Monday, 31 October 2011


I had never made ajvar before, and I was pleased to realize it's really very easy. A little tedious to peel all the peppers, but no biggie. And since we decided to haul in all our peppers and eggplants last week, I needed something to do with some of them. I realize this is rather late in the season for making this, but bookmark it for next year. Now to figure out what to do with the other 7/8ths of a bushel of peppers sitting on my kitchen table. Not to mention probably a peck of eggplants.

Ajvar, in case you wanted to know, is simply a paste of roasted red peppers and eggplant, seasoned with lemon juice, salt and pepper, and usually smoothed with a little oil. The word is related, through the Turkish, to caviar. It hails from the Balkans, where they all fight about who invented it and how it should be made exactly. (You wondered what all that bickering was about over there. Now you know.) The Serbians seem to be carrying the day, but the Macedonians are neither down nor out. Recipes vary from all-eggplant to all-pepper, smooth or chunky, hot or mild, so take my version with a grain of salt. Also with some good sliced bread and a sprinkle of parsley, although I intend to use it on pizza, spread it on baked chicken, dip chips in it, and maybe toss it with some pasta or rice.

4 to 5 cups
2 hours or more- 1 hour prep time

Roast the Vegetables:
4 small eggplants (or 2 large ones; probably about 1 1/2 kilos or 3 pounds)
2 heads garlic, cleaned but unpeeled
6 to 12 thick-walled mild to slightly hot peppers, again about 1 1/2 kilos or 3 pounds

Preheat the oven to 475°F. Wash the veggies and cut off any bad spots. Arrange them in a single layer on trays, and bake them for about 30 minutes, until soft and blackened in spots. You may wish to turn a few of them half way through if they look like getting too black.

When they are done, set the garlic aside, and put the peppers and eggplant into a sealed container to steam as they cool. Let them cool for at least half an hour to several hours.

Finish the Ajvar:
3 or 4 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons pickling salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black peppercorns
the juice of 1 or 2 lemons
1/4 to 1/2 cup sunflower seed oil

Peel the cooled eggplant and peppers, discarding the skins, stems and seeds. Put them in a food processor with the peeled roasted garlic cloves and the peeled raw garlic, salt and pepper. Chop until it has reached a texture you like. Remove it to a bowl and mix in the lemon juice and the oil.

I packed mine in sterilized jars, because I hope to keep it in the fridge for a few weeks, but if you wish to can it for longer storage it must be pressure-canned. I would be more inclined to freeze it, myself.

Last year at this time I made Stir-Fried Broccoli with Red Peppers and Onions, and Smoked Fish Pie. Okay, I lied. My mom made the fish pie.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Sweet and Sour Cabbage #1

Well, back in the saddle I guess. We've been back home for a couple of days but scurrying around to get the garden ready for winter, which could come any time by the looks of things. I'm plenty ready for a break from it. Of course, now I have about a bushel of peppers sitting in the kitchen looking at me.

This is a pretty classic take on sweet and sour cabbage, easy and not too time consuming either. Just watch those onions; they should be nicely cooked but don't let them burn!

6 servings
20 minutes prep time

Sweet and Sour Cabbage
Prepare the Vegetables:
1 large onion
1 tablespoon bacon fat or mild vegetable oil
4 cups chopped cabbage

Peel and cut the onion in half vertically. Lay each half down and cut vertically again, then slice them horizontally to produce fairly long thin strips of onion.

Heat the fat or oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for about 30 minutes, until evenly browned and cooked down.

Trim and chop the cabbage, and put it in a pot with water to come halfway up it. About 10 minutes before the onions will be done, bring it to a boil and simmer until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well and return to the pot.

Make the Sauce:
1 tablespoon arrowroot or corn starch
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon caraway seed
black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons white vinegar
3 tablespoons water

Mix the above ingredients in a small bowl, until the arrowroot is smoothly dissolved. Set it aside until the onions and cabbage are cooked.

Drain the cabbage once it is cooked, and return it to the pot. Mix in the onions. Give the sauce a stir, and add it to the cabbage. Stir the cabbage and onions until well blended and the sauce thickens, just a minute or so. Serve at once.

Last year at this time I made Squash Gnocchi and Cranberry-Raisin Pie.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Miso-Tomato Soup

There are still a very few tomatoes around, and they are best for cooking at this point. Mind you, this works perfectly well with tinned tomatoes too. Very quick, easy and low calorie; we just won't talk about the salt content. Also good with a few greens thrown in if you have them: a couple of baby bok choy, or a handful of chopped cabbage for that matter.

