Cheese

Eggplant Parmigiana Dinner Party!

3/25/2015 09:54:00 PM

Sandwich!

So last weekend, I made this awesome eggplant parmigiana sandwich. You make an eggplant parmigiana, you make a focaccia, you put the eggplant parmigiana IN the focaccia and then shove it in your face. Amaze! I saw the recipe in Jamie Oliver's Comfort Food (which is a fantastic book, by the way!) and knew I just had to have it! The only problem was that Jamie's recipe serves sixteen people (ahem), and even using all of my amazing mathematical prowess, I could only scale it down enough to make it a four-person parmigiana... so there was nothing else to do but throw an eggplant parmigiana-themed dinner party!


An Eggplant Parmigiana-Dinner for Four
Cheese, Salami, Olives and other Deliciousness
Eggplant Parmigiana Sandwich
Tiramisu
Espresso Martinis


We invited fellow eggplant-enthusiasts (yes, it's a thing) Jenni and Jimbo, and I decided to make tiramisu for dessert, because it fit in with the Italian theme and JJ both love coffee. As a bonus, I'd been looking for an excuse to formalise my mum's old tiramisu recipe which a friend scribbled on a piece of scrap paper for her 20 years ago. It essentially says: "6 egg yolks, 500 grams mascarpone, coffee, alcohol and sugar to taste, savoiardi biscuits, cocoa on top". (Spoiler alert: the tiramisu worked, hooray! I wrote down all the quantities I used and I'll publish the recipe here soon!) The espresso martinis were added to the menu because, espresso martinis.

When friends ask what they can bring, my habitual answer is: "alcohol", so that it doesn't mess with my menu (heh), but I have to stop saying that, as we have way too much booze at home! Over the years we've amassed dozens of bottles of wine and spirits, but we almost never drink at home, especially throughout the week, and only if it's a special occasion or if we've got friends over. Our wine racks and liquor cabinet have literally run out of room!

So this time I asked JJ to bring snacks, "like chips and dip or something". They brought this...

Cheeeeeeese

Gah! So much cheesy deliciousness! The cheeses were Frico Chevrette Dutch goats gouda, Tarago River Shadows of Blue and Le Marquis Chevre du Pelussin (my favourite of the three). Plus olives, spicy salami, mascarpone-stuffed figs, date and walnut log. And strawberries! And crackers! And potato chips!

Speaking of alcohol, Sandra was on cocktail duty, making Pimm's Cups with freshly muddled strawberries, citrus and cucumber. Soooo tasty.

Cocktail Station!

I was super organised and had done all the cooking and preparation in the afternoon, so I was free to get stuck into the cheese and cocktails until it was time for dinner. Here's the focaccia! (Confession time: I also bought a back-up focaccia, just in case mine didn't turn out right. But mine did. Phew!)

Focaccia dough

Homemade Foccacia

Also, how good is grilled eggplant? Scroll down for the full recipe, but basically it is layers of grilled eggplant, basily tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese. Boom.

Eggplant!

Here it is, all topped with melty mozzarella and baked.

Eggplant Parm

Focaccia

Eggplant Parmigiana Sandwich

It was super yum. I was actually impressed that the eggplant parm sandwich managed to sustain structural integrity as I was eating it - much less messy than anticipated! Although having said that, everyone else ate very daintily with a fork and knife on their plates.

Then it was time for dessert! Plus cheesy 90s music because, well, why not! The espresso martini was perfect with the tiramisu (good job, mixologist-Sandra!) So much caffeinated alcoholic goodness.

Tiramisu & Espresso Martini

Delicious food, awesome friends, super fun night. Recipes for the tiramisu and espresso martini to come!

Eggplant Parmigiana Sandwich
Recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver's Comfort Food

For the Focaccia
3.5 grams dried yeast (half a sachet)
500 grams strong bread flour
Extra virgin olive oil
For the Eggplant Parmigiana
2 medium eggplants
Olive oil, for frying (you will need lots)
2 cloves garlic
4 sprigs of basil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
75 millilitres red wine
800 grams tinned crushed tomatoes
200 grams mozzarella cheese, torn up or finely sliced
50 grams breadcrumbs
50 grams Parmesan cheese, grated
50 grams rocket leaves

Method
For the Focaccia
Whisk the yeast into 300 millilitres warm water and set aside for 5 minutes. Place the flour and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt into the bowl of a stand mixer and knead slowly using the bread hook until the dough comes together. Turn the mixer up to medium and keep kneading for 5 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Cover with clingfilm and leave in a warm place for an hour, or until doubled in size.
Knock back the dough to de-gas it (heh), then push it out into a large rectangular shape on a baking tray. Poke it all over with your fingertips, to make dents all over the dough. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, and sprinkle generously with sea salt and pepper. Set aside in a warm place to prove for an hour, or until doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 180C. Bake the focaccia for 30-40 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the Eggplant Parmigiana
Slice the eggplant crosswise into half-centimetre thick rounds. Brush with olive oil and grill or pan-fry until cooked through and softened. Set aside.
Finely slice the garlic and basil stalks (reserve the leaves for later). Heat some olive oil in a large saucepan, and add the garlic, basil stalks and oregano. Cook for a few minutes or until lightly golden. Pour in the red wine and allow to bubble away. Add the crushed tomatoes. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to low and simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes or until the sauce is thickened.
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Lightly oil a 20 x 30cm roasting tray with high sides.
Cover the base with a third of the eggplant slices, followed by a third of the tomato sauce, basil leaves, mozzarella, breadcrumbs and Parmesan. Repeat with the remaining ingredients to make three layers in total. Drizzle with a little olive oil, and cook in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until golden brown and piping hot all the way through. Allow to stand for 30 minutes before cutting into portions and stuffing into the focaccia, adding rocket leaves.
Serves 4-6

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3 comments

  1. Grilled eggplant. The best vegetable in the world. This looks like the dinner party of my dreams, amazing!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yup an eggplant enthusiast here too! :D And hehe I do the same about people bringing something and we end up with so many things to drink as a result!

    ReplyDelete
  3. As a fellow eggplant enthusiast, I heartily approve of this menu! Well done on making the focaccia from scratch, I would have copped out and just bought it!

    ReplyDelete

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