Supplì (Fried Rice Balls) with a Little and Much Appreciated Tip from Chef Arcangelo Dandini

Roman Supplì, like their Sicilian cousins the Arancini, are very much a street food staple, enjoyed by young and old because they taste delicious and are brilliant when it comes to stopping hunger pangs in their tracks.  Without ruining the appetite, either.

There was a time when a supplì and a cappuccino, standing up at the bar  “Il Delfino” in Rome’s central Largo Argentina, were often what I had for lunch, followed by a cigarette.  I may look back in horror at this gastronomic mash up now but neither am I totally surprised: a cappuccino and a supplì furnished just what I needed for a ‘light’ lunch that would keep me going for the rest of the day until supper.  Sometimes, if colleagues and I fancied a ‘proper’ meal we’d go to Armando al Pantheon, it was just an ordinary trattoria back in the early 1980s and no one had to book the way you do now.  And the “Il Delfino” bar is where my love affair with my husband really took off.   So you see, I have an especial fondness for them.

I did write a post about supplì back in 2011, following the classic recipe and its ingredients.  See the following link: https://myhomefoodthatsamore.wordpress.com/2011/09/06/the-surprise-in-suppli/

The recipe I am proposing today is a riff that is inspired by one I read about, done by Roman chef Arcangelo Dandini, who owns the famous L’Argangelo restaurant and who is busy in the hospitality industry and behind many openings in Rome.   He is actually from the Castelli Romani, and we are even related – his grandmother and mine were cousins.  What a small world.  It was he who opened a place called “Supplizio”, a play on the word in Italian, in the centre of Rome, that sells only supplì basically, and very good and posh ones at that.  He is famous for his supplì’s crispiness.  And won’t reveal the secret, I don’t suppose.  What he did reveal is that there is no  need to toast the rice in olive oil – one can just toast the rice all on its own! Who knew!

I am thinking that not many of you are going to want to make supplì, and I can’t say that I blame you.  It’s a long and laborious business and I end up making them only about once a year.  But do trust me when I say that they are definitely worth it.  And the good thing is that they can be frozen.  So you can make them in advance.  The recipe I am giving you yielded around 30-35 supplì; you can make one huge batch and freeze them, and enjoy them a few at a time.

INGREDIENTS

Carnaroli or Arborio rice 500g, 3 Italian sausages, 2 medium-sized onions, 2 carrots, 4 celery stalks total, 500g plum tomatoes, 160g grated parmesan, 100g butter, 2 + 1 egg (3 eggs in total), mozzarella, flour, milk, Italian-style breadcrumbs or panko, and groundnut or olive oil for frying

(1) Ingredients for the vegetable stock: 2 celery stalks and 2 carrots

(2 )Ingredients for the risotto:  the rice, 2 onions, 2 celery stalks, the sausages, the plum tomatoes, parmesan and butter, 2 eggs

(3) Ingredients for the exterior of the supplì: 1 egg, flour and milk, breadcrumbs (panko)

Part I – The Vegetable Stock

Make the vegetable stock – just carrots and celery and plenty of water (no salt).  It should simmer for at least 20 minutes.

1

Part II – The Sauce for the Risotto

3Chop the onions as finely as you can, and the celery too, and sauté them in some olive oil over a low heat. This can take any time between 10 and 15 minutes.  Add some vegetable stock after a while, to soften the texture.

3a

Take the skin off the sausages.

4

Chop them up as finely as you can.

5When the onions and celery are ready and no longer crunchy, add the sausage meat and cook it down.

6After a while, add some of the vegetable stock – so that it doesn’t dry out.

7Blend the plum tomatoes and add them to the mix.  Simmer for about 30 minutes at least, and add salt and maybe even a teaspoon of sugar if the tomatoes are too acid.  Stir occasionally.

The ragù can be made in advance.  If you liked, you could wait for it to cool down and then put it in the fridge until the next day.

