Monday, December 05, 2005

I’ve been very efficient these past couple of days.

Yesterday, when I went shopping for the garlic and chilli prawns, I also picked up the ingredients for a few recipes from the Cooking in Advance chapter, which I thought would be useful. You see, I’m working every night this week, and am quite keen to have a few pots of different foods stashed in my kitchen, so that we all have something nice to eat even when we're not all home at together.

I made the onion mush whilst I was making last night’s dinner. After dinner my family and I went to see the latest Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (which was totally brilliant!), and after returning, we sat around the kitchen chatting and drinking tea while I made the aubergine moussaka.

188. Onion Mush

This onion mush is exactly what its name implies - a very soft, very sweet and oniony mush, which I would think of putting in sandwiches or burgers. It’s pretty much exactly the same as the onion relish that we serve in our mini beef souvlakis at work. Nigella says you could also use it as to replace raw onions in recipes.

I was a bit alarmed once I’d sliced up all the onions (in a processor, of course), as one kilo of onions gives you a massive pile of onion slices.


However, once cooked, the onions collapse to a more modest amount. You have to cook them on a very, very low heat, covered by both a layer of foil and the pot’s lid, with some butter, oil, water and Marsala for a few hours until they reduce and soften up totally.

It was halfway through the cooking process when we spontaneously decided to go see Harry Potter, so I just turned the pot off, and let it continue cooking when we came home.

Onion mush

Whilst the onions were cooking for the hour following Harry Potter, I got on with the moussaka.

189. Aubergine Moussaka


The recipe stipulates baby aubergines, which I’ve never seen before, even at Middle Eastern shops. By sheer coincidence, however, my local Asian grocer at Box Hill happened to have these really small cute eggplants which I thought would be appropriate. I still sliced them up, rather than leaving them whole as Nigella suggests, because I’m really not sure how big baby eggplants are supposed to be.

Here’s an indication of the size of the eggplants I found…

Eggplant in book

Eggplant slices

Mum: Ooh, so cute!

You start by browning the eggplants in oil, and then put them to the side. After that, you add sliced onions and garlic to the pan, then chick peas (I used tinned ones out of laziness), pomegranate molasses, tomatoes (fresh ones, which I prepared myself), spices and water.

Tomatoes – peeled, seeded and quartered by me!

Then just let it simmer for about an hour. Because of the dimensions of my pan (a massive Le Creuset casserole), it only took half an hour to cook. Then, I could go to bed!

This morning, I bagged up the now-cool onions and stashed them in the freezer. I haven’t quite decided how to eat them yet, but I think that a steak sandwich is the way forward.

onion mush baggies

Here’s the aubergine moussaka, which we ate for lunch today, served with rice. It doesn't look very attractive once cooked, but it tastes brilliant.

Aubergine Moussaka

I'm a huge fan of eggplants, and I loved their texture combined with the stew's gentle spiciness. My mother and brother also enjoyed it muchly. I'm taking the leftovers to work tonight.

Speaking of brisk efficiency, this morning I went to Rendinas butchery and bought lamb neck chops, two of which I’ve frozen so that I can make the lamb and bean braise from One & Two at short notice. The rest of the chops are currently being boiled, ready to become cawl. I also got some chipolatas, which I’ve frozen in anticipation of making the hot sausages with ice-cold oysters in the Dinner chapter. You wouldn't believe how incredibly satisfying it is to be organised and efficient.

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