So I’m a bit worried that these pasties are a bit too buzzwordy. Like “innovation” and “community engagement”, I have combined
- the eggplant (the ever lovely eggplant)
- with feta (okay, so maybe not quite a buzzword),
- and then even chermoula (gah!),
- and lastly with pasty (which may be a buzzword only to me).
The nice thing about food buzzwords is that they are a bit easier to taste for yourself. I made these 10 months ago actually, and they still seem to be awfully relevant. I wouldn’t call eggplant quite on trend anymore–speaking solely from my Western perspective, that seems to be the word reserved for foods making the initial break into the consciousness of the food sphere populated by food magazines and celebrity chefs and frequently updated blogs. But eggplant still carries a lot of weight.
Does anything ruin the atmosphere better than discussion of an ingredient’s popularity? Why focus on whether or not a food is in instead of how it tastes? (It goes either way–either fervently avoiding the trends or riding them).
I think that there is a good reason to consider this. For better or for worse, food trends are what bring awareness to certain ingredients. And sometimes food can get a bit political. It’s part of considering how an ingredient got to your plate, your city, where it came from and why.
On the worse side: take the Western appropriation of quinoa hiking prices for populations that relied upon the grain in their diet.
Or this well-written article, which I can’t recommend enough:
In the United States, immigrant food is often treated like discount tourism — a cheap means for foodies to feel worldly without leaving the comfort of their neighborhood — or high-minded fusion — a stylish way for American chefs to use other cultures’ cuisines to reap profit. The dishes of America’s recent immigrants have become check marks on a cultural scavenger hunt for society’s elite.
Reforming agriculture and promoting sustainability won’t just help us get better and healthier food; it will also fight greenhouse-gas emissions and water pollution. The food movement has been criticized as elitist, but that reputation belies recent efforts to get low-cost fruits and vegetables to urban poor who suffer disproportionately from obesity and diabetes.
Besides…would I have tried (often unsuccessfully) to cook eggplant so many times and would I have come to love and appreciate eggplant had I not been exposed to so much gosh darn eggplant adoration on the internet and in print? Maybe not! What you may have first noticed is the terrible crimping. I make no excuses for myself; I watched a video, but am the sort of person who can’t pick these things up–or at least not without endless practice. In addition, even when I did think I was getting somewhere with the crimping, the pastry (half Kamut) was too crumbly to pleat. It needs a bit more gluten, so until then a simple fork-pressed crimp works better.
And then there is the fact that I tend to overfill everything (dumplings and buns and so forth), leaving not too much overhang to attempt to pleat and to only succeed in crumbling.
I was quite happy with the filling. After roasting the eggplant, it was quite dry, but encased in the pastry it steamed quite nicely and become very moist. The flip side of that is that the pasties don’t last as long. While the pastry was crisp and flaky, the wet filling ensured the pastry lost its crispness after a couple days in the fridge.eggplant, feta and chermoula pasties
Makes 8 reasonably sized pasties.
The pastry was too brittle and did not have enough gluten for nice crimping.
100 g Kamut flour (oh gee this is another thing to research)
100 g all purpose flour
generous pinch salt
116 g cold butter
~40 mL cold water
Whisk together flours and salt. Cut the butter into pieces and rub into the flour. Add as much water as necessary until the dough just comes together.
Wrap in plastic and chill completely.
eggplant and feta filling
Makes extra filling, enough to fill around 10 pasties.
1 large mediterranean eggplant (equivalent to ~ 2 small eggplants that have been generously trimmed)
~ 4 tbsp olive oil
2 generous tbsp chermoula dry spice mix – I made mine using this recipe
1 small onion
1 clove garlic
50 g feta
1/2 tsp sumac
egg yolk, for assembly
Chop the eggplant into dice. Toss with 2 tbsp of olive oil, a generous pinch of salt and 1 tbsp chermoula. Pile onto a tray and roast for 30 min at 400F or until softened. Let cool.
Thinly slice the onion and the garlic. Fry the onion with 2 tbsp of olive oil until soft and translucent, then add the garlic, and finally 1 tbsp of chermoula. Stir constantly to slightly toast the spices, then remove from the heat. Let cool.
Chop the mint and parsley. Crumble the feta. In a large bowl, mix together the eggplant, onion mixture, herbs and parsley. Add the sumac, taste for seasoning and add salt as necessary.
Cut the chilled pastry into eight pieces. Form each into a ball and roll out thinly.
Pile a large scoop of eggplant mixture onto the centre of each round. Fold one half of the pastry over and fold over the overlapping pastry edges to seal. Brush each pastie with the egg yolk, whisked with a bit of water to thin.
Bake at 400F for 30 minutes or until nicely crisped and browned on top
yoghurt and tahini sauce
It makes everything better. More buzzwords too! Ack!
20 g runny tahini
70 g 2.5% yoghurt
juice of 1/4 lemon
small handful parsley
small handful mint
paprika and sumac to garnish
Finely chop the parsley and mint. Whisk together the tahini, yoghurt, lemon, salt and herbs. Sprinkle with the paprika and sumac to garnish. Serve along side warm pasties.