Monday, 15 October 2007

Crispy Fried Aubergine with Tomato Sacue (egg free, dairy free, gluten free)

Perhaps it only happens once in a lifetime. A few months ago I clicked to open an email, and when I saw its contents, I gaped. For a second I was frozen, my brain not really comprehending. I peered around the room for Hedwig, surely SHE had delivered this?

'We have 6 tickets for the semi final of the Rugby World Cup, do you want to come?' I whirled around and sputtered out the news to my husband. His look of shocked disbelief mirrored my own.

The story of how, one champagne-enhanced afternoon, England reached the semi final of the World Cup, belongs to another post. The story of how I worked out that I had THE ticket for THE semi final, is by-the-by. The story of how Mac, Frannie, Hubby and Pig left their 6 children in the tender care of Bouchra and hastened to the match, belongs to the here and now.

Who would not have been apprehensive? Who - whilst posturing and chanting - would not have felt slightly sick inside? Who - having bought the shirt, the wig and the bright red lipstick - would not be almost beside themselves with excitement? Who would not think it was their duty to give their husband a number 2 then paint his head with the flag of St George?

Oh the moment of almost heart-stopping beauty as the packed Stade de France revealed her splendour; and the stress of wanting it so, so badly.

If England got through by the screams of their fans, you have me to thank. Surrounded by the French as I was, it did not stop me screaming until my voice cracked. Did you hear the desperate, 'Jooonnnnneeeeeee' as he struck the pose we associate with success? Did you hear the strains of 'Sweet Chariot' before the French drowned us out with 'Allez Les Bleus'? They did that time and time again, it was rather frustrating.

You know what? It doesn't matter. Which side was screeching with joy as the boys did their victory parade? Whose colours will be running on to the turf next Saturday night? Which team might bring back the Cup twice in a row?

The French were gutted. Two lovely boys had dressed up as the God who is Chabal. They wore wigs, beards and caveman garb. They were right in front of me when their leader was brought down; his tears were the tears of a nation. I did try, I tried to bridge the gulf of loser and victor. When I'd finished screaming and hugging Frannie I climbed down to the boys, and pronounced my pearls of wisdom,
'Chabal really is the most beautiful man in the world isn't he?'
I think that will have helped.

They say that Rugby is a gentleman's game. They say we are magnanimous in victory, humble in defeat. It's true. Our commiserating smiles held no malice as they bounced off the Gallic shrug. Our Jerusalem was kind, not crowing.

Heading back to the station, we saw the CRS in a line. Tight pants, high boots, what on earth were they waiting for? I think it was for me. The stony faces broke into shy smiles when I suggested they wear my wig for a photo. They shook their heads and told me to ask the boss. He said no, but still smiled for my pic. Meanwhile Mac had donned the wig, and with the grinning, glazed look of a man whose head will hurt on the morrow, had his arms wrapped around one of the rank and file CRS.

We moved on to catch our train, and that's when we came clean. That's when our 'gracious in victory' façade came tumbling down. It was mainly England fans jammed onto the ramp waiting for our ride, and some young chaps led us in the Anthem of Success.

Set to the tune of 'She'll be coming round the mountain when she comes', it ran thus;

'When Chabal started crying, I was there,
When Chabal started crying, I was there,
When Chabal started crying,
Chabal started crying,
When Chabal started crying I was there'.

Lest it was lost on the home crowd, the hundreds of fans translated it;
'J’étais là quand Chabal a pleuré...'

The train reverberated all the way back to Châtelet-Les Halles.

The next morning the Paris sun burned bright and early. I woke up still in my England shirt, my face still painted, my head still full of images, and my body still full of that one beer too many.

On Sunday evening, Mac and my husband headed Stade-wards for the second Semi Final. I soothed away my hangover with champagne and Fran and I settled down to watch the game. I cooked us these 'Rondelles' and we stared in horror at the might of the Boks.

