A feast of flavours: Middle Eastern style Aubergines with my Cape Malay inspired meatballs

I love the fragrant and bold flavours used in Middle Eastern cooking, and also the simple ingredients used. I also love the style of eating – very casual and laid-back, incorporating all the senses.
You need to touch the food, eat with your hands; experience the smell, get carried away by it; see all the beautiful dishes and of course taste the delightful flavours, all the while some fabulous music plays in the background – voila, the scene is set!
A friend of mine prepared the most delicious aubergine {my absolute favourite vegetable!} dish for our monthly book club get-together and I just had to re-create it at home.
Buttery soft aubergines, delicately spiced with cumin and paprika, drenched in a tangy lemon and garlic dressing – yum.
I teamed these up with Cape Malay inspired meatballs and a huge bowl of butter lettuce. Fantastic – you could eat with your hands! {A mini mezze platter…}

The meatballs hinted of a bobotie, with golden sultanas and a hint of apricot, alongside fragrant curry spices.

All the elements of this dish is totally Paleo- and Banting-friendly, except perhaps for the teaspoon of apricot jam used… But you could leave that out. Or not, I don’t think a teaspoon will hurt anyone.

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For the aubergines, you will need:

Baby aubergines, as many as you want, halved
Olive oil
Salt
Cumin
Paprika
Juice of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 lemon
1-2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

Heat a large glug of olive oil in a large pot or pan. Start by placing the aubergines in the pan, with the sliced side down. Get them nice and brown, then turn them over and salt the cooked side. Let the skin side also brown – you might need a bit more olive oil, as they tend to suck it up like a sponge. Once both sides have been browned, place the lid on and let them steam for a few minutes, just to soften them up nicely.
While they’re still hot, sprinkle with a tiny bit of paprika and cumin, then scatter the zest and garlic on top and drizzle with the lemon juice.

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For the meatballs, you will need:

Roughly 800g of minced meat {I used Eland, a type of game meat}
Salt to taste
1 egg
1/2 a cup of sultanas
1 tsp smooth apricot jam
2 tbs curry powder
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin powder
1 onion, chopped
Olive oil
Zest of 1 orange

Sauté the onion until soft, then add the curry powder, turmeric and cumin and fry until fragrant. Set aside.
Next, mix all the rest of the ingredients, as well as the onion and spices. Make sure you mix it thoroughly.
Heat up some olive oil and fry one meatball to make sure you’ve added enough salt.
If you’re happy, roll the rest of the mixture into bite-sized balls and fry on all sides until golden and cooked through.

Serve with the aubergines and some butter lettuce – simple, delicious, totally satisfying!

Enjoy! X

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Meatless Monday Melanzane

Meatless Monday? What’s that..?! Just kidding.
If you’re looking for a comforting, filling dish that is also meatless and tasty, well this is the dish – Melanzane Parmiggiano.
It ticks all the boxes:
Tasty – check.
Rich and warm – check.
Cheesy – check.
Filling and comforting – check.
{Of course, you can also have it as a side dish with a scrummy roast chicken}

You will need:
2 large aubergines, sliced
Olive oil
Thyme
Tinned tomatoes
Tomato paste
1 onion, chopped
Sweet basil leaves, chopped
Parmesan cheese, grated
Mozzarella cheese, grated
Salt & pepper
Peppadew spice
Garlic, finely chopped {2 cloves}

Brush the aubergine slices with olive oil and grill in a pan until both sides are golden. Once all the aubergine slices are cooked, set these aside.
Using the same pan {I hate doing dishes and loading the dishwasher, so I use as little pots & pans as possible!}, heat some more olive oil and sauté the onions until soft. Add the garlic and tomato paste {2 tbs} and let it all caramelise.
Add the tin of tomatoes, a few thyme sprigs and chopped basil. Season with salt & pepper and let it reduce slightly to a nice and rich tomato sauce.
Pre-heat your oven to 180C.
In a large casserole, place a layer of aubergine slices and season with peppadew spice. Add a layer of tomato sauce and sprinkle with both cheeses.
Add another layer of aubergines, season, add sauce and sprinkle with cheese.
Bake this in the oven for about 30 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling and has formed a golden brown crust.

