Friends, food and fire - what more do you need? As part of a new Broadcast series, chef Ben Quinn will be breaking bread (and cooking it up, on occasion) with friends near and far and bringing woodfired recipes to the metaphorical table.
Food and fire have long since been tools for bringing people together. So what better way to introduce Oli, the latest addition to our marketng team and coincidentally long-lost school friend of chef Ben Quinn, to the fold than by joining Ben on the cliffs for a cook up right by HQ to sample his second Food From The Fire recipe.
Having returned from Switzerland where he indulged his passion for mountains, Oli has now swapped the still lakes of Lugano for the rugged Cornish coastline. Oli spent some time with Ben at last light, cooking over wood fire and catching up on years missed since their school days in Somerset.
Burnt aubergine dressed with ash salsa, dirty bread and smoked feta
Charred aubergines, salty wood smoked feta and the tang of cider-soaked chilli come together in this refreshing Middle Eastern inspired dish. Make the dough in advance and prove it whilst you get the fire roaring - just leave it for half an hour whilst you take some time to explore the headlands or dive into the sea.
Ingredients (serves 4)
4 medium sized aubergines
2 red onions
1 red chilli
100ml cider vinegar
100ml good quality olive oil
Cornish sea salt
For the flatbreads
500g strong white flour
15g dried yeast
20ml olive oil
1 tbsp fennel seeds
Method For Fire
Begin with two handfuls of kindling and start a ten inch circumference fire.
Once you hear the first cracks of woods, add four inch thick of hard wood keeping space for air to flow. Watch for these to catch - it should take about twenty minutes. Then add six inch thick pieces of hard wood, again making sure there is good air flow.
After forty minutes the first coals should be ready in your fire. Divide the fire in half and place fresh hard wood on one side.
Make sure this fire has regular pieces of hard wood added to it so that smokes rather than burns.
Method For Food
Drag the coals from the fire, place the onions (skin on) on the coals, and turn every so often for up to an hour until the onions are soft to touch.
Find a flat clean piece of hardwood and place the feta on top - place this wood on the periphery of the fire next to some hot coals, allow them to scorch the wood causing them to smoulder and smoke the cheese. This may take up to 10 minutes.
During this time, make your bread. Mix all the ingredients except the salt, knead together for five minutes until the dough has stopped being tacky or sticky and allow to rise in a warm place. When doubled in size (in about 40 minutes) knock back and season with the salt.
Place the aubergine on top of the teenage fire and burn until soft to the touch (10 mins). Set aside the aubergine and now you can start on the dressing.
Simply peel onions (be careful as they retain their heat). Cut those up into small pieces, dress with cider vinegar, a little chilli diced up (or infuse the vinegar), salt and rosemary, a squeeze of lemon juice (placed on coals if desired), picked mint and coriander; then slice the aubergine and liberally dress the inside with the dressed ash salsa.
Crumble the feta over the top of the aubergine and finish with good olive oil. The za’atar is the last thing to dress the aubergine before serving up to the guests to give the dish that little bit extra.
Ben Quinn's Kit