Mr. Ferdzy came up with this soup a few years ago, although given the simplicity of the ingredients he was treading on a pretty well known path. I made it this week as it was good for stretching out a meal of mixed sauté of leftovers. We were cleaning out the fridge, as we will be away for about a week visiting relatives... see you next week.

4 to 6 servings
20 minutes prep time

Miso and Tomato Soup
2 medium shallots
1 clove of garlic
1 teaspoon mild vegetable oil
3 large tomatoes (4 cups chopped)
2 cups water
1/4 cup light (shiro) miso

Put a large pot of water on to boil.

Peel and chop the shallots. Peel and mince the garlic. Heat the oil in a small skillet, and cook the shallots until lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for a minute longer, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and let cool.

When the water boils, blanch the tomatoes for 1 minutes. Cool them under cold water, and peel them. Chop them finely.

Put the tomatoes into a pot with 1 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the miso in the remaining 1/2 cup water until smooth.

Add the shallots and garlic to the tomatoes. Add the miso, and bring back up to a simmer. Serve at once.

Monday, 17 October 2011


We arrived at Foodstock at about a quarter after eleven, just after it officially started. This is where we got a parking spot. You can see more-or-less where the entrance is, off to the right of the porta-potties in the distance. We took this for a good sign.

Foodstock, in case anyone has missed hearing about it, was an event put on by the Canadian Chef's Congress and the Stop the Quarry group, to raise funds to fight the proposed 2300 acre quarry in Melancthon township. They had asked for a $10 donation from attenders, and I would say they did well. I saw people passing in multiple envelopes - I think quite a few people gathered up donations from friends who couldn't come, and I heard someone comment that a number of people had come up to drop off donations without coming in.

The event itself was held in and about a large maple bush. Some straw had been put down to fight the mud - not enough, as it turned out, but it did help.

We started lining up to sample the offerings of the chefs. I'm a bad reporter; I didn't get the name of this restaurant (actually, I'm pretty sure it was a golf club) but the dish was rabbit and chicken stewed with chocolate, with cherry preserves and a profiterole. It was very rich, and very good.

On the other hand we knew these folks! They're from Simplicity Bistro in Thornbury, close to home. They made a lovely browned butter and Jerusalem artichoke soup.

The place was not too crowded yet, and so we could see that the woods was full of rather rustic and organic sculptures.

Oysters, from Oyster Boys, in Toronto.

A smoked fish paté on a kale leaf, with chips. A number of the chefs had made chips, as the threatened farmland is known for producing most of Ontario's potatoes.

Smoked fish on raw daikon, with raw garlic - much better than it sounds - from Sakura, in Toronto.

This was a welcome dish - a chopped salad from, I think, Bruce Wine Bar in Thornbury.

Janice Suarez, a pastry chef from Niagara on the Lake, served this deceptively plain looking apple-pumpkin loaf, which I thought was one of the best things I ate.

By now the place was filling up. It was a very large space, but there were plainly a lot of people there.

A display of some of the potatoes grown in the area.

A map shows the outline of the proposed quarry superimposed over a map of Toronto. Yes, it's truly huge. Worse, it's at the headwaters of 5 major southern Ontario rivers. As one of the people I chatted with in line said, this is all about the groundwater.

When we first arrived line-ups were not more than a minute or two long, but they soon got to be quite long! Fortunately most of them moved fairly briskly.

Haisai Restaurant and Bakery in Singhampton made what I thought was pizza, until I got right up to it. It turned out to be a grilled apple tart that was lovely, not too sweet and swimming in cinnamon.

Eiginsinn Farm had the next spot (they are both Michael Stadlander projects) and they were serving a vegetable soup with pickled squash on a raw cabbage leaf. I admit that so many chefs were serving rich meaty things on white bready things that I greeted that cabbage leaf with great enthusiasm. Soup wasn't half bad either.

And I believe that's chef Stadtlander there, hacking cabbage with the best of them. I also believe that Foodstock was originally his idea.

The folks from Lennox farm were there too, giving away bags of Brussels sprouts.

Another familiar face - Ruth Klahsen from Monforte Dairy.

Poutini's, serving poutine, naturally. I admit I didn't have any. I had pretty much reached the point of not being able to eat anything more at least half an hour previously.

