What a week it has been….busy…busy…busy!
But, it has been a good week nevertheless. I have been off socialising and I have seen my two girls off to their new school on different days and I have celebrated Australia Day yesterday in great style, well…too much style actually but alcohol was not involved!
In fact, I cancelled a morning out with two school friends today because I was tired and needed a break. (It’s just from that dinosaur droop I had last week eg a virus). It was a shame as I was looking forward to the day so much but we will meet again shortly.
Besides, the rain has been pouring down most of the day and it has been a day for pottering and taking some time out to just BE a little. In fact, Geoff and I decided to get our tea started early and part of it is now simmering on the stove ready to assemble and bake later. Then we can put our feet up, have a glass of wine and listen to some nice soothing music.
Of course, this is a Lebanese dish! Not that I cook Lebanese food every night or even every week but sometimes, when I see some nice produce at the Fruit Market (yes, we went to a REAL fruit shop and not a supermarket) I buy it with the intention of making a particular dish.
On Wednesday, I saw some lovely small, long eggplants and I just had to have them for my Baked Eggplant with mince. I remember, with such fondness, my mother making this dish for Sunday lunch. Now, I was not, as a child, a great eggplant lover but I really liked this dish so don’t be put off if you are not a huge eggplant fan! I love eggplant now though.
You can see what is coming can’t you? Yes, a recipe. As I write, I can smell the mince cooking and the smell of the Allspice (Pimento) is wafting through the air. Yummy. This is going to be good. Don’t be put off by the name! My book says it means: Stuffed, Fried and Baked Eggplant. Sounds complicated? Surprisingly it isn’t. Here is the recipe:
SHEIKH EL MIHSHI
- 8 medium long eggplants
- 1/2 cup olive oil (I often use oil with a tab of butter added for flavour)
Cut and trim the stalks on the eggplants but do not cut off totally. Heat the oil and fry the eggplants in the pan turning often, until they are semi-soft but not totally cooked through. Probably about 10-15 mins. Place nicely into a dish (a lasagna dish is fine) to cool down. Cut down the length of the eggplant to form a pocket but don’t cut through.
Now prepare the Mince
- 500 grams (1lb) ground beef (I used lamb but beef is fine)
- 2 medium onion finely chopped
- salt/pepper/1 teas Allspice
- 1-1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1-1/2 cups warm water
Fry the mince in the olive oil or ghee that is left, until the raw look disappears, then stir in the chopped onions. Add the seasonings. Put the lid on the pan and simmer away for about 15 mins.
After this, take the lid off and sweat off the excess liquid that is in the pan. The meat should be dry-ish. Cook until all the juice is absorbed, approx 10 mins.
Meanwhile, add the tomato paste into the warm water in a bowl and add salt/pepper.
Now Assemble the dish!
- Spoon the cooked meat over the top of the eggplants in the dish, making sure the meat goes into the ‘pockets’ of the eggplant.
- Pour the tomato paste mixture over the top of everything
- Place in a moderate oven (180 Deg) and bake for 40 mins until the top is brown and some of the liquid absorbed
- Stand for about 30 mins before serving.
- Serve with rice and salad if you wish.
I am having some nice fresh asparagus with my eggplant, which I saw at the Fruit Market and thought it would be a nice simple accompaniment.
Later: the Baked eggplant is now out of the oven and I have taken a photo here for you. It smells divine! They look like sausages don’t they? I assure you they really are long but small eggplants, better if you can get some slightly bigger.
Well, that is the blog for the day. I do hope you get to try my Stuffed, Fried and Baked Eggplant for yourselves! But, in the meantime, you may wish to just drool over it or go and have some at a Lebanese Restaurant.
Time now for that glass of wine and some soothing music…