What lies in store for our boys? For just the price of a Prada dress or two -yes, I'm trying to rationalise - we shall find out. No seer am I, but perhaps I may not have the heart to post a recipe 7 days from now.

Or perhaps I'll be singing, 'Swing looowwww, Sweeeet Chariot, coming forth to carry me home...'

Aubergine Rugby Rondelles à la Tomate (feeds 2)

These have the taste of success about them...they will bring you luck. Do you like the title? Every self-respecting cookery blog should have a little pretentious french n'est-ce pas?

1 large aubergine

For the sauce:
1 large tin of plum tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato puree
2 medium onions
4-5 cloves of garlic
2 tsps oregano
1 bouquet garni / 1-2 bay leaves
1 tbsp gluten free Dijon mustard
1/2 - 1 gluten free stock cube
100ml water
150ml red wine
1-2 tsps sugar
Black pepper to taste

For the crumb:
200g quinoa
200g sunflower seeds
150g pumpkin seeds
1 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
Salt and black pepper

Olive oil for frying

  • Start by making the sauce. Roughly chop the onions and garlic and fry them gently in a large saucepan for a few minutes. Add the oregano and chopped tomatoes and cook gently for 5 minutes
  • Add the red wine, water, bouquet garni and half the stock cube. Stir and simmer it all for about 10 minutes
  • Add the mustard and tomato puree (more or less depending on taste), and stir. Remove the bouquet garni/bay leaves
  • Using a hand held blender, blend until the sauce is smooth. If it tastes slightly acidic, you could add the sugar to soften the taste. Add the rest of the stock cube if it's not tasty enough for you. If the sauce seems too liquid, you can simmer it for another 15 minutes to reduce, stir it so that it doesn't stick
  • Put the quinoa, sunflower and pumpkin seeds into a blender and whizz until it's like breadcrumbs. You might find that you've got some of this seed mix left over when you've finished. It will keep in an airtight container for next time, and my theory is, 'better to have too much than be cursing the pig for getting her quantities wrong'
  • Cut the aubergine into slices that are about 1 cm thick
  • Put the tomato sauce back on to heat and put the aubergine slices into the sauce and cover. Let them simmer for 5 minutes. I know that sounds weird, but you want your aubergines to be a little soft before you fry them, and they come out coated in sauce which helps with the next part.
  • Whilst the aubergine is simmering, cover a plate with half of the seed mix. Sprinkle over the chilli flakes, salt and black pepper, and mix the seasoning in a bit
  • Take the saucepan off the heat and transfer the aubergine slices to the plate. The crumb will stick to the underside of the slices. Scatter the rest of the crumb over the top of the slices, and use your fingers to squidge it all over until the slices are covered
  • Now take a non stick frying pan and pour enough olive oil to generously cover the base (about half a centimetre). When the oil is hot (but nowhere near smoking), put the slices into the pan. They should sizzle immediately, you want them in, browned, and out in a jiffy, so make sure the oil is hot enough when you start
  • Sizzle them on one side (2-3 minutes?) then turn them over to do the other side. The crumb will go brown and solid. Some of it will disperse into the pan, but there's no need to worry about that
  • Carefully remove the slices (don't dislodge the crumb) and place onto a plate covered with kitchen towel, this will absorb any excess grease (although on Sunday I needed all the hangover-easing grease I could get)
  • Serve with a generous helping of the tomato sauce, either on the side or over the top
  • You can serve these as a starter with a green salad, or do as Fran and I did. Boil some small potatoes in their skins, when tender drain them. Put them back into the saucepan, add a good dollop of dairy free spread and salt and black pepper, and just let them sizzle as you fry the aubergines, turning occasionally. Yummy
© Pig in the Kitchen 2007
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Potty Mummy said...

Yummy sounding recipe Pig, but was most disappointed you did not also post pictures of your husband's head post decoration and of the embrace of the French riot police...

Alisa said...