Oh, and another familiar face! Chef Robin Pradhan from Rocky Raccoon in Owen Sound with a lovely vegetable curry that was a welcome change of pace from all the rich food.

No longer sure who this was or what they had, but the display was interesting... love the necklace.

Last call at Buca (Toronto). Like a lot of the chefs, they had brought thousands of portions, but still ran out in the face of the huge numbers of people attending.

Click on the above picture to see some of the cars parked at the sides of the roads all around, even though the space allotted to parking was huge.

Chefs and their tables filled the paths through the woods, and all around the outsides on three sides too.

There were a few people there with coffee - and on a cool, windy afternoon (with a few showers as time went on) it was gratefully received. Was this Alternative Grounds, from Toronto? I think so.

As the afternoon went on, music started up at the stage. I have to admit I didn't stay for the music or the speeches to follow - never my favourite part of political events. Yeah, I'm bad.

There were a number of artists and musicians who had spots throughout the site as well as the chefs.

But by 2:30, we were pretty pooped. We decided to head home. A number of other people were leaving, but more were still coming in. I asked on the way out, and they told me that the last count as of 2:00 pm was that 18,000 people had been there, so I'm sure they made the expected 20,000 easily before the day was done.

I haven't seen anything about this on the CBC site, or the Globe and Mail. There were a few photos (kind of hard to find) at the Star. NOTE: and an article too, but also hard to find. On the other hand, I hope and believe that this event raised a lot of money for the fight against the mega-quarry. And it's not too late to donate. This will be a long and protracted fight, so please consider what you can do to support it. There will be more info at Stop the Quarry.

(And if I've made any errors in identifying people in this post, I'm sorry - and happy to get corrections.) EDITED TO ADD: Final count apparently a bit over 28,000 people! WOW!

Vegan Stuffed Peppers

Although this is a little time-consuming to make, it is very easy. Yes, I know; more stuffed peppers. Hey! I like stuffed peppers and there are so many different ways to stuff them, and so many different peppers that there is no need to get bored by repetition.

For this recipe, I used a mixture of Alma Paprika peppers and Doe Hill peppers. Alma Paprika was my big pepper find last summer, and Doe Hill was this years' favourite new pepper. They are both what are called tomato or apple peppers; a description based on the general size and shape of a number of different varieties. These are often mild peppers, although I have found the Alma Paprika can occasionally be quite hot in spots! And while they are both mild, they are in no way lacking in flavour.

I didn't have quite as many peppers as the stuffing would have filled, so I just formed the last of it into balls and set them amongst the peppers to bake. The serving estimate is so variable as these would make a nice appetizer as a single pepper, or 2 or 3 peppers could be served as the main part of a meal, with a green vegetable and some bread being sufficient to round it out.

Makes 8 to 12 small stuffed peppers (4 to 12 servings)
2 hours (50 minutes prep time)

Vegan Stuffed Peppers
Cook the Grains:
1/2 cup quinoa
1/2 cup red lentils
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 2/3 cup water or broth

Rinse and drain the quinoa and lentils. Put them in a pot with the salt and water or broth, and cook until tender, about 20 minutes. They can also be cooked in a rice cooker.

Make the Filling:
1/2 cup green pumpkin seeds
1 or 2 small stalks of celery
1 medium carrot
1 or 2 shallots
2 teaspoons mild vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dill seed
1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
1/2 teaspoon cumin seed
1/2 teaspoon coriander seed
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
2/3 cup dried cranberries

While the quinoa and lentils cook, toast the pumpkin seeds in a dry skillet over medium-high heat until lightly browned. Turn them out onto a plate to cool.

Wash, trim and chop the celery finely. Peel and grate the carrot finely. Peel and chop the shallots finely. Heat the oil in a skillet, and cook the celery, carrot and shallots until soft. Set aside to cool.

Grind the spices.

Mix the cooked quinoa and lentils with the cooked vegetables, the spices, the pumpkin seeds and the cranberries.

Stuff & Bake the Peppers:
8 to 12 medium "apple" or "tomato" peppers
1/2 cup water

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Wash the peppers, and cut the cores out, leaving a fairly large opening at the top of each pepper. Use a thin-edged spoon to scoop out any seeds or membrane remaining inside them. Stuff the peppers with the filling, and arrange them in a snug baking dish. Pour the water around them, and bake them for 1 hour.

