So when I saw this recipe involving POACHING the aubergine I was a little suspicious. But as it came firmly recommended by New Zealand chef Julie Le Clerc, via her cousin living in Italy, I decided to keep an open mind.
Not only is this dish delicious, but poaching is in fact a great alternative to oiling and grilling/baking. I would still stick to those crispy slices for certain other recipes, but here poaching is perfect. It's healthier and much quicker too.
The recipe for Lemony Ricotta Eggplant Layers follows below. And good pictures to come but my camera batteries are flat...ughhh.
But first you need to check out my most creative endeavor so far this week: Sugar-free Orange and Date Muffins.
Now you may say 'sugar-free, get away!' and I usually would too. But there's two reasons to pursue sugar-free creations: It makes the muffins a decent healthy lunch or breakfast or snack. Most importantly for us it makes them Billie-biteable. We're doing our best to keep her off processed sugar for as long as possible, and she devoured these. In fact, she displayed some very bad manners by begging like a seagull for others' muffins once she had demolished her own.
I was very pleased with the results here as it was one of those making-it-up-as you-go-along recipes - quite risky when baking.
SUGAR-FREE DATE AND ORANGE MUFFINS
220g self raising flour - 1/2 wholemeal and half white
60g plain flour
1/4 t baking powder
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup dates, chopped
Grease 12 muffin trays with butter. Preheat oven to 200-220c. Sift flours and baking powder into large bowl. Add dates and rind of one orange. In smaller bowl whisk eggs, oil and milk together. Add juice of half of one of the oranges. Peel rest of oranges and chop into smallish pieces. Add to liquid and then gently but swiftly combine with dry ingredients. Divide into muffin tins and bake for about 25 minutes or until browned and cooked through. Turn onto wire rack to cool.
LEMONY RICOTTA EGGPLANT LAYERS
This is from Julie Le Clerc's 'Cafe@home' cookbook.
Poaching the eggplant in water removes its thirst for oil. Another good tip from Julie is to use a serrated knife to cut the aubergine - much easier on the arms.
2 medium or 1 large eggplant/aubergine, sliced into 1cm thick rounds
1 egg, lightly beaten
zest of one lemon
salt and black pepper
2 roasted red peppers/capsicums, thickly sliced
8-12 anchovies (optional - but very good)
Cut peppers into fat strips - quarters - and wipe with oil before placing in oven on tray until well done.
Bring large pot of salted water to boil and poach aubergine slices for 5 minutes or until softened. I found it best to do in several batches, as they float. Place on clean tea towel to dry off.
Mix ricotta with egg and lemon zest, and season to taste.
Lightly oil baking dish and layer ingredients to form several individual stacks - about four. Start with aubergine, spoon over little ricotta mix, then cover with red pepper strip and an anchovy. Repeat layers until mixture used up.
Bake at 200c for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with broccoli or other greens.