Toasted Sandwiches

Winter is definitely coming our way here in Melbourne and hubby brought home enough bread to feed an army the other day from his friend who runs a bread shop. In an effort to use some of it up I figured it was cold enough to bring out the Sandwich Press, vintage I know, all I would need is a tin of Braised Steak and we’d be living in the 70’s!

Instead the kids had an old favourite – cheese & tomato – we added some of these to some Mersey Valley tasty with some olives and voila pizza in a sandwich! Delicious if I say so myself!!

Obviously there are all sorts of things you can put into a toasted sandwich, salami, straz, bacon, chicken, all the different cheeses, tomatoes, capsicums, olives, eggplant, onions to name a few. Foccacia, tortillas, ciabatta, any bread & muffins could be toasted, you could even make pancakes on your sandwich press as well, maybe even pizza?

I did a bit of a google search and there are a number of suppliers of these wonderful pickles in Australia & I would think that they’d be available around the world – I highly recommend them, you know how sometimes when you buy chargrilled eggplant it’s not actually cooked enough and is really chewy – well these are wonderful, gorgeous & silky the way eggplant (aubergines) should be.

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Stuffed Eggplants

Yummy hey? Now this is a little fiddly, but oh my goodness they’re delicious and worth it. I am deliriously happy as this was my second attempt at these tasty little morsels, this time with meat & hubby loved them! They’re great because you can make them and then stick it in the fridge and leave it there for a day or so, or even freeze them and then take them out in the morning and stick in the oven when you get home from work etc.

You will need:

8 Lebanese eggplants (they’re the long skinny ones)

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

500g lamb mince

2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed.

1 Litre of tomato passata or 3 tins of crushed tomatoes

1 heaped tsp smokey paprika + 1/2 tsp extra

1 heaped tsp ground cumin  + 1/2 tsp extra

small handful of finely chopped parsley

200g danish feta

Salt & Pepper to taste

1 brown onion diced.

Cut the eggplants in half & scoop out the flesh leaving the skins intact. Set the flesh aside. Place the skins in a large pot of boiling salted water and ensure that they remain submerged under the water. (a smaller saucepan lid on top of them works)

Dice the remaining eggplant flesh and pan fry in extra virgin olive oil with the garlic & onion until golden and tender, add the mince and ensure that you break up any lumps, continue to saute until golden brown. Add the spices & salt & pepper, then 500ml of the tomato passata and stir to combine.

Drain the eggplant skins and set aside to cool slightly.

In another saucepan add some garlic, olive oil 1/2 tsp paprika & cumin with salt & pepper to taste, and the remaining tomato passata, bring to the boil and simmer gently for 5 mins, check taste for seasoning.

Take a large oven proof dish and pour the tomato sauce onto the base of the dish, fill the skins with the stuffing and place in the tomato sauce – nestle in close together but don’t over fill them too much. Once they’re all done, sprinkle with any remaining meat sauce, parsley and top with crumbled feta.

Cook in the oven for 30 -40 mins at 180 degrees celsius or 350 farenheit. Serve with crusty bread & a green salad.

You can easily omit the mince meat if you’re vegetarian and add some finely diced celery & or mushrooms at the same time as you pan fry the eggplant.

Summer Salads

So firstly I have to apologise for the lack of posts over the last 2 months, if you’re following me on facebook then you will have had a few updates with ideas, but I haven’t really had time to sit down and write out the recipes I’ve trialed & developed as I have gone back to work and while technically it’s part time, the co ordination has taken some negotiating as anyone with small children will know.

Anyway, I am back and I will be making time for at least 1 post a week, I figure I can definitely handle that and hopefully more. So given we in Melbourne have been having some warmish weather – although as I am typing a cool change is coming through with large rain droplets & that gorgeous smell that comes with rain on a summer day and blowing away the heat.

Hubby has had a 4 day weekend this week so we’ve been having salads for lunch. Zachie wanted to try some snow peas and I have been thinking of a way I can include these in a meal as we aren’t really a stir fry family, here is my version of Salad Nicoise.

You will need

1 Large tin of Tuna, drained.
handful of Snow Peas trimmed
1-2 diced tomatoes
8 baby Cos lettuce leaves
1 small green or red capsicum
4 hard boiled eggs

For the Dressing you will need

1/4 cup extra virgin Olive Oil
1 small clove of garlic
3 anchovies
1-2 Tbsp vinegar

Slice the snow peas into small pieces & blanched in lightly salted boiling water, leave them in for a minute and then drain and refresh in iced water to stop the cooking process. Put the eggs on to boil – approx 7 mins depending on whether you prefer them hard or soft.
In a morter & pestle crush the garlic, add salt & pepper to taste & the anchovies, mash it all together and add the olive oil with enough vinegar to taste, adjust the seasoning as required & set aside.

In another bowl mix break up the tuna, add the sliced capsicum, tomatoes & lettuce & snow peas pour over the dressing and mix well & place onto or into your serving bowl or platter. Peel the eggs and cut into halves or quarters, arrange over the salad and season lightly.

Serve with Crusty bread if desired.

Yesterday we also made a tuna salad, but had avocado & cucumber in it, it was equally delicious!