Last year at this time I made Parsnips with Leeks and Traditional Pickled Beets.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

We Dig Potatoes! And a Few Other Things

The long-awaited day arrived yesterday, when we pulled the first half of the potatoes we planted in a large box, back at the end of May. We would have let them sit a little longer, to let both sides die down, but it was clear that some mice or voles had taken up residence in the bed. Hope I don't have the same problem that we had last time we evicted mice! The half we dug up were the Russet Burbanks; the German Butterballs seem to still be growing, and to be mouse-free, as far as we can tell.

As Mr. Ferdzy unscrewed the boards that formed one side of the box, I pulled them out and took them away. You can see how deep the bed of potatoes was; probably about 16".

Then we started digging. It was quickly clear that we needed to dig by hand as of course the first thing we did was slice a couple potatoes in half. Most of the potatoes were very large. Real lunkers.

We found a few that had been much eaten by the mice or voles, but fortunately most of them were still fine. I think it was good we dug them up when we did though, or there would no doubt have been much more damage.

Here we are about three-quarters of the way through the digging process. All extra soil was hauled away and is sitting in a pile again. We will have a grass-free area over 2/3 of what will become a blueberry bed next spring. That's a nice head start!

We got 96 pounds of Russet Burbanks which filled 2 bushel boxes. Taking into account the mouse damage, I'm sure there was just over 100 pounds of potatoes. I'm trying to remember what we originally planted... was it 4 pounds? It might have been, but we didn't keep good records. We planted the same amount, whatever it was, in one of our regular beds and that yielded 40 pounds of Russet Burbanks. Which was one of our best harvests of potatoes in the regular beds yet.

Last week we dug up the sweet potatoes. I'm afraid they were a very disappointing harvest. We got 9 pounds of Frazier White and 11 pounds of Georgia Jet. I would say that growing them through tomato cages was a good plan, and we will do that again. It definitely prevented them from rooting all over the place, which is what they will do if allowed to sprawl. And if they do that you will get a lot of sweeet potatoes, but very tiny.

The problem, I believe, was that they basically did nothing for the entire month of June. June was perfectly grim, as far as the heat-loving vegetables like peppers, tomatoes, peanuts, melons and lima beans were concerned. It was cold and rainy, and the poor little slips just sat there and sulked. Essentially, they were a month behind when we dug them up, and since most of the root formation takes place at the end of the season, that was a month that really, really counted.

We also pulled our peanuts yesterday. Again, there were a lot of partially formed ones, and if they had done better in June I think our harvest would have doubled. On the other hand, this was still our best peanut harvest in the three years we have been growing them. We are developing peanuts suited to our soil and climate by selecting the best each year to be replanted. I also think our first planting did so poorly because the seeds were sold with the shells off, and I suspect many of them had had their growing tips damaged.

From a 5' by 5' area, we got 4 litres of shell-on peanuts. For the first time, we are going to actually eat some. (But yes, we have already sorted out about 80 of the best, largest peanuts for next years seed, including making a point to take many of them from the plants that produced the most peanuts.)

We also got some trees planted in the afternoon, most notably a couple of paw-paw trees we grew from seed this year. They join two that we bought as young plants last spring. I've never had a paw-paw. I hope we like them. We won't know for some years!

Tuesday, 11 October 2011


Just in case you haven't heard about it yet - although it seems to be quite well publicized - there is going to be an event called Foodstock next Sunday, October 16th from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm, in Honeywood, Ontario. This is an event in support of the movement to stop the proposed mega-quarry in Melancthon township. I've written about this before; it's a cause well worth supporting.

The CBC had an interesting interview with the principals of the proposed quarry yesterday; and a right pair of whinging 1%ers they sound too. They are sooo misunderstood. Aw, diddums.

If you can't get out there to help kick this egregious plan to the curb, please consider making a donation. And give deeper consideration to the evils of NAFTA, which works hard to destroy local community control over the activities of multi-national corporations. The Stop the Quarry movement is getting a lot of attention and momentum, but I really hope it can connect to the big picture and get a movement going to repeal NAFTA.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Pear, Cranberry & Nut Salad with Blue Cheese

I was surprised and pleased to find some Devil's Rock blue cheese from Thornloe Dairy last week, at Zehrs of all places. Since it's also pear season, I immediately thought of the classic combination of pears and blue cheese. Since you can maybe still find some romaine lettuce if you are lucky, I put them in a salad.

Devil's Rock Blue Cheese from Thornloe
I was out of walnuts, which is what I think of when I think of pears and blue cheese, but I had some pumpkin seeds and they did very well instead. But really, any nuts will be fine. Use your judgement as to whether they need toasting or not.