Part III – Cooking the Risotto

8Toast the rice in a nice big saucepan.  No olive oil! Just the rice.  Toast it for just a few minutes or the time it takes for the rice to go pearly white.  At this point switch the heat off.

9Add a couple or more of the simmering vegetable stock.  Watch out for the steam! Use a wooden spoon to make sure the rice absorbs this liquid and does not stick to the saucepan.

10Add the tomato sauce, all of it and switch the heat on again.  The rice needs to cook for about 20 minutes or however long it takes for it to be ‘done’.  Keep adding the vegetable stock by and by, as required, and make sure it is always piping hot.  Should you run out of stock, you can always add a little bit of boiling water.

11Turn the heat off.  Add the grated parmesan.  Use the wooden spoon to mix it in well as it melts into the risotto.  Remove the pan from the source of heat.

12Crack two eggs and beat them well.

13Wait for the rice to cool down a little and then add the beaten eggs.

14

Mix well.  Taste.  Yum.  Job done.

And now the rice has to get really cold, not just cool.

Part IV – Resting the Supplì

I was catering a Christmas party for a friend of mine a few years ago and when I had reached the above stage in the supplì-making it was getting on for 1 a.m. and I was exhausted.  So I decided to leave everything to the next morning (well, technically, it already WAS morning but you know what I mean).  And so, necessity being the mother of invention, I came up with the following way of ‘dealing’ with the rice, that worked very very well indeed and that I am very happy to share with you.

15Get hold of a tray.  Measure out the amount of parchment paper that will cover it.  Wet the paper and squeeze out the excess water and lay it over the tray.

16Actually, you will need two trays for the amount that this recipe yields.

17

Divide the risotto in half and lay it over the two trays equally.

18Spread the risotto flat, as it were.  Later, you can take a knife and cut the risotto into squares, one for each supplì you will make.

IMG_3131

Genius, no?

At this point, add another layer of wetted parchment paper over the rice, and a damp tea towel over that.  The rice needs to be kept damp, so that it doesn’t dry out.  I left my risotto kitted out like this, on two trays, out on the balcony all night long.  It was December and acted like a fridge for me.

Part V – Shaping the Supplì

Okay.  This is the bit where it takes a bit of patience – some bolstering and moral and physical support might be required.  On the other hand, depending on your temperament, this could be an agreable zen activity for you.  Hmm.  Me?  It depends.  It would depend on my mood.

25But the job has to be done.  We’ve come this far and there’s no turning back.  Avail yourself of a bowl of water.

28Dip your hands in the bowl of water.  That way, the rice won’t stick to them.

29Spread some risotto over the palm of one hand.

30Add a little chunk of mozzarella in the middle.  Make sure you have allowed the mozzarella to dry a little before use.  But if you’ve forgotten, it’s not the end of the world. Add it just as it is.  Life’s too short.

32Close your hand and then use both hands to shape the supplì into an almost oval shape.  By the way, these beautiful hands belong to my daughter, and these are photos I have taken from the previous post.

Part VI – Breading the Supplì

19In one bowl, the one on the left, I mixed the flour, the 1 egg and some milk together, to form a liquid mixture that will make the breadcrumbs cling to the supplì.  Silly me, I can’t remember the quantities.  Let’s say: 1 tablespoon of flour, 1 egg, 1 glass of milk.  That should work.  Alternatively, you could dust the supplì in plain flour first, and then dip it in an egg wash.  That’s what I did in the previous post I mentioned.

In the bowl on the right, are a couple of supplì being plunged into the breadcrumbs.  The procedure has to be done twice: i.e. first the egg mixture and then the breadcrumbs, twice.

Laborious? Are you kidding! Phaw.  A labour of love.

20

21And here they are, these beauties, waiting to be fried.  Deep fried.

As it was, I decided to freeze them.

So when I do get around to frying them, I shall take a photo and add it to this post.

