Rich on flavour with Neil Perry. Neil Perry gets rich.
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Eggplant caviar on bruschetta is versatile. Photo: Neil Perry

EGGPLANT CAVIAR ON BRUSCHETTA

2 medium eggplants

1 whole head of garlic, unpeeled

1/2 tsp sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

juice of 1/2 lemon

6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tsp white wine vinegar

2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley

freshly sliced and toasted sourdough

bread, for serving

Serves 4

Preheat oven to 180°C. With a fork, prick eggplant all over and oil slightly. Wrap garlic, oiled and salted, in foil and place both on a baking sheet and place in oven. Roast both for 40-60 minutes – the garlic should be very soft and the eggplant should be soft and collapsed. Remove from oven and cool.

Cut eggplant in half and scoop out flesh with a spoon. Place in a sieve and strain juices.

Cut garlic in half across the equator and squeeze the flesh out like toothpaste into a small bowl. Season with sea salt and pepper, juice of half a lemon and 1 tbsp of olive oil. Use a fork to mix to a purée.

Place drained eggplant in a bowl and add vinegar. Whisk mixture while pouring in remaining 5 tbsp of olive oil, little by little as though making mayonnaise, until the eggplant mixture is creamy and light. Season with salt and pepper, and fold through parsley.

To serve, spread garlic purée on warm toasted bread slices and dollop eggplant caviar on top.

ZUPPA INGLESE

5 large egg yolks

150g sugar

50g plain flour

500ml milk

few drops vanilla essence

125g grated dark chocolate, plus extra to serve

125ml Alchermes liqueur

125ml rum

20 Italian ladyfingers (sponge finger biscuits)

whipped cream, to serve

Serves 8-10

Whisk egg yolks and sugar until straw-coloured, then stir in flour until all lumps have dissolved. Heat milk with vanilla extract until fairly hot, but not boiling. Pour milk onto egg mixture and then cook for 7-8 minutes in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over a low heat, stirring to prevent lumps forming in the custard.

Pour half the custard into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap that touches the surface of the custard to prevent skin forming.

Melt chocolate in a double boiler (or in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan) over barely simmering water. Return remaining custard to heat and stir in melted chocolate. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring continuously. Pour chocolate custard into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap that touches the surface of the custard to prevent a skin forming. Set custards aside to cool before using.

Mix alchermes, rum and 60ml of water together in a bowl. Dip ladyfingers into water and liqueur mixture, then use 1/3 of them to line a 2-litre glass bowl or soufflé dish, or individual glasses. Pour plain custard over the top, cover with another layer of dipped ladyfingers, and spread the chocolate custard on top. Finish with remaining ladyfingers, cover with foil and refrigerate for about 12 hours.

Just before serving, decorate with plenty of whipped cream and grated chocolate.

HOT TIPS

• The eggplant caviar makes a great sauce, particularly with grilled or roasted fish.

• You can also add cumin and tahini to make a version of baba ghanoush that is, again, wonderful by itself, but awesome with roasted or grilled food.

• I also love the garlic purée with chicken or fish. Roast about 3 heads and make a pot of roast garlic sauce. Because the volatile oils have been neutralised, the harsh garlic flavour yields to a sweet roast caramel flavour.

• The zuppa inglese is a trifle, so feel free to add seasonal fruit.

SOMETHING TO DRINK

MarsanneA white wine grape grown in France’s northern Rhône, marsanne is also cultivated at Tahbilk, a Victorian winery that has some of the world’s oldest marsanne vines. The 2005 Tahbilk Marsanne ($15) has a viscosity that complements the bitter qualities of the eggplant.

Photography by William Meppem. Styling by Hannah Meppem. Food preparation by Kirsten Jenkins.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.