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Enjoy with a salad and a nice glass of vino! {No reason to go meatless AND wineless..!}
X

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Introducing the Paleo ‘Boerie’ Burger…

It’s been a while since we’ve made paleo burgers, don’t ask me why… It’s such a yummy, easy & quick supper and tastes waaaay better than a normal bun burger. {Trust me on this one!}
So while I’ve been battling to come up with new food ideas and scrummaging through the freezer, I decided to make boetie burgers! That’s like a hamburger, but made from Boerewors meat. {Boerewors is a traditional South African sausage, made from minced beef, pork and/or lamb coriander and other spices and has quite a distinct flavour. It’s not a very fatty sausage.}
I also recently heard Wimpy’s new ad for their boerie burgers but haven’t seen or tasted it, so no idea what it actually is, but it did give me an idea!
Now, I’m sure you’ve seen {and hopefully made} my Paleo burgers, where I use thick slices of grilled aubergine as the ‘bun’? Well, same concept, but instead of using regular minced meat for the patty, I used Boerewors meat.

So, here it is:
Roughly 500g boerewors, removed from the outer casing
A handful of fresh coriander
Salt
1 egg

For the construction of the burger {add or omit as you please}:
Thick slices of aubergine, brushed with olive oil and grilled
Grilled bacon
Slices of fresh tomato
Caramelised onions
Sliced mozzarella
Fresh baby leaves
Cream cheese mixed with fresh avo, salt & pepper

Remove the boerewors meat from the outer casing and mix it with a spoon to combine properly. Add chopped coriander, salt and egg.
Mix it well to combine and shape into burger patties.
Grill until just cooked.

Use the aubergine slices to contain everything and layer all the rest inbetween.

Enjoy! X

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Aubergine pizzas

I asked my 2-and-a-half year old what he wanted for lunch today {I never ask, don’t know why I did today?!} and he went ‘hmmm… pizza!’
So pizza it had to be…
I made faux-pizzas with aubergine slices:
Slice aubergines into half a centimeter slices, brush with olive oil and fry in a pan until golden. Top with tomato purée and a slice of mozzarella cheese. Grill in the oven until the cheese has melted and has turned a golden brown.
So simple! And yes, Seb loved it! We rolled it for easier eating.

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Enjoy! X

Bacon & brinjal roll

Two of my favourites – bacon and brinjals! I could easily eat bacon three times a day and I just LOVE the creamy texture and taste of brinjals, so I decided to try these out in a type of meatloaf roll:

Bacon & brinjal roll

The result – salty bacon meatloaf, with a creamy centre of brinjals {or eggplant} and a hint of cumin. {Cumin & brinjals go oh so well together!}

What’s also great about this dish, is that you can make it a bit in advance, say in the afternoon, to be reheated later. {Running club on Wednesdays, remember?!}

So, you will need:

Streaky bacon rashers {enough to form a 15cm roll)

500g venison mince {you can use any type, I suppose}

1 medium brinjal, chopped into small cubes

1 onion, chopped

1tsp cumin

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp Peppadew spice

1 egg

1 green chili, finely chopped

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tbs chopped Italian parsley

Olive oil

In a skillet, heat the olive oil and saute the onions until soft. Add the cumin and parpika and let the spices fry off. Add the brinjals and cook until soft. Set aside.

In a bowl, mix the mince with the egg, Peppadew spice, cayene pepper, salt, chili & parsley.

Lay a sheet of cling wrap on your work surface and carefully arrange the bacon rashers to form a solid layer. Spoon the mince mixture on top and pat it down. Next, spoon the brinjal mixture onto the mince and carefully start to roll it.

Once you have a nice roll, remove the cling wrap and secure it with some twine.

Place it into an oven dish and bake at 180C for 40 minutes.

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This went nicely with a simple salad of roasted beetroot, mixed lettuce leaves, feta cheese and pecan nuts. Drizzle the salad with balsamic glaze and olive oil.

Enjoy!

{A few other top bacon goodies to try SOON are: Bacon Jam and bacon biltong – can I just say Oh My Goodness!!}

Aubergine ‘Lasagna’

Another aubergine goodie! This one is actually better than the zucchini lasagna – but maybe that’s just me, because I love aubergine. This dish is great for a weeknight dinner, because you can make it in advance and just reheat, and the kids will love it too! {I’ve got a fussy little eater at the moment, so anything I can get him to eat that is nutritious too, is a huge plus!}

Here it is – my aubergine lasagna:

For the mince sauce:

1 tsp cumin

1/2 a tsp cayenne pepper

1 clove of garlic, finely chopped

1 tsp salt

500g mince

2 tomatoes, chopped

1/2 an onion, chopped

1/2 a cup of Cabernet Sauvignon

1 carrot, finely grated

2 tsp tomato paste

Sauté onion and add cumin, pepper & garlic. Add mince and cook. Add half the wine to deglaze pot and let it cook away. Add tomato paste and let it caramelise. {I like to wait a bit before adding the tomatoes or more wine, just to let the tomato paste get a nice caramelised and smokey flavour.}

Add carrot and mix. Add tomatoes and the rest of the wine – season with salt. Now let it simmer on a low heat until all the flavours have mingled nicely.

