Are you the type of person who loves to relax with a good book - a good cookbook, that is? I love reading cookbooks and invariably there is always a collection of my lastest reading by my bed and on the coffee table. I particularly love reading Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson. I can almost hear them talking to me, guiding me through the recipes. Their books are written almost like a novel with so much information and entertainment value. However, I don't always end up succeeding with their recipes. Much of the time I'm dissappointed with the results. Not quite as luscious or tasty as described. But this recipe has surprised and delighted me and my family.
This year I have discovered Vanella Cheese Factory situated in Cairns, North Queensland which is producing award winning cheeses. Most exciting is the buffalo milk cheese varieties including luscious mozzarella and delicious fetta.
mozzarella (left) and fetta (right)
The buffalo milk arrives fresh from the Cairns Highlands and is expertly used to create traditional cheeses according to Italian cheese making techniques. I know they distribute in Brisbane and Sydney as well as North Queensland, so if you do come across the Vanella brand cheeses do try them.
When I picked several shiny purple eggplants (aubergines) from the garden I knew instantly what to do with them. This recipe is adapted from Nigella Lawson's Feast.
Firstly I like to peel and sliced the eggplants into about 5mm slices. Then if the seeds a large and hard they could be bitter so salt them if that's the case. To do this , sprinkle the slice with salt and layer into a colandar. Leave for 1 hour. During this time the bitter juices will be released and drain away. Wash and dry well before proceeding.
Brush slice with olive oil and grill.
While they are cooking mix up the filling. Into a bowl mix -
100g crumbled fetta,
100g finely chopped mozzarella,
25g grated parmesan,
4 tablespoons olive oil,
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs,
1 crushed garlic clove,
2 tablespoons freshly chopped flat leaf parsley,
salt and pepper,
1 beaten egg.
Place a tablespoon or so of filling onto a slice of grilled eggplant.
Roll up and arrange into a baking dish. This is obviously a recipe that can easily be adjusted according to how many guests you have.
Pour 700g tomato passata over the the rolls and sprinkle with 200g chopped mozzarella, a little dried oregano, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Bake at 180C for 20-25 minutes until bubbling and the cheese is melted and golden. By this time your house should smell heavenly. Once out, let the dish stand for at least 10 minutes before serving. Beautiful with crusty bread and a salad.