The 2 of us ate this as our lunch, but it would probably serve 6 as a side salad.

2 to 6 servings
20 minutes prep time

Pear Cranberry and Nut Salad with Blue Cheese
Make the Dressing:
1 tablespoon apple butter
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons walnut or almond oil
3 tablespoons raspberry vinegar
salt & pepper to taste

Whisk or shake the ingredients together in a small bowl or jam jar.

Make the Salad:
1/2 cup walnuts or pumpkin seeds
1/2 of a large head of romaine lettuce
2 medium pears
1/3 cup dried cranberries
50 to 75 grams (2 or 3 ounces) crumbled blue cheese

Toast the nuts or seeds in a dry skillet until lightly browned, then turn them onto a plate to cool.

Wash, trim and tear up the lettuce into bite-sized pieces, and arrange it over serving plates. Peel, core and chop the pears and divide them over the plates of lettuce. Sprinkle over the cranberries and nuts or seeds, and top with the crumbled blue cheese.

Drizzle over the dressing and serve at once.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Gingerbread Pear Pie with Dried Cranberries

Last week my mother-in-law gave me a big bag of pears she had gotten from a friend at church. Since we are still working on eating melon from our garden, and plums that we went out and picked, they sat around until they were very ripe. In order to prevent them all ending up in the compost, I made this. And I have to say it was very good! I really liked the gingerbread crust.

It was good enough that you could make it and use it for cookies. You might want to add a bit more sugar in that case; I would think 2/3 of a cup would be plenty. I had enough leftover dough just to make 2 cookies, and I just dropped them in a little sugar to coat them before baking and thought that was fine.

Also I am calling for firm-ripe pears. Mine were on the soft side and they were okay, but I think it would have been better if they had not been quite so ripe. Next time I know what to do and I won't let them sit so long!

8 servings
2 hours - 30 minutes prep time

Gingerbread Pear Pie with Dried Cranberries
Make the Crust:
2 1/2 cups soft whole wheat flour
1/3 cup Sucanat or dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 of a freshly grated medium nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons fancy molasses
2 tablespoons water

Put the flour, Sucanat, salt and spices in a food processor, and pulse to blend. Cut the butter into chunks and drop it in. Process until the butter is evenly distributed throughout the flour in pieces about the size of a small pea.

Mix the molasses and water, and heat just sufficiently to dissolve the molasses - in the microwave for a few seconds works well.

Process the molasses and water into the flour mixture, until it comes together. Turn it out onto a sheet of parchment paper, and wrap it up. It may be a bit moister than pastry usually is, but it is okay. Set it aside to rest for about 15 minutes.

Prepare the Fruit:
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup finely chopped preserved ginger
6 tablespoons arrowroot or cornstarch
1/3 cup sugar
8 to 10 medium-large ripe but firm pears

Mix the cranberries, chopped preserved ginger, arrowroot and sugar in a large bowl.

Peel and core the pears, and cut them into bite-sized pieces. Toss them with the cranberry mixture until well blended.

Finish the Pie:
a little more flour for rolling

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Divide the dough into 2 portions, one about 60% of the dough and the other, therefore, about 40% of the dough.

Roll the larger piece of dough out on the parchment paper, sprinkling it with flour as needed to keep it from sticking to either the paper or the roller. When it is of a size to fit a 10" pie pan, invert the pan over dough then flip it all over so that the dough is in the pan. Peel off the paper, and adjust the crust so that it fills the pan from edge to edge nicely.

Scrape the filling into the pie pan and spread it out evenly.

Roll out the remaining dough, again dusting it with flour as needed, until it will cover the pie. Either roll it around the rolling pin and unroll it on the pie, or quickly invert the paper with the crust over the pie. Peel off the paper, and adjust the position of the top crust.

Pinch the edges together all around the pie, and cut air-holes for the steam to escape as the pie bakes. Bake the pie for 1 hour, until browned around the edges. Let cool before serving.

If there is any leftover pastry, it can be rolled into a ball, flattened, then dipped in sugar. Bake for about 10 to 15 minutes depending on thickness, and voilà: a few bonus, extra cookies.

Last year at this time it was Braised Turkey.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Chires Baby Corn

I really like baby corn, either in stir-fries, or pickled. It's extremely hard to find though, so I thought I would try growing some this year. The general concensus is that Chires Baby is the variety to grow for this purpose. It was brought from Asia by Jere Gettle of Baker Creek Seeds a few years back, and has become quite popular since then.

