Saturday, 30 January 2016

The Chaplain's Bake

When a rather ugly but delicious tasting celeriac has been staring back at you for over a week, it's time to get the thinking hat on. A savoury bake was the answer. This combines layers of roasted aubergine and a creamy central layer of celeriac, potato and gruyere. It's delicious served hot with roasted potato skins and for me a favourite at this time of year, sprouting broccoli. Cook the broccoli as you like but I have to say I am increasingly fond of charring brassicas, in this case I cooked the broccoli in a shallow lidded pan with only a tablespoon of water, a little salt and a knob of butter, cook on a medium heat until the broccoli boils dry then be brave and allow the remaining butter to fry the contents until the bottom parts of the broccoli have taken on some colour, delicious!

For this recipe you will need; (feeds six)

2 large aubergine, weighing in total 700g
200g of celeriac
200g of potatoes
200g of double cream
180g of gruyere cheese, grated
1 tablespoon of tomato oil (optional) click here for the recipe
1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 teaspoons of bouillon powder
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
100ml of water
2 teaspoons of salt

Begin by slicing the aubergine and placing in a bowl, put in the salt and give them a good toss to ensure the salt touches each slice. This will draw out some of the liquid, not as is commonly believed to draw out bitterness but to make dressing in a little oil, easier when it comes to cooking. Set to one side.
Peel the celeriac and cut up as though you were preparing potatoes for chips, do the same with the potatoes, I don't bother peeling potatoes but do peel them if you feel compelled to do so. Cook the celeriac and potatoes in only 100ml of water, bouillon powder and pepper until tender, on a low heat in a lidded pan. Keep an eye on them, there should be no water left when the vegetables are cooked, if there is a little, simply continue cooking with the lid off. When tender, take off the heat and stir in the cream and finally, the cheese, keeping 50g back to sprinkle on top prior to cooking. Set to one side.
Rinse off any liquid and salt from the aubergine slices and toss in the olive oil. On a medium heat, cook the slices in a dry pan, the oily coating should be sufficient to prevent sticking. Continue until each slice is nicely browned.
Assembling the dish.
In an ovenproof dish, a lasagna dish is perfect, begin with a layer of aubergine (half), brush with the tomato oil. Pile on all of the celeriac and potato mix and top with the remaining aubergine slices, brush with the tomato oil and sprinkle the last of the cheese on top. Bake in a moderate 180C oven for 15 to 20 minutes until bubbling and toasted.

This dish will work very well if you substitute parsnips for celeriac, in that case use only parsnips and double the weight to 400g.

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