Sunday, 15 July 2018

All about the aubergine

Recipe of the week...
... Aubergine Parmigiana & Pesto Bruschetta


Ingredients: 1 tin of chopped tomatoes, 3 garlic cloves, 125g mozzarella, 1 red onion, 20g fresh basil leaves, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 aubergine, 1 vegetable stock cube, 2 ciabatta rolls, 35g Italian hard cheese, olive oil, sugar, salt & pepper

Dietary: Vegetarian

Serves: 2

Time taken: 1 hour max

--

Hi readers,

Hope you’re all well and having lovely weekends... enjoying the sunshine! We’ve been out in the sun maybe a little too much, according to the Vegan Mr’s sunburn, but it has to be done eh?? Brits and all that.

My attempt at a Dry July has crashed after 2 weeks, with a delicious glass of red wine last night (… no regrets), and I also crashed my car into a metal pole this week – in an early morning attempt to reverse. Never reverse before coffee, readers, if your skills behind the wheel are as sketchy as mine.

Luckily, neither myself nor the pole were harmed on this occasion. And I’ve made it through the week, this week, without killing any goldfish. Thank god. But how about you, readers?? Have you crashed through the week with untold destruction along the way? Or has it been a peaceable week in the history of you? How have things been?

--

- Food for thought -

This week, readers, I have some stuff to recommend for you which has popped up on my ChefBeHere-ing radar. Over the past week I’ve been…

Listening

To my new running playlist
Having spent weeks trying to skip songs with sweaty hands, while on the go on a run, I finally sat down and fixed a fresh running playlist. The old one had swelled to over seven hours long and some tracks I hadn’t liked since uni. My new playlist is up-to-date and gone are the old dance anthems from the Toon – it’s keeping my spirits up on hot summer runs. When was the last time you threw together a playlist?

Watching

A really random independent film! My book club love going to see books which have been turned into films, or films about book clubs, or films about books in general! This one is set in 1950s England, Bill Nighy stars, and there’s a scene on a beach with a VERY intense hand kiss scene. I warn you – it’s hot stuff for a film about books. Go see, if you’re a book lover.

Reading

About President Trump’s visit to the UK
Do you think he got the message?? That we sort of don’t like him? Probably not, it was subtle. But high five to the guy who paraglided over his private golf course to shout rude things down from the sky. And high five to Sadiq Khan for approving the giant inflatable Baby Trump! I’d have loved to see it floating over London.

Enjoying

The rain
I’m sorry if this is gloating and you were somewhere on Friday that missed the rain… but god was it good. Just a few hours of a refreshing cool breeze, steely grey skies, and light drizzle. Over practically before it started, but a lovely throwback to the usual weather before this heatwave. I put on a knitted cardy and listened to rain pattering on the window.

Wondering

Will there be something good on TV now the World Cup is over?
I’m humming a merry tune and waving the World Cup on its way, readers. Not a fan! We’ve endured weeks of packed pubs, road rage in the hour leading up to every kick off, and conference calls taken over with blow-by-blow accounts of matches between teams of literally no sporting merit. It’s been BORING. And I’m excited for some good TV that has no link to football – for at least two weeks before the next footy season starts.


--

- Feeding a friend -

My recipe this week, readers, is one that I prepared not long ago, for myself and the Vegan Mr on a Friday night. We were celebrating the hotshot and a big job offer he’s had – toasting to a successful career ahead for him. Any excuse for good food!


I’d gone all out and bought fancy olives to start, and limoncello desserts for our pudding! We lit a vanilla tealight and cracked the windows open for a summer breeze. We sipped squash out of wine glasses and talked excitedly about everything the Mr could buy if his pay check goes up… blackout blinds? Cocktails? Unicorns??

This week’s recipe, readers, for Aubergine Parmigiana & Pesto Bruschetta, comes from my Gousto recipe file. It’s one I’ve tried before. A great dish to cook if you have company and can eat it all in one go, as I don’t find that mozzarella reheats very well. I chose this recipe because the Mr wasn’t feeling very vegan on this night, hence a recipe including dairy, and I don’t cook enough with aubergine!


