Bang on the end of March there was a decided shift in the seasons. It seemed as if over night the grass in the neighbouring fields had turned yellow and leaves had started to fall. The mornings and evenings are decidedly cooler now but the days are still gloriously warm, perfect weather in fact.
Something else happened with the change of seasons that I’ve not seen before; we had an invasion of caterpillars in the indigenous Halleria lucidas (Tree fuschsias) that I have growing in the garden. These are the larvae of the Acraea horta butterfly and they have all but decimated my Halleria hedge. I hope that the birds have been enjoying a tasty snack or two, apparently Klaas’, Diederick and Emerald cuckoos consider them a delicacy.
In the allotment
I’ve had a bumper crop of brinjals (aubergines / eggplants) this year and they have been so tasty. It’s not a vegetable that I am used to preparing so I’ve been trying out various recipes. In the past I have made a nice Melanzane alla Parmigiana (using a Jamie Oliver recipe from Jamie’s Italy); and I’ve also tried, unsuccessfully, to make brinjal dip – I just cannot get the consistency right. However, I recently stumbled across this recipe for Melanzane alla Panariello (cold aubergine antipasto) and it is now a firm favourite. Alex couldn’t stop eating it this weekend, even though he doesn’t like anchovies (I confess that I didn’t tell him that they were in the dressing!).
- 2 small aubergines
- 75 ml olive oil
- 60 ml red wine vinegar
- 2 anchovies
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 30 ml finely chopped fresh parsley
- 2 shallots, finely chopped
- 30 ml capers
- Cut the ends off each aubergine, leaving it unpeeled.
- Stand each aubergine on end, and cut it lengthwise into the thinnest possible slices.
- Get your griddle pan really hot, brush the slices with oil and grill the aubergines on both sides until lightly charred – you may have to do them in batches, as they probably won’t all fit into your griddle pan in one go. OR if you don’t have a griddle pan the recipe suggests that you heat 30 ml olive oil in a large frying pan and fry the aubergines, in batches, on both sides until cooked through.
- Roll the slices up and place in a serving dish.
- Combine the olive oil, vinegar and anchovies and mash well until the anchovies dissolve in the sauce. Add the chopped garlic, parsley, shallots, capers and pepper to taste.
- Pour the sauce over the aubergine rolls and serve.
I’ve tried this yummy recipe for fried artichokes in batter which I found in a book called Bringing Tuscany Home by Frances Mayes. I’m going to substitute brinjals for artichokes this evening and see how that turns out. For those of you in the northern hemisphere, you should be getting artichokes coming into your grocery stores soon, lucky you.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup beer
- 2 cups peanut or sunflower oil
- 15 very small artichokes
- Coarse salt to taste
- Lemon wedges for garnish
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, and beer. Let it rest 20 minutes.
- In a medium skillet, heat the oil to 350ºF.
- Strip all tough outer leaves from the artichokes and cut away the top third. Trim off any sharp tips from the lower leaves. Halve or quarter the artichokes.
- Dip the artichokes in the batter and then carefully slide them into the oil. Fry until crisp and browned, about 4 minutes, depending on size. Remove them to paper towels to drain, salt immediately, pile them on a board, and pass with wedges of lemon.
Makes 4 servings
I was thinking about Adam’s comment on my last post that making contact again is one of the high points in his year. When I decided to start a blog, one of my objectives was to keep in touch with the “outside world”; not only to let my friends and family know what I was up to but also to maintain contact over distance. I never imagined that it would help to foster relationships with friends and family with whom I had lost contact. Or even that through my blog I would I would make the acquaintance of family that I’ve never met. This sense of connection has truly been a highlight of my blogging year. I love reading your comments because I get a better sense of who you are and it feels more like a conversation. Thank you for all your comments (and phone calls, emails and thumbs up on FB), I really do appreciate it.
By the way, I’ve published 55 posts and have had over 3,000 views.