Saturday, October 23, 2010

Eggplant Timbale

2 medium eggplants, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1/3 cup olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound penne pasta
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound Italian pork sausage
1/4 cup Marsala wine
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
2 cups store-bought marinara sauce
1 1/2 cups diced smoked mozzarella cheese (about 6 ounces)
3/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus 1/4 cup
1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
Special equipment: 9-inch springform pan

Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or pre-heat a gas or charcoal grill. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the eggplant slices with 1/3 cup olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill the eggplant until tender and colored with grill marks, about 4 minutes per side. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta.

Meanwhile, warm the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and saute until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the beef and pork, and brown the meat, breaking it into bite-sized pieces with a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes. Add the Marsala and cook until the liquid has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Turn off the heat. Add the peas and marinara sauce and stir to combine. Add the cheeses, basil, and cooked pasta. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the springform pan with the grilled eggplant. Be sure that the slices overlap and hang over the edge of the pan. Fill the pan with the pasta mixture, pressing down to make sure the pan is filling up evenly. Fold the eggplant slices up over the top of the pasta and add a few more slices on top to completely enclose the timbale. Bake the timbale until warmed through and the cheese has melted, about 30 minutes. Let rest on the counter for 10 minutes to set.

To serve, invert the timbale onto a serving plate and remove the springform pan. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese over the top. Slice and serve.

Source: Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis

Blackberry Apple Pie

Old-Fashioned Sweet Shortcrust Pastry, recipe follows
1/4 cup butter, plus extra for greasing
1/3 cup raw sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
2 large Bramley or McIntosh apples, cored, peeled and each cut into 16 wedges
4 Cox's, Empire or Granny Smith apples, cored, peeled and each cut into 8 wedges
1 heaping tablespoon chopped ginger, in syrup
5 ounces blackberries
1 large free-range or organic egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 1/2 cups organic all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1 cup icing sugar, sifted
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons good-quality cold butter, cut into small cubes
1 lemon, zested
2 large free-range or organic eggs, beaten
Splash milk
All-purpose flour, for dusting

First, make your pastry dough, wrap it in plastic wrap and rest it in the refrigerator for at least half an hour. Then preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Put the butter and sugar into a saucepan and, when the butter has melted, add the apples, ginger and a tablespoon of the ginger syrup. Slowly cook for 15 minutes with a lid on, then add the blackberries, stir and cook for 5 more minutes with the lid off.

Meanwhile, remove your pastry from the refrigerator. Dust your work surface with flour, cut the pastry in half and, using a floured rolling pin, roll 1 of the pieces out until it's just under 1/2-inch thick or looks as if it will cover a shallow 10-inch pie dish. (Rolling the dough between 2 layers of waxed paper will also stop it sticking to your rolling pin.) Butter the shallow 10-inch pie dish and line with the pastry, trimming off any excess around the edges using a sharp knife.

Tip the cooled apples and blackberries into a sieve, reserving all the juices, then put the fruit into the lined pie dish so you have a mound in the middle. Spoon over half the reserved juices, (if desired use all the juice). Brush the edge of the pastry with beaten egg. Roll out the second piece of pastry, just as you did the first, and lay it over the top of the pie. Trim the edges as before and crimp them together with your fingers. Brush the top of the pie with the rest of the beaten egg, sprinkle generously with sugar and the cinnamon, and make a couple of slashes in the top of the pastry.

Place the pie on a baking tray and then put it directly on the bottom of the preheated oven for 55 to 60 minutes, until golden brown and crisp. To serve, slice the pie into portions and serve with a generous dollop of custard.

Old-Fashioned Sweet Shortcrust Pastry

Sift the flour from a height onto a clean work surface and sift the icing sugar over the top.
Using your hands, work the cubes of butter into the flour and sugar by rubbing your thumbs against your fingers until you end up with a fine, crumbly mixture. This is the point where you can spike the mixture with interesting flavors, so mix in your lemon zest.
Add the eggs and milk to the mixture and gently work it together until you have a ball of dough. Flour it lightly. Don't work the pastry too much at this stage or it will become elastic and chewy, not crumbly and short. Flour your work surface and place the dough on top. Pat it into a flat round, flour it lightly, wrap it in plastic wrap and put it into the refrigerator to rest for at least half an hour.


Steak,Guinness & Cheese Pie

• olive oil
• 3 medium red onions, peeled and chopped
• 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
• 30g butter, plus extra for greasing
• 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
• 2 sticks of celery, trimmed and chopped
• 4 field mushrooms, peeled and sliced
• 1kg brisket of beef or stewing beef, cut into 2cm cubes
• a few sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves picked and chopped
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1 x 440ml can of Guinness (no lager, please!)
• 2 heaped tablespoons plain flour
• 200g freshly grated Cheddar cheese
• 500g best-quality ready-made all-butter puff pastry
• 1 large free-range or organic egg, beaten

main courses | serves 4 to 6
This pie is a real winner! As it uses bought puff pastry, it’s quick to prepare, and you can make the filling the day before if you want.

Preheat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF/gas 5. In a large ovenproof pan, heat a glug of olive oil on a low heat. Add the onions and fry gently for about 10 minutes – try not to colour them too much. Turn the heat up, add the garlic, butter, carrots and celery and scatter in the mushrooms. Mix everything together before stirring in the beef, rosemary, a pinch of salt and a level teaspoon of pepper.

Fry fast for 3 or 4 minutes, then pour in the Guinness, stir in the flour and add just enough water to cover. Bring to a simmer, cover the pan with a lid and place in the preheated oven for about 1½ hours. Remove the pan from the oven and give the stew a stir. Put it back into the oven and continue to cook it for another hour, or until the meat is very tender and the stew is rich, dark and thick. A perfect pie filling needs to be robust, so if it’s still quite liquidy, place the pan on the hob and reduce until the sauce thickens. Remove from the heat and stir in half the cheese, then season carefully and leave to cool slightly.

Cut about a third of the pastry off the block. Dust a clean work surface with flour and roll both pieces of pastry out evenly with a floured rolling pin to the thickness of a pound coin. Butter a deep pie dish, then line with the larger sheet, leaving the edges dangling over the side. Tip the stew into your lined dish and even it out before sprinkling over the remaining cheese. Brush the edges of the pastry with a little beaten egg.

Cut the other rolled sheet of pastry to fit the top of the pie dish and criss-cross it lightly with a sharp knife. Place it over the top of the pie and fold the overhanging pastry on to the pastry lid to make it look nice and rustic. Brush the top with beaten egg, then bake the pie directly on the bottom of the oven for 45 minutes, until the pastry is cooked, puffed and golden. Delicious served simply with peas.