In the words of Gousto…

In this simple, warming Italian bake, tender aubergine is layered up with rich tomato sauce and then topped with two types of cheese: mozzarella for melting gooeyness and grated Italian hard for flavour. Once that's in the oven, you'll make a simple pesto to spoon over ciabatta slices – perfect for scooping!

Are you sold?? If you’re preparing one for yourself, readers, here’s the recipe in just ten simple steps…

--

- Aubergine Parmigiana & Pesto Bruschetta -

Ingredients: 1 tin of chopped tomatoes, 3 garlic cloves, 125g mozzarella, 1 red onion, 20g fresh basil leaves, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 aubergine, 1 vegetable stock cube, 2 ciabatta rolls, 35g Italian hard cheese, olive oil, sugar, salt & pepper

1.     Try and clear your mind. Now is the time for good food and not for worrying. Please reframe from multitasking, over stretching yourself, or fretting about concerns that go beyond the kitchen. Heat your oven to 200°C.

2.     Begin by slicing the aubergine lengthways as thinly as you can. Heat a large frying pan with a drizzle of olive oil on a high heat and, once hot, add the sliced aubergine and cook for a few minutes on each side, until it’s beginning to brown.

ChefBeHere Top Tip: Unless your pan is colossal in size, you may have to do this in batches.


3.     Once the aubergine is cooked set it aside for now. Keep the pan and wipe clean ready to reuse. Boil a kettle and dissolve the stock cube in 50ml boiled water.

4.     Time for some veg prep! Peel and dice the red onion. Peel and finely chop (or grate) the garlic. Chop the basil finely, including the stalks. Cut the mozzarella into chunks.

5.     Then, return the pan to a medium heat with a drizzle of olive oil. Once hot, add the diced onion with a generous pinch of salt and cook for 5 minutes or until softening. Add ¾ of the chopped garlic and cook for another minute.

6.     Next, add the tomato pastedried oregano and 1 teaspoon sugar to the pan, stir in, and cook for 30 seconds. Add the chopped tomatoes, vegetable stock and ½ of the chopped basil. Cook for 3 more minutes until the contents of your pan resemble a thick Bolognese sauce consistency.


7.     Time to put this all together – add half of the aubergine to an oven-proof dish in a single layer. Spoon over half of the tomato sauce and repeat so there are two layers of aubergine and sauce. Top with all of the mozzarella chunks and half of the grated Italian hard cheese.


8.     Carefully transport the dish in the oven to bake for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese has browned – this is your aubergine parmigiana. Meanwhile, grind the remaining chopped basilchopped garlic, and grated Italian hard cheese along with a pinch of salt in a pestle & mortar to form a smooth paste.

ChefBeHere Top Tip: If you don't have a pestle and mortar, chop everything very finely!

9.     Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon cold water and mix well – this is your pesto. Slice each ciabatta into 4 lengthways and pop onto a baking tray, then divide the pesto between the ciabatta slices and spread it about evenly.

10.  Get the tray in the oven for 5 min until the ciabatta is warmed through and crispy – this is your pesto bruschetta. Once the aubergine parmigiana has cooked and the bruschetta are looking beautiful and golden, safely take everything out of the oven and turn this off. You can plate up! Spoon your parmigiana between two dinner plates and serve the pesto bruschetta alongside… enjoy.



--

- Recipe round up -

What do you reckon, readers, might you be tempted to give this recipe a go?

I would very much recommend! We both enjoyed our food – fans of hearty Italian grub. Everything came off well in the kitchen and both the parmigiana and bruschetta came out of the oven looking golden and smelling like a storm of garlic.

Crunchy bread and a cheesy tomatoey dish to dunk it in… exactly what you need on a Friday at the end of a long week. Plus, layering with aubergine instead of pasta makes this dish a little lighter than a traditional lasagne – so you definitely have room for your pudding! Readers, if you’re in the mood for some simple Italian food with strong flavours and stretchy stringy cheese then I definitely would recommend. Light a candle and fill your boots.

Until next week, I’m wishing you all a glorious week in the sun. Stay cool and take care when around metal poles, readers. Eat well and have a lovely time!

