The rules for this month's challenge found me randomly selecting page 117 of Nigella Lawson's How To Eat, and a recipe for aubergine moussaka. But, as she points out "This is a Lebanese version, very different from the traditional Greek". It's basically aubergine stew.
While I use it now and again, I'm not a huge fan of How To Eat. This might have something to do with the complete lack of photography (which in this case is probably just as well, because a photo of aubergine stew isn't bonny). I'm not wild about the prose style either, because sometimes you have to work quite hard to find the actual recipe. But, gripes aside...
I couldn't buy baby aubergines or pomegranate molasses, and I couldn't be arsed soaking pulses. So I used big aubergines and canned chickpeas. Oh, and since we do actually still seem to be griping, I didn't peel the aubergines "to look like like Edwardian circus tents". (Really Nigella? Really? Give me strength.)
Bugger it, ground-level babbling has turned to wimpering, but we're too far in to stop now. Dance my love, dance to amuse your brother, dance like a dervish!
She says the aubergines smell like a grocery shop. I know what she means.
Bugger it again. Nigella wants the tomatoes rinsed, peeled, seeded and quartered. Not. on. your. life. They'll be roughly chopped if you're lucky. (And isn't all the flavour in the seed jelly and skin anyway? Why on earth would you chuck them?)
The wimpering has turned into wailing. Sing sweetie, sing to him like our lives depend on it!
It's all getting a bit fraught, and rather noisy, but here's the bit I was looking forward to: adding the cinnamon and allspice. Nice festive smells will make it all better.
But hang about, the combination of vegetal grocer aroma and Christmassy spices equals... what is it? It's very familiar... YES! It's that gag-worthy section just before the checkout at the garden centre where houseplants and artificially scented candles combine to form a collective speech bubble above everyone's heads saying "why the hell is all this odourous tat in a garden centre when all I wanted was a bag of compost?".
I don't really want to eat the stew-formerly-known-as-moussaka. And very forcefully, neither does The Boss. She says it's too brown (pronounced 'braaaaan' invoking her cockney sparrow heritage) and it's hard to disagree. I end up having to make a more child-friendly alternative. While the poor Dragon Baby cries himself hoarse.
It tastes absolutely fine, with couscous and yoghurt, but I'm too scarred by the whole experience to ever consider it again. And there are many, many better things to do with cinnamon and allspice at this time of year. Just please don't put them in a frakking candle.
|liebkuchen, my contribution for my first visit to a local baking club last night, and a much better way to use cinnamon|