If any of you do decide to be foolhardy enough to want to attempt this recipe, I would love it if you wrote to me afterwards and told me how you got along.  Good luck!

P.S. Please note that these supplì in particular are somewhat on the big size.  When I have made smaller ones, I ended up making just under 50 supplì.

IMG_3138

 

How to Hack a Caponata di Melanzane: Sweet and Sour Aubergine Recipe

I think the best way to hack a caponata is to get someone else to make one for you but he or she has to be trustworthy.  A caponata made without love can be a very disappointing affair.  I am not a goody goody, by the way, and rely on tricks and tips and short-cuts to make life run more smoothly, but when it comes to certain dishes there can be no cutting of corners.

I started out well enough, in an Eiffel Tower kind of way.

IMG_9474I cut up some aubergines/eggplant into chunks, sprinkled salt over them and placed a plate and weight over them to help their inner liquid demon ooze out more readily. By the way, the Le Creuset-type cast iron saucepan you see?  Slightly battered.  So sad, I dropped it the other day and was on the brink of throwing it away but just couldn’t find the heart to do so because it had belonged to my Swedish grandmother and so it is easily close to being 100 years old.  It can continue to be used in other ways.

IMG_9476IMG_9477I had left the aubergines to sweat for at least an hour and this is how much ‘stuff’ they released.

 

Time to rince the aubergine chunks thoroughly, to rid them of the salt.

IMG_9480Time to squeeze the water out of them.  This can be a bit of a pallaver so another good hack is to find an obliging husband to do this manly job for you.

Now the whole point of salting the aubergines is to make frying them a happy affair: they will not absorb too much oil and their texture will be more pleasing.  So, give yourself brownie points for not skipping this important step.

Off I went out then and did whatever it was I went out to do BUT I took an awful long time doing it.  Hence,  when I came home, it was late and supper had to be made and I was tired and was in no mood for frying these aubergines. Which is what is required of a true, proper Caponata di Melanzane. After a bit of head scratching and huffing and puffing and chiding myself for wanting to attempt a caponata on a busy day, I decided to go maverick.  Be a caponata iconoclast! I told myself.

IMG_9481I lay the chunks on a pyrex dish and dribbled some nice olive oil and sprinkled a little bit of  salt and … yes, you guessed it.  I put them in the oven to cook.  (Where’s that icon for the palms of both hands resting on both cheeks in a show of amazement?).  UNHEARD OF!

IMG_9484They cooked in the oven at 180°C for about 40 minutes.

IMG_9504When they cooled down, I covered them in plastic wrap and put them in the fridge.  I was exhausted and went to bed.

THE NEXT DAY

img_9584.jpgI placed 4 tablespoons of sugar in a small pan and poured white wine vinegar to cover it by more than 1 inch.  Cook the vinegar until the sugar melts and set aside.

img_9581.jpgChop up some onions and cook over a low heat.  Add a bit of salt as well as sugar.IMG_9585When the onions have gone golden ..

IMG_9586Add some very good-quality Italian plum tomatoes.  A caponata is best made with sweet fresh tomatoes but I didn’t have any on me.  I used a pair of scissors to chop ’em directly in the saucepan.  This is the ‘salsa’ that we are preparing, and it should cook for about 15-20 minutes.

IMG_9587Celery.  Celery is an integral part.  Pare the celery stalks, cut them up and blanch them in some salted boiling water. Drain and set aside.

img_9588.jpgAlso – but I don’t have any photo – rinse some salt dried capers over and over again, and have them at the ready.

IT ALL COMES TOGETHER

Add the celery and cook for a couple of minutes.

IMG_9590IMG_9591The sauce was getting a little thick and now was the right time to pour in the sweetened vinegar.  Sorry, no photo of me pouring it in.

IMG_9592Then in go the baked aubergines.

IMG_9593Lots of fresh basil.  Combine all the ingredients.  Job done, the heat can be turned off.

