Saturday, January 27, 2007

Real women make quiche…and multitask

She slices, she dices, she make four dishes simultaneously - she can even bake blind!

On Thursday night I whipped up a savoury flan for dinner while charring an eggplant for babaganoush, prepping the ingredients for smoked salmon tartlets, salsa and sundry other morsels for an Australia Day get together.

The ability to multitask can amaze me some days.

I’d decided to transform the robust bunch of silverbeet into a flan with leeks and tomato. While I thawed the pastry and fired up the oven, it occurred to me that I could be sweating off some onions in advance for the next day’s feast and while I was at it, why not cook the eggplant for the dip? From there it snowballed into a 90 minute frenzy. Surprisingly, everything turned out just as it should.

the onions slowly cook, while the eggplant is licked with flames on the back burner, out of shot the silverbeet soaks, the leeks are sliced and eggs are beaten

It has taken me more than 6 months to risk defiling the new stove top to cook eggplant the only way to make the tastiest babaganoush. Short of having a wood fired barbecue to cook it on, the best thing is to slowly char it on the gas burner. I did take some precautions – laying down foil to catch the drips and covering every possible part of the burner. It’s a very primitive way to cook in a modern kitchen, but that is perhaps why it is so satisfying. It helps to have an efficient extractor fan to stop the smoke detectors being set off. Turn the eggplant frequently as it cooks with a pair of tongs. It is done when a skewer can easily go through the flesh. Once cooked place it in a strainer and let it drip over the sink. When cool enough to handle, peel away the burnt skin. A few specks of black are ok, adding to the wonderful smoky flavour.

a flaming fruit is not the easiest thing to photograph while multitasking madly

Smoky babaganoush

1-2 eggplants, cooked and skinned
1-2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1-3 tablespoons, tahini
1-2 lemons or limes, juice
a pinch of salt

Mash the eggplant with a fork, resisting the urge to put through the food processor which makes the dip too smooth. Add the other ingredients, tasting and adjusting as you mix. The final product should have a little texture, enough garlic to flavour without overwhelming and a balance between the deep nuttiness of the tahini and sharp tang of citrus.

Silverbeet and leek flan

Make some puff pastry or thaw a premade sheet. Oil a flan tin and set the oven to hot, about 185-200c. Line the dish with pastry – pricking it all over, cover with baking paper and fill with beans or weights. Cook for about 15 minutes and remove from oven. This is called blind baking but to be on the safe side, keep your eyes open.

Wash the silverbeet well and strip away the thick spines. Chop roughly and leave to drain.

Slice the white parts of some leeks (1-2 is enough) and sauté in a large pan with some olive oil and garlic til soft. Slowly add the silverbeet a handful at a time, as it cooks down there is room for more. Do so til the silverbeet is just cooked. Grate in a little nutmeg before taking off the heat.

Beat some organic eggs with salt and pepper. The amount of which depends on the size of your flan tin and how eggy you want it to be. I used 5 small eggs, with no milk, for a medium sized dish.

Place the leek and silverbeet mixture in the pastry shell, cover with the beaten eggs and top with slices of tomato and a few slivers of dried tomato if desired.

Once again size will determine how long this takes to cook – usually 20-25 minutes. Start checking after about 15 minutes.

The flan is delightful hot, but can be eaten cold.

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Anonymous kathryn said...

Hi there - well done for finally breaking in your new stove with the eggplant - you're right, it really is the only way to make baba ghanoush. Yeah, yeah, you could cook the eggplants in the oven, but it just doesn't give that lovely smoky flavour - which is the whole point, right?

Your flan looks fab too.

7:16 pm  
Blogger Pixie said...

you taught me that babagahanoush recipie a long long time ago, and I always associate it with you, where-ever it is served!

8:11 am  
Blogger Linda said...

I'm from the States-although I now live in France-and I have no idea what silver beets are. I bet that I do, but that I call them something different. Can you give me some clues?

6:01 am  

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