
Earlier, I posted about our Greek themed meal featuring my first attempt at Spanakopita. Since we couldn’t make an entire meal out of spinach pie, I thought I should dig around for some other treats. I decided to make eggplant bundles, stuffed with tomato, herbs and cheese. This recipe is actually from an Italian cookbook, but since many of the ingredients cross over with Greek cuisine, I thought I could modify it to make it work with our meal. I did the obvious, and simply replaced the herbs and the type of cheese used, since they wouldn’t change the basic structure of the dish.
This pic gives you a bit of a peek inside at the tomato… sneaky little food!
These were very simple to make, but some of them didn’t want to stay together when I flipped them on the baking sheet. No worries! It’s pretty easy to just stuff it all back together. I modified the original recipe to coat the bundles with the leftover butter/herb/spinach juice from the spanakopita, which worked really well and added some extra flavour. There was also a sun-dried tomato dressing that was meant to be drizzled on top of the bundles when served, but I just left that off. I don’t think it was missing anything.
After a little bit of digging, I found something new in one of my dusty cookbooks. I wonder what other hidden gems I’ve been sitting on!
Broiled Eggplant Bundles – Greek Style
Serves 4, Modified from an Italian recipe in the book La Cucina Italiana edited by Gabriella Rossi
2 large, long eggplants
1/4 lb feta cheese
2 plum tomatoes
8 sprigs of parsley and/or dill
2 tbsp dried oregano
2 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper
Remove the stalks from the eggplants and cut them lengthwise into thin slices — the aim is to get 16 slices in total (about 1/4 inch thick). Ignore the first & last slices.
Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil an cook the eggplant for a couple of minutes, or until just softened. Drain the sliced eggplant and pat dry using a clean towel. Set aside.
Mash the cheese a little, so there aren’t any big chunks.
Cut each tomato into 8 slices, ignoring the first & last slices.
Take two eggplant slices and place on a baking shet, forming a cross. Place a slice of tomato in the centre of the cross, season with salt & pepper, then add a sprig of parsley and/or dill, followed by a dollop of cheese, a sprinkle of oregano, a slice of tomato and more salt & pepper.
Fold the ends ofthe eggplant slices around the cheese and tomato filling to make a neat bundle. Repeat with the rest of the ingredients to make 8 bundles. Chill the bundles for about 20 minutes.
Preheat the broiler. Brush the bundles with oilive oil and cook for about 5 minutes on each side, or until golden. Serve hot.
I love Indian food. I love the spices, I love the mix of textures and flavours, and I absolutely love the variety you get in an Indian Thali. Indian thalis are platters that feature a number of dishes, alongside some kind of bread (such as naan or chapati) or sometimes rice. Most of the Indian food that people are familiar with are from North India, but it is important to note that there are many regional differences in Indian food. This is something I’d like to learn a little bit about, but I haven’t started researching it yet.
My first Thali (clockwise from the top): Baingan Bharta, Saag Paneer and Chole.
I love to make Indian-inspired dishes at home, but haven’t had much success at making restaurant style dishes until recently. A few weeks ago, I tried a Palak Daal recipe that was fantasic but very lonely. We’re used to having multiple dishes in an Indian meal, so my loney daal didn’t go over as well as it should have. This inspired me to try making a group of dishes at once.
There are two challenges for me here: successfully making restaurant-style Indian dishes AND making multiple dishes at the same time and timing it all out properly. It was a great experience, and left me with the confidence to try more in the future!!