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Eggplant and ricottaI’ve discovered this wonderful new thing, roadside farmers markets. They are all around my neighborhood at the moment. All the produce is cheap as hell and gorgeous, especially the root vegetables (baby potato and baby beet addiction). It’s easy to get inspired and I’ll have a dish pop into my head after perusing the stands for a few minutes. I spotted fresh figs and eggplants and I immediately went home to make this.

Serves 4 as a starter.

Oven at 220 degrees celsius.

Ingredients:

2 Large eggplants, halved and scored across the flesh in a diagonal criss-cross

1/2 cup olive oil

8 figs, quartered

8 tablespoons of ricotta

rind of 2 lemons

2 tsp leaves + 4 sprigs of lemon thyme

6 tbsp balsamic vinegar

40g sugar

Place the eggplants on a baking sheet, flesh side up. Massage olive oil into the flesh until all the oil has been absorbed by the eggplants. Sprinkle with lemon thyme leaves and a very generous amount of salt and pepper, eggplant is so mild in flavour it is hard to be heavy handed on the seasoning. Bake for about 30 minutes, until flesh is soft and browned. Don’t ignore any spongey bits! Undercooked eggplant is the worst. Remove from oven and cool.

Carefully mix together ricotta and lemon rind, set aside in fridge until you are ready to use it.

In a pan combine balsamic vinegar and sugar. Bring to the boil then decrease the heat and simmer for 3 or 4 minutes, until it thickens but is still pourable. It will thicken more as it cools, add a drop of water if it is no longer pourable.

To assemble, place at half an eggplant flesh side up on a plate. Top with 2 tablespoons of the ricotta lemon mix and then a handful of the figs, drizzle over the balsamic reduction. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with a sprig of lemon thyme, serve immediately.

P.s. if you have Instagram you can follow me @emmainthesauce. I often post photos of my dishes before the illustrations and recipes go up on the blog.

Love,

Emma xx

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Purple green

My gorgeous friend, fellow artist AND cook Ophelia, and I are teaming up for a few collaborative blog posts. Ophelia, who cooks like an angel and collects a lot of her organic ingredients from the community garden in Devonport, is going to send me some of her recipes to make, illustrate and eat, obviously (yum). Our first post will be coming soon! Kale and kumara (that’s a sweet potato-like root vegetable for you non-kiwis) pie with homemade millet and coconut chili crust. The illustration above is Osy’s purple-green bounty straight of garden and ready for the pie.

E xx

flourless chocolate cake

I used to work at a beautiful boutique winery and restaurant on Waiheke, called The Shed. At the time, the little kitchen was run by Peter Becker, and this is the chocolate cake we would serve.

Late at night, after too much Te Motu cabernet/merlot, my bestie Jess and I would sneak into the kitchen and eat this cake with Kapiti Vanilla bean ice cream and fresh berry coulis. It was heaven. Using good quality chocolate is key, the cake is only as good as the chocolate that makes it. Think Valrhona or Callebaut.

I whipped mascarpone and fresh cream together to make an especially thick, creamy topping but it is just as good served with vanilla ice cream. Fresh raspberries or berry coulis is a must, the tart berries are the perfect companion.

Flourless Chocolate Cake:

preheat oven to 160 degrees celsius

225g butter, cubed

455g very good quality dark chocolate, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup espresso coffee

8 eggs

1/4 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

pinch of flakey salt (I like the way you occasionally get a little burst of salt when you use flakey salt)

To serve:

rasberries

250 g mascarpone

150ml heavy cream

Whip cream and mascarpone together till thick and silky.
Grease a 9-inch springform pan and line bottom with a parchment round. Baking this cake in a water bath keeps it moist and fudgey, to prepare the water bath cover pan underneath and along sides with foil and set in a roasting pan. Bring a medium saucepan of water to boil.

Combine the chocolate, butter, and coffee in a metal bowl set over simmering water or in the top of a double boiler. Melt the mixture, stirring constantly, until smooth and creamy, about 5 minute; set aside

Meanwhile combine eggs, sugar, vanilla in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer (or by hand if you’re like me and don’t have a single electric kitchen utensil in your tiny kitchen) until frothy and almost doubled in volume, about 5 to 10 minutes. Fold 1/3 of egg mixture into chocolate mixture using a rubber spatula. Repeat this process 2 more times – until all of egg mixture has been folded into chocolate mixture, folding in the salt at the same time.

Pour batter into spring-form pan and place in the roasting pan. Pour enough boiling water into the roasting pan to come about halfway up the sides. Bake until cake has risen slightly and edges are just beginning to set, about 40 to 45 minutes. Remove cake from roasting pan and cool on wire rack for 4 hours.

If you can wait to eat it, refrigerate over night but hey, I’m not judging you.