IMG_9594One last thing.  Toast some pine kernels.

img_9595.jpgOnce it had all cooled down, I put the caponata in a glass container in the fridge.  So the great thing about this recipe is that it can be prepared in advance.

IMG_9652We were getting ready for an outdoor grill with family, at my in-laws’ house in the Marche and the caponata took pride of place where the vegetable side dishes were concernerd.

IMG_9653I stuck some more fresh basil in the middle.

SSSI9783And everyone said the caponata tasted lovely.

I, being a fusspot, continue to prefer the fried version.  But it’s good to know that the next best thing is the oven approach.

I don’t know whether you are acquainted with Frank Fariello? If not, you should definitely check out his super blog “Memorie di Angelina”.  Bless him, he wrote the following comment on a recent post I had written:

“Lighter it may be but never as good.” Amen, I say, to that. I’ve tried various light version of parmigiana and they’re invariably disappointing. Nothing like the original recipe, heavy as it may be. I remember my grandmother dipped her eggplant slices in flour and egg as well. Made the dish even heartier but boy was it heavenly!

 

We’re on the same page Frank and I … I am a fried-food-fanatic! But, if you don’t like the idea of frying, this oven cooked aubergine caponata will do very well indeed, I promise.

Bruschetta Basics

A bruschetta (pronounced bruce-kettah) is a slice of toasted bread with some kind of topping on it.  It’s as basic as that.  The bread should, ideally, be toasted over some kind of grill or griddle pan, and leave ‘marks’ on it, but a hot oven will do.  What is known as a ‘broiler’ in American English and an oven grill in English English will also do.  But no frying.  A bruschetta is never fried.

The most typical and iconic of all bruschetta’s (bruschette in the Italian plural) is a drizzle of excellent quality olive oil and some salt.  The variation on that is to rub some garlic on the toasted bread before adding the olive oil.  I find that less and less people are serving it this way in Italy because younger Italians can’t hack raw garlic any more, not the way their grandparents could.

The second most typical variation is a topping made of tomatoes, basil, salt, olive oil and some garlic – the latter used only in moderation and never rubbed on the bread as in the days of yore but simply added to the salsa-like tomato concoction.

Could anything be easier to make? And yet, even in this no brainer of a recipe there are a couple of tips that can make a tomato-topped bruschetta something heavenly as opposed to just okay.  Ready?

So the first thing is to opt for the best quality ingredients that you can lay your hands on: good Italian bread, nice tomatoes, good extra virgin olive oil etc.

img_8464.jpgI decided to peel the larger tomatoes because it is their pulp that I was after.  The smaller tomatoes on the right, however, were sweet and ripe enough and needed no peeling.

img_8466.jpgI began by peeling and then quartering the larger tomatoes.  If you can’t be bothered to peel them, fine.   I am only showing you what I did.

IMG_8467After quartering them, I removed all the stuff and seeds from their middle.

img_8468.jpgYou see? This is what I removed.  You don’t have to throw it away – you could use it in some kind of soup for instance.

IMG_8465You don’t even have to throw away the skin that gets peeled off – you can dry the tomato skins and then fry them and add them as a finishing touch to any dish.

img_8469.jpgNow roughly chop/dice the tomatoes .

img_8470.jpgAnd then we want to drain the tomatoes of their excess liquid which tends to be on the acidic side.  So put the chopped tomatoes in a colander over a bowl, and let them drip away for about 10 minutes or so.

img_8471.jpgAfter that, time to assemble.  Place the chopped tomatoes in a bowl, add some garlic, sliced large enough that it can be put aside just before serving, plenty of basil leaves, lots of olive oil and a good pinch of salt.  Let this stand for about five, maximum 10, minutes. If you let it stand longer – that’s when yukky disaster bruschetta ensues.  Totally unappetising.  So, yes, timing is all.  Also, remember the good cook’s mantra: taste, taste, taste.  If the tomatoes are a bit acidic, add a pinch of sugar too.

img_8472.jpgThe bread still nice and hot.  Add the topping and serve!

