“Cheese has always been a food that both sophisticated and simple humans love.”
~ M.F.K. Fisher, How to Cook a Wolf (1942)
Hello, fellow Fiesta Friday-ers! And everyone else who reads this blog – despite the fact I haven’t posted anything in weeks! Thank you for sticking with me because I certainly don’t deserve it. It only hit me this week (after almost a year of teaching) that I actually have more free time in the evenings than I’ve realised and more than I had in Korea. Even when I walk home and especially when I am teaching groups of teenagers because I tend to just need to adjust or adapt lesson plans rather than needing to completely start from scratch. I don’t know why it took me so long to realise this but it did. However, as a result, I’ve finally, properly, been testing a recipe. Until now when I was recipe testing I’d do a bit here, a bit there and then nothing for weeks and then it would be months until I posted a recipe. Hopefully, this new-found free time will mean more kitchen time. Let’s hope I’m with teenagers for quite a few weeks yet!
Well, on-wards and upwards to the recipe! As you may know, if you follow me on Instagram, I’ve been doing the Blood Sugar Diet. Basically, you eat 800 calories a day, avoiding carbs but indulging in fat and protein – so woohoo for the butter and the pork chops! Boohoo for the potatoes, rice and pasta. I found it really hard in the beginning but thanks to the fact that all the women in my family, living in Ireland, are doing this together it made it easier to keep at it. I haven’t been great at it – in fact from the 15th -22nd March I was diabolical and ate everything in sight. My excuse? My dad’s birthday, St Patrick’s day and my baba sister came to visit all in the same few days. However, I went straight back to being good when she left. I’m a bit hit and miss at the minute as I did enjoy some French Toast and half a potato waffle this weekend but I’ve noticed that I just don’t need or want as much carbs as I once did. Also, even better, I actually have lost weight. My sisters didn’t feel that they really did in comparison so perhaps I DO have high blood sugar.
I will admit most of the meals I’ve had have been pretty great and fresh tasting but overall nothing special that one would really share. I don’t even really even use a dressing on my salads instead trusting to avocado or beetroot to provide a more natural dressing. However, one recipe that I’ve made recently has become a firm favourite for me. I made it originally a couple of weeks ago but wasn’t 100% happy with it. I did some testing last week to see how I liked the aubergine and once I decided on the method, I then worked on the “rarebit” part. My mom and my brother were my testers, and I’m really happy with their very constructive feedback. My mom just tested today’s batch (and also kept on today’s second batch as I was at The Jam’s 6th birthday. Happy Birthday, kiddo! )
One of my family’s favourite recipes that we all love to make and use quite frequently (at least the meat eaters in our family) is this Chicken Rarebit recipe that’s available on the BBC Good Food website (click here). It’s amazing and if you eat meat and want something that will wow your friends and doesn’t take too much preparation or cooking time look no further. It’s a firm family favourite for a reason. A few times, particularly in the last year I’ve been thinking about a vegetarian version and I’ve finally come up with an adaptation that I just love and am so excited to share with you.
This recipe isn’t the lowest in calories but if you stick to the portion size suggested you’re looking at approximately 135 calories for around 4 big rounds, and 6 small rounds. So, if you are like me and generally stick to 200 calories each for breakfast and lunch and 400 towards dinner, you are still in a good place. Unfortunately, these wee aubergine rarebits are so good that it’s hard to resist and remember that you are trying to be good and not eat all of them in one go! I suggest that you use a cast-iron griddle pan to brown the aubergine before placing in the oven with the toppings but if you don’t possess one of those, you could also broil/grill the aubergine on both sides. We have a top grill (if you don’t know what I’m talking about click here), and I’ve browned them there on the lowest heat setting. I’d suggest browning all the aubergine first and then add them to an ovenproof dish before dividing the cheese mixture between them. That way you won’t add too much cheese to one batch and then run out when preparing your second batch (which happened to me today). While cherry tomatoes on the vine are preferable, I’ve also used piccolo tomatoes and baby plum tomatoes, so feel free to experiment. However, don’t use the common tomato but stick to the small versions. If I had some different coloured tomatoes I would have definitely tried that out as well. As the tomatoes brown, they release their juices a bit and mix with the cheese to form a lovely sauce. If some of this sauce spills off the rarebit into the ovenproof dish, scrap it out and use it on your potatoes or in your pasta for some extra oompf.
Well, that’s way more chat than I meant to give ye, so without any more ado, you will find this recipe shared at Fiesta Friday #165 which is hosted by the ever lovely Angie and her co-hosts this week are Diann @ Of Goats and Greens and Monika @ Everyday Healthy Recipes. You should check out their blogs as well as Fiesta Friday – do join the party it’s always great fun and you can get so many wonderful ideas there. Here’s the recipe:
(adapted from BBC Good Food)
Approximately 6 servings (4 big rounds or six small rounds per serving)
Approximately 135 calories per serving
- 2 aubergines, sliced into rounds (you should have somewhere between 30-40 rounds between two aubergines)
- Table salt
- Olive oil (approx 1 tablespoon)
- 100g Kilmeaden Mature Red Cheddar, or other strong red cheese
- ½ tbsp wholegrain mustard
- 3 tbsp whole milk (I use Avonmore)
- 1 cherry tomato per round (or other small tomato like piccolo)
- Put the aubergine rounds onto a chopping board and sprinkle with salt. Set aside for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the mixture – grate the 100g of cheese into a bowl. Then, add the mustard and milk and mix together. Set aside.
- Rinse the cherry tomatoes and set aside.
- After 30 minutes, rinse the salt off the aubergine rounds and then place between paper napkin and pat dry. If using a cast iron griddle pan, brush some olive oil over the pan and place over medium heat. You may need to adjust your temperature, to prevent the pan from smoking.
- Brush each round with olive oil and then place in the griddle pan. Let them cook for a couple of minutes until lightly browned, and then turn them over, cooking for another few minutes If you are using a broiler/grill after brushing the rounds with oil, place under the grill on low heat and then turn over after then are nicely browned.
- Meanwhile, prepare an ovenproof dish by brushing oil with oil, and pre-heat your oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6. When the aubergine are all browned, add to the ovenproof dish. You may need to do two batches or use a second ovenproof dish. Divide the cheese mixture between all the rounds and then place a cherry tomato on top.
- Pop in the oven for between 20 to 30 minutes or until the cheese and tomatoes are a little browned.
- Serve immediately as best eaten hot.
Leftovers: If, like me you have leftovers, you can throw them under a grill/broiler on low heat to warm up. You shouldn’t need more than 5 minutes. Alternatively, you can use them in the next recipe which is absolutely delicious and a great way to enjoy leftovers.