Friday, 14 January 2011

mid-life crisis with cheese

... I think I may have had a bit of a mid-life crisis breakdown... it wasn't pretty and I sure as hell wouldn't wish it upon anyone ...and you may think it strange that I should write about it here but for some reason I find that simply writing about stuff really helps... and one of the reasons for writing a blog (other than my love of food) was to express myself in a way I enjoy and find truly therapeutic...

... although at the same time I also feel under pressure to blog and take part in the on-line community, which can also get me down a bit... so I apologise if i've not been my usual sparkly self...

... the whole thing has come upon me like a creeping dread... like that awful, back-to-school, Sunday evening feeling... but it's everyday... all day... and I can't help feeling 'something scary this way comes'... and it's not nice... and a heck of a lot more than just the January blues, which I tend to get every Boxing Day...

...I suppose I feel I need to take a big leap in order to kick start my life... break away from the mundane and regular and do SOMETHING... and don't get me wrong, I have plans... great plans... it's all just a little bit cloudy at the moment...

... in the meantime I still have to eat and I do love being in the kitchen so this is what we're eating tonight...

Melitzana Parmigiana

This makes a great carb-free alternative to lasagna and can be served as a dish on it's own or be used as a very nice side dish for roast pork... a couple of notes before we start... Parmesan is not a vegetarian cheese, so if you're cooking this for a vegetarian substitute it for a strong cheddar or other similar cheese with a bit of tickle... you shouldn't have to salt your aubergine, most modern aubergine are bred to be less bitter and therefore the salting process is defunct, however, if you feel the urge to salt then cut the aubergine into slices and layer them in a dish with a little sea salt crushed in between each layer... this will draw out the bitter juices and you simply pat them down with a kitchen cloth before using...

2 aubergine
2 eggs (beaten)
a plate full of seasoned plan flour
4 medium onions - very finely chopped
2 tins of chopped plum tomatoes
4 garlic cloves - crushed
4 large balls of mozzarella
a block of parmigiana reggiano  or a veggie alternative
fresh basil and rosemary
3 bay leaves
a splash of white wine
a splash of balsamic vinegar

- first you want to make your tomato sauce... it's worth doing this well in advance (i would say minimum 3 hours for full effect but if you can make it the day before them even better)

- gently saute the onions and garlic for about 30mins till they are just turning gold (add a dash of sugar)

- add the tinned toms, the wine and the balsamic vinegar and the herbs and let it simmer gently for as long as possible (3 hours) stirring occasionally.  It should reduce down into a sticky tomato puree... simply stunning for any Italian recipe

- slice the aubergine into rounds, dip into the egg, then the seasoned flour and in a heavy pan, fry gently till soft and golden on both sides (if you're really on a health kick, leave out the flour and egg and simply fry till golden...)

- begin to layer the aubergine into an oven-proof dish, followed by some of the sauce and then some torn pieces of mozzarella... you should get be able to do 3 layers using 1 and a half balls of mozzarella each layer... complete each layer with a generous grating of Parmesan and some torn basil before you move onto the next

- bake in the oven till golden - roughly 30 Min's

eat and of course, enjoy!



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