So.  Not at all difficult to make but yes … timing is of utmost importance.  The topping is not something that can be prepared in advance.  This is fresh and last-minute stuff.

So summery, so delicious.

Aubergine Salad inspired by Sicilian Chef Filippo La Mantia

0

Anchovy alert !  Based on not-a-few years of cooking classes I’ve done, I now take it for granted that most Americans will simply not even consider the possibility that an anchovy might taste good.  An American friend told me many moons ago that anchovies in the USA are synonymous with a surfeit of salt, so I try to appeal to my American friends to at least try an Italian version: which is tasty and savoury and will in not way impair their taste buds.  To no avail.  Not that it’s a situation I’m not used to – there are people in Italy too who do not appreciate the subtlety of the umami taste afforded by an anchovy – which is why I enquire beforehand with my guests when frying mozzarella-stuffed courgette blossoms.  But if, very broadly speaking, in Italy the nay-sayers are two out of ten, the percentage rises up to eight out of ten when it comes to North Americans.  Whatever.  As I write, I am nodding my head in the direction of dear friend, wonderful cook and anchovy despiser Phyllis Knudsen (http://oracibo.com/) and saying: yes, yes, yes, all right – the following recipe should probably taste all right even without the anchovy.

Chef Filippo La Mantia (http://www.filippolamantia.com/en/filosofia.html) was formerly a photographer, and very good looking too.  My family and I had a lovely dinner at his former restaurant in Rome (he since moved to Milan).  And he was most aimiable and charming as well.  His obsession, if we want to call it such, is not the anchovy but instead … garlic and onions.  The guy will simply NOT consider them in any of his preparations. So, you see, to each his anchovy or allium own.

I follow Kay Gale’s blog with great enjoyment (see link below) and only the other day read about a recipe that was very similar to one I made last week.  Both recipes called for cooked aubergines, capers, chilli, mint and lemon.  I frankly didn’t have any capers to hand that day and so had to do without.  I followed the instructions as much as I could but next time will grill the aubergines instead of cooking them in salted water.

See what you make of it.

1

First slice the aubergines and simmer them in salted water for 3-4 minutes.  Easy enough.

2

Then remove and place them over kitchen paper which rests on a clean tea towel below it (it’s not possible to see in this photo but trust me – there was indeed a nice fresh tea towel to absorb all the extra moisture).3

While the slices were drying off, I made an emulsion with olive oil and lemon juice.  4

I patted the slices dry and changed the paper until I thought that was the best I could do.5

6I transferedd the aubergine to a large plate and scattered mint and origano over them.

7

8This was followed by some bits of chilli here and there, and anchovy fillets here and there, salt, and finally the citronette, the olive oil and lemon juice dressing.

0

It was actually pretty nice, even without the capers.  I expect it’s the sort of summer salad that tastes even better the next day, so good for gatherings and parties.  Great as a bruschetta topping too.

Contrast/compare this recipe with Kay Gale’s below:

Aubergine Salad with Chilli, Capers, Mint & Parsley

Insalata di Riso con Polpo e Gamberi

There was quite the international ‘feel’ at our flat for the football World Cup final match.  My Swedish niece and her partner were staying with us, our new Portuguese upstairs neighbours came along, as did new friends Kate from England and partner Gary from New York, ‘old’ friend Susy also from England, ‘old’ friend Alison from New Zealand and very very ‘old’ neighbour, Carla, a childhood friend.  Oldies and Newies all got on very well, as beers and glasses of wine and port flowed.

0

The only 100% Italians were my husband, Alison’s partner and Carla.  That’s Frascati for you: it’s sort of ‘expat-y’ without being expat cliquey.  Or at least, this is how I experience it since I am both a local yokel (my mother is from Frascati) and a ‘foreigner’ (my father was Swedish and my stepfather was Scottish).

