“ Print Length: 67 pages „
One of my half-hearted resolutions for this year is to become, if not quite a domestic goddess at least someone who has enhanced their culinary skills and eaten more healthily. I read recently that the more varied the colours of food eaten the better so I've also taken it upon myself to not only eat more healthily but also more colourfully. Reds, greens, yellows and oranges aren't a problem but some other colours aren't quite as common an occurrence in the world of fruit and vegetables, so when I spotted this recipe book using aubergines as the primary ingredient for all the dishes, it seemed an excellent reference book for introducing the colour purple into my diet.
This recipe collection is only available electronically and can be downloaded in Kindle format from Amazon for £1.92.
Being written by an American, the book is entitled 31 Easy Eggplant Recipes, eggplant being their name for what is commonly known in Europe as the aubergine. The aubergine has its origins in India and it's actually a fruit although it's treated as a vegetable, certainly in European cookery, and also in this book.
The author, Claire Williams, begins her book with a short introduction in praise of the humble eggplant which seems to have more to recommend it than just its pretty colour. Claire Williams has tried to demonstrate just how versatile a foodstuff the eggplant is and although she includes recipes from Japan, China, India and Italy , as well as a few she's created herself, I'm not entirely sure she's succeeded. The fact of the matter is an aubergine is fairly bland tasting on its own and most of the flavour is derived from the ingredients with which it's cooked. That being said, Claire Williams has provided a varied selection of recipes and of the ones I've attempted so far, they're certainly easy and more to the point, they're tasty.
The recipes provided are a mix of side dishes and main meals. From plain Grilled Eggplant "chops" and Fried Eggplant to the more substantial Eggplant Lasagne and Chicken Eggplant with Parmesan there's something for everyone and although most of the recipes are vegetarian there are a couple with meat for the more carnivorous.
All the recipes use fairly accessible ingredients such as tomatoes, pasta, parmesan cheese and the like, though you may have to visit a specialist shop to pick up some of the more obscure ingredients especially for the oriental dishes. Where the recipe calls for something specific such as Monteray Jack cheese or panko breadcrumbs, this can be substituted with a similar British ingredient. The only possible exception is the recipe for Eggplant Pie which uses grits and even there I suppose the grits could be substituted with polenta. That particular recipe sounds very stodgy though and I haven't tried it.
Each recipe is introduced with a short description of the dish followed by information about the length of time for preparation, cooking and for how many it serves. The ingredients list and directions for making are all very clear and easy to follow. The only drawback is that there aren't any pictures to show whether you've done it correctly but as most of the dishes are pretty straightforward, I haven't found this to be a problem.
The standout dishes for me and ones which have found their way into my culinary repertoire, are the Indian Eggplant, Potato and Onions which is a wonderfully aromatic, spicy and comforting supper dish; Eggplant Lasagne, a really filling version of a traditional lasagne without the usual layer of béchamel sauce; and the Baked Eggplant with Mushrooms and Tomato Sauce. There are a few of the recipes which are pretty basic and really barely qualify for being called recipes at all. Spraying a slice of aubergine with olive oil and grilling it doesn't really constitute a recipe in my opinion. However, the majority of the recipes result in substantial and flavoursome dishes which are versatile enough that they can be tweaked by more confident cooks.
As this is an American book some of the quantities are given in cups and the cooking temperatures are all in Fahrenheit though this shouldn't be too much of a problem. Some of the terminology, too, is Americanised such as reference to broiling rather than grilling.
This is the second recipe book I've used by Claire Williams and I particularly like the no-nonsense approach to cooking she uses. However, I don't think it will prove to be quite as useful as her excellent book of fish dishes. This isn't the sort of recipe collection you'll use daily but if you happen to have an aubergine knocking round in your kitchen and you're wondering what to do with it, you might well find some inspiration here.