Bake safely,

Hayley

--

- Closing thoughts -

If you’ve been inspired to give this recipe a try, readers, whether I’m speaking to you on the day of this post or you’re reading some far out time in the future... please drop me a line to let me know whether it went okay. I’d love to hear how you got on in the kitchen and your thoughts on this dish. Plus, it’d be fab if you’re able to share any tips you have for success, or your suggestions to improve the recipe? Please send your wisdom my way.

Thank you for reading!




Sunday, 8 July 2018

Simple Sunday food... Mushroom toast


Recipe of the week...
... Creamy Garlic Mushroom Toast

Ingredients: 350g mushrooms, 2 small garlic cloves, 2 spring onions, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 large or 4 small slices of good-quality fresh bread, 1 ½ tablespoons dairy-free butter (plus extra for spreading), 75ml soy cream, small handful of fresh parsley leaves, salt and black pepper

Serves: 2

Time taken: Half an hour

Dietary requirement: Vegan

--

Hi readers,

How are you today? Are you well? Are feeling peaceful and fulfilled this weekend? And calm and in control? Have you been spending time with your favourite people?

I hope that all is well.. and that your weekend is, and has been, a wonderful one. Wishing you all the best things! And I’m sending an imagined cool breeze your way, UK readers. If I could cool you down in this heatwave I WOULD DO but, magical powers aside, I can only recommend you go buy a fan. There’s no rain forecast – it will be worth the investment.


As I write to you this evening, readers, it’s a warm one in Sheffield. The hot spell goes on, with ice cubes and salad leaves in high demand. England are (somehow) still in the World Cup! Semi-finals, here we come…

And it’s been a lovely weekend for me, really. I’ve been about the house, painting a wall and items of furniture in summery colours, to brighten the place up. We held a barbie last night and grilled bananas with chocolate spread inside – very tasty!! We did a bit of bat watching down the garden, ate good food, and the light lasted until maybe 11 at night – the days are long at the moment.

As great as adventures may be, a calm weekend has been exactly what I needed after sleeping poorly this week, with the heat. It’s been nice to be about at home. Have you been off adventuring, readers, or have you stayed local? I hope, either way, it’s been fab!

Sun = FRECKLES!

--

- Food for thought -

This week, readers, I have some wonderings and recommendations for you…

Listening

To: Bonobo
Laid back, wavy summer tunes. I’m enjoying a mix of Bonobo tracks while I go on a lunchtime walk on weekdays. Good for clearing the mind and making room for some great ideas – to rock n roll with in the afternoon.

Watching

Should I, or shouldn’t I? The box sets for all the seasons have been uploaded to 4od and I’ve never watched before… but painting my nails the other night I fancied some light viewing… one thing led to another and now I’ve watched a couple of episodes! Will this take over my life? Is it worth it??  Anyone out there who’s watched before – please advise.

Reading

The newspaper
I’ll say it a million times more – a newspaper at the weekend is so good!! It forces you to sit and chill for a while, you learn things, you can then talk about those things in conversation and reference having read them ‘in the newspaper’, and there are puzzles! And then you can use the newspaper to cover the floor while you’re painting. What’s not to love?

Enjoying

Painting stuff
Could something in your house do with a fresh lick of paint? If the answer’s yes, I say you get a paintbrush and get on it! I painted a few different things about the house this weekend and it’s come with a massive sense of pride. To have painted them by myself (this is my first ride with a can of paint) and done a good job hopefully and have transformed something with just a bit of time and effort. Why put off what you can do today?

Wondering

Would I survive in a life-threatening situation?
Having been to see Adrift at the cinema this week, in which as twenty-something chick has to battle to survive at sea after being caught in a storm, and also hearing news reports on the Thai football team currently trapped in a cave and running low on oxygen… I wonder, would I survive? I sense not, as ‘clumsy’ and ‘distracted’ aren’t traits you’d believe of a survivor. But, there’s always sheer luck on my side? Maybe. And how about you?

I recommend Adrift very much...
but take tissues!

--

- Feeding a friend -

My recipe this week, readers, is one that I enjoyed with the Vegan Mr last weekend, when I wasn’t pre-occupied painting everything in sight. We cooked this together, so I can’t take full credit, this was a team effort for breakfast on Sunday morning. And it went WELL.