For the aubergine layer:

2 large aubergines, sliced into 5mm thick slices

olive oil

Grill the aubergine slices in a bit of olive oil in a non-stick pan until golden brown.

For the bechàmel sauce:

3 tbs butter

3 tbs flour

2 cups of warm milk

salt & white pepper

Heat butter in a saucepan and once it’s melted, whisk in the flour to form a paste. Slowly add milk while whisking. Make sure you get the paste to a smooth consistency after every bit of milk added, until all the milk has been added and you’re left with a smooth sauce. Season with salt & pepper.

Place mince sauce in an oven dish, top with the bechàmel sauce, pack the aubergine slices on top and finally, top with grated mozzarella cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes in a pre-heated oven of 180C, or until the cheese is golden brown.

Enjoy! X

Aubergine lasagna

Aubergine Bites

Just a quick post with another delicious aubergine recipe.

These little yummies are perfect as a light lunch / dinner or as an appetizer {and so quick and easy to prepare! You can also throw these onto a platter with a few other bits for cocktail hour or a lazy afternoon} enjoy with a fruity white wine:

Grilled aubergine slices {brush with olive oil}

Grilled Russian sausage slices

Butter lettuce leaves

Dipping sauce:

Plain yoghurt

1 large clove of garlic, finely chopped

Cayenne pepper

Cumin

Dash of Tabasco sauce

Assemble bites by placing a piece of grilled aubergine into a lettuce leave, top with sausage slices and tie with string.

Serve with dipping sauce – enjoy! X

Aubergine bites

Grilled Aubergine Burgers

I don’t know about you, but I love aubergines (eggplant / brinjals)!

I’ve realised that a lot of people don’t know what to do with them, or haven’t even tried them before. They’re usually a hit with vegetarians because of their fleshy texture and is often used as a meat-substitute – but not in our house – no way! We love meat! So what better way to have aubergine, than with meat, on a burger!

This is a good paleo-friendly burger version – using grilled aubergine slices as the ‘bun’. You can put anything you feel like on your burger, but here’s what I did:

Grilled aubergine slices (brush with olive oil and grill on a griddle pan or straight on the braai / barbecue)

Sliced fresh tomatoes

Lettuce leaves

Fairview Blue en Blanc cheese (a creamy camembert-type cheese with blue vein running through – simply scrummy!)

Caramelised onion (onions sautéed in butter with a drizzle of honey and a splash of balsamic vinegar – sauté until nice and caramelised)

Burger patties (I used blouwildebeest – will also work nicely with ostrich or beef)

And last but DEFINITELY not least – grilled bacon strips

Assemble everything inbetween aubergine slices, secure with toothpicks and enjoy!

Aubergine burgers

Friday – Green Egg Roast Chicken

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Can you say yum?!

The Big Green Egg – one of my favourite cooking tools! Yes, it’s a ‘braai’ of sorts, but you can do anything in it, I’ve even baked a cake! There is just no comparison to the taste it gives to your braai goodies, so yum.

Anyways, so enough punting of the Egg – here’s tonight’s recipe:

1 whole free range chicken

spicy Cajun rub

Robertsons portugese chicken spice

1 lemon

Olive oil

Rub chicken with olive oil, Cajun rub and Portuguese chicken spice.  Slice lemon in half and place both halves inside the chicken.  In a roasting dish, roast chicken in your Green Egg / Weber / braai for 40 minutes. After 40 minutes, place chicken directly onto the grill and grill for another 40 minutes until done. (You want it to be just juicy and cooked – not overcooked! I think we had the temperature at about 180C)

While the chicken was roasting, I also added a few slices of aubergine onto the grill, along with the chicken (aubergine was dipped into the olive oil and spice mixture in the roasting dish that the chicken was in).

My take on a caprese salad:

aubergine slices (grilled as explained above for about 20 minutes)

mozerella cheese

sweet basil

tomato slices

toasted pine nuts

olive oil

salt

Assemble by layering slices of aubergine, cheese, tomato and basil. Drizzle olive oil and add a sprinkle of sea salt. Sprinkle with toasted nuts.

We enjoyed this scrummy meal with a glass of Van Loveren Pinot Grigio.

Enjoy! X