Sunday, July 15, 2007

Done and dusted,

Todays post, a recipe for baked Chicory, and fried aubergines, is brought to you by the letter C, the number "more than my goddamned life savings you sonofabitch", and a stack of drunkenly inappropriate behaviour.

Still, lets cut to the meat of this thing. Todays recipes are for Baked Chicory, and fried Aubergines.

Baked Chicory....

This dish was first cooked for me by a beautiful and quite cracked Swiss woman. Theres versions of it in the Silver Spoon, and its common in the North of Italy, in France and Switzerland. The Italian version uses parmesan, and the Swiss uses Gruyere, which, I think, is better.


Chicory, two pieces, stripped of the external leaves (reserve these, and chop up as a salad for the aubergines if you want.)
4 slices of ham. I used a traditional style Irish unflavoured baked ham, but prosciutto is perfectly good here - though a little delicate for the baking process.
About 300 ml of homemade Bechamel sauce.*
Gruyere, or parmesan.
A little olive oil, or butter.
Black pepper, nutmeg, salt and pepper.

*For a quick Bechamel, gently melt a knob of butter, say 50g, and when that melts, add in roughly the safe amount of sifted plain flour, whisking continually over the heat. Preheat somer milk, so that it can be added warm.

Gradually, whisking continually, add the milk little by little (to avoid lumps), allow the sauce to bubble slightly - the bubbling releases and activated the thickening starch, and allows the sauce to come together(if the sauce doesn't bubble, it will thicken up unexpectedly when you reheat it. Add enough milk - gradually, - until the desired thickness is achieved. Normally until the sauce will coat the back of a spoon, but for certain sauces I make it thicker, and certain, thinner. This can then be flavoured with whatever the hell you want. Just blackpepper and salt. Mature blue cheese. Gruyere. White wine....

This is the basic ingredient list for the simplest form of the dish. You can augment the Bechamel by adding white wine or vegetable stock in the oven dish.

Wrap your chicory in two slices of baked ham, or three of prosciutto. Preheat your oven to gas mark 4. Grease an ovenproof dish, with your butter or oil. Wrap the chicory in two slices of baked ham, or 3 of prosciutto. Normally I wrap the first slice so it overlaps at the top, and the second so it overlaps at the bottom. Lay the chicory in the greased dish, pinning the ham on with the weight of the chicory (lying on top of the overlapping ham).

Pour your bechamel over the chicory. Grate some nutmeg, some black pepper and grind some salt on. If using parmesan, grate on now, if using gruyere, pop the chicory in the top of the oven for 7 minutes, remove, and cover the top of the chicory with slices of Gruyere, and pop back in the oven.

Heres where it gets tricky. If not using gruyere, take the chicory out every 10 minutes of so, and braise a little with the bechamel to stop the ham burning. If you don't, it will.

Total cooking time should be around twenty minutes for small chicory, and it will retain some crunch. For larger heads of chicory, add more time, and cover with foil for the first 15 mnutes of cooking.

To finish, sprinkle with either gruyere or parmesan, and if necessary, quickly brown the topping under the grill.


The second recipe is from Yotam Ottolenghi in last weeks Guardian Summer Salad supplement. Quite a lot of his recipes seem to be badly described, difficult to follow, and the quantities he gives are sometimes off. But hell. This one works quite well.


2 aubergines, 2 eggs beaten, breadcrumbs.

For the dressing
150g Greek yoghurt
100g sour cream (which I decided to leave out)
12 radishes, finely grated, and squeezed till just moist.
1tsp English mustard
2tbsp dijon
2 tbsp of good honey
2 tbsp of olive oil.

For the salad.

Leaves (I used rocket, some radish leaves, he recommends chard), juice of a half lemon, and black pepper.

Mix the sauce ingredients together, and season to taste. I added more mustard as I quuite like the slightly sour bite cutting throught he cooked aubergine. Cut the aubergines into 1.5 cm slices, or thinner. Too thick and the texture will be wrong. Lightly salt these acidic little buggers and leave them in a colander to sweat. About 30 mins. Tamp them dry - a little slat still on em is fine, but the juice is quite sour, so soak it up.

Dip the slices in the beaten egg, and then coat them in breadcrumbs, and pop them in hot oil to shallow fry, for 2 or 3 minutes each side. Remove 'em and leave 'em on paper towl to dry and cool.

Lay out the salad, and drizzle it with the lemon juice and grind some pepper over it. Lay out the cold slices, drizzle heavily with the sauce, and serve.


Deborah said...

Both look wonderful. The chicory reminds me of a staple in many Belgian pubs. I can't recall what they called it, but something very similar. Vlaamse Witloof maybe? Yum!

Laura said...

Aubergines coated in breadcrumbs and fried are my favourite mmmm...

Abulafia said...

Thanks Deborah...hoped you enjoyed Spain, and welcome back. (How was the seafood?) The chicory is fairly common, I think.....but I didn't know it was Belgain too.

The aubergine recipe works well, actually. I like a really soft texture in them, so I tend to cook them quite a lot, and slice thinner than suggested...

Caley said...

Thanks for the link to Chew on That. We've actually moved to our own domain at!

I've added your blog to our new blogroll.

Thanks much!

Abulafia said...

Link updated. And thanks for the link.