Oh, I have an eggplant, ahem, I mean aubergine, waiting to be cooked up, this looks perfect. It is 200g sunflower seeds right?

Pig in the Kitchen said...

PottyM, I'm sorry to disappoint! If they win I could work some non-food pix into my blog!

Alisa, you say eggplant, I say Aubergine...thanks for the heads up, I've amended the quantity, 200g is correct!

Miss Thistle said...

OK dear Pig! Not satisfied with getting to the Barcelona Olympics whilst I watched on a portable TV in student res'. I sat an watched THE match and said to my husband, I wonder if The Pig is there!! Naah I said, she like everyone else didn't think they'd make it to the semis....what would she do with the children etc etc. So now I am green, very green with envy..
My husband, however wanted France to win! he was disappointed! Hurrah! Is he sad, mad or bad? or all three? Wherever you are at the final I'll be cheering them on... what's a Prada dress between friends, buy those tickets and I'll scan the crowd for you!

Mya said...

Pig - how COULD you have joined in that cruel, Chabal mocking song? I'm disgusted. And soooooo jealous! Sounds like a wonderful time was had by all (apart from the French of course, hee hee.)

Mya x

Marianne said...

What a wonderful, joyful post Pitk and how lucky for you to be part of Rugby history. I got to watch it at home with a glass of good wine.

Like you I fear for our boys, having seen the awesome might of the Boks.

Marianne said...

I don't know about it being a gentleman's game - all those heaving thighs certainly do it for me - Whoops.

Akelamalu said...

Oh you was definitely there gal!!!

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Miss T, I know, I'm a jammy cow! The difference between Barcelona and the Rugby...the Olympic pass was FREE! I am very stressed about the final (Prada dress be damned, I'm going!), I couldn't sleep last night for worry!

MYA, when Chabal came onto the pitch I looked at him from afar (and he was still huge) and I truly thought, 'if only I could just touch him' he is an awe-inspiring man. However, I am clearly a nasty turncoat because I did sing the song. It was more about being delighted in victory...oh and about us being better than the French ;-) (joke)

Marianne, I am still grinning about my weekend! You do get to see more when you watch it at home, but you don't get to scream your lungs out and roar the national anthem at the top of your voice. Very worried about Saturday.

Marianne (again!), the heaving thighs are delicious! And the primal grunt as they 'touch, pause, engage'. Fwooorr!

Akelamalu, damn straight girlfriend!

mutterings and meanderings said...

It was the Pig wot won it for us!!

Pig in the Kitchen said...

M&M, I dun good.

Miss Thistle said...

Do you remember the woman that streaked at a Rugby match? Now I'm not suggesting that... but a big banner with a 'Pig in the Kitchen' emblem perhaps?!! I'll be watching out for you!

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Gave me gosling bumps (that would be small ones, not the huge ghost busting goose ones) reading this!
Lucky, lucky you! We made a lot of noise on the sofa - at the TV that is!

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Oh Miss T! There'll be no streaking, but watch out for the wig behind the goal post to the right of the tunnel from which they emerge!

Amanda, I had goslings and gooses! I'm very very lucky, I feel humbled! For a minute there I thought we were getting too much information about you on the sofa, but Phew, you were shouting at the rugger!

Suffolkmum said...

Wow, the semi-final! Allez les rosbifs and all that! How exciting. Just read your brilliant (and scary) one below - so glad your girl is OK - loved the patronising french doctor (once I'd worked out she was OK)

Iota said...

What an occasion! One to tell the grandchildren.

Brom said...

What a truly manificent post Pig. (And I'm glad for you that you got to see it all) Your enthusiasm was so infectious I almost started hoping that England will win on Saturday.


debio said...

Have discussed 'the Final' with three South Africans in the last couple of days and, get this, the Boks are running scared!

I too have fears for Saturday but the Boks have too.....

Frog in the Field said...

