The year was 1921, the place Ellis Island. My maternal grandmother, single, arrives into port from Napoli on the ship Patria to be with her sister...
This is a delicious recipe, which can be used for different occasions. It can be a starter, It can be a party snack or part of a main course when served as side dish.
5 Large eggplants
50 g ( 2 oz) Parmesan cheese (grated)
175 - 200 g ( 6-7 oz) Dry breadcrumbs (finely grated)
1 Egg (medium size) - but keep an extra yolk handy
1 Clove of garlic (finely chopped)
A handful of flat leaf parsley (finely chopped)
Sunflower oil for deep frying (if you want to add some extra flavour to the eggplants, you can use a mild or light olive oil available in the supermarket)
Cut the ends off the eggplants.
Peel the skin off. Cut the eggplants in large circles.
Quarter the circles or reduce them into smaller parts. Take a large pan full of cold water and put the eggplants into the pan.
Bring to the boil and keep boiling until they become dark and soft (in my case it took about 40 minutes).
Pour the eggplants into a collander. Squeeze with a large spoon in order to eliminate as much water as you can.
Now, pour the eggplants into a bowl. Make a well in the centre. Add the whole egg. Mix together. If the mix looks too dry, I sometimes add an extra egg yolk in order to improve the binding. This may result in using more breadcrumbs to complete the mix.
Add the garlic and the parsley. Then, stir all together.
Add the Parmesan cheese and stir everything together. Sprinkle with salt, stir and taste the mix to check for seasoning. Season with ground pepper (just 3-4 grinds).
Finally, add the breadcrumbs. These should be added gradually while stirring to ensure that the mix becomes hard enough to make croquettes.
Sometimes you need less breadcrumbs, sometimes more, it just depends on the amount of the water you left in the eggplants mix or if you added an extra egg yolk.
Prepare the croquettes. Croquettes must not be big otherwise they do not cook in the centre. I suggest the dimension of a nutshell.
A very important thing do to is flatten the croquettes so the heat can easily reach the centre when frying. Heat the oil. When the oil is hot, put the croquettes into the frying pan. Leave them to fry for few seconds.
Then, move the croquettes gently with a spoon to ensure that they do not stick to the bottom of the pan. Continue frying for few minutes until the croquettes are golden brown. I always take one out and cut in two to check if it is cooked in the centre (if not, fry for extra time).
When the croquettes are ready, remove them from the frying pan and put them into a bowl with some kitchen paper to absorb the excess oil.
This is the final stage, where all the eggplants croquettes are perfectly cooked. You can eat them when warm but are also delicious eaten cold.
This is a tasty way to present sprouts to your guests; it is a fusion between the countryside and sea that many would enjoy.
500 g (1.1 lb) Brussels sprouts
60 ml (2 fl oz) Extra virgin olive oil
2 Cloves of garlic (halved)
15 ml (1tbs) Anchovy paste
2 g (1 tsp) Crushed Chilli
Wash, cut and trim the sprouts. Then, put them in slightly salted boiling water and simmer for about 15 minutes.
Drain the sprouts thoroughly. Heat the olive oil (medium heat), add the garlic and sweat off for a couple of minutes. A wok is the ideal pan for this job.
Add the chili and give a stir. Then move on to the next stage. Add the anchovy paste and give a stir so that it is dissolved in the oil.
When the anchovy paste is dissolved (it takes probably 30 seconds), you are ready for the next stage.
Pour the sprouts into the wok. Cook for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, give a stir every now and then, so that all the sprouts are well coated with sauce.
After 10 minutes, the sprouts start to turn to a golden colour. This is what you are waiting for!
This very simple recipe requires few ingredients. You can use it as starter (1 tomato per person) or as a side dish (2-3 tomatoes per person).
It is a common recipe in Italy. because I think it gives a quite distinct flavour, but you could use parsley instead.
8 Tomatoes (rounded - medium size)
A few sprigs of rosemary
2 or 3 Cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
1 Dry baguette (2 weeks old)
60 ml (2 fl oz) Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and black pepper for seasoning
Wash the tomatoes and then dry them. Cut the topside.
Take a small spoon with a sharp edge and carve into the tomato removing the core part. Do that over a bowl, so that all the tomato contents falls into the bowl.
Then, discard the hard part and leave the liquid part (juice with seeds) in the bowl.
You should have enough liquid to have about half glass of tomato liquid.
Sprinkle each tomato inside with salt. Turn the tomatoes hole down in a colander and leave them to rest for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, you can grate the baguette to make breadcrumbs.
Sprinkle the breadcrumbs with salt and stir. Sprinkle with black pepper and stir.
Remove the leaves from the rosemary sprigs. The quantity of leaves is up to you, according to your taste, but of course do not over do it!
Chop the leaves (the thinner the better), add them to the bowl and stir. Chop the garlic (the thinner the better), add it to the bowl and stir.
Add the half glass of tomato liquid and stir. Add the olive oil and stir.
The mixture should not be too wet, but still a bit crumbly.
Now, stuff the tomatoes, lay them onto an oven dish and put some drops (something like a tsp) of olive oil onto every tomato and then sprinkle the bottom with a little more oil. If you like, you can put some garlic cloves on the bottom of the oven dish to enhance with the garlic flavour.
Pre-heat the oven at 375ºF (gas mark 5) and cook for 30- 40 minutes or until the crumbs at the top become golden brown.
When you think is ready, take the dish out of the oven and serve.