IMG_8065

I was working that Sunday morning till about 3 p.m. so asked everyone to kindly contribute something to a potluck buffet. The whole idea came about in dribs and last minute drabs so there was no time to plan as such.  The theme was “easy”, anything to make life simple.  The atmosphere: casual.

12

Once France won and we grudgingly conceded that it was indeed the best team and deserved to win, we carried on celebrating – what would have been the point otherwise?

13

It ended up with us listening to all kinds of music and even indulging in dancing … the kind of dancing our children would find most embarrassing to witness but which, I am sure, they grudgingly concede makes us super-cool parents too … yes? no?  Whatever.

14

Carla’s mother made this super jam tart for us, how sweet (I am never very good in the dessert department).

IMG_8078And it was a beautiful balmy July evening with a sky that sported a crescent moon making some kind of astral contact with a star or planet (Venus?).

I decided that since it was hot and we were going to eat buffet-style, a nice summery “insalata di riso” would be a good idea.  A room-temperature ‘insalata di riso’ (a rice salad that is no relation whatsoever to a risotto) is an Italian staple that is often rendered inedible by lazy people who buy ready-made sauces for the rice that might even include pseudo-German cocktail sausage and worse.  For that reason, I never did like them.  It was my mother in law, Maria, who introduced me to the pea, cuttle fish and lemon combination many summers ago, and that’s the one I stick to.   This time I used squid and prawns.  Here’s how I made it.

1.I cooked the rice as per the packet instructions in plenty of water with plenty of salt in it as well as half a lemon.  Once cooked I drained it and ran it under the tap.

1

2. I then transferred the slightly cooled rice to a tub full of cold water and left it there for a couple of minutes, to cool down completely and to prevent it from overcooking and going flabby on us.

3.jpg3. I then drained it again and just left it whilst I got on with the rest of the recipe.

4

4. There was the easy peasy (pun intended to the nth degree) job of cooking the frozen peas for a couple of minutes and then draining them.5.jpg

5.  And there was the task of cooking frozen prawns in plenty of salted simmering water for only a couple of minutes.

6

6. What did take relatively long was cooking the squid.  I apologise, I have no photos.  But basically all I did was place the defrosted squid in a pressure cooker, add salt and half a lemon, and let it cook for 20 minutes.  I left the squid to cool in this water before proceeding to slicing it up.

7.  Adding taste to the rice.  The taste is mostly made up of olive oil, lemon juice and lime juice.  And salt, of course.

7

8.  I thought that a little bit of both lemon and lime zest would jazz things up a bit too.

8

9.  And so the seasoning begins.  Add the olive oil, the juices and pinches of salt, and use your fingers to mix everything together.  I seem to remember seasoning the squid and the prawns prior to adding them – that’s definitely a good idea, give them a double whammy.

9

10.  Serve in a large platter and add lemon and lime wedges.

I must add that this is a somewhat ‘delicate’ insalata … people who like more definite tastes might be tempted to add  Tabasco or pepper or chilli flakes, which would sort of mar the whole point of this dish.  It’s supposed to be a little ‘bland’.  That’s what makes it refreshing on a hot summer’s day.  That’s what the lime and lemon juice are for.  But, each to his own taste naturally …

9

10Here is a link to a previous insalata di riso I made, goodness me!, six years ago: https://myhomefoodthatsamore.wordpress.com/2012/08/29/rice-salad-with-cuttle-fish-and-peas/

Loosey Goosey Mozzarella Topping for Fried Aubergine Slices

The queen of summer dishes is the Parmigiana di Melanzane, of course.  Slices of aubergine fried in olive oil and then baked in the oven with mozzarella, basil, parmesan and a tomato sauce.  It is, however, a dish that requires an attitude of reverence and plenty of time for its production.  One evening a few weeks ago, I decided I would settle for an aubergine recipe that would use the same ingredients basically but at the same time offer the bonus of taking less than an hour to prepare.

