ready, steady, paperchef!


paperchef is a longstanding food blogging event, hosted by Owen from tomatilla, which is similar to the british tv show ready steady cook.

a selection of ingredients is provided which you must use (or have a good reason for substituting something similar) and a time within which you have to create a suitable dish.

this month’s ingredients are:

  1. smoked fish
  2. aubergine
  3. chile peppers
  4. something that symbolises home

despite being in the middle of a desperate rush to use up everything that could go off before heading off on holiday i decided to get involved.

my starting point was the symbol of home. a few weeks ago our friends Kate & Steve provided us with a bounty of home-grown produce from their garden and by using the elephant garlic that they gave me, i am using this to tick that 4th box.

aubergine was easy, we had one in and i love cooking with it. the same was true for chillies. smoked fish was less simple as buying some would break my self-imposed “use it up” shopping ban so i decided to go with smoking the aubergine and hope that Owen would allow me to kill two birds with one flame!

this smoked aubergine and elephant garlic soup was delicious – the roasted garlic had a gentle sweet flavour which worked well with the smokey aubergine (i cooked the aubergine until soft directly on the flames of my gas hob). the chilli gave a subtle kick and rounded the flavours off nicely.

a word of warning: this soup had quite amazing flatulence-causing powers. which is a little odd as my research shows that while large amounts of garlic can cause problems, aubergine is known as an anti-flatulence vegetable. if anyone knows how i can sort this out, let me know, as the flavour was good even if the side-effects weren't!

smoked aubergine and elephant garlic soup (serve 4 as a starter)

1 large aubergine

1 head elephant garlic

1 tablespoon olive oil plus extra

1 onion, chopped

1 teaspoon chilli flakes

1 large potato, peeled and diced

750ml vegetable stock, i use bouillon powder

salt & pepper

preheat oven to 180c.

place the aubergine directly in the flame of a gas burner and cook, turning regularly (carefully!) until it is blackened all over and very soft*. leave to cool, peel off the skin and chop the flesh roughly.

meanwhile, place the garlic head on an oven-proof tray, drizzle with a little olive oil and roast until golden (about 45 minutes). allow it to cool and squeeze the garlic out from each clove, removing any burnt bits (these will make your garlic taste bitter, as do the juices released around the garlic so avoid these) before chopping roughly.

heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan and add the onion and chilli flakes. fry gently until the onion begins to soften then add the aubergine, garlic, potato and stock. bring to the boil and then leave to simmer for 30 minutes. allow to cool slightly

blitz the soup in a blender and season to taste. reheat and serve.

* you could roast the aubergine until it softens but the smokiness will be much more subtle.