For the love of Aubergine

WE all have one food item that is just not a friend to our palates.

And thus, for various and even mysterious reasons: the memories of being chained in the kitchen until the plate was clean, the smell of old food in elderly people’s house, too many examples of your mom’s strange culinary experiments or simply because you have peculiar taste buds that have decided that cauliflower or black pudding would never get their approval. Fair enough.

However, the love or hate of a certain food is mostly driven by the way it’s cooked. The most distasteful boiled leeks ever that the lady at the school canteen used to serve doesn’t make a creamy leek pie a repulsive dish.

And that’s the challenge that many moms, wives and cooks face everyday: how to make their children, family and guests appreciate the flavours and healthful benefits of their nightmare ingredient. But when you ask foodies to convince one of their own about the delicious flavours of one of their favourite vegetables, the defiance is taken up to the next level.

Hence, the ‘convince Meemalee that aubergine is the best thing to eat‘ challenge took place on a Saturday and all the guests had one mission: bring their favourite aubergine dish, the one that Mimi’s taste buds would finally fall in love with.

And it was a real celebration of to Aubergines: Caponata from @jteramsden, Babaganoush from @bribedwithfood, Stuffed spicy Aubergines from @Kaveyf, Stuffed squid with Aubergines & Prawn from @R_McCormack, Ottolenghi Aubergine Salad brought by @Kristainlondon and Aubergine Terrine made by myself. @tehbus and @meemalee both brought some amazing cheese from Neal’s Yard… just in case!

Rarely has aubergine has been presented in so many various styles and shapes in one evening: chopped, roasted, cooked, mashed, sliced, etc. And what a pleasure for all of us around the table to enjoy one of the most delectable vegetables at its best.

Aubergine was the queen that evening and our princess went back home that night convinced, I hope, of the delicious tastiness of this noble vegetable.

I have decided that aubergines are not evil, but they certainly aren’t my friends – unlike the people who bravely sought to convert me to the auberginey cause.

Cooking is the key that makes people enjoy the foods they don’t like but friendship is the door that leads to pleasure. Bon appétit !

Terrina di Melanzane – Aubergine Terrine
2 yellow peppers
1 red pepper
Olive oil
3 aubergines
150g emmental
3 tomatoes
1 garlic clove

Broil the peppers, drizzled with olive oil, in a 350º oven until charred and blackened all over.
Remove them and put them in a plastic bag to make them easier to peel.
Meanwhile, slice three aubergines into 5 mm slices, brush them with oil and broil until golden brown on both sides.
Peel, seed and chop the peppers.

Once the eggplant are golden brown, cover the bottom of an oiled ovenproof dish with them.
Mix the peppers with 50g grated emmental and a little bit of basil into three lightly beaten eggs.

Arrange a layer of sliced emmental over the aubergine, cover with the egg mixture and continue alternating layers until all the ingredients are used, ending with the egg mixture.
Place the dish in a roasting pan, added boiling water up to about half way and baked for an hour at 180C

Meanwhile, chop and peel three tomatoes and put them in a sauce pan with a garlic clove and two tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and cook over a medium flame for 20 minutes.
Once cooked, mix the sauce until smooth.

Remove the terrine from the oven, turn it out onto a serving platter and served it with the tomato sauce.


Take your time and relax… It’s brunch time

It has become an addiction. Every day of the week, the only thing I’m looking for is the weekend’s brunch. To wake up slowly on a Saturday and Sunday morning and enjoy a brunch in bed made of sweet and savoury food, that’s what you call pleasure.

The other option, which requires a bit more effort is to get yourself ready and go to one of those places where everybody is waiting for their coffee to feel awake and wearing their most comfortable clothes, ready to enjoy a relaxing and easy-going moment.
In restaurants that serve brunch, time stops and it feels good…

My best place for a brunch? The Coffee Parisien in Paris (4, Rue Princesse, 75006 Paris).
This is where I had my first brunch experience and it still remains the best one. And it was also the day I kissed my future husband for the first time but shhhhhhhhh, don’t tell anyone!

So what is a perfect brunch made of? Well, there is no perfect recipe. Brunch is all about how you would like to enjoy it but here some basics ideas that will make everybody happy:

– Coffee, tea or hot chocolate for those like me who don’t drink coffee
– Juices
– Yoghourt and fresh fruits
– Eggs cooked in every way (best way to express your creativity!)
– Ham, chicken slices, sausages, beans
– Bagel, cream cheese and salmon
– Jam, Nutella, butter
– Croissant, scones, Hot cross buns, bread, etc.

Today, our brunch wad made of chopped vegetables (courgettes, tomatoes, pepper) cooked in a pan and mixed with an egg that we ate with Irish Potato Farls (very English, you won’t find that in France, unfortunately) and some chicken slices.. Very good!
We then had fresh fruits mixed with yoghourt. Perfect way to start the day.

But the best of the best still remains the famous… Egg Mcmuffin (you know, like the one in McDonald but much better because you make it yourself!)

Egg McMuffin recipe – One person
One English muffin
One egg
One slice of bacon
One slice of burger or Emmental cheese

Poached your eggs by carefully breaking them into water that is a gently bubbling or simmering for about 3 mn. Then, carefully lift the egg out of the water with a slotted spoon
In the meantime, fry your bacon in a pan
Cut the muffin in half and toast it
Once everything is ready, sit the bacon, the cheese and the egg on top of one half of the muffin. Add  the other half and put your EggMcMuffin in a sheet of greaseproof paper.
Put it 10s in the microwave and it’s ready!