I also decided to go for this recipe because … the aubergines and tomatoes I had to hand weren’t exactly the best quality.  I am a bit of a bore when it comes to where to do one’s food shopping and I have been avoiding/boycotting supermarkets for many years now, ever since I read the book by Felicity Lawrence “Not on the Label”, circa 2005/6/7 … can’t remember exactly which year.  I realise I am at risk of coming across as a terrible snob, with supercilious standards, especially with regard to people who go to supermarkets for reasons of economy.  So I hasten to add that Frascati, which is where I live, is a very short distance to many markets: our own Frascati covered market open Monday to Saturday and a Slow Food Market every Saturday morning, both of which I can reach on foot; then there are farmers markets in the area (Ariccia), and weekly markets (Grottaferrata on Mondays, Cocciano on Wednesdays), as well as a couple of farms (Capodaraco in Grottaferrata and Iacchelli not far from Nemi). And not only do the prices of their wares compete very favourably with supermarket prices but … their produce is infinitely better on the whole, it really is, no contest! I am nearly always disappointed when I buy veg from a supermarket.  Which fortunately does not happen very often.

Anyway, it just so happened that I had some dodgy looking aubergines and tomatoes sourced from, you guessed it, the supermarket.  Their look wasn’t exactly a come-hither one and the only answer for me to such a strait (that perhaps only I deem to be dire) was to go down the tasty camouflage route, i.e. to take recourse to frying.  As they say in Italian, even the sole of a shoe would taste good if it were fried.

INGREDIENTS

Aubergines, tomatoes, basil leaves, breadcrumbs, eggs, mozzarella, good quality extra virgin olive oil, oil for frying (either olive oil or groundnut/peanut oil).  Salt.

5

The first thing to do is rip the mozzarella and put it in a sieve or colander so as to dry it up a little, remove the excess of its liquid.

1These tomatoes looked pretty enough but … their taste left a lot to be desired. I had a little bit of tweaking to do in order to amp up their flavour.  Cut the tomatoes in half, and then half again, place in another colander and allow them to drip away.

2And here is the prepping station.  Some beaten eggs in one plate.  Some breadcrumbs in another.  The unprepossessing aubergines.  I peeled them, cut them into fairly thick round slices.  I then coated them with the egg wash before breading them on both sides.

3Be sure to press quite hard.  Fingers get to be incredibly sticky and require frequent rinsing (especially if the phone rings – now why is it that the phone tends to always ring or the neighbour call in when I am in the process of frying food?  Maybe the anti-frying police is after me.).

4Off I went and shallow fried the aubergine slices.  Turning them over only once.  I removed them with a slotted spoon and set them over a plate with kitchen paper to welcome any unwanted oiliness.

6And now back to the mozzarella rags.  I put them in the food processor with a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil.  I used the pulse feature to process them. I seem to remember adding 1 tablespoon of very cold water, to ‘loosen’ the mozzarella as it were.

7I stopped the blitzing and tasted the mozzarella.

8I decided it required a little more olive oil.  A good sprinkle of salt and white pepper and some fresh basil leaves.  A little more blitzing and it was done.

9And here, dear reader, is my loosey goosey mozzarella topping: easy peasy!

It was time to put the ingredients together and serve the dish.

1011I added a little dribble of olive oil to the tomatoes as well as a tiny sprinkle of salt (sea salt, always sea salt).

On the platter.

1314And for all my lamenting and decrying over the quality of the aubergines and tomatoes, this recipe turned out to be very good indeed.  All of the aubergine slices got wolfed down and a sense of summer satiety obtained at the dinner table.  Frying can work miracles, I tell you.

