I’m going to be in Europe for a couple of weeks as of next weekend, so this project will be on hold (I’ll try and avoid buying cookbooks, and taking them with me) while I’m there, but will recommence on the weekend of 25 August.
Anyway… this weekend was Italian Food Safari, which again taught me I need a bigger oven, a decent meat clever, and a bigger casserole dish. The eggplant was the most popular dish of the evening, with everyone happily enjoying it (including those who don’t typically like eggplant).
Notes this time after the recipe. Please pay careful attention to the notes after the strudel.
- 3 large eggplants
- 4 eggs beaten
- olive oil
- 80ml olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove
- 750 ml tomato puree or 800g tin Italian tomatoes, or 12 very ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 bunch basic leaves, chopped, plus extra leaves for layering
- 250g bocconcini or fresh mozzarella, sliced
- 100g parmesan, grated
- Slice the eggplant no thicker than 1cm. Sprinkle the slices with salt, stack in a colander and weigh down with a heavy object. Leave for 1 hour.
- Pat the slices dry and lightly coat in flour. Dip into the beaten egg, shaking off the excess, and fry in hot oil until golden brown on each side. Drain on paper towel.
- To make the sugo, heat the oil and fry the onion and garlic until soft. Add the tomato and bring to the boil. Cook until lightly thickened. Season to taste and add the chopped basil.
- Preheat the oven to 180C. Smear the bottom of a baking dish with sugo then add a layer of eggplant. Dot with slices of bocconcini, a sprinkling of parmesan and a few torn basil leaves. Continue to layer until you have used up the eggplant, and finish with sugo topped with cheese.
- Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, until the top is golden. Allow to rest for 10 minutes or so. To serve lift of layers rather than cutting a wedge.
- Serves 6
Notes on this recipe:
- We blended the bocconcini and mozzarella to obtain 250g – it was good.
- This was the most popular dish of the night
Sicilian Sweet and Sour Rabbit
- 2 rabbits
- 2 litres of water
- juice of 1 lemon
- 5 thyme sprigs, leaves picked and roughly chopped
- 6 bay leaves
- 10 sage leaves
- 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 2 small red chillies, finely chopped
- 100ml olive oil
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 80ml olive oil for frying
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 large leek, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 12 shallots, peeled
- 5 kipfler potatoes, halved
- 100ml white wine
- 2.5 tablespoons of Chardonnay vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
- 2 tablespoons sultanas
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- Soak the rabbits in the water and lemon juice for 1 hour (this helps to tenderise the meat). Cut the rabbits into small pieces through the bones. Put into a large mixing bowl with the herbs, chilli and oil. Season with salt, and pepper and mix well.
- Heat half the oil (the other oil) in a large frying pan and fry the rabbit pieces until golden. Return the rabbit to the bowl of marinade.
- Preheat the oven to 180C. Heat the remaining oil in a ovenproof pot and fry the onion, leek, and garlic until golden. Add the carrot and celery and stir for a few minutes, then add the shallots and potatoes and cook for another few minutes. Add the rabbit and marinade, followed by the remaining ingredients. Cover with a lid and bake in the oven for 1 – 1.5 hours.
- Serves 6
- Jointing rabbits is really difficult. You’d probably be better off buying 1 – 1.5 kilos of pre-jointed rabbit pieces to save time.
- We bought white wine vinegar, I’m not sure where you find Chardonnay vinegar
- You need a very large casserole dish for this recipe, and one that is flame proof (something I don’t have).
Nonna’s Apple Strudel
- 185 ml milk
- 40 g butter
- 300g (2 cups) self-raising flour
- 2 medium eggs, beaten
- 10 granny smith or red delicious apples, peeled, quartered, cored and thinly sliced (SEE NOTE)
- 1/2 cup apricot jam
- 110g *1/2 cup) sugar
- 100g butter
- 1/2 cup currants
- 1/2 cup sultanas
- ground cinnamon
- ground cloves
- For the pastry, place the milk, butter and sugar in a saucepan and gently heat until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves.
- Place the flour in a bowl, make a well in the centre and add the eggs and most of the milk mixture (leave a few tablespoons for a glaze). Stir until the mixture forms a ball, then transfer to a work surface and knead gently until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 180C. Divide the dough into 3 pieces. Roll out the first piece on the floured work surface to an oval shape approximately 26cm x 28cm, and 5mm thick.
- Spread the pastry with a third of the jam, going thinly to the edges. Spread a third of the apples over the pastry leaving a 2cm edge free. Sprinkle with a third of the sugar and dot with a third of the butter. Scatter with a third of the currants and sultanas and sprinkle with cinnamon and cloves to your taste.
- Fold the edges of the pastry over the filling to create a rim, and roll the the strudel up from one of the long sides of the oval.
- Pick up the strudel with a couple of wide spatulas or egglifters and lay on a buttered tray. Follow the same process to make the next 2 strudels.
- Glaze the strudels with the reserved milk mixture and bake them in the oven for 45 minutes. Baste them intermittently with the buttery syrup that oozes onto the trays to create a shiny, golden pastry.
- Serve with vanilla ice-cream or rich cream.
- Serves 12
- I have no idea how they managed to fit 10 apples into these strudels. Peel and chop maybe 4 apples and if you have room for more, then peel and chop some more. I ended up cooking a stack of apples I’d peeled that did not fit into the strudels. Clearly the apples used in this recipe had some magical tardis energy that mine were lacking.
- Do not use baking paper for your trays, I did and the lovely buttery, sugary toffee that forms as these bake, stuck the backing paper to the strudels. Grease up a tray and let it soak when you’re done (because it will be covered in toffee)
- I have no idea what the instructions for folding the strudel actually mean. If someone can decipher them and turn them into images, I’ll happily link to them with full credit.