Oh, Haha, just realised my unintentional pun.... what a brilliant game to see, fantastic atmosphere, and I'm not even a fan.
The life you lead, Pig, well!

Pig in the Kitchen said...

SuffolkMum, only 3 days to go, up the English! Thanks for kind comments. Patronising French Doctors are funny...about 12 hours after the event when you've had time to froth at the mouth and spit invective about them to anyone that will listen.

Iota, I know! I've put my ticket in my 'treasure box' and when I'm dead and gone they'll find it and THEN they'll realise I was actually quite cool!

Debio, you give me hope! In fact I think the Grumpy Old Men have the mental edge on the Springboks...they just have to keep the ball away from Habana, and pray for luck

FITF, i don't normally lead such a life, i think it may all go downhill from here!

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Brom, I missed you out! I'm so rude. I'm a trifle perturbed that you don't seem to be living and breathing the World Cup, but you say such nice things I'll forgive you!

Anonymous said...

Oh Pig we where there too, wasn't it fantastic? The shouting, the chanting and the singing not something I will forget in a hurry that's for sure. We will also be there next saturday cheering on the lads (no tickets but just need to be there for the atmosphere).

Oh I hope they manage to do it - will have everything crossed !!!

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Dear Anonymous Alex, it was amazing! My top tip, get to the stadium early, they were flogging tickets as you came off the train for half of what we paid! If you get there early enough you will still have time to retire to a bar and watch it if you can't get a ticket.
I'm so nervous....!

Brom said...

Oh, I was doing a lot of living and breathing.... then Wales got knocked out.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Ah. [Pig sighs with a heavy heart and feels Brom's pain]. Well I understand why you don't really want to support England then. ;-)

Alisa said...

Sorry to interrupt talk of the World Cup (just too jealous to even get into that conversation now), but I just wanted to mention that I tried the recipe, mostly - - It was great! Thanks Pig!

Stay at home dad said...

What a fantastic post Pig! I can honestly say that I have read most of the column inches on this RWC, but yours are the finest words there have been. The fact that they are not in a national is shameful.

I can't remember whether Chabal modelled his look on mine or the other way around. Anyway, the body is all his.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Alisa, I've just stopped by for a look, you're probably still asleep becoz of time difference. I didn't want to wake you, so just left a comment. They look fab and I heartily applaud your tweaking of the recipe - already! Think of our boys as you eat them, about 34 hours to go...

SAHD, you are lovely! Thank-you for your well-informed, rational,excellent comment! I learnt yesterday that Chabal puts vaseline in his hair to keep it out of his eyes when he plays, do you do that too?!

Stay at home dad said...

Vaseline, that's interesting - I thought it seemed very ruly. No, various products, depending on what's at hand but not that!

Pig in the Kitchen said...

SAHD, very wise, can't see that vaseline is a good choice myself.

elizabethm said...

great post. as a rugby mad household we were glued to the box but you were there!?! how fantastic is that. Combining watching france/argentina with catching up on blogs on the laptop. can you believe that once, long ago, we accepted an invitation for dinner tomorrow from some welsh friends? not sure how it will go.

debio said...

Are you going to The Final today?

If so, have a mega day....

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Elizabeth m I have mulled over your dilemma all morning...i have no idea how your dinner will go. Could you be ill?!!!

Debio, my stomach is churning, face paints at the ready, I'm off to the final! That's if i can find a train to take me there, would the french train drivers be striking today if THEY had reached the final???!!!
Here we go.....

Bettina said...

Wow, a blog that combines cooking and Chabal - have I died and gone to heaven?

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Bettina, if Chabal were taking you out to dinner I'd venture that you had indeed died and gone to the pearly gates. As it is I think you've just stumbled into my cooking blog! I'm sorry to disappoint!

Bettina said...

I'll just settle for the recipes - without a doubt! I think I'd be a little wary of having dinner with Chabal - I mean, who knows how long it would take?