Baker Creek (and everyone else who sells it) claims it makes up to 20 ears per plant, with the plants producing multiple stalks. I did not experience that. One or two sent up two stalks, and each stalk produced about 6 cobs of corn. Still, this is much better than just about every other corn out there, which by and large produce 2 cobs at most. I also forgot that the seed catalogues say to start picking it as soon as it tassels so it will produce more; I harvested mine all at once.

It's supposed to be ready in 75 to 85 days. I'd say that's right; mine was a little closer to the later of those dates, but I could have started - and probably should have started - picking it earlier. Like all corn, it should not be planted until about June 1st, once the soil is warm. Corn is also what they call a "gross feeder" and will need lots of nitrogen-heavy fertilizer.

That's a shoe-box sized container in the picture above, and that's the complete harvest from a 5' by 6' planting of corn (about 30 plants). This stuff is a real luxury. Not only do you get very little for the amount of space required, but it then has to be hulled, and it's not a lot easier or faster to hull a baby corn cob than a full-sized one.

And there's the final, naked, harvest. I froze 2 packets and pickled the rest. Not what you would call a bumper harvest. I think I will likely try this again next year, and see if I do a bit better picking the cobs as they form. On the other hand, cleaning them is so much work that I wouldn't actually want to grow too much. They say that if the cobs are left to mature on the plant, it makes good popcorn. That would certainly be a lot less work, and probably a more respectable harvest for the space.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Lasagne alla Chiles Rellenos

Last month (yeah, I know) I found some Anaheim and poblano chiles at my local grocery and was SOOOO excited. I hope they are still out there; I don't see why not. Anyway, I bought a bunch and stuffed them, and they were so good I ran out and bought a bunch more. I was still in a chile 'n' cheese mood, but I thought I should do something a little different this time so I made them into lasagne. And then I didn't actually eat the lasagne, but put them into the freezer for future peppery goodness.

Lasagne alla Chiles Rellenos

Prepare the Vegetables:
4 Anaheim and 4 poblano chiles
1 large or 2 medium eggplants
2 or 3 tablespoons mild vegetable oil

Wash the chiles. Roast them over a stove element. This is best with a gas stove, but it can be done on an electric stove too. Alternatively, they can be roasted under the broiler. In either case, watch them carefully and turn them every 5 minutes or so in order to get them done everywhere. The skins should get quite charred all over. Once they are done, put them in a container that has a cover, cover them and leave them to cool. This may not take as much as an hour, but it is slower than you would expect so allow yourself lots of time.

When you are ready to proceed, peel off the skins. They should come right off fairly easily, and can be helped along by holding the chiles under cold running water as you peel. The peeled chiles should be softened, but not enough to be particularly fragile. You may wish to simply blanch the peppers, rather than charring them, but the charring will add a little depth to the flavour.

Trim and slice the eggplants fairly thinly. Fry them in the oil until lightly browned on both sides, and remove them to a plate to cool

Cut the cores from the chiles, removing the seeds and any tough inner membranes. Rinse them in cold water and drain well.

Assemble the Lasagne:
12 standard lasagne noodles
3 cups tomato sauce
500 grams ricotta cheese
250 grams mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons rubbed oregano

Put a large pot of salted water on to boil. Cook the lasagne noodles for HALF of the recommended time, and rinse in cold water and drain. Don't leave them sitting next to each other or they will stick together - spread them out.

Line a 9" x 13" lasagne pan with a little tomato sauce. Lay 4 of the lasagne noodles over the bottom of the pan to cover it, and cover them with a little more sauce. Break up and spread 1/3 of the ricotta cheese over the noodles. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of the oregano. Cut the peppers and eggplant into thin strips and spread 1/3 of them evenly over the cheese.

Repeat twice more, adding about 1/3 of the mozzarella to the middle layer. Finish with a final layer of noodles, and top with the last of the tomato sauce. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella over the top.

I haven't baked mine yet, so I'm not sure how long. Bake at 350°F. I'm guessing anywhere between 45 minutes and an hour and a half, depending on how cold it was when it went in. If you freeze it, be sure to thaw it thoroughly and get it up towards room temperature before you bake it, especially if you are using a glass pan.

Last year at this time I made Smoky Paprika Tomato Soup and Pumpkin Bread Pudding.