On Sunday morning, we woke and had a leisurely start to the day with Sunday Brunch on in the background. The sun was shining, and it felt like the kind of morning that merited a special breakfast, you know? Something a bit grand!

So, we get out the BOSH! book and picked a recipe from the Breakfast Toasts section of the book, which reads…

The humble slice of bread, toasted to perfection, is a mighty meal to behold. Here are three of our favourite ways to enjoy a quick-fix mini English breakfast. They’re most delicious with quality sourdough bread that brings additional flavour to the meal, even better if it’s from a real baker! The better the bread, the better the breakfast.



Off we trundled to the shops, for our ingredients and a large quantity of fresh orange juice, and then we prepared some Creamy Garlic Mushroom Toast together in the kitchen. Before enjoying it out in the garden in the sun! We talked about the crash we’d seen on our drive home from the shop, between a car and a bus, hoping (we’re still hoping!) that everyone was okay.

We chose this recipe last weekend because it seemed like simple, tasty breakfast grub. Not too many ingredients or steps to the recipe. Nothing fancy or over the top. Just good food. In the words of BOSH!...

So Rich. So Creamy. Cannot. Compute. This garlicky mushroom dish is effortless and full of voluptuous, creamy flavours.

Fancy giving it a go? Here’s the recipe in just ten simple steps…

--

- Creamy Garlic Mushroom Toast -

Ingredients: 350g mushrooms, 2 small garlic cloves, 2 spring onions, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 large or 4 small slices of good-quality fresh bread, 1 ½ tablespoons dairy-free butter (plus extra for spreading), 75ml soy cream, small handful of fresh parsley leaves, salt and black pepper

1.     Set the kettle boiling and tune in to your fave radio station. Shake yourself awake and crack a window wide open for some fresh air! Gather your ingredients together and brew a cuppa.

2.     Begin with veg prep. Slice the mushrooms, peel and mince the garlic, trim the roots and ends from the spring onions and finely slice.

3.     Drizzle a splash of olive oil in a frying pan. Tip the mushrooms in and cook for 10 minutes, until nicely browned.

4.     Add the garlic and three-quarters of the spring onions (saving some of the green ends for garnish). Cook for a further 3 minutes.

5.     Slice the bread and pop in the toaster or under the grill. Pour some orange juice, and locate plates and cutlery.

6.     Add the dairy-free butter to the pan of mushrooms and stir it through until it melts. Pour the soy cream into the pan and stir it into the mushrooms.

7.     Once everything is combined, take the pan off the heat. Season generously with salt and pepper. Roughly chop the parsley and stir most of it through the mushrooms.

8.     Once it turns a nice colour, take the toast out of the toaster or grill and spread it with dairy-free butter.

9.     Divide the mushroom mixture equally between the toasts. Sprinkle over the remaining spring onions and parsley.

10.  Grind over a little black pepper and serve your mushroom toasts immediately. Enjoy in the garden if you can, with the sun shining down on your tasty breakfast!


--

- Recipe round up -


Et voila! That’s really all there is to it, readers. Unless you’re not a fan of a mushroom, I would recommend this recipe to all. It’s peppery and creamy and delicious. Simple flavours for your taste buds to enjoy before they’ve woken up properly. We both enjoyed our food. 

Camera shy! (Vegan Mr)

The recipe was a total success – no mishaps in the kitchen and (if I do say so) we plated up a great looking dish. Nice to admire, as well as eat! I say… give it a go, readers. If you’re super hungry, or you’d like more colour or flavour on your plate, maybe wilt some spinach as a side? Or roast cherry tomatoes in the oven?

I hope there’s great food coming up for you this week, readers. Take the time to taste every last bite of it. And take care of yourselves, readers. Go steady, give hugs, and be kind.

Toast safely,

Hayley

--

- Closing thoughts -

If you’ve been inspired to give this recipe a try, readers, whether I’m speaking to you on the day of this post or you’re reading some far out time in the future... please drop me a line to let me know whether it went okay. I’d love to hear how you got on in the kitchen and your thoughts on this dish. Plus, it’d be fab if you’re able to share any tips you have for success, or your suggestions to improve the recipe? Please send your wisdom my way.

Thank you for reading!