Nutty about Nuts! Curry Nut Roast

I have copied this directly, word for word, from my former food blog, http://www.myhomefoodthatsamore.wordpress.com, because for some unfathomable technical reason that blog post won’t show any of the photos I had uploaded at the time.  Which is a shame since this is a relatively stress-free, plan-ahead, vegetarian/vegan friendly (if one cuts out the egg) and delicious concoction of foods that anyone can enjoy (unless one is allergic to nuts naturally).

I had written the post back in November 2011.  As we all know, fashions come and go, and that includes food choices and preferences, as well as trending, innovations and fads.  Well, I think this is a recipe that can stand the test of time, although there is always room for tweaking.

I was drawn to the mysterious disappearance of the photos by my daughter, who wanted to make this dish two days ago.

IMG_6813

In the event, this is how she presented the dish.  Surrounded by strips of sunny yellow capsicum/pepper, a sprinkling of rocket leaves and a handful of almonds.  It looks most inviting, even if I say so in a proud mamma way! 🙂

If you think you might enjoy making this, read below.  And again, bear in mind that I wrote it almost six years ago.

Nuts are a wonderful invention of Nature and it’s a pity, really, that we tend to eat nuts mainly, or only, as ‘nibbles’, to accompany a drink at happy hour, or to add crunch to a cake.

They are full of all kinds of nutritional goodies (1 Brazil nut a day will give you enough selenium for optimum daily intake) and keep many nasty health conditions at bay (walnuts for instance repel diabetes) and yes, the are fattening, but so what!  Instead of ‘fattening’, think ‘filling’ and healthy and unless you allergic to them, nuts can become a best friend on the dinner table.

The following is a recipe that my vegetarian friend Sarah taught me many years ago, called a Curry Nut Roast.  It may be vegetarian friendly but that doesn’t mean that omnivores can’t enjoy it too!  It can be served as a starter or as a main course, accompanied by rice or salad or even some lovely, thick Greek youghurt.  It is eaten at room temperature and is great for parties — and leftovers can be frozen too.  What more do you want!

The first thing to do is preheat the oven at 200°C.

THE INGREDIENTS

Hazelnuts 150g, walnuts 150g (or any other combination of nuts of your choice), 100g bread crumbs, 1 large onion, one red pepper, some olive oil, 250g plum tomatoes, curry powder, dried herbs of your choice (I used oregano), 1 egg to bind the mix, salt and pepper.

1

On the far right is a special salt I happened to have, containing many herbs.

2

Chop the onion and the red pepper and transfer to a frying pan with some olive oil in it.

3

Have your curry powder, herbs and salt ready for use …

 

4

Turn the heat on and let the onion and red pepper sweat for a few minutes over a medium heat.  After about 10 minutes add the curry, herbs and salt …

 

 

5

The aromas wafting about in the kitchen at this point are truly delectable, especially if you like curry! When the veggies have had their sweat and are suitably wilted … time to add:6

The tomatoes.  These are cherry tomatoes (organic at that) out of a jar but plum tomatoes will do just as well, as would fresh tomatoes.

7

Combine and stir, mixing everything up and cook for a few minutes.

8

Meanwhile, while all this is happening or even before if you prefer: Put the nuts and the bread crumbs into a food processor and …

9

Pulse until the nuts are smashed up and mixed in with the bread crumbs.

10

Add them to the frying pan, combine and stir well with a wooden spoon. And that’s it. Switch off the heat and let it cool a little.

11

There is your egg.  Beat it and add it to the mix.

12

13

Here is superbly old-fashioned pyrex dish (circa 1970 for sure! I inherited it from my mother’s kitchen).  I buttered it first and then added the curry nut mix and pressed down with a spoon.

14

I popped it into the oven and baked it till it was done … 30 minutes.  It could even take 40 minutes … the timing depends on the oven a lot.  And that’s it … finito, ready.  All you have to do is remove it from the oven and serve it.

If you are anything like me, you might want to drizzle a tiny amount of olive oil on it.  It is a very rich dish and a little goes a long way.  Enjoy!

15

16

17