Dinner party recipes

Vegetable tagine with chermoula aubergine brik

Vegetable tagine with chermoula aubergine brik I have used this recipe for tagine for years and it never fails to amaze me each time how delicious it is. If you don't want to tackle the brik then just concentrate on the tagine and serve it with cous cous and some salad.

I couldn't find an authentic brik (pronounced breek) pastry so I have substituted large Chinese spring roll wrappers. Proper brik would be filled with soft and runny egg.

For the tagine

1 medium sized onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
100ml (½cup) olive oil
300g (11oz) new potatoes, chopped
2 red peppers, rough chopped
200g (7oz) button mushrooms
2 small courgettes, thick sliced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 litre of passata, tomato sauce or a tomato based pasta sauce
150g (5oz) dates
2 small lemons
Salt and black pepper

The tagine needs to spend time in the oven (as you would expect from a tagine!) so choose a large casserole dish with a lid that can also be used over the hob or a deep sided baking tray that can be covered with foil and used as a casserole dish. If you have a tagine then even better.

Heat the oil over a medium heat and add the onions and garlic. Fry, stirring regularly, until they are soft and just starting to brown. Add all of the vegetables and begin to tumble them with the onions and garlic. Do this for about 5 minutes so the vegetables start to soften and then add the spices. Allow the spices to cook in the oil by tumbling the vegetables and scraping the bottom of the pan as it cooks. Do this for a couple of minutes and then add the tomato sauce/passata/pasta sauce. If the sauce is very thick add a little water at this point. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper and add the dates. Stir in. Cut the lemons in half and spread the 4 halves in the pan so they are the maximium distance apart. Cover with a lid or aluminium foil if you are using a baking tray and bake in a medium oven for one and a half hours.

Serve with the brik and cous cous or reheat to serve later. The tagine keeps well in the fridge for a couple of days and freezes well.

For the brik

100ml (½cup) vegetable oil
2 red chillies
1 handful fresh coriander
1 handful fresh parsley
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon cayennes pepper
1 teaspoon ground ginger
juice of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons of sugar
1 teaspoon salt

1 large aubergine
6 to 8 large spring roll wrappers
A little cornflour
Oil for brushing

Chermoula is a spice Morrocan spice paste that is used to cover fish and meat. I have adapted the recipe here so it can be used for aubergine. It is sweeter than the authentic recipe.

Place a little of the oil in a small pan and heat lightly. Add the paprika, cayenne pepper and ginger to the oil and sizzle it lightly to cook the spices. Do this for a couple of minutes but be careful not to get the oil too hot and burn the spices as they will get very bitter. Add the spices to a hand blender, jug blender or food processor and add the coriander, parsley, chilli, lemon, sugar, remaining oil and salt. Whizz up until you have a puree.

Slice the aubergine into rounds and dip them in the chermoula. You want two per portion. Place them on a baking tray and cook them in a medium oven for about 15 minutes until soft all the way through. Cool and use in the brik. The chermoula aubergine will keep in the fridge for a couple of days.

To make the brik peel off 6 sheets of spring roll pastry and lay them on a work surface with one point facing away from you. Place two slices of aubergine on each sheet about two thirds of the way up. Mix the cornflour with a little water and dab the paste along the two upper edges of the pastry. Fold the wrapper over point to point and user the cornflour as a glue to stick the edges together. Brush both sides with oil and bake for 5 minutes in a medium oven until crips.

These are best done last minute so make them up half hour before serving and then cook when you need them.

For the cous cous

1 pack cous cous
1 stock cube
An equal volume of water as you have cous cous

I have included a recipe for basic cous cous because I have seen so many methods to cook it that I thought it would be worth including one that I know is fool proof and easy to follow.

Select a medium sized pan with a lid. Pour the dry cous cous into the pan and note the level that it comes to in the pan. Remove the cous cous into another container and fill the pan with cold water up the level that the cous cous came to and bring it to the boil. Add the stock cube, dissolve it, when it comes to the boil turn off the heat. Quickly stir in the cous cous and put on the lid. Wait for 5 minutes, take off the lid, and you have perfect ready to serve cous cous. To achieve perfectly non sticky cous cous mix a little olive oil with the cous cous before it goes into the pan to boil.


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