Well it was my birthday this week and I have to admit I gave in to temptation and bought myself a birthday cake from Patisserie Valerie. Turns out that what every chocolate sponge with chocolate cream really needs, is a bunch of profiteroles on top. It also turns out that yes, I can eat half a cake in one day without feeling any kind of regret.
However, apparently it is frowned upon to just feed your guests cake for dinner, so I decided to go with something Italian for the main course. Because obviously what the world’s most calorific dessert needed was some cheese and olive oil. Aubergine Parmigiana is essentially an aubergine bake and it is incredibly tasty eaten hot straight from the oven or cold the next day.
Even if you don’t like aubergines I urge you to give this a go. After being fried and then baked the aubergines end up being incredibly silky and creamy. I always thought that aubergines end up being disgusting when you fry them, mainly because they are essentially oil sponges, but brushing them with oil instead of pouring the oil in the pan has solved this problem nicely. This serves about six people and you may need to use two normal sized baking dishes instead of one large one if you don’t have the right size. I know this is a lot of food if you are not about to host a dinner party for a bunch of hungry vegetarians, but it does make for incredibly good leftovers and is easy to reheat.
For the Aubergine Parmigiana:
4 large aubergines
2 cans/packets chopped tomatoes
3 garlic cloves
8 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 bunch basil
180g grated parmesan
Salt & pepper
1. Start by making your tomato sauce. Add 3 tbsp olive oil to a large pan. Crush your garlic cloves with the flat side of a knife and fry in the oil for about 3 mins or until nicely browned.
2. Add the chopped tomatoes and simmer for 10 mins (be careful when adding the tomatoes, the oil will splash quite a bit). Stir in tomato puree, sugar and salt and set the tomato sauce aside.
3. Slice your aubergine lengthwise so the individual slices are about 1/3 inch thick, turns out I really have no hand eye co-ordination so mine were seriously wonky but it doesn’t really make a difference to the finished product.
4. Brush your aubergine slices with the remaining olive oil and fry in a large pan (ideally a griddle pan but a normal one will do as well) for about 5 mins or until nicely cooked.
5. Put a layer of fried aubergines into a large baking dish and cover with a few spoonfuls of tomato sauce. Scatter with parmesan, chopped basil and salt and pepper then add the next layer of aubergines and repeat the process until you have used up all your ingredients or sauce starts running over the sides of the dish.
6. Beat your egg and pour over the top. Scatter with any remaining parmesan and bake in the oven at 200C for 25 mins.
For the sautéed potatoes
600g (new) potatoes
1 bunch fresh rosemary
1 tsp coarse sea salt
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp olive oil
1. Peel your potatoes, if you are using quite small new potatoes, leave them whole. Otherwise cut them into quarters.
2. Boil your potatoes for about 5 mins then drain and leave to steam for a bit so they are fairly dry.
3. Heat butter and olive oil in a large pan and fry the potatoes over a medium to high heat for about 5 mins. Stir occasionally so that they end up nice and golden on all sides.
4. Add sprigs of rosemary to the pan and fry for another 5 mins.
5. Remove the rosemary sprigs from the pan and squeeze the lemon over the potatoes and scatter with salt (if you are making this in advance the potatoes will keep well in a warm oven).