Professional chef, Alex MacKay, believes that cooking is an adventure that can be enjoyed by everyone.
He knows that most of us shop in the supermarket, work long hours and are often stuck for inspiration, which is why he's created a brand new recipe book called Everybody, Everyday.
Alex thinks the trick to great food is to know a few basic recipes inside out and regularly reinvent them so they never get boring.
His aubergine, ricotta and pepper feast is glorious for a two person supper...
Aubergine with ricotta, Parmesan & orange pepper
Alex says, "I first ate this with the plate perched on my laptop keyboard during a cold afternoon in January. It felt like a firework display in my mouth, glamorous comfort food with the contrasting delights of currants and capers.
The ricotta mixture is nostalgic for me: it was the cement in great layered towers of vegetables that I served in my cheffy 90s – the higher the better. I still can't look at an aubergine without wanting to stack it somehow.
For younger kids, chop rather than slice the onions and peppers. Use less vinegar and leave out the capers if you need to, though I've found most kids like them in a tomato sauce. This can be puréed or chopped and frozen for babies and toddlers."
Prep/cooking time: 30–35 mins
Active time: 25–30 mins
4 tbsp plus 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 large aubergine
1/2 medium red onion, peeled and cut into 5mm slices
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
1 orange pepper, quartered, deseeded and cut across into 1cm slices
3 tbsp currants
2 tbsp water
1 heaped tsp tiny salted or brined capers, rinsed
1/2 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
8 tbsp grated Parmesan
4 tbsp sliced basil
Salt, freshly ground black pepper and sugar
Preheat your oven to 220°C/Gas 7, position upper middle shelf.
Start with the dressing. Get a small bowl. Add 2 tbsp of the extra virgin olive oil and 1 tbsp of the wine vinegar. Mix them together with a fork. Season to taste with salt and sugar.
Next, prepare the aubergine. Cut it in half lengthways. Score the flesh side in a criss-cross pattern. Peel or slice a 10cm long, 3cm wide strip of skin off the bottom of each half. Get a small baking tray.
Line it with greaseproof or non-stick baking paper. Put the aubergine halves on the baking tray. Brush the top and bottom of the aubergine vigorously with half the dressing.
Make sure the aubergine is criss-cross side up. Roast for 20–25 minutes until the flesh is soft. While the aubergine is still hot, brush the remaining dressing over the top.
While the aubergine roasts, prepare the pepper mixture. Get a mediumsized frying pan. Add the red onion, garlic, orange pepper, currants, 2 tbsp of the extra virgin olive oil, the remaining 1 tbsp of wine vinegar, the 2 tbsp of water, a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar. Cover the pan and put it on a medium heat.
Sweat for 10 minutes or until soft, checking a few times; if the mixture looks a bit dry, add 1–2 tsp of water. Add the capers and tomatoes. Turn up the heat. Bring to the boil. Simmer for 2 minutes.
Season to taste.
Get a medium bowl. Add the Parmesan, ricotta and 2 tbsp of the basil. Mix together. Season to taste. When you are ready to serve, spread this mixture over the cooked aubergine halves. Trickle 1 tsp of extra virgin olive oil over each aubergine half. Roast for 3 minutes.
Use a fish slice to lift the aubergines onto your plates. Add the remaining basil to the orange pepper mixture. Spoon it over the aubergines.
Cook Extra: Make extra portion(s) of the recipe. Cut the aubergine into chunks. Toss with the pepper mixture. Use the ricotta mixture to butter a baguette and fill it with the aubergine and pepper.
Everybody, Everyday, £13.50, amazon.co.uk.
Yummy! What do you think?
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