Friday, August 1, 2008

Eggplanty Fritters on Toast, or: I Spit On The Art of Subtle Seasoning

I'm sorry to report that I overdid the Maldon sea salt (which is otherwise perfect in every way) and this dish ended up totally over-seasoned. I am generally quite the over-seasoner anyway, partly because my palate is nowhere near developed enough to appreciate delicate flavours, and partly cos I'm just the kind of girl who likes to season the beejesus out of everything she cooks. This time, however, it was definitely too much.

That said, this dish (whatever it is) definitely has potential and I'll have another crack at it.

I cut four chunky slices of eggplant and seasoned them with Maldon sea salt and cayenne pepper. I laid them down on some Kyneton Olive Oil (the garlic-infused kind; also a mistake I think - too many pungent flavours. Next time I'll use plain olive oil) which was heating in Magic Pan*, and drizzled a sizeable amount of oil over the top. I let the eggplant slices fry on each side, turning them every couple of minutes.

I think there's a delicate balance to be achieved there. Remembering some eggplant I'd prepared a few weeks earlier I laid off the olive oil, as on the first occasion I'd really let it flow and although the eggplant tasted great, it fell apart easily and was definitely too oily to feel good about. However, this time I ended up charring one side of the eggplant slices, which is not what I'd intended. I wanted golden roasted toasty flesh, not blackened and barbequed.

I diced some zucchini, red onion and fresh chilli very finely and put it in the pan. I let it brown and soften a little (maybe a little too much as the smokiness of the chillies is very dry and eye-burning, and it lingered in the kitchen for quite some time even after the pan was off the heat).

Meanwhile, I toasted two pieces of Pott's Sourdough. A note on Pott's - apart from their Fruit Bread which contains hugely massive chunks of apricots and is bloody fantastic, I like to support Pott's because they specifically label their breads as vegan. 'Nuff said.

I placed two slices of eggplant on each piece of toast, letting the olive oil soften the bread. I put a bit of the zucchini mix on the eggplant, and the rest on the side of the plate.

I topped each piece of bread with some crumbled pieces of the Greek fasting 'feta', which melted a little in a very satisfactory way, and some fresh coriander.

I spooned out the last of the King Valley Coriander Pesto (vegan and divine and totally recommended but don't try the Pistachio Pesto please) and proceeded to gobble it all up, over-seasoned or no.

So next time: plain olive oil, less sea salt, chillis added to zucchini mix at the end of the cooking process, and a little more attention to the cooking of the eggplant - I wouldn't like to add any more oil, but I also want to prevent any more burning.

Post Script: I did make this again, using far less salt and a little less oil. However I cut the eggplant slices much thinner, so they fell apart easily and were less substantial. Also as I made them as a quick lunch for me and Buzz, they didn't look all that fantastic (although they tasted really good). I'll keep trying...

*Magic Pan is my Circulon saute pan. It's big, it's non-stick, and it's the best kitchen implement I've ever bought. I love it so dearly! It's the right shape to simmer, stew, stir fry, boil, fry, or just plain cook. I've had it about three years and although the outside shows some wear, the inside is as pristine as the day I got it. The only problem with it is that it's so big that it encourages me to wildly overcook, and then I wildly overeat. If I could find one exactly the same but about a half to a third smaller, I would pay rubies for it (it's not a frying pan by the way; it's a saute pan with a lid. That's why I have trouble replicating it although there are some excellent non-stick frying pans around. What I really